Friday, May 1, 2020


Paul Sparer, Jane White.
"In Lieu of Reviews"

For background on how this previously unpublished series—introducing all mainstream New York shows between 1970 and 1975—came to be and its relationship to my three The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage volumes (covering every New York play, musical, revue, and revival between 1920 and 1950), please check the prefaces to any of the earlier entries beginning with the letter “A.” See the list at the end of the current entry.

THE BURNT FLOWERBED [Drama/Italian/Marriage/Politics] A: Ugo Betti; TR: Henry Reed; D: Paul Aaron; S: Holmes Easley; C: Mimi Maxman; L: Timothy Harris; P: Roundabout Theatre Company; T: Roundabout Theatre (OB); 7/2/74-8/11/74 (48)

The New York professional premiere of Italian dramatist Ugo Betti’s 1952 drama with a political background but a nonpolitical theme. Given an “intelligent production” with “one of the best” casts the Roundabout—then a small, Off-Broadway company, had ever put together, The Burnt Flowerbed impressed Mel Gussow who noted that “It studies the miscues of power and weighs the psychological and spiritual underpinnings of morality” under the guise of “a suspense play.”

This intellectual teaser concerned Giovanni (Paul Sparer), the cynical, disillusioned ex-leader of an unnamed country who abandoned government when his 15-year-old son fell from a window to his death in a flower bed. When ex-colleagues ask him to help bring peace between their nation and a hostile neighbor, he hesitates and then agrees to cooperate although it is clear he has little respect for their ideals.

It turns out that he is to be sacrificed in order to set off a major incident that will lead to war. He runs away but returns to follow through with the plot, revealing that his son killed himself because he felt despondent about the sick “burnt flower bed” of a world that men like he had helped to create. Before he can carry out his deed of atonement for his son’s moral anguish, an idealistic nurse named Rosa (Lauren Frost) puts herself in front of the bullet intended for Giovanni, and he resolves now to truly negotiate for peace with the enemy. 

Outstanding performances were turned in by Paul Sparer and Jane White (as Giovanni’s wife Luisa), among others, including veteran Salem Ludwig.

Previous entries:

Abelard and Heloise
Absurd Person Singular
“Acrobats” and “Line”
The Advertisement/
All My Sons
All Over
All Over Town
All the Girls Came Out to Play
Alpha Beta
L’Amante Anglais         
American Gothics
And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little       
And They Put Handcuffs on the Flowers
And Whose Little Boy Are You?
Anna K.
Anne of Green Gables
Any Resemblance to Persons Living or Dead
As You Like It
The Au Pair Man

Baba Goya [Nourish the Beast]
The Ballad of Johnny Pot
Barbary Shore
The Bar that Never Closes
The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel
The Beauty Part
The Beggar’s Opera
Behold! Cometh the Vanderkellens
Be Kind to People Week
Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill
Bette Midler’s Clams on a Half-Shell Revue
Black Girl
Black Light Theatre of Prague
Black Picture Show
Black Sunlight
The Black Terror
Black Visions
Les Blancs
Blasts and Bravos: An Evening with H,L. Mencken
Blue Boys
Bob and Ray—The Two and Only
Boesman and Lena
The Boy Who Came to Leave
A Breeze from the Gulf
Brief Lives
Brother Gorski
Bullshot Crummond