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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Final Weekend for Other Desert Cities

Posted By on Sat, Jun 29, 2013 at 9:31 AM

This critically lauded play has three more performances at Pittsburgh Public Theater through tomorrow’s closing matinee.

It’s a family melodrama with several layers of explicitly political backdrop. The parents are old-guard Hollywood Republicans, their two adult kids liberals. As the play’s set in 2004, the still-recent invasion of Iraq is a recurring point of disagreement. (That then-current event also supplies a bunch of metaphors which for the characters might be unwitting, but were surely planted by playwright Jon Robin Baitz: Characters talk of someone as a “decider,” speak of interpersonal “collateral damage,” etc.).

And then there’s the play’s central bone of contention, father Lyman and mother Polly’s treatment of eldest son, Henry, who we learn committed suicide some 30 years earlier after being involved in a radical group’s deadly bomb plot. Daughter Brooke is writing a book about it all.

Baitz writes smart dialogue, and as Ted Hoover notes in his review for CP, Michael Schweikardt’s set — an upper-crust Palm Springs living room, frozen in amber circa 1966 — is to die for. And in Act II, Baitz’ regard for the characters’ essential humanity, and their ultimate willingness to face the truth, redeems most of what looked like their self-involvement in Act I.

Other Desert Cities is on stage at 2 p.m. today, 8 p.m. tonight and 2 p.m. tomorrow. Tickets are $23-55.

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