The Family Reunion

Definition

Theater

  • A poetic drama in two acts by T. S. Eliot, first performedin 1939 in London without great success. Based upon The Oresteiaof Aeschylus, it describes the predicament of Harry, a contemporaryman, who is obsessed with guilt about his wife's mysterious death at sea.Despite the quality of Eliot's verse, critics have felt that the domesticdrama does not blend well with elements borrowed from Greek theater, whichinclude a chorus of aunts and uncles and the appearance of the Eumenides, oravenging furies. The British actor Alec McCowen, who starred in the 1966 TVversion, has described the play as splendid, sombre, and very innocent, "obviously written by a man who has no knowledge of psychiatry".

    Peter Brook directed a revival at the Phoenix Theatrestarring Paul Scofield in 1956. The critic Philip Squire noted inPlays and Players that Scofield "brings a vibrant intelligenceto Harry and speaks the character's mind as freely as the play allowsthough the blank verse occasionally halts for it."

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