Here’s something you don’t see every day…or every half century for that matter. An archive has recently turned up Eugene O’Neill’s 1920 play Exorcism , long thought lost. It’s published in this week’s number of The New Yorker with an introduction by John Lahr.
Lahr is a man of his time — the 20th century. While I strongly disagree with his conventional appraisal that “Before O’Neill there was entertainment; after O’Neill there was drama”, (America produced decent playwrights before him, just as he himself churned out plenty of hokum) O’Neill still remains, to my mind, America’s most significant — and not incidentally most characteristic — playwright. Exorcism proves to contain all of the sensational elements we look for in an O’Neill play, namely alcoholism, whores and suicide. It’s also highly autobiographical. This is a wonderful development for scholars and theatre fans. For a peek at the play, go here, or pick it up on newsstands this week!