I first came across Bruce Norris through the Royal Court production of The Pain and the Itch in 2007. As good as that play was, the real revelation came with Clybourne Park three years later, a sharp dissection of race, happiness, and the middle classes. His new play The Low Road premieres at the Royal Court Upstairs in a couple of weeks. He seems to feel totally at ease in that theatre, as a result I always felt he was one of our own: as much a british playwright as he is american.
So it was fascinating to see Purple Heart, one of his earlier plays, in this interesting if not perfect revival directed by Christopher Haydon at the Gate theatre. The play, written in 2002 but set in 1972, explores the dark heart of american small town communities, where respectability, patriotism and religion can create an airless prison of secrets and crimes. Continue reading