"The Curse of an Aching Heart," a play by William Alfred, Keenan Jr. Professor of English, opened Saturday night at the Little Theater in New York City.
Set in the Irish Brooklyn of the '20s and '30s, the play traces the early life of a working-class girl, played by Faye Dunaway. The production met mixed but generally negative reviews from the dailies yesterday.
These reviews most often determine the length of a play's run, which may now be no longer than a few weeks. Several critics, however, praised the play's use of language and its success at synthesizing art from reality.
"One of my hopes is that people will realize there's a way of looking at the working class that isn't with distaste," Alfred said about the play. He added that most of the reviewers are "damn good" but that they had failed to recognize some of the major ideas in the play.
Alfred and Dunaway worked together 16 years ago on Alred's last play. "Hogan's Goat," in a successful production which brought both national prominence. "Hogan's Goat" also takes place in South Brooklyn, where Alfred grew up.
"The Curse of an Aching Heart" opened in Chicago two years ago to an enthusiastic critical reception, and Alfred decided to stage the show in a New York "on-off Broadway" theater instead of in a less commercial atmosphere at a regional or repertory theater like the ART. "You have to bring it to New York to bring attention to anything in the theater." He added that he felt any other theater would not afford the play enough prominence.
He noted that the audience at the opening might of the play was "wildly enthusiastic. They stood up and stomped their feet and the clapping was thunderous." He added "the reviewers certainly missed the entertainment of the show."