Gore Vidal is a somewhat under appreciated writer. Rather an under-read writer. Especially his plays. They are really good and this is no exception. He has a humor and wittiness about his work that is reminiscent of Shaw, as well as an intellectual weight in the manner of Giraudoux. Every time I read one of his plays I am surprised and excited by the charm of them. More theatres should visit his work. He's kind of like an unsung American Stoppard.
This play is a marvelous take on that old 50's trope of the visitor from outer space, a smarter less obvious version of The Day the Earth Stood Still. Kreton a traveler from a future dimension with extraordinary powers, arrives at the home of Roger Spelding, his wife and daughter, Ellen. Roger is a television and radio commentator who fancies himself the Voice of American People. He has just finished a broadcast denying the existence of space ships and such when Kreton arrives. Kreton's advanced state allows him to read minds which he really enjoys because in his world, people are more controlled with their emotions than are these 20th century. Kreton's motivations at first seem quite benign. He has just come to observe as a "tourist". It soon becomes clear that his definition of tourist is a bit different than the Spelding's
Things escalate to the point of nuclear war but Kreton is finally stopped by another visitor from his own time. I really liked this play, It could easily be done on a stage as the teleplay elements are easily worked around. like Tiger at the Gates, it has some very well put and interesting anti-war sentiments and polemics. Mr. Vidal's dialogue is always witty and well formed. It also has a nice three mini act structure which gives the play a nice "well-made" feel. The last bit is a tiny bit cheesy but it works well enough and given the difficulty of ending a play like this isn't too terrible.
Just picked up a bunch more plays at the Library in Brookline, MA including a 1859 collection of Beaumont and Fletcher. so maybe the next play will be Jacobean,
Soon, Have fun,