Cover art by David Saint


A R Gurney

This play is included in the collection:


A mysterious woman puts a strain on a suburban couple’s marriage.

Production Info

Cast: 2 total (1 female, 1 male)
Short Drama (about 30 minutes)
Minimal Set Requirements
Contemporary Costumes

Press Quotes

“Wild. Weird. Wacky. And rather wonderful. That’s DARLENE & THE GUEST LECTURER. A R Gurney’s new pair of one-acters. For the past fifteen years, Gurney has been a strong presence in the American theater. He’s incisively exposed the feeling lurking beneath the stolid WASP exterior in such plays as THE DINING ROOM and THE COCKTAIL HOUR. He’s shown he can write tenderly, too, in LOVE LETTERS, which details a friendship from childhood to death. He also demonstrated that he could be Neil Simon-funny in SYLVIA, in which a dog comes between a man and wife. Here, though, Gurney has gone out on a comic and dramatic limb — but one from which an adventurous theatergoer can enjoy the view. DARLENE takes place in the suburban home of Angela and Jim, who are mulling over a letter that was stuck under their car’s windshield wiper. Jim is shocked by the explicit language and sexual innuendo, but Angela is titillated. She eventually admits that she wishes the letter had come from him. The extent of Jim’s horniness, though, can be found in his horn-rimmed glasses. The play is a more civilized WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, mixed with a dash of Pinter’s THE LOVER in which a husband and wife can only have sex if they pretend they’re other people. But this view of two-empty-nesters who must admit to an empty marriage is as poignant as it is atypical. THE GUEST LECTURER, though, is where Gurney really lets his imagination soar. A regional theater that once had the resources to pay two dozen actors in YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU now finds that even the two-character THE GIN GAME is beyond its means. So it goes back to the bare bones that theater once was: a singular speaker, Hartley, who will lecture on drama … a nifty Twilight Zone-like subplot.” —Peter Filichia, The Star-Ledger

“… good satire — as A R Gurney’s plays are proving — can make for a rip-roaring good time … DARLENE is an engrossing little play due to the provocative premise, the skillful writing … the riotous proceedings of THE GUEST LECTURER.” —Charles Paolino, Home News Tribune

“There are a number of reasons why millions of Americans go out weekly to sit in narrow rows or uncomfortable seats. One of the reasons is A R Gurney. These two plays show us again how he has become so successful by tapping into today’s American psyche.” —Gretchen C Van Benthuysen, Asbury Park Press

About the Author


  • A R Gurney

    A R ("Pete") Gurney's work has been produced in New York at Lincoln Center, Manhattan Theater Club, Playwrights Horizons, and Primary Stages. Among his plays are THE DINING ROOM, THE COCKTAIL HOUR, LOVE LETTERS, SYLVIA, FAR EAST, THE FOURTH WALL, and BIG BILL. Four of his more political plays — O JERUSALEM, MRS FARNSWORTH, SCREEN PLAY, and POST MORTEM — have been produced at the Flea Theater in Tribeca. Gurney also wrote several published novels, as well as the libretto for Michael Torke's opera Strawberry Fields, presented by the New York City Opera. A former Professor of Literature at M I T, he was elected in 2005 to the Theater Hall of Fame and in 2006 to The American Academy of Arts and Letters. He passed away in June 2017. Audio Interview [audioplayer file="//" titles="Leonard Lopate Interviews A R Gurney" artists="" bg="434343"]

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 6/1/1999
Pages 90
ISBN 9780881456936

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:

Originally produced by The George Street Playhouse, New Brunswick NJ

The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
Darlene is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC


Upcoming and Recent Productions


2/1/2018 – 2/3/2018
Los Angeles City College Theatre Academy
Los Angeles, CA