Cover art by David Prittie

Post Mortem

A R Gurney
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POST MORTEM is set in the not-too-distant future when the Christian Right holds power. Alice, a lowly lecturer in drama at a faith-based state university in the Midwest, and Dexter, an enthusiastic student more interested in his teacher than the theatre, become embroiled in the discovery of a play by an obscure late 20th century playwright named A R Gurney. When the authorities destroy the script, these two must piece together the play and with it the future of the world gone mad.

Production Info

Cast: 3 total (2 female, 1 male)
Full Length Drama (about 100 minutes)
Single Set
Contemporary Costumes
Category: Tag:

Press Quotes

“A R Gurney has written a play that, as accurately appraised by one admirer, has ‘turned the world upside down.’ It can be said without exaggeration that this epochal work is directly responsible for, among other things, an effective universal health care system, world peace, smooth-running public transportation and significant declines in global warming and the divorce rate. Would that Mr Gurney were alive to witness the effects of his miracle drama. Sadly, he was killed — some say murdered (possibly by, ssshhh,) Dick Cheney — before it was ever produced. POST MORTEM, the panacea of a play described above, is not to be confused with the bubbly grievance list of a comedy with the same title … about a panacea of a play called POST MORTEM … [which] was also written by Mr Gurney, who at last report was very much alive. Indeed, Mr Gurney — the theatrical sociologist who has devoted much of his career to recording the habits of the endangered American WASP in plays like THE COCKTAIL HOUR and the magazine article THE DINNER PARTY — could be said to be more than alive. For the purposes of his latest offering, set ‘sometime in the future’ at a Midwestern university ruled by censorship, he has become God, restructuring the world in his own image to consider the plight of his beloved country and the state of his beloved art. Though he is principally known as a practitioner of the ‘middle-class comedy of manners’ (to borrow a dismissive self-description from this latest play), in recent years he has used the stage of the Flea for cathartic venting about a world that seems determined to destroy itself. His previous collaborations with Mr Simpson include O JERUSALEM, MRS FARNSWORTH and SCREENPLAY, all political fantasies of wish — and fear — fulfillment … But in addition to taking sardonic aim at Mr Gurney’s usual favorite targets — chiefly, the sins of the Bush administration — this latest work deals specifically and wistfully with the role of drama in a culture that has increasingly little respect for it. On one level, POST MORTEM isn’t much more than a grab bag of Broadway insider jokes, polemical satire and cosmic lamentation. But its parental concern and love for theater lends the show an affecting sweetness that lingers … it’s hard not to be infected by the relish with which Mr Gurney rewrites his own past, as well as invents a glorious posterity for himself. Early in the play Dexter talks about coming upon a rare copy of Mr Gurney’s privately printed autobiography, which reveals that he had affairs with many famous actresses, including Cameron Diaz and both Audrey and Catherine Hepburn. Hey, if you’re going to be the author of your own life, you might as well make it juicy.” —Ben Brantley, The New York Times

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 12/1/2006
Pages 80
ISBN 9780881453287

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 Flea Theater, New York

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