Contemporary Theatre of Dallas
For some playwrights, winning the Pulitzer Prize for a first or second play marks the end of a promising career as a dramatist. It happened with Margaret Edson and her 1999 Pulitzer winner W;t (she's never written another play). With Charles Fuller and A Soldier's Play (1982). And with Paul Zindel, whose first play, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, won the 1971 Pulitzer. Zindel wrote a few others after that, but he never had a follow-up stage hit. He found more success as author of young adult novels, publishing 53 of those, including My Darling, My Hamburger and the popular Pigman trilogy, before his death in 2003.
Zindel's best play was Gamma Rays, made into a so-so film starring Joanne Woodward. But it's one of those Pulitzer winners (and there are more than a few) that hasn't held up over time. It's never been revived in New York and rarely turns up in regional theaters. It focuses on fractious people in a bleak environment. Most of Zindel's plays - others were And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little and Ladies of the Alamo - were like that, revolving around two or three shrieky women characters who make life miserable for everyone around them.
The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild, which played only 23 performances on Broadway in 1972 and is now at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, is such a play, two hours of noisy bickering, a tragedy pretending otherwise. The title character is a frowzy Greenwich Village housewife in her 60s, married for 40 childless years to Roy, a spineless twerp in a too-obvious toupee. They live in a squalid apartment above a failing candy store that's due to be wrecking-balled, leaving them homeless.More »