The hottest ticket on Broadway right now is Other Desert Cities, a family/political drama by playwright Jon Robin Baitz, who my be best known for creating the television drama Brothers & Sisters. Like that show’s early days, Other Desert Cities explores big political issues by filtering them through a family’s internal rifts, recriminations, and love for one another.
In this case, the play focuses primarily on the Wyeth family’s Christmas gathering in Palm Springs, California, where the elder Wyeths, Polly and Lyman, played by Stockard Channing and Stacy Keach, live. Polly and Lyman are Old Guard Republicans who remain active in a certain kind of Republican circle. Lyman was a former actor, much like Reagan, and was appointed an ambassador during his administration. Polly is friends with Nancy.
Polly and Lyman have taken in Polly’s sister, Silda, played by Judith Light, who has had a drug problem. Now out of rehab with no place to go, she resents living with her sister in part due to their former success as a screenwriting partnership, which broke up with Polly’s turn to Republican conservatism. As Silda constantly reminds her, Polly is a Jew who plays the part of a transplanted-Texas WASP.
Rounding out the family gathering are the Wyeth “children,” both of whom are adults. Rachel Griffiths plays Brooke, an emotionally delicate writer who suffered from a six-year emotional breakdown after the publication of her first novel but who now insists that she knows how to manage her depression. Trip Wyeth, played by Matthew Risch, who will soon be replaced by Justin Kirk, is a producer on a cheesy Judge Judy type of television show in which celebrities serve on a jury and decide cases.
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