Taken together, these plays show the breadth of Lance Tait's writing for the stage. His theater of ideas is profound. His dramatic technique is brilliant. The playwright's sensitivity, skepticism, humanity and humor distinguish his worldview, his view of the United States and his view of the people who live there.

From the Author:
The volume opens with the comedy "Car Door Shave", set in the "Hobo Jungle" on the outskirts of Ventura, California, in 1984. There, the de facto leader of the semi-permanent homeless encampment, the Vietnam veteran Cappy, basks in relative freedom and touts a philosophy of life that is informed by the writing of sexologist Wilhelm Reich. One day equilibrium in the camp is threatened when a number of people show up: a young woman looking for her birth-mother, a county social worker snooping around to see what is exactly going on in the camp, a couple of archconservatives who want to plow the camp under, and a woman who's just been released early from prison and who says she only has come to pick up her stuff. There is more: Huey, a 30 year-old immigrant from Southeast Asia, lives in the camp solely because she is in love with Cappy (the love is not returned). Also, Kevin, who is second-in-command, is battling AIDS though most in silence. A surprise appearance by the ghost of a particular American president (not to be revealed in this summary) rounds out the play.

A dinosaur dig in the majestic Rocky Mountains in Colorado is the main setting in "Gambling Fever". The landscape is strangely evocative of what we might broadly describe as The Heroic. Yet the three people working in the excavation pit are quiet types (more or less) and would prefer to be left alone to work. Victoria, a supermarket heiress, and the owner of the property on which the dig is taking place, has other ideas. She granted permission to the head scientist to excavate because she wants the dinosaur as a trophy. She believes it will help her in her quest to persuade legislators and the community that building a large casino on her property is the right thing to do for the local economy. The plot is intricate and magical. Many things stand in her way: her health, her unbalanced sister, and the shadowy figure Ed, an American Indian. "Gambling Fever", like "Car Door Shave", is a full length "problem comedy".

"Neither God Nor Master" is a nightmarish journey through a few weeks in working class Chicago, in 1923. The journey is however leavened by music (there are fourteen songs) and the humor of the Clown - one way or another he manages to insinuate himself into almost every scene of the play. Del is 20-something and on a downward spiral. His sister, Lynette, couldn't be more different. She is a buoyant idealist who works for women's rights, and much to Del's distaste (distaste is not the right word, hate is), she befriends a Chinese businessman. Del pulls out all stops to bring an end to that relationship. Del's unsavorily progress is checked by his own human failings. Unfortunately, his girlfriend Reba, a factory-girl Ophelia, is collateral damage. The play has some stylistic affinities with "The Threepenny Opera".
Three Essential Plays
Lance Tait: American Writer/Director