Tony Kushner’s epic play The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures (currently playing at the Public Theater) is a hyper intellectualized allegory disguised as a family drama about a clan of hyper-intellectuals. The action centers around the patriarch, Gus, a lifetime communist who has lived long enough to see his very ideology, the key tenets of his existence, the very fiber of his being fall squarely on the wrong side of history. What does one do when the system you’ve dedicated your life’s work to has been utterly repudiated? For Gus, unwilling to concede his beliefs as flawed, and uninterested in continuing a futile struggle, the answer appears to be an honorable suicide.
At first blush, this is a scenario that few audience members are likely to find applicable to their lives. In this post cold war era, the notion of a staunch communist is a quaint anachronism. For the modern audience, it’s just too easy to dismiss Gus’s ideals as wrongheaded. But what if it wasn’t so clear? What if Gus’s passions weren’t for an idea that was unpopular but not (yet) universally disregarded. Something like… contemporary chamber music?Continue Reading