Bash: Latter-Day Plays
bash: latterday plays is a collection of three dark one act plays written by Neil LaBute. Each play is an exploration of the complexities of evil in everyday life, and two of the works, "iphigenia in orem" and "medea redux" have direct Greek influence, specifically that of Euripides. In production, these three short mono-duet dramas are sometimes presented in varying orders and sometimes omitting one or two of the works. In publication, however, the plays are presented in the following order: "iphigenia in orem" followed by "a gaggle of saints" and concluding with "medea redux". The plays premiered at the Douglas Fairbanks Theater in New York City on June 24, 1999 and featured performances by Ron Eldard, Calista Flockhart and Paul Rudd. They were later shown on cable television. The play was later produced in 2003 by barebones productions in a production directed by Jeff Cordell.
The characters featured in each of these works come from different backgrounds of the Mormon religious tradition, a religion LaBute espoused before receiving religious discipline (disfellowshipment) due to the defamatory nature of this play. He has since left the church.
The entire work runs for about 100 minutes.
"iphigenia in orem"
The eponymous Iphigenia of the play is a baby girl who is suffocated by her father while she is asleep in her parents' bed. The man, who unwittingly has become the victim of a practical joke by one of his workmates, sacrifices his daughter for a higher standard of living when he takes at face value his colleague's news that he is going to be dismissed.
The play is a monologue addressed to an unseen person in a Las Vegas hotel room where the man has stopped during a business trip some years after the baby's murder. It takes the form of a confession which is heavily interspersed with the murderer's rationalizations for his deed.
"a gaggle of saints"
Two attractive college-age adults, John and Sue, alternately address the audience, never speaking to each other. They relate the superficial details of a fancy party which they attended together in New York City. During the course of the monologue, John describes leaving Sue and the rest of the girls sleeping in the hotel room and coming across two middle-aged gay lovers (whom they had previously encountered earlier in the evening) in Central Park with his friends. The boys proceed to follow one of the men into a public bathroom and where they savagely beat the man seemingly to death before one of John's friends, Tim, offers up a short eulogy to the man. John and his two friends then go back to the hotel to call the girls down for breakfast where John tells the audience that Tim notices he has a noticeable amount of blood on his shirt. In an effort to make up a story for Sue, John has Tim break his nose in order to play off the injury and blood to Sue as his own mistake walking along the edge of a fountain. At breakfast, John presents Sue with a ring that he had stolen from the man they attacked in the Central Park restroom. At the end of the play, John and Sue interact for the first and only time on stage embracing one another and posing for a picture together as the flash of a camera bulb is heard and seen before going fading to black.
A woman sits alone at an institutional table, chain smoking. She describes a sexual relationship she had, at thirteen, with her junior high school arts and sciences teacher. Later as she struggles, young, pregnant and alone, she idealizes and protects her former lover, refusing to judge him. Eventually she takes her young child to meet his father, who is married and has no children. The woman then describes how she murdered her son, without giving the audience any clear motive for the act, but presumably because she knows that it will cause her former teacher pain even though it is clear from her descriptions that she also dearly loves her child.
- Ben Brantley, "Theater Review; The Face of Evil, All Peaches and Cream", New York Times, 1999-06-25 (includes a review of Bash)