Mason’s Return of an Angel is in good theatrical company with its structure

While I agree with some of Steven Samuels' points in his review of Sandra Mason's play Return of an Angel (which appeared online at, I think he missed the mark a bit. His primary objections were structure, lack of naturalism and unnecessary theatrical effect.

He terms Mason's breaking of the fourth wall — with direct addresses to the audience — as more like lecture than play; yet this has been used as convention by authors and playwrights as diverse as Shakespeare, Bertolt Brecht, Ionesco, Stoppard, Woody Allen and Thornton Wilder and many others. True, Angel does not follow conventional structure of exposition, rising action and so forth, but many modern plays and film scripts do not, such as Uhry's Driving Miss Daisy and the greatest play of the 20th century, Beckett's Waiting for Godot. I would include Uta Hagen's performance in Goethe here also, one I was privileged to see. Angel is not on this level, but it is far from being a mere lecture.

I, too, believe the actual battles that must have gone on in the Old Kentucky Home must have been naturalistic scorchers, but that would make for another play. However, the effect of breaking the wall here inserts an aspect of reflection, creating a nostalgic lens through which we get an elongation of time. (The old songs contribute to this effect.) A work must be judged by the goals it attempts to meet, and this play succeeds in meeting the standard it sets.

This is not a searing Long Days Journey Into Night, but rather a charming and emotionally involving appreciation of the contribution of a native son, one who, it seems, keeps trying to come home again.

— Charlie Baumhauer

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One thought on “Mason’s Return of an Angel is in good theatrical company with its structure

  1. David Allen

    To put the writer of “Return of an Angel” in the same paragraph as the luminaries noted above is a bit of a stretch. Just because a device works for good writers doesn’t mean it works for everyone.

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