Introduction & Overview of Love! Valour! Compassion!

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Love! Valour! Compassion! Summary & Study Guide Description

Love! Valour! Compassion! Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains For Further Reading on Love! Valour! Compassion! by Terrence McNally.

Terrence McNally's Love! Valour! Compassion! opened Off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 1994 and then transferred to Broadway and won the Tony Award for Best Play in 1995. This was in the middle of the 1990s—a decade in which the playwright garnered an impressive four Tony Awards. The others included Best Book of a Musical for Kiss of the Spider Woman (1994), Best Play for Master Class (1996), and Best Book of a Musical for Ragtime (1998). He also scored a theatrical "hat trick" in 1996 when three of his productions ran simultaneously on Broadway: Kiss of the Spider Woman, Love! Valour! Compassion! , and Master Class.

Love! Valour! Compassion! was hailed by many critics as McNally at the top of his form. The play centers on eight gay men who vacation together at an upstate New York country home for three summertime holiday weekends. Gregory, the host of the gatherings, is a successful but aging choreographer trying to complete what may be his last major work. Bobby, his blind and much younger live-in boyfriend loves him but is still discovering who he is and what he wants from the world. John is a cynical, mean-spirited, failed English playwright, relegated to working as a rehearsal pianist for Gregory's company. His twin brother, James, a costumer for the National Theatre of Great Britain, is as kind and compassionate as John is angry and alienated. He is also dying of AIDS. Ramon is John's current boyfriend. He is a young, handsome, and talented Puerto Rican dancer just beginning his career. He is also filled with confidence, brimming with sexuality, and very attracted to Bobby. Perry and Arthur are the group's "role models." Although they constantly bicker and feud, the lawyer and accountant have been together for fourteen years and are often the force of stability in an otherwise chaotic world. Finally, there is Buzz, the highly charged and hilarious costumer for Gregory's company who is obsessed with musical theatre, always ready with a sarcastic one-liner, and is usually the life of the party. Like James, he is HIV-positive, and his high jinks often mask his troubled spirit.

Readers of Love! Valour! Compassion! will find a formula that has worked well for McNally in some of his other successes: a group of characters gathered together for a weekend of talking, laughing, and exploring the boundaries of their relationships and some of life's more profound and difficult questions. In his introduction to the published play, McNally reveals, "I wanted to write about what it's like to be a gay man at this particular moment in our history. I think I wanted to tell my friends how much they've meant to me. I think I wanted to tell everyone else who we are when they aren't around."

Mostly comic, the play manages to include elements of seriousness and even tragedy. It employs some unconventional theatrical techniques. The stage is mostly bare, the scenery imagined, and each of the characters takes turns narrating the action, alternately speaking directly to the audience and to one another. It is, as the 1997 film version of the play was billed, an outrageous mix of the The Big Chill and The Bird Cage.

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This section contains 534 words
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Love! Valour! Compassion! from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.