Gilman's young playwriting career continues to strengthen and improve as she stretches beyond her familiar Spinning into Butter (LJ 7/00) and the shocking The Glory of Living (Faber & Faber, 2001) into a larger world. Gilman's previous plays have received numerous awards and accolades, and this work should be no different. At once a romance, a comedy, and a tragedy, Blue Surge offers a penetrating look at class struggle and at women's issues. This lean play of two acts and five actors moves quickly and leaves no winners in the reality of life. Curt is a small-town cop who tries to arrest Sandy, a prostitute. He fails in the arrest and then he fails in his attempts to help her and himself. One of the most poignant scenes occurs when Curt and his upper-class fianc e argue about the morality of arresting prostitutes. Beth is making fun of the family restaurant located next door to the massage parlor that Curt and his fellow policemen are trying to shut down. Curt argues that, just because the restaurant is not up to her high standards, the families that use it shouldn't have to be subjected to a massage parlor next door. Beth says, "Okay then. Places that put something besides iceberg lettuce in the salads." To which Curt responds, "I like iceberg lettuce." This great work by an upcoming playwright is recommended for public and academic libraries. J. Sara Paulk, Coastal Plain Regional Lib., Tifton, GA
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Chicago-based Gilman emerged in the mid-90s with a tightly written thriller, The Glory of Living, about a fascinating pair of sociopaths who, a la Natural Born Killers, go on a murderous spree. In the years since, Gilman has wandered away from her initial noirish style to craft plays that, despite such serious themes as racism, stalking, and sexual harassment, retain a certain comic lightness. Blue Surge, which premiered at Chicago's Goodman Theater in July 2001, returns to the sleazy milieu of her first triumph but deals with it in the light manner of her Spinning into Butter and Boy Gets Girl. A pair of cops become emotionally enmeshed in the lives of a couple of massage therapists who hook on the side. Or are they hookers who do massage on the side? The play includes passages of astonishing dramatic power, and the first quarter of the play is particularly strong. Gilman's gift for believable dialogue remains, but a glib, TV-melodrama ending mars what might have been a much stronger play. Jack Helbig
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