I enjoyed this play very much and have read it several times. Each time I read the play I grasp a better understanding of what Shaffer may be conveying to the audience. This play made me ask so many questions about society today and what some of the truths are in life.
I do not believe this play to be about materialism or convenience and the killing of our capacity for worship, passion, or pain. Alan had a capacity for worship and passion, just not within the normal boundaries of societies acceptable views. Alan had the capacity for pain, but reached his climax when in the stable and blinded the six horses. If man is materialistic it is because the opportunity presents itself and we are already that way. There is no spiritual or mental decay of modern man. Religion flourishes as it always has, and causes peace and war as it always will. We know more now than we ever did in the past about medicine, science, the arts, humanity, the origin of man, and life itself.
In the case of Alan, he suffers from mental illness, but can be healed with love and passion from those around him; Dysart being the one to take the first step and not giving up on him. Worship is not a human need, but the freedom of worship is a human right. I believe this play to hold these truths; the human need for understanding, compassion, and healing.