Commentary Magazine


In Appreciation

To the Editor:

I recall, some eight or nine years ago, reading an article concerning that strange breed of animal, the promising young playwright. Albee was the article’s chief interest, I believe. However, the piece made mention of one Jack Richardson, whose properly severe picture lay couched between those of Gelber and Kopit. He was an ex-philosophy student turned playwright who was soon to have a play open on Broadway. I never did catch up with the short-lived Lorenzo but I did eventually read Gallows Humor and The Prodigal, two fine plays now seemingly lost to the ages. My interest was sparked and has never waned. I lost track of the man for a while till I viewed a pre-Broadway try-out of Xmas in Las Vegas. The play was all wrong and yet hinted at something that was so right. I waited for that something to arise but received only silence. Perhaps Mr. Richardson had had enough abuse and neglect. But then miraculously I had the pleasure of watching him pry his way into your magazine as a truly fine drama critic. At first he didn’t seem to “belong,” but now he fits and he is writing great things.

In actuality, this letter was written to praise his most recent article, “Ibsen’s Nora and Ours” [July], an astute, witty, and finely-crafted piece of writing. I have never seen a letter in your pages commenting, either positively or negatively, upon this man’s superior work. I have written so that Mr. Richardson knows someone has listened and is still doing so. He is giving us well-honed, insightful essays, and we should all be thankful for them. Let us not ignore him by some intellectual brand of benign neglect but rather let us praise him for the fine things he has afforded us—or perhaps we shall lose him forever.

Robert Leiter
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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