Some playwrights can both bruise and massage your soul, and if Edward Albee and Harold Pinter lead the category of writers whose whipcracking vigor can feel punishing at times, David Adjmi, whose play 3C is currently on view at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, also belongs to that group. His mixing of realism and absurdity evokes Albee, but kicked into a higher gear, where moods and emotions swerve wildly. Adjmi keeps his audience on its toes by constantly demonstrating how hysterical laughter can signal trauma, and cool civility hide cruel bigotry.
Adjmi’s last play, Elective Affinities, was a one-woman show staged inside a parlor of an Upper East Side mansion. Interviewed by The House Next Door, Adjmi said he was attracted to the play’s character, Alice Hauptmann, because she was an outsider, even though, with her WASP background, she didn’t seem like one. Appearances were also important to Adjmi’s first play, Stunning, about whose characters he said in The New York Times: “They try to create this hard wall of surface to suffice for their wounds—personal wounds, cultural wounds, historical wounds.”