There are smart drunks and stupid drunks. Smart drunks are like the guys in Long Days Journey Into Night: the more they imbibe, the more articulate they become and the more honest about their lives. In a drunken state, Edmund Tyrone regales his father with his memories of a mystical experience on board ship, when he suddenly felt united with all of nature, with the wind itself. In a drunken state, Jamie Tyrone warns Edmund that as much as he loves his younger brother, he also wants to make sure the latter fails, so that his own botched life wont feel so painful. And in a drunken stupor, James Tyrone Sr. admits that he threw away his rare talent as a Shakespearean actor in favor of playing repeatedly in a cheap melodrama because the money was so good and easy to come by. Each one of these confessions is surrounded by meaningful, provocative dialogue, and Mary Tyrones morphine-induced reverie at the end of the play is just icing on the cake: for these characters (and writer Eugene ONeill), intoxication equals truth.
Smart drunks make good drama.
And then theres the other type the young women and men of Adam Bocks The Drunken City, the exasperating, low-IQ excuse for a play currently showing at Gorilla Theatre. These are stupid drunks: the alcohol has washed out their memory of any vaguely interesting experiences, they repeat themselves endlessly, they take an hour to realize what the audience noticed after two minutes, and at their best they just express platitudes so already-obvious to any thinking human, its a wonder theyre old enough to have drivers licenses, much less jobs. Yes, these mindless simps are supposed to be twentysomething, but watching them is more like overhearing nine-year-olds discuss Proust: they havent read it, they wouldnt understand it, and in any case, they dont have much access to discursive language. Whats astonishing about this play is