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Too, Too Much

With Hydriotaphia, playwright Tony Kushner can't let anything go

Still, the script itself vacillates so wildly between sophomoric slapstick and serious abstract discussions that it's impossible to locate the playwright's intention. This confusion only gets worse as the play spins wildly toward its end. In one of the most confounding moments, after Browne has died and all the money is gone, Browne's wife is invited by the forest witch to come along with her to America, to the New World. These lines are said with no detectable irony. But it's 1667, and in just 25 years the Salem witch trials will take place. Does Kushner, in all his skepticism about western civilization, really believe in the promise of a New World?

Hydriotaphia, or the Death of Dr. Browne plays through April 25 at the Alley Theatre, 615 Texas, 228-8241.

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