Yankee Tavern is a new play by a Texan named Steven Dietz, and it’s worth a few moments of skeptical appraisal. In it, a young couple in New York find themselves swept up in a vast, dangerous government conspiracy. Terrified and confused, they are also incredulous: they are reasonable people, and know that vast and dangerous government conspiracies do not exist. Nevertheless, the play ends with one of them disappearing en route to visit an old college professor — who may be a conspirator herself.
When I spoke to one of the show’s actors, I was informed that this is merely “one possible interpretation.” But I could find no other. It was plain to me that in the universe of the play, the government conspiracy was unambiguously real. Which would be fine if the conspiracy in question had nothing to do with 9/11. Unfortunately, Yankee Tavern is very much about 9/11. The play’s government conspiracy is the same tired crap you heard about in Loose Change, and its presence on a respectable stage begs the question: while one should obviously have the freedom to write and produce whatever species of pabulum one desires, what responsibility does a theater or playwright have to the many credulous people who are likely to wander into a good sized auditorium during a play’s five-week run?
- Brandon K. Thorp