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Arts & Entertainment

Best Play 

Fifth of July

Bleary with drink, stubbed out by life, the Talleys of Fifth of July (the final chapter of Lanford Wilson's trilogy about one Missouri family's collisions with recent American history) got us in the gut: laughs from it and kicks to it. Under director Mark Robbins' clear eye, the cast members of the Kansas City Actors Theatre cast spent their summer investing Wilson's rich, woozy talk with real weight and power, scratching at the skin of American life until only rawness remained. Even more remarkably, the actors seemed to glide through these roles: They just played people, regular folks grumbling at all the ways the world has changed and not sure what, if anything, they should do about it. In its offhand way, Fifth of July showed how the disillusionment of the '70s begat the rapaciousness of the '80s. It was also funnier than most comedies and more moving than most tragedies, but -- like life itself -- it never settled down cleanly as either.

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