Visiting Edna & Good for Otto
Two Playsby David Rabe
A collection of two groundbreaking new plays by Tony Award–winning dramatist David Rabe, exploring aging and mental health in modern America.
Good for Otto, which premiered in October 2015 at the Gift Theatre in Chicago, is an unflinching portrayal of the world of mental illness and therapy. Drawing on material from Undoing Depression by Connecticut psychotherapist Richard O’Connor, it is a deeply moving look into the life of a number of patients trying to navigate personal trauma, including a profoundly troubled young girl, and one therapist, Dr. Michaels.
Visiting Edna, which premiered in September 2016 at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, is a stylistically dazzling exploration of the bond between mother and son. As Edna, a woman in the last years of her life, faces a short future plagued by her many illnesses, from diabetes to arthritis to cancer, she maintains the emotional distance she has kept from her son Andrew since he became an adult, and they both struggle to communicate about their shared past as they contemplate the future.
Taken together, the plays form a startling and thought-provoking vision of American society and cement Rabe’s place in the upper echelons of the canon of contemporary theater.
“Many would list [Rabe] among the very greatest of living playwrights.” —Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune
“Rabe’s theatrical universe is at once vivid and mysterious, a pageant and a puzzle, where his bemused characters glimpse only the barest outline of what one of them calls ‘the unrelenting havoc’ in which they flounder . . . Rabe . . . has produced a wide-ranging body of distinguished drama . . . Rabe’s daringly stylized dramas hover in the realms between the natural and the metaphorical.” —John Lahr, New Yorker
“Rabe’s moving drama [has] a symphonic quality . . . As exciting as it can be to discover fresh new voices, it can be just as heartening to see a veteran playwright return to powerful form, as Mr. Rabe unquestionably does in this sprawling drama about mental illness . . . Mr. Rabe digs into his subject with a depth that almost feels bottomless . . . The play’s near-epic nature is integral to its strength.” —Charles Isherwood, New York Times, on Good for Otto
“Remarkable . . . The great American writer David Rabe . . .[is] justly one of the most revered American dramatic writers of the 20th century, and a writer who has, at the age of 75, now penned as comprehensive, heartfelt and even-handed a theatrical look at the issues surrounding mental illness in America as you ever are likely to see . . . [A] thoroughly wonderful play . . . Rabe is a humanist poet and there are, trust me, some astoundingly beautiful gushes of prose in this work . . . Rabe is a giant of the American theater with plenty more to contribute.” —Chicago Tribune, on Good for Otto
“Remarkable . . . Good for Otto is an altogether breathtaking piece of theater . . . Otto might just become Rabe’s crowning achievement.” —Chicago Sun-Times, on Good for Otto
“An immersive, engaging look inside a profession of passion.” —Time Out Chicago, on Good for Otto
“The finest play on mental illness in America I’ve ever seen . . . filled with humor and hope, in homage to the many wounded souls among us who courageously carry on, choosing life against the longest of odds . . . The people standing before us in Otto are accorded tremendous empathy and respect; within the small room where their stories get told, they become our neighbors and our friends. By play’s end, I loved them all . . . Otto doesn’t just teach us a thing or two about loving our neighbors. It teaches us to love–and be honest with–ourselves . . . A major play by one of our most important 20th-century playwrights.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, on Good for Otto
“If anyone worried that Rabe might be rusty, such concerns dissipate quickly in Good for Otto . . . The play is long, dark, and deep . . . also thoroughly compelling.” —Variety, on Good for Otto
“The play’s power rests with Rabe’s poetic, painfully eloquent writing and the humanity that underscores it. It’s also clever, as evidenced by the subtle connections between the characters, reinforcing the idea that Rabe’s portraits are in conversation with each other.” —Daily Herald, on Good for Otto