THE STORY: Tony, a professor of American literature (and a quintessential WASP), has given up his teaching post to stage a party to end all parties. He has invited people from all walks of American life to attend, as if to demonstrate that even if the WASP ruling class can no longer lead America, it must, at least, teach them to entertain properly. Tony has also invited a svelte critic from the New York Times in the hopes of getting a perfect review for his perfect party, but trouble arises when the critic says the evening lacks the "essential element of danger" that makes all parties worthwhile. Improvising, Tony warns the reporter about his twin brother, a foul-mouthed and hugely endowed womanizer, whom he has invited to attend. Piqued by the chance to meet such a man, the reporter opts to stay, and here the funny heart of the play takes over. Tony, you see, is going to have to play his own fictitious twin brother if the evening's to be a success. In a fake mustache, and with an even faker Italian accent, Tony aggressively woos the reporter while trying to avoid the unavoidable and hilarious misunderstandings between both him and his skeptical wife and an obliging (if sensitive) Jewish couple from next door. In the end, the party falls apart, only to be triumphantly resurrected as Tony's rigid structure gives way to a free-for-all which may not be perfect, but is as vital and rewarding as the idea of democracy itself.
A long-run Off-Broadway success, this unique, brilliantly conceived and very funny play explores the hilarious crises encountered by an urbane college professor as he endeavors to scale the social heights by giving a truly "perfect party." "…it is surely Mr. Gurney's funniest, meanest and most theatrical play yet. What a pleasure it is to watch a veteran writer step out, at some risk, into the unexpected." —NY Times. "…it does offer an evening in the theatre that is as close to perfection as…we are likely to get." —NY Post. "Mr. Gurney is one of our wittiest writers, his ear sharply attuned to fatuities, and he is almost always very funny when he tries to be." —The New Yorker. "As always in a Gurney journey, a real writer is at the wheel. The dialogue snaps and crackles with wickedly knowing observations…" —Variety.