THE STORY: Again, as in Picnic, the setting is a small town in Kansas, and while the characters are essentially the same as in the earlier play, there are subtleties and differences which give SUMMER BRAVE a distinctive and unique quality of its own. Providing more acting roles and background “color,” and approaching its theme with more humor and verisimilitude, the play reaches similar conclusions about the impetuosity of youth; the animal attractiveness of the unpolished young stranger who sets small-town tongues wagging; and the sudden realization by the older characters that life is about to pass them by. In the end the play is a masterful blend of touching and humorous elements in which lessons are learned about growing up, going on, and accepting what a sometimes perverse fate imposes.
Described by the author as “the rewritten and final version of the romantic comedy Picnic,” this haunting and deeply affecting play was withheld from general availability during the author’s lifetime. Following the basic story of its Pulitzer Prize-winning counterpart, it offers fascinating glimpses into the subtle processes that shape and reshape a creative work as it takes on the final shadings that fully reflect the author’s intentions.