THE STORY: Howard Taubman describes: “In a sharp-edged prologue, Mr. Richardson declares his thesis… (He) is suggesting earnestly in his cheerful fashion that the small routines strangle the spirit and that the adventure to the unknown should be embraced recklessly. No one would wish to quarrel with such brave, heady counsel. But note the symbols chosen to develop this argument. In the first part of GALLOWS HUMOR we encounter Walter, who has worked out to the tiniest detail how he will employ the two hours preceding his hanging. A benevolent penal system, intent on a new program of magnanimity, sends him a prostitute to beguile his last hours. He resists her, breaks down and confesses to her the sources of his troubled soul and at last lets her recall the joy of life to him. The second half of GALLOWS HUMOR takes place in the executioner’s kitchen. Philip, the hangman, leads a contented existence until he discovers his wife, Martha, in an embrace with the warden. Instead of being upset, he feels liberated. He will leave, seeking whatever destiny each day may hold. But he cannot escape. Marriage holds him in chains. He must go on with his duties as executioner."
An Off-Broadway success. “By keeping his tongue purposefully in cheek Richardson made the evening a lot of fun.” —NY Daily News. “…fresh and incisive.” —NY Times. “His concept is sardonic joy.” —NY World-Telegram & Sun.