At the opening of new play Superior Donuts, the audience is confronted by the vandalised eponymous store, making them wonder just exactly what the owner did to deserve having his donut cabinets smashed and the word “Pussy” spray-painted in red across the back wall.
Like his lone independent store stranded amongst the tide of corporations, Arthur embodies the ageing hippy, whose refutation of the mainstream leaves him marooned and evasive.
Though the arriving police inspectors share the audience’s intrigue, the dishevelled-looking proprietor, Arthur P, seems almost unaware of the surrounding damage. Equally oblivious to the female officer’s blatant flirting, the mysterious oddball settles himself amongst the wreckage whilst the cops attempt to conduct an investigation.
Like his lone independent store stranded amongst the tide of corporations, Arthur embodies the ageing hippy, whose refutation of the mainstream leaves him marooned and evasive. When the enterprising Franco forces his services upon the store-owner, Arthur is forced to embrace the changing nation around him and revaluate his position. Interspersed with monologues where Arthur ponders the days gone by, the play tracks the growing friendship between the two unlikely compatriots – their dissonance provides the play with the heartening, gentle comedy that helps ease the pain of the underlying drama.
Tony and Pulitzer price-winning Tracy Letts has his work cut out in rivalling his other recent successes. Perhaps this inspired the heavy-handed racial caricatures and graphic sub-plot which make the generated emotions occasionally feel a little contrived. However, the poignant sincerity of the characters’ relationship and their triumph over the odds leaves a touching aftertaste which is definitely more sweet than bitter.