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Theater review: 'The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide ...' -- 2 stars

The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism

The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures Photo Credit: Handout

The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures

2 stars

Good luck making sense of “The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures,” Tony Kushner’s ambitious, sprawling and messy new family drama.

It’s filled with so many ideas, philosophical arguments and subplots that it’s tempting to throw in the towel before it finally ends after nearly four hours and two intermissions.

The long-winded title is a takeoff on George Bernard Shaw’s “The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism” and Mary Baker Eddy’s “Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures.”

Unlike Kushner’s masterpiece “Angels in America,” which combines realistic drama with fantasy, this play is structured as a traditional American drama, similar to those written by Arthur Miller. Kushner, however, fills it with the kind of intellectual arguments you’d find in a Shaw drama such as “Pygmalion.”

Set in a Brooklyn brownstone in 2007, it observes the extended family of Gus Marcantonio (Michael Cristofer), a retired longshoreman and lifelong communist, union member and intellectual who is contemplating suicide and has allowed his family to come to a vote on whether he should go through with it.

Michael Greif’s production showcases intense performances, especially from Cristofer. Ensemble scenes in which family members argue endlessly can be fascinating.

But “The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide” — unlike “Angels,” which managed to be both epic and coherent — is far too difficult to make sense of or enjoy.

If you go: “The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures” plays at the Public Theater through June 12. 425 Lafayette St., 212-967-7555, publictheater.org.

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