Rare Hare, Liking Women
WithRuby Cohn
Pages 21

William Shakespeare’s male scholars forswear intercourse with the opposite sex, and David Hare’s female teachers forswear intercourse with their opposites, and lose all the girls of their private boarding school. As the title Slag reverses the letters of “gals,” Hare’s play reverses the sexes of Love’s Labor’s Lost but borrows its basic situation. As Hare’s dramaturgy grew in assurance, some of his women ring more true and less strident. Hare’s wit gains focus in his recurrent critique of middle-class professional women, but he also portrays women who are themselves critical of their—and his—class. In Pravda, Hare’s 1985 play co-written with Howard Brenton, Rebecca Foley has a degree in investigative journalism, but she serves mainly to support her crusading journalist husband, and finally to condemn his acquiescence to a powerful publisher. Hare’s film Strapless avoids that dramatic error. Hare’s irresponsible sister of the 1960s behavior and his professional sister of the selfish 1980s learn to blend private tenderness and public responsibility.