THE JOURNEY OF THE FIFTH HORSE
Obie Award, Best Play, 1965-1966
THE JOURNEY OF THE FIFTH HORSE is “a work of extraordinary power and humor.” Robert Lowell. It burst upon the off-Broadway scene with great élan. No play of the season elicited such enthusiasm. Across the top of the May 1, 1966 issue of the New Republic were written the words, “Arrival of a Playwright.” That year THE JOURNEY OF THE FIFTH HORSE won the Obie Award for the best off-Broadway play of the season. A major American playwright was launched.
THE JOURNEY OF THE FIFTH HORSE is the story of a kind and good-hearted young landowner in 19th century Russia who, desperate for love and acceptance, sets out to find both, only to discover that if he had never lived at all it would have made no difference to anyone. The play begins with the lines, “In Samarkand I saw a monkey yellow-splotched and dying in a cage, and as I made to hasten by, he grasped my sleeve as if there might be something more to the matter,” and closes with the lines, “And when I had passed through the antique marketplace of Samarkand, through the cries and fevers of the merchants, the monkey’s hand fell within his cage, and there was nothing further to the matter.” Between these lines lie all we know of Chulkaturin’s existence.
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