Between Riverside And Crazy Summary

Stephen Adly Guirgis

Between Riverside And Crazy

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Between Riverside And Crazy Summary

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Between Riverside and Crazy is a 2014 play by American playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis. It centers on retired New York policeman Walter “Pops” Washington, a widower whose son Junior has just been released from jail. The father and son live in a rent-controlled apartment on Riverside Drive. The play covers their interactions with Junior’s girlfriend, Lulu, and their recovering addict friend, Oswaldo, as well as Walter’s discrimination suit against the police department over an accidental shooting. Exploring themes of race, poverty, addiction, and the complex relationship between fathers and sons, Between Riverside and Crazy became one of the author’s most acclaimed works. It won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, along with the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Lucille Lortel Award, and the Outer Critics Circle Award. It had a successful Off-Broadway run and went on to play around the United States.

Between Riverside and Crazy opens on a conversation between Pops and his unofficially adopted son, Oswaldo, who is determined to turn over a new leaf from his addict past. He’s sworn to give up drinking and drugs and to reconcile with his estranged father. Oswaldo and the other resident of the apartment, the flirty Lulu, both call Pops “Dad” although neither is related to him. He seems to be fine with them, letting them both have free room and board. Both view him as more of a father than their own—and they have a better relationship with Pops than he does with his biological son, Junior. As soon as the recently-released Junior comes in, they start arguing about old topics—Pops’ treatment of his late wife, Dolores, Pops’s long-pending lawsuit against the NYPD, and whether it’s time for Pops to finally move out of his old rent-controlled apartment. They go back and forth, and that night, Lulu reveals to both of them that she’s expecting Junior’s baby. Pops is excited, looking forward to becoming a grandfather for the first time.

Later, Pops receives a visit from his former police partner, Detective Audrey O’Connor, and her fiancé, Lieutenant Dave Caro. They have a reunion dinner where they get drunk and reminisce about Pops’s days as a policeman. This drives Junior out of the room in resentment, as O’Connor and Caro share the story of how Pops saved for his engagement ring. O’Connor floats the idea of Pops walking her down the aisle at her wedding. But then, the conversation turns to Pops’s lawsuit; O’Connor and Caro try to convince him to drop it or at least settle with the city. Pops angrily refuses. Meanwhile, Junior and Lulu get into a fight about whether Lulu should keep the baby. She accuses Junior of not truly loving her, and the fight escalates until Junior decides to take a short vacation without Lulu. However, before she can leave the house, he changes his mind and apologizes, and they leave together. That night, Oswaldo returns home from a meeting with his father, drunk and depressed by his father’s rejection. Pops, who had gotten drunk himself, refuses to give Oswaldo any more money, and Oswaldo insists he gives him his credit card as act one ends.

As act two begins, Pops appears lightly beaten and bandaged as a Church Lady comes by to visit. She says she’s a friend and colleague of Pops’s former friend, Glenda. The church lady tries to get Pops to take Communion with her, but he refuses. She then takes off her clothes and straddles him, and they have sex. Their sexual relations increase Pops’s heart rate until he suddenly feels like he’s having a heart attack. As they kiss, with him taking the Communion wafer out of her mouth, he collapses. He’s being treated at home for his cardiac incident when he gets a visit from O’Connor and Caro, who tell him that the city’s ready to settle the lawsuit if he will. He looks at the settlement offer and rejects it, saying he deserves more. He becomes belligerent as they try to pressure him into taking the settlement, demanding the ring he helped them buy. They continue to argue. Later, Pops and Junior are talking, and the dialog reveals that Lulu is not pregnant; Oswaldo has slipped back into drug and alcohol abuse; and Pops and Junior have finally reconciled. Lulu and Oswaldo have moved out and are starting their own lives, and Junior is getting ready to move out as well. Pops decides to give up his old apartment and gives the ring to the Church Lady, who turns out to be a con woman who heard about him from Glenda and had planned to rob him. He decides to give her the ring anyway, hoping someone will make better use of it than he did.

Stephen Adly Guirgis is an American playwright, screenwriter, director, actor, and a member of New York City’s LAByrinth Theater Company. He is the author of ten plays, which have played on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and the West End in London.