Christmas on Mars

by Harry Kondoleon

design by Peter Collins

129x198mm

110 pages including photography by Tyler Kelly

softcover

ISBN 978-1-914237-25-6

Angels are whirling about me like rings. Can you feel their light?

Bruno, an out-of-work actor, plans on marrying and setting up home with his partner, Audrey. But the couple’s future happiness is threatened by the arrival of two unexpected guests who refuse to leave. First up is Nissim, a flight attendant who alleges he is, in fact, Bruno’s long-term partner. Then comes Ingrid, Audrey’s estranged mother, who will do anything to atone for years of parental neglect.

Christmas on Mars is the story of an unconventional foursome who come to share an apartment one holiday season, written in Harry Kondoleon’s antic comic style. First performed in 1983 at Playwrights Horizons, New York, it received a rare revival in 2023 in a production directed by Alastair Curtis.

Polari Press is now returning this classic of American queer theatre to print. Edited by Curtis, this special edition includes a brief biography of Kondoleon, a conversation with theatre critic Don Shewey, and an afterword by the playwright Wendy Wasserstein, as well as Tyler Kelly’s photos of the play’s 2023 revival. It is a moving tribute to one of the twentieth-century’s most enchanting playwrights.

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Harry Kondoleon was once called a ‘theatrical comet of the 80s’. Though his career was brief, lasting just fourteen years, he wrote eighteen critically-acclaimed plays between 1980 and 1994, as well as two novels and a poetry collection. His combination of sharp wit and absurdist humour was frequently compared to Christopher Durang, Joe Orton and Oscar Wilde. He passed away from AIDS-related complications in 1994, at the age of 39.

He is a poet in the theatre and a wit on the page, and what makes him both is his blazing vision of the life behind this one, the life we ought to be living and are not”
Michael Feingold

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The AIDS Plays Project is re-staging and re-publishing the theatrical works of writers whose lives were cut short by HIV/AIDS-related illnesses. Striving for cultural recovery and repair, the project seeks to mend the connection between these trailblazing writers and a younger generation of queer artists and audiences.

Alastair Curtis is a writer, director, and founder of The AIDS Plays Project. His work has been published in frieze, AnOther, The Economist, The Observer, and Prospect. Sweetheart, his debut short film, will be released later this year.

Pre-order now for release on 30 July 2024.

£10.99