The Destiny of Me
|The Destiny of Me|
Cover of the Grove Press paperback edition
|Written by||Larry Kramer|
|Date premiered||October 11, 1992|
|Place premiered||Lucille Lortel Theatre
New York City
|Subject||A young man undergoing an experimental treatment for AIDS looks back at his past|
|Setting||National Institutes of Health|
The Destiny of Me is a play by Larry Kramer. It focuses on Ned Weeks, a character introduced in The Normal Heart, as he checks into the National Institutes of Health to undergo an experimental treatment for AIDS. Much of his story is told in flashback, as Ned recalls growing up as Alexander in a Jewish household where, as a hardcore theatre aficionado, he imitates Cornelia Otis Skinner and Mary Martin and adorns his bedroom with Broadway posters. He constantly is beaten by his father Richard, a government employee who never fulfilled the promise of his Yale education, for being "different" and a "sissy," while his sympathetic but complacent mother Rena fails to intervene. Meanwhile, both parents dote on his brother Benjamin, who grows up to become a successful attorney with a dazzling career.
The original off-Broadway production was staged by the Circle Repertory Company at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. Directed by Marshall W. Mason, it opened on October 11, 1992 and ran for 198 performances. The opening night cast included Jonathan Hadary as Ned, John Cameron Mitchell as Alexander, David Spielberg as Richard, Piper Laurie as Rena, and Peter Frechette as Benjamin.
Frank Rich of the New York Times observed, "No one can accuse Mr. Kramer of being a boy who cried wolf. History may judge this impossible, reflexively contentious man a patriot. But what makes The Destiny of Me so fascinating, and at times overwhelmingly powerful, is not so much its expected single-mindedness about AIDS as its unexpectedly relentless pursuit of the crusader at center stage. Mr. Kramer cannot solve the medical mystery of the virus or the psychological mystery of the world's tardy response to the peril. What he can try to crack is his own mystery: Why was he of all people destined to scream bloody murder with the aim of altering the destiny of the human race? The writing in The Destiny of Me can fall short of Mr. Kramer's ambitions, but it is never less than scaldingly honest." He continued, "Not by happenstance is The Destiny of Me a juicy, three-act memory play in the mode of that Arthur Miller-Tennessee Williams era, with occasional flashes of humor reminiscent of latter-day variations on the form by Neil Simon and Herb Gardner . . . Given the conventionality of Mr. Kramer's dramatic format, one sometimes wishes the dialogue fleshing it out were finer. He has a good ear, but it is the ear of a journalist, not a poet."