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Orson Bean

'Death of the Author' finds life in academic theory

'Death of the Author' finds life in academic theory

Steven Drukman, a playwright who teaches at New York University, has written what may be his best play — a sparkling academic comedy that spins its tantalizing web from, of all arcane things, the literary theory of Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida and the other French critics and philosophers who, in focusing on the inherent instability of language, ushered in a new paradigm of critical reading known as deconstruction.

Before you start fretting that "Death of the Author," which is having its world premiere at the Geffen Playhouse's Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater in a slyly humorous production directed by Bart DeLorenzo, will be all about signs, signifiers and heavily...