Paul Rudnick’s new play, The New Century, is less about the 21st century than about Century 21, the discount emporium opposite ground zero. “If you’re going to pay a tribute to New York, you have to include our discount landmarks,” Rudnick said at the opening party on April 14. “Plus it’s got this instant and way-too-easy metaphorical value, because you think There’s Century 21 in instant contrast to one of the planet’s major holocausts.” The play’s final scene is a paean to the store, suggesting that both its name and marked-down bounty symbolize hope and survival. But Rudnick confessed an ulterior motive. “I feel they should now offer me a substantial discount thanks to my publicity,” he said. “It would be a nice gesture.” A store spokeswoman is open to it: “I’ll speak to someone, but I’m sure that could be arranged.”
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