Things at Cabrini Catholic Academy, a private boys high school, are as stifling as usual until Sister Beatrice asks the bookish Vincent (a problem student because of boredom) to tutor his Adonis-like classmate, Rob (a problem student because, unfortunately, he is on the dumb side). As it happens, Vincent leads a rich fantasy life (that is explored in hilarious asides) and also has a homosexual crush on the dazzling Rob. The good Sister's assignment proves to be both tantalizing and, in the end, a sobering lesson in life, as the enthralled Vincent attempts to reveal the arcane mysteries of poetry and philosophy to the doltish Rob, while subtly sounding him out on other possibilities. But, in a series of deftly comic scenes, Vincent becomes well aware that discretion is indeed the better part of valor—particularly when the object of your sublimated passion can think of nothing but sports, girls and getting through school without cracking a book.
Written when the author was 18, and first produced as part of the fifth Annual Young Playwrights Festival at New York's Playwrights Horizons, this richly comic and startlingly perceptive study of sexual (and other) tensions at a Catholic high school was singled out for its sophistication, high spirits and sparkling wit. "The Young Playwrights Festival came up with a real winner and found an authentic new comic voice." —Stage (London). "Smith's writing is highly literate, often witty and full of wry insights." —NY Daily News. "REMEDIAL ENGLISH burns like a brave, iconoclastic candle in the encroaching dark." —NY Magazine. "Mr. Smith is a true humorist." —The New Yorker.