Playing Arabs and Army

Six unnamed Palestinian combatants seek cover in the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem.  With the Israeli army outside, this soon becomes a siege that will last thirty-nine days.  In that time, the combatants tend to their wounds, argue over their methods, and fantasize about the coffee and cigarettes awaiting them when the fighting is over.  The Americans and Europeans try to negotiate a truce, but inside the church this is treated with a knowing cynicism.  The Israelis also make a go at it, but their efforts prove ineffectual.  When the mother of one combatant is given a bullhorn, she quickly goes off script: “They want me to ask you to surrender.  But I swear to God and all that is holy, if you turn yourself in, I will disown you.  I swear if you surrender, I’ll cut the breast that nursed you.” Continue reading “Playing Arabs and Army”

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Richard Lieben Richard

I thought I had seen my zaniest Richard III in Mark Rylance, and before that in Kevin Spacey.  But compared to Lars Eidinger, these performances feel like those of slightly rambunctious children.  Mr. Eidinger abandons all pretense that Richard is an adult—or even a human being—and before the night is over, he has sat naked and spread-eagled on his throne, urinated on the stage, and lead the audience in a collective shaming of Buckingham (Moritz Gottwald): “You look like shit!” he cries through laughter after smearing Buckingham’s face with brown food, “Have you eaten any pussy yet today?”  Near the end of the production, he covers his own face in food, this time pasty and white, giving him the look of a nightmarish clown.  His Richard, it seems, is willing to sow chaos whenever he gets the chance.  In this context, then, his suicidal reign becomes clearer: it is simply one more chance for destruction, even if that destruction is of the self. Continue reading “Richard Lieben Richard”

Vienna Waits for You

The Elevator Repair Service is best known for their radical minimalist productions; perhaps their most famous is Gatz, an eight-hour reading of The Great Gatsby in its entirety.  I was admittedly ambivalent, then, about their Measure for Measure: would director John Collins and his cast and crew suit the text to the concept or the concept to … Continue reading Vienna Waits for You

There’s No Clock in the Forest

When artistic director Brian Kulick left the Classic Stage Company, I was hoping his vapid, celebrity-addicted productions would go with him.  This season, the second helmed by his replacement John Doyle, begins with Mr. Doyle’s As You Like It, an affable if unambitious rendering that makes little use of setting or props and relies heavily on a mostly-strong cast.  In other words: the jury is still out. Continue reading “There’s No Clock in the Forest”

Dream Brother, My Killer, My Lover

There are, as I see it, two obstacles to a theatrical adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange: the first, and most important, is to make sure that Nadsat, the Joycean, English/Russian hybrid slang he invented for his teenaged characters, is clearly understood.  All those viddies and warbles can be confusing for an audience when the context does not make the meaning clear.  The second obstacle is to subvert expectations.  I have no interest in reliving the most famous episodes from Burgess’ novel or Stanley Kubrick’s film.  So recognizable, A Clockwork Orange must be made new. Continue reading “Dream Brother, My Killer, My Lover”