Reviews

The Reference Is Obscure

“I began with a desire to speak with the dead,” Stephen Greenblatt writes at the beginning of Shakespearean Negotiations.  “Literature professors are salaried, middle-class shamans.”  For a few years in the ‘nineties, Tom Stoppard also desired to speak with the dead.  His plays Arcadia and Indian Ink (the latter is currently being revived by Roundabout) both concern people in […]

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Reviews

Stop—and Look Around

“People are profoundly bad, but irresistibly funny.”  This quotation, from playwright Joe Orton, serves as the epigraph to a revival of his Loot, currently running at the Lucille Lortel Theater.  It is staggeringly misleading.  Applied to a work by, say, Edward Bond, or Tom Stoppard, or Sarah Kane, it would be appropriate.  But Loot is […]

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Reviews

How’s Your Lover Today, Amanda?

Betrayal is a perfect work of art and probably the greatest play not written by Shakespeare.  Harold Pinter has a total mastery over his language, distilling it in a way that even surpasses Beckett—every word, every moment is essential, and the cumulative effect of his silences and terse sentences is shattering.

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Reviews

What Moment Does Resurrection Choose?

The silent agony of three women living in a cavernous home in Los Angeles is suddenly interrupted by the introduction of Roscoe (Gary Cole), a Cervantes professor who is working on some sort of video project with the family’s youngest daughter, Sally (Julianne Nicholson).  The home has no patriarch—”Whitmore” left years ago—and Roscoe himself has […]

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Reviews

Venus in Stilletos

Victor L. Cahn has written a book on gender and power in the plays of Harold Pinter, and his new play, Getting the Business, feels like a riff on the issues raised in his predecessor’s work.  Billed somewhat misleadingly as a “noir farce”—probably because it features a femme fatale—it is more like a black comedy […]

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Reviews

Time Takes a Cigarette, Puts It In Your Mouth

Simon Gray’s The Common Pursuit follows the lives and times of five literary men in England.  Each scene jumps ahead about five or six years, beginning in the group’s undergraduate years in Cambridge and concluding about twenty years later.  The scenes are snapshots and in only a few hours, we are given the same sense […]

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