Reviews

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 […]

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Reviews

On the Other Hand

In Philip Roth’s Zuckerman Unbound, Nathan Zuckerman’s father tells him that the Barry Sisters and their recording of Fiddler on the Roof “are going to do more for the Jews than anything since ‘Tzena, Tzena.’”  Nathan allows the comment to go unchallenged, but Roth would call the Broadway musical “shtetl kitsch.”  Of course, his generation was closer, not just to the […]

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Reviews

Just by Looking

Doug Wright has clearly done his research.  His new play Posterity, about the meeting of Henrik Ibsen (John Noble) and Gustav Vigeland (Hamish Linklater), is full of assurance about its subjects.  Based on a true story, the young Vigeland, considered one of Norway’s greatest sculptors (he designed the Nobel Peace Prize medal), is offered an assignment: […]

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Reviews

Let Them Eat Bread

Arnold Bennett, no stranger to the quotidian himself, once accused James Joyce of selecting the “dailiest day” as the subject of his novel Ulysses.  Les Misérables, then, could be said to concern itself with the most epical epic: it is the story of a decades long feud between petty thief Jean Valjean (Ramin Karimloo) and police inspector Javert (Will […]

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Reviews

Yes

In his lifetime, James Joyce considered the possibility of having Ulysses adapted into a movie—and even met once with Sergei Eisenstein about it.  After his death, two attempts were made in English: Joseph Strick’s 1967 Ulysses and Sean Walsh’s 2003 Bloom, both of which—like Marleen Gorris’ 1997 Mrs. Dalloway—sacrifice the spirit of the great novel […]

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Reviews

Mediocrity Always Trumps Genius

James Joyce loved Henrik Ibsen; he considered his work superior to Shakespeare’s.  In fact, an early, lost play of his—A Brilliant Career—was partially modeled on An Enemy of the People, which is currently being revived by the Manhattan Theatre Club at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.  In a puerile attempt to emulate the Master, I […]

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Reviews

Throwing Away the Peel

When Philip Seymour Hoffman walks onstage, he sits down and takes a long beat before exhaling his first line: “Oh boy, oh boy.”  He says it so quietly, so privately that we would probably miss it if we didn’t know it was coming.  He says it like it’s not meant to be heard by over […]

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