Feb 17, 2010

The Ben & Charles Show

This may be a first: The Times' two critics, in dialogue, and about topical theater, no less. This exchange stands out:
BRANTLEY Strangely, the political works that have most moved and disturbed me in recent years — and by purely theatrical means — have been British imports: Sarah Kane's brutal “Blasted,” which forced you to imagine how ordinary people could commit the atrocities that were a daily part of conflicts like the Bosnian wars, and the National Theater of Scotland’s “Black Watch,” which made you feel you had crawled into the skins of a regiment of Scottish soldiers in Iraq.

ISHERWOOD Well I have to confess a mild sense of shame that Broadway has to import a play about the Enron scandal. It’s dispiriting enough that we’re importing mediocre revivals of American musicals, for God’s sake. But the British do seem to have a more fertile — and more inventive — approach to making theater that both addresses a political or social issue and succeeds as a work of the imagination. I also thought “Blasted” and “Black Watch” were excellent. The other major example that springs to mind is Caryl Churchill — also British! — who has written all sorts of plays that speak to social, sometimes topical issues but do so in ways that ensure that the plays won’t die when interest in the subject pales.

For the record, they do go on to approve the solidly American work of Nottage and Foote.

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