Aug 29, 2006

Love and "Courage"

One must bow before Michael Feingold's erudition and precision, even when one differs. I thought this passage, from his Mother Courage review in the Voice, is especially fine:
Made by some of our most serious artists out of a sincere love for Brecht, the production reveals again the difficulty American theater people often have in knowing just how to express that love. The impulse to follow Brecht slavishly, to do everything that the stage directions and the images and the received notion of the theories tell us, is matched by the impulse to help the beloved author along, to Americanize and showbiz-ize—and underscore and explain. Pulling in opposite directions, the two often cancel each other out, leaving the audience to gaze at the nondescript static muddle in the center.

I know what he's saying, but for myself I felt that the love and investment he refers to paid huge dividends. And far from leaving a "nondescript static muddle in the center," for me the tension between these impulses made the play electrifying, alive, even in its lulls. (Feingold found Austin Pendleton's tuneless, impassioned rendition of "Song of the Hours" excruciating, for instance, while I found it extremely moving.)
I'm with Jeremy McCarter: This production will stay with me, whether I want it to or not; and frankly it's one of only a handful in my experience that I'd like to see again.
All we're waiting for is New York Observer's John Heilpern, and then we can wheel our cart on.

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