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March 06, 2006

Pan For Arthur Miller's Last Play

Not good:

This is a production for the kind of people who slow down and gawp when passing a car crash. Altman’s direction clunks and many of the cast seem downright apologetic about their lines – that is on those occasions when they can remember them. I have rarely seen a professional production in which there was such a stiff awkwardness about so much of the acting, as if almost all those on stage fervently wished they were somewhere, anywhere, else. But when one considers the play one can hardly blame them. It is tragic that the author of The Crucible and Death of a Salesman should have believed Resurrection Blues fit for production.

The play is set in a South American banana republic, with all the action taking place on a ponderous set of vast Inca ruins. The corrupt head of state has decided to crucify one of the local rebels, believed by the natives to be the son of God, and what’s more he has sold the TV rights to America for $75 million.

Miller clearly felt he had the perfect plot in which to wax indignant about the evils of both military third world dictatorships, and the crass commercialism and vulgarity of his fellow Americans.

The tone veers wildly between hectoring moral lectures, a far from penetrating analysis of the nature of religious faith, and ghastly attempts at satirical comedy that almost invariably prove dead on delivery.

You don’t really know what embarrassment is until you’ve witnessed Schell, as the wicked dictator, lamenting his impotence with the words: “My dog won’t go hunting anymore”.


Ouch.

Everyone get that? A corrupt militarist wants to execute a (assumedly heroic) rebel, and a big bad American pharmaceutical company wants to stage it as a crucifixion and broadcast it in America, where people will, I guess, be thrilled to see someone get crucified right after Cops.

Nuance is for little people.

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan, who doesn't seem to be writing about the Oscars at all for some reason.


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posted by Ace at 02:52 PM

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