The Playgoer: Variety on "Corrie"

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Variety on "Corrie"

First off, kudos to Variety for finally revamping their online "Legit" page. Now it can fully join the list of must-read theatre sites in the MSM. Much more readable now, and actually some free-access content!

Such as...

David Rooney's review of Corrie:

All of this makes the play more insightful as personal than political drama. It's hard to imagine anyone being untouched by this story of a girl full of hope and ideals being sucked into a world of horrors. But Rickman and Viner's elegant cut-and-paste job gives us only Corrie's voice when others are needed. It's telling that the most heartbreaking part of the piece is not Corrie's writing but an email from her father, expressing his pride and fear, and wishing he could stick his daughter's head in the sand.

It's worth noting that the production began unassumingly in the tiny upstairs studio at London's Royal Court and without the New York Theater Workshop fuss, might have crossed the Atlantic unencumbered by the weight of attendant controversy. The fragile, often penetrating play has been done a disservice by the noise that surrounds it.
Also, an informative feature by Gordon Cox, going behind the scenes into the obstacles faced by the producers for this commercial Off Broadway run.
[Producer Dena] Hammerstein says they encountered a few obstacles to assembling their team of producers and creatives. "Some people chose not to work with us on this," she says.
"If you don't appeal to Jewish theatergoers, you've lost a huge chunk of your audience in New York," says one producer not associated with the production.
Early sales indicators for "Corrie" seem to dispel any worries about the show's prospects: The production currently has the largest advance ever recorded at the Minetta Lane Theater. And, since it's a solo show with a limited Off Broadway run, the financial risk involved isn't enormous.
True, one actor. But she has a two-show-a-week stand by, and a second understudy to boot. And as has become all too apparent Off Broadway lately, there's no such thing as a cheap show. In short--they could not have gone in on this for the profit. However, the $45-65 tickets show they may be commercially "stupid," as it were, in taking on such a show...but not crazy.

Or is the saying, crazy not stupid???

POSTSCRIPT: I think it's kind of notable that the Sunday Times, which routinely does features on whatever prominent show is opening, did nothing on Corrie this weekend, and instead did a big Stoppard spread and, basically, a human interest story on a deaf actor in a downtown Sam Shepard revival. Hey, sounds like an interesting actor and nice they're covering downtown. But to totally avoid the main theatre story of the week? Do they assume everyone's heard all they need to hear already? I would venture that NY Times readers--that is, people who get their theatre coverage exclusively from the Times--have heard relatively little about Corrie lately.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You know what's so disheartening about many of these reviews--especially Brantley's? It's not that they like they play or don't like the play: It's the whole "it's hard to see what all the fuss was about" tone. It's actually NOT hard to see what all the fuss was about, if you follow theater and are reasonably conversant in all of the issues that surrounded the NYTW/Corrie controversy, which is about the minimum one should expect from the chief drama critic of the times. It was about "contextualization", about the definition of censorship, about the pressures that boards put on artistic directors or that artistic directors preemptively put on themselves, about the use of the phrase "the Jewish community", about pro-Palestinian views in theater, about double standards, about breaking a commitment. All of which is pretty well worth the fuss, and none of which was predicated on it being a great play. Brantley's dismissal of the controversy just seems like a dismissal of "politics" altogether, from an apolitical writer who couldn't really be bothered to think about the issues.