The Playgoer: dissing "Allegory"

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

dissing "Allegory"

Not to pick on Times critic Andrea Stevens over semantics, but just the opening of this sentence in her review of the Ma-Yi company's Trial by Water caught my attention:

More an allegory than a play, the production...

Since when can't a play be an allegory as well?

The review goes on to be balanced and even supportive. But the phasing there reveals a noteworthy bias in modern theatre discourse. While for some the word may be derisive shorthand for simplistic propaganda, isn't allegory actually one of the most enduring of all genres, in both literature and drama?

Just ask the author of the anonymous Everyman, one of the most perfectly written and moving plays ever. (Even to an atheist half-Jew like myself.)

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