The Playgoer: NYT reviews "Corrie"!

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

NYT reviews "Corrie"!

"So the first thing worth reasserting about "My Name Is Rachel Corrie" is its right to be seen and debated: a society that won't allow that is one fearful of its extremes and, by extension, the world."

So writes Matt Wolf, London-based American critic for the NYT in tomorrow's paper. So read the NYT finally weigh in on the play itself here.

To cut to the chase: it's not an all out rave, for sure. The closer:

"Unexceptional sentiments? Perhaps, at least to anyone who has heard (or sung) any of a thousand comparable protest songs. But that doesn't diminish the singularity of Ms. Corrie's death or of this paean to her, which gives activism a necessary center stage without quite arriving at the realm of art."

Pretty much what everyone expected, right? And definitely not saying it's a piece of drek not worth fighting over.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps a wan response to Matt Wolf's carefully considered review of the current London production of MNiRC, but:

First, his obligatory dissings. "even if the work remains an impassioned eulogy that isn't quite the same thing as a play," and "without quite arriving at the realm of art."

Please, Mr. Wolf, how is this so much different from Gorecki's 3rd Symphony or Arnold Schoenberg's "A Survivor From Warsaw, Op. 47"? Great works of art, both of them. The case for the Gorecki similarity is quite strong.

"Such a sense of mission can, of course, cause very real pain to others: a fascinating program essay by Ms. Viner reveals that Ms. Corrie's former boyfriend, Colin Reese, committed suicide in 2004." I almost puked when I read this. This was a day when I heard right wing talk show hosts like Lars Larson speculating that Jill Carroll might be salting away part of the ransom money offered to free her.

During the summer of 2004, I interviewed several of Rachel Corrie's friends from her high school and college days. For Matt Wolfe to put an item like this out there in front of the whole world as he has done here is far more distant from the realm of art criticism than one usually sees in theatrical reviews or critiques.

"If this play doesn't exactly sanctify its subject, it still functions as a staged requiem that can't help but be both partial and partisan." Wolfe is right here. Those who have sought a play about Corrie which was "fair and balanced" missed the point that to do her justice, one needs to respect what brought her to Gaza in the first place.

"But how is the show itself? Funny how often that question isn't asked." Here's what I had to say about music about Corrie two years ago:

"In the context of feeling compelled to defend the premise of my own art, I was surprised at the vehemence at that meeting, and at the lack of curiosity about the music itself - the layer of strong belief that seemed to be there that to play the music, even in an empty room, might be an act of evil."

Anonymous said...

And here's a review from the Independent:

More laudatory than the Times, but does pick up something that I, who spend two hours every week discussing books with 15-year-olds, had hoped to find, and that was that teenagers are frequently silly and totally self-absorbed, but then, without any warning, will say something that indicates that someday there may be a wise soul there.

I do, however, always remind them that moments of wisdom occur only in the shower, and are thoroughly useless for everyday life.

freespeechlover said...

For those who want a response to the New York Times review go to and read "Response to NYT's 'Rachel Corrie' in London: Requieum for an Idealist." It's interesting, because it suggests a transatlantic divide between Britain and the U.S. re: reviews of the production.