The Playgoer: Reader Review of "Corrie"

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Reader Review of "Corrie"

I'm taking the liberty of posting this recent comment from regular reader "June" who just saw "Rachel Corrie" in London. A fresh take, going against the grain of dismissing the play as propaganda.
I do have my hands on a script, by the way, so I will offer some kind of response to the text shortly. But this review only confirms my instinct that in this show the performance is the thing.

I just saw My Name Is Rachel Corrie today at the Playhouse in London. It exceeded my expectations. Corrie was a wonderful writer (and Viner and Rickman are apparently great editors). Megan Dodds was also remarkable--it's a demanding role emotionally, and she really gave her all (and did an excellent American accent).

The thing that struck me was what an American play this is. Corrie wrote a great deal about the effect of growing up in an ultraliberal college town like Olympia, Washington. I'd submit there's no British equivalent of a place like Olympia--but Americans (at least those that are familiar with schools like Antioch, Evergreen, etc.) would immediately get it and understand how much Rachel Corrie was a product of that place (and of committed progressive parents).

This is a play that Americans need to see (and, incidentally, one that is doing a great job of challenging the annoying stereotype of Americans that many Britons seem to have these days. Corrie was so aware of the limitations of her point-of-view--of her racial and class privileges, of her status as a non-Jew involved in the struggle for Palestinian rights, etc., and that comes across very well in the play. This is a nuanced work, the opposite of propaganda.


freespeechlover said...

It's interesting, because I had the same response when I heard her emails read from the stage at Rvierside Church. I thought the emails would be the least interesting part of the evening, but they turned out to be compelling and far more complicated, self-reflective and wordly than I thought they would. I don't really care that much for didactism in theater or any place else. But I was surprised that the emails weren't that. And I don't think you can get quite the same impression by reading the text. In this case, I think the live performance may matter more than in others. I have my doubts that aesthetics and politics can be separated anyway, but I found the performance interesting and nuanced in ways I didn't anticipate. What I didn't like that evening at Riverside were the political speeches. They went on and were the most boring.

Anonymous said...

June got a lot of the same impressions from the play that my wife, our friend the London novelist James Flint, and I got watching the play in October.

By the way, June forgot to mention that there are several lines which bring waves of laughter from the audience, as Dobbs shares young Corrie's raunchy, self-deprecating humor with the audience.

freespeechlover said...

Hi Philip. I'm actually going to London to see the production--on sabbatical and am now writing an academic article about the brouhaha, found a cheap flight and figure, why not?

June said...

It wasn't a very "laughy" crowd at the performance I saw--but certainly a very sympathetic and appreciative one.

Anonymous said...

Um, er... her American accent was great because Dodds IS American, I think :-P

Yes, it is a good little play.
I saw it in London the night prior to the official opening night.

June said...

You're absolutely right, Heather! I was remembering Dodds from the great TV version of Love in a Cold Climate, where she was the perfect Polly! Instead I should've remembered her role in MI5 (or Spooks, as they call it in the homeland), where her character is very much American. A very versatile actress.

Anonymous said...

Megan Dodds was born in Sacramento, California. She trained as an actress at the Julliard School in New York City.