Yvonne Korshak reviews Off-Broadway, Broadway, Film and Art

Tag: Brian Kulick

Review | A Man’s A Man by Bertolt Brecht | Translated by Gerhard Nellhaus | Original Music by Duncan Sheik | Directed by Brian Kulick | Classic Stage Company

… Brecht no way…

This early play of Brecht, set in British Colonial India, takes up the story of a pleasant minded civilian, an Irishman named Galy Gay, who — on his way to buy fish for himself and his wife — is waylaid by three soldiers whose fourth companion has disappeared and is, by force and brain washing (though that term came in later), turned into a enthused soldier, defined here as a killing machine.

It’s challenging to consider whether a man can be completely transformed, re-machined as Brecht would have it, in order to fulfill a role that fulfills the purposes of society’s top dogs, but the play doesn’t make the case.  The transitions are too abrupt, the change not convincing, and  so — whatever the reality may be — the premise appears silly.  The humanity that permeates Brecht’s best work is lacking here, and the play comes across as diagrammatic and over-long by someone whose full dramatic talent has yet to develop.

Still, whatever the virtues of provoking thought and shaking up assumptions A Man’s A Man may have, this production has an opulent flavor at odds with the play’s biting, expressionistic character.  Among Hollywood-like touches, a vast ceiling-to-floor silvery curtain shimmers, a dead ringer for Christmas tree tinsel, to represent the façade of a mysterious, exotic temple within which one British soldier disappeared.  Generally the scale of stage elements, including a prop involving a fake elephant, and the comfortable lighting, contrast with the spare expressionistic vision the characterized the initial German production of 1926.  Anything can be worth doing but the visual extravagance in the Classic Stage production vitiates the drama and Brecht’s tough-minded political point of view.

Gibson Frazier brings power, if not irony, to the role of Galy Gay, particularly in the catalytic scene in which through cruel devices, he’s transformed into a machine-like soldier.   I think that in a production more true to the play’s essential expressionism, the schematic brutality and patent artificiality could have a strong impact.  Here it elicited the response:  “no way.”

The part of Widow Behick — a gutsy Mother Courage type of woman along the lines of those Brecht wrote into several of his plays — is played by Justin Vivien Bond, a brilliant male drag performance artist.   It’s great fun to watch him — he’s the highlight of the show and keeps it from feeling interminably dull — but, although he takes seriously and acts well the few tender moments, the camp aspect of the performance robs the play of the natural humanity that perhaps a woman playing the part directly, without the distancing of camp, may have provided.

Duncan Sheik’s music, contemporary but resonating with Kurt Weil, nostalgic but up-to-date, was appealing and I hope it finds its way into other Brecht productions since, though written for this one, it wouldn’t be limited to it.

Here’s a chance to see an early Brecht play, for some a reason to go — but it’s far from being Brecht’s best, and this production sidesteps its essence in favor of scenic and other distractions.

A Man’s A Man plays at Classic Stage in Manhattan’s East Village through February 16th, 2014.

Review | Galileo by Bertolt Brecht | Translated by Charles Laughton | Directed by Brian Kulick | Choreographed by Tony Speciale | With F. Murray Abraham, Robert Dorfman and Amanda Quaid | Classic Stage Company

The conflict in Galileo is iconic:  freedom of ideas vs. censorship.  Brecht peppers his play and his character of Galileo (1564-1642 ) with some Marxist views which are anachronistic but the play triggers thought and thrills one at the power of human intellect.

Everybody’s having a good time looking through the telescope Galileo has recently perfected, and figuring out its benefits and fiscal profits.  Galileo, short of money, wouldn’t mind reaping some profit, too, but fundamentally he’s peering into his telescope in his quest for truth, recording his observations, and thinking about them.  His observations and calculations reveal to him that the earth rotates around the sun, not the other way around.

Galileo understands, of course, that his heliocentric view runs directly counter to Catholic dogma in which Man and his earth are at the center of God’s creation, but, driven by the passion to know, excited and even arrogant in the power of his discoveries, he seems unworried that the Church, through its powerful enforcement arm, the Inquisition, will censor his ideas or threaten his personal safety.

In one of the great scenes in theater, Cardinal Barberini, Galileo’s old friend, is transformed from an ordinary man into The Pope as he stands, center stage, and is dressed, with the aid of an advisor, into full papal regalia, buttoned from neck to hem into to his long gown, taking up the mitre, until, crowned by the tiara, his identity becomes merged fully with the Church.  And, having resisted to this point, he now accedes to his advisor’s insistence that Galileo’s heresy must be stopped, and he releases Galileo to the Inquisition.

It’s enough just to see the Inquisition’s horrific instruments of torture — Galileo recants.   Recant – it’s worth pausing to think about what it means.   Driven by fear, Galileo is forced to state publicly that what he knows to be the truth is not the truth.

His “unheroic” recantation disillusions some of his followers.  But they weren’t shown the instruments of torture.  Among the disappointed, Galileo’s servant says “Unhappy is the land that breeds no hero.”  “No, Andrea, unhappy is the land that needs a hero,” Galileo answers.  Brecht’s Galileo is as much a man of the flesh as of the intellect, one of the keen strengths of the play.

His geocentric view now branded a heresy, Galileo spends the rest of his life under house arrest, but he continues his scientific studies — examining sunspots by peering through his telescope to the point where he blinds himself.  His followers smuggle the results of his investigations beyond the borders of Italy and to the larger world.  Brecht believed that revolutionary ideas are ultimately unstoppable:  in this instance he was right.

F.. Murray Abraham portrays Galileo with a gruffness that suggests a weary experience with the world, but misses the inner excitement and inspiration of his life as a scientist.  Robert Dorfman conveys exquisitely the gentle humor of Brecht’s Pope, thoughtful, ironic, amused even at himself, until he takes on the rigidity of high position.  Amanda Quaid as Galileo’s daughter effectively moves from joyous young love to its disappointment, to a nunnish devotion to her aging father, representing the fallout of the effects of Galileo’s scientific drive on those he loves.

The set is so evocative one seems to hear the music of the spheres.  Suspended globes of different sizes in bluish tones conjure up the solar system, their appealingly rough surfaces referring to Gallileo’s key — and religiously controversial — observation that the moon isn’t perfectly smooth but has mountains.  At times a round projection suggests a view through a telescope — here I think this production missed a bet:  instead of generic views of starry skies, etc., they would have done well to show what Galileo with the magnification available actually saw when he put his eye to the lens, including the way, over time, things moved.

This is a play that I think is inportant to know, and here’s your chance to see it well produced and performed.  Earlier, Classic Stage presented a staged reading of Galileo, including the play’s two possible endings, one “hopeful,” one “hopeless.”  The reading included both endings:  here we have one.

Galileo plays at Classic Stage Company in Manhattan’s East Village through March 18, 2012.

Review | Double Falsehood by William Shakespeare* and John Fletcher* | Adapted by Lewis Theobald | Directed by Brian Kulick | Classic Stage Company

A rumored connection to Shakespeare’s the thing here — not the play.

Is Double Falsehood  based on a play Shakespeare wrote* in collaboration with John Fletcher,* that has come down to us through an 18th-century adaptation by Lewis Theobald?  Classic Stage would like us to entertain that possibility.  It’s worthy to examine Shakespearean controversies but — theater is theater and this is not a good play.  And there’s nothing of Shakespeare to experience in it.

In Valencia, Spain, Roderick, the older son of the Duke is dutiful and responsible while the younger brother, Henriquez, is a rake.  Henriquez, out of town, sends Julio to collect money from the Duke and, having gotten his good friend out of the way, proceeds to woo Julio’s beloved, the well-born Leonora.  Attracted at the same time (“double falsehood”) to virtuous, lower class Violante, he rapes her onstage (Shakespeare?).  Leonora’s father tries to force her to marry Henriquez, and Julio, returning in time to interfere with the wedding, is bested in a fight by Henriquez (?) and sent on his way, while Leonora faints and her father discovers her suicide note in response to the hateful wedding prospect.

Julio becomes crazy, ranting in the wilds and stealing food from shepherds, while Violante, disguised as a boy, is servant to a shepherd who, realizing she’s female, threatens her sexually, though she’s spared by the arrival of Roderick.  He’s there though, actually, to help Henriquez steal Leonora from her refuge nunnery (and Roderick’s the good brother ?).  He speaks about honorable action but (with inconsistency, not complexity of character) we see him collaborating with Henriquez to violently abduct Leonora.  Somehow, though (somehow?) they all arrive back at the ducal palace where Julio is reunited with Leonora, and so is Henriquez with Violante who, we understand, is about to marry her rapist (?).  I felt sorry for the actress, Mackenzie Meehan as Violante, who had to stand there and make that look like something having to do with Shakespeare.  There’s no girl for Roderick, even though he’s the first born and his father’s heir (?).

The characters are thin conventions;  the only one with any interest is Henriquez because he’s nasty, and played with vigor by Slate Holmgren, though Henriquez lacks the depth of characterization of Edmund in Lear :  he’s melodramatic rather than driven.  As questioned (?) above, and commented on by others,* several plot turns seem not only un-Shakespearean but anachronistic.  But what makes the play particularly dull to sit through is the language, flat, cliched and without metaphoric inventiveness.

The best thing about the production of Double Falsehood are the quotations from an interview with Jorge Luise Borges that Brian Kulick, the passionately committed and talented Artistic Director of Classic Stage, includes in his introductory essay to the play — nothing like close contact with a fine writer like Borges.  But there’s no contact with Shakespeare in Double Falsehood — close or distant.  That one can point to crossed loves and girls dressing as boys and the fast changes of fortune — well, that’s pretty general.

* For a discussion of texts Theobald may or may not have had in hand that may or may not have related to Shakespeare in writing what Theobald claimed was his adaptation of a play he said was written collaboratively by Shakespeare and Fletcher, based on the story of Cardenio in Don Quixote, places to start are:  Classic Stage’s introductory brochure, and the entries with bibliographies on Double Falsehood in Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia — the Wikipedia article in its skepticism of the link to Shakespeare is very amusing.

Double Falsehood  plays at Classic Stage Company in NYC’s East Village through April 3.

Review | Jacques and His Master by Milan Kundera | Adapted from Diderot | Dramatic Reading, Directed by Brian Kulick | Classic Stage Company

… 18th-Century Post-Modern …

What a play!  And what a marvelous way to get to know it!

Monday, September 27, Classic Stage presented a reading of Jacques and His Master, written by novelist Kundera as an adaptation of Denis Diderot’s 18th-century novel.  Read by a cast that completely fulfilled the play, headed by two wonderful actors, Dan Oreskes as Jacques and F. Murray Abraham as Jacques’ Master, it was as vivid as any totally dramatized production — like radio drama, one sees it all!

It’s an on-the-road story — Jacques and his Master are traveling, and talking, the relationship between them makes you think of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza — although other narratives come bounding to mind including by Pirandello and Beckett.  Jacques is a cheeky and forthright servant, and the story he tells to please his master of “how he fell in love,” and fell out of it — and whether in it or out of it of the consequences of love and its necessity — is constantly interrupted.  As encounters arise bringing new stories, with these stories leading to yet others, characters transform themselves:  the down-to-earth Hostess Innkeeper “becomes” the upper-crust French Mme de la Pommeraye when she tells Mme’s story — all with actress Roberta Maxwell’s delicious French accent.  It’s enormously entertaining — and funny.

While breaking every rule in the book of a “well-made play,” Jacques and His Master never loses its engaging narrative flow.  One cares continually — though why?  and about what?  That things matter so even though one isn’t sure of anything is part of the brilliance of the work.  The abrupt and arresting segues into new scenes and characters with age-old and repetitive love plots must have fascinated Kundera.  The ending moved me greatly.  Jacques and His Master, written in 1971, is Kundera’s only play.

Classic Stage, on East 13th Street in NYC, will conclude this year’s “Books on Stage” reading series with Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salmon Rushdie Monday, October 4.  Previous readings have been based on Proust, Pirandello, Tolstoy and Brecht.  Thanks to Classic Stage for this magnificent series of theatrical readings.

Review | The Forest by Alexander Ostrovsky | Adapted by Kathleen Tolan | Starring John Douglas Thompson and Diane Wiest | Directed by Brian Kulick | Classic Stage

… realm of the free spirit …

Alexander Ostrovsky was one of the most popular and prolific Russian playwrights of the 19th Century.  The Forest, written in 1870, nine years after the emancipation of the serfs, reflects shifting relationships between the classes:  Raisa, an elderly, wealthy landowner, is selling off her forested estate bit by bit to Ivan, once a peasant and now a wealthy wood merchant.

The fiscal arrangements weight heavily on the lives of others.  Raisa’s penniless ward, Aksyusha and Ivan’s son are in love but Ivan won’t let his son marry a girl without a dowry which won’t be forthcoming from tightwad Raisa.  Meanwhile, Raisa is lusting after Aleksev, a good looking young opportunist — supposedly she’s selling her forests to raise money for Aksyusha to marry Aleksey but she’s really picked him out for herself, opening the play to an old woman-young man farce.

Into this estate-focused web of conventional wants two outsiders enter, itinerant actors Gennady and his sidekick Arkady.  While the immediate reason for dropping in is that Gennady is looking for a handout from his wealthy relative, Raisa, still they are restless men and seekers of something selfless, spiritual and creative.  To gain entrance, they put on an act — Gennady as a Gentleman with Arkady as his servant.  When their true identities are discovered, Raisa is pleasant to her relative but becomes defensive, worrying about his claims to her fortune, and pays him a modest amount to get rid of him.  Ultimately, because of Gennady’s largeness of soul, that money becomes a deus ex machina to set everything alright, and everybody gets what — and whom — they want.

This play develops the romantic contrasts between the spiritually liberated outsiders — the actors who appear out of the moody density of the forest — and mundane, housebound insiders.

So the forest of the title is both the realm of the free spirit and what’s being sold off for money, chopped down piece by piece, and the tension between these two fuels the author’s creative fire, and give the play its depth and tragic resonance.

It’s a fine play, yet leaden and dull in this current staging by Classic Stage.  The early parts, which are talky — and not quite the brilliant conversation of Shaw — were too slowly paced.  In the very large part of Raisa, Diane Wiest was annoying:  her high voice went on and on with little modulation — like someone practicing the flute when you’re trying to get some sleep — and her emotional range was narrow.  The smaller parts were not particularly well cast.

One great actor, however, John Douglas Thompson, brought dramatic and physical dynamism to the role of Gennady.  After tedious Act I, we stayed only to watch him.  When he spoke the lines of Shakespeare the part requires here and there it was immediately thrilling.  He was, by the way, the only actor who ran up and down the rickety-looking ramp — that worried most of the rest of them — with grace and ease, his athleticism a dimension of his force as an actor.

The Forest  plays at Classic Stage in the East Village through May 30th.  For further information, click on the link.

Review | The Age of Iron from William Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida and Thomas Heywood’s Iron Age | Adapted and Directed by Brian Kulick | Classic Stage Company

(Also pertinent … Cry, Trojans (Shakespeare’s Troilus & Cressida), by The Wooster Group)

Just about the entire legend of the Trojan War is told — or at least “covered” — in The Age of Iron, from Paris’ abduction of Helen to the sack of Troy by the Greeks using their ruse of the “Trojan Horse,” all the way to the suicide of Ajax.  Brian Kulick achieved this mainly by appending to Shakespeare’s play, which is focused on a short period toward the end of the war, the “beginning” and the “end” from another Elizabethan play, Heywood’s Iron Age.   The Age of Iron is beautifully produced and you both hear the poetry of Shakespeare’s language and understand every word.

Even those Shakespearian idioms and figures of speech that are not current in today’s English make sense and have a strong impact as if suddenly one understood “Elizabethan,” a magic I can’t explain and that I found particularly rewarding about this production.

Was it effective to fit the whole story into one drama?  There are pluses and minuses.

Homer begins the Iliad at a time late in the war and concludes it before the war’s end, as does Shakespeare in Troilus and Cressida.  Paris doesn’t slay Achilles with an arrow to his heel in the Iliad, there’s no Trojan Horse, no sack of Troy, no vote among the Greeks over awarding Achilles’ armor, and no suicide of Ajax.  In giving themselves a sharp focus, Homer and Shakespeare knew what they were doing — no surprise there — but there is great adventurousness and effect in Kulick’s telling of the story.

There’s a real satisfaction to getting the complete narrative, or most of it, under one’s belt in a single evening.  And not unimportant, it’s genuine fun to see dramatized the source of those famous figures of speech we use all the time — “Achilles’ heel,” “Trojan horse” (though I’d liked to have seen the horse).  On the other hand, in giving us the whole story, The Age of Iron loses some dramatic impact.  The play is presented in two parts, and part 2, where many people start getting killed off, and eventually we leave Shakespeare and move into Heywood, becomes overlong and somewhat wordy.

Still, the heart of the excellently staged (on a field of sand), acted, and directed production is Shakespeare’s fascinating, perverse play, with his language at full sail.  In Troilus and Cressida, Shakespeare turns on the tables on expectations.  The great heroes turn out to be venial:  Achilles doesn’t meet Hector in fair fight but pulls in his gang of Myrmidons to attack and kill him — and then takes full credit!  Ulysses’ sophistry beats Ajax’ heroism.  Troilus and Cressida’s pure love is sullied.  Some call that “problematic,” but to watch the conflicts and interactions of these fully written and oh so human characters is intensely interesting.  What a leap of imagination — the banquet where the leaders of the Greeks and Trojans agree to a truce so that for once they can drink and dine together, and can’t manage to keep the peace for the duration of a single evening!

Troilus and Cressida would have been enough to produce.  A more ambitious and overarching choice was made.  What would off-Broadway be if it wasn’t ready to fulfill new creative visions?  One leaves this banquet fully satisfied.

The Age of Iron plays at the Classic Stage in NYC’s East Village through December 6th. 

The Age of Iron - Troilus & Cressida

Finn Wittrock as Troilus and Dylan Moore as Cressida Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Review | An Oresteia, plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides translated by Anne Carson | Classic Stage Company

  … cycles of vengeance …

“Oresteia” refers to Aeschylus’ trilogy about the chain of vengeance murders in the House of Atreus — House as in “noble family who live in the palace”.  Classic Stage begins their Oresteia with Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, moving to Sophocles’ Elektra for part two, and Euripides’ Orestes for part three.  How often does one have the chance to see together three great Greek tragedies fully produced!  This is an ambitious project, and worthwhile for bringing these exciting and profound works to new audiences.  This production has excellent qualities, including Anne Carson’s naturalistic but intense translations and some peaks of acting, though some aspects are less satisfying.

… Agamemnon …

In Aeschylus’ play, the Greek leader in the Trojan War, Agamemnon, returns home to Argos where he, and his captive concubine, Cassandra, are soon murdered by his wife, Klytaimnestra. This is a vengeance killing:  the Greeks sailing to Troy had found themselves becalmed and Agamemnon, in search of a favorable wind had sacrificed their daughter, Iphigenaia, to the gods.

After seeing this production, it’s hard to imagine anyone but Stephanie Roth Haberle in the role of Klytaimnestra: she has a strong and richly inflected voice, and with her tall and exceedingly narrow form and in her blood red dress she seems the very embodiment of a sharp-edged weapon.  As Agamemnon, though, Steve Mellor opts for a casual hands in his pocket effect and doesn’t project his voice; perhaps this is intended to deconstruct a cliche of the proud and triumphant ruler, but Agamemnon a wimp?  Cassandra screams and gyrates but does not reach the character’s emotional depth.  In general, throughout this production the actors seem to be straining for effect, notable exceptions being in the magnificent performances of Haberle as Klytaimnestra and Annika Boras as Elektra.

The versatile, red stained plywood backdrop for all three plays evokes the bloody constant in this House.  During Agamemnon, though, the set was pulled forward blocking sight of the stage to those sitting on the sides, the explanation being that this was “alternative seating”;  it struck me and others as less than respectful to those stuck in the alternate seats.

… Elektra …

In Sophocles’ Electra, Orestes, the son of Klytaimnestra and Agamemnon, returns from exile and kills his mother in vengeance for her murder of his father.  The straightforward English of Anne Carson’s translation makes the great arguments of this play excitingly immediate.  This is also particularly successful among the three plays because the large role of the bitter and uncompromising Elektra is played by an outstanding actor, Annika Boras.  If you don’t know Sophocles well, here’s a chance to see the brilliant way he writes hot and building verbal conflicts between two characters whose points of view are totally irreconcilable.  The most famous Sophoclean argument is in Antigone (see Pearl Theatre’s Theban Cycle, here below in October) but Elektra’s arguments are equally dazzling.  Boras’ sardonic Elektra argues with Haberle’s haughty, frightened Klytaimnestra — great on great.  Michi Barall as Elektra’s conventionally minded sister doesn’t have as strong a voice to counter Boras but does well enough to let the playwrights words come through so you can “get” it.

It’s amusing to see the Chorus of “Women of Mycenae” turned into two sunbathing women and a man around the pool, with sunglasses — that’s OK — but on the other hand it’s illogical that these friends and confidants of Elektra are allowed to live the life of Reilly in Klytaimnestra’s palace while she and her paramour, Aigisthos, are hatefully demeaning Elektra herself.

… Orestes …

Even if you know what’s coming, Euripides’ Orestes shocks by its apparent cynicism.  The questions of Euripides’ attitudes toward his fellow human beings and the gods is continually — perhaps eternally — debated and the play puts the ambiguities on display.  None of the characters, including the god Apollo, is high-minded and there’s no indication of redemption such as one finds in Aeschylus.  Mickey Solis plays Orestes as anxiety ridden and deeply depressed — getting out of bed is a challenge.  It’s reasonable to interpret Orestes’ pursuit by the Furies in terms of modern psychology (and Euripides is often called “the most modern of the playwrights”) but one needs to keep in mind:  only six days have passed since he killed his mother.  Give the boy some time!  Still, Euripides leaves us feeling that there’s not much peace of mind ahead for this matricide in any event.

A fine and daring aspect of this Orestes was to turn Euripides’ Chorus of Women of Argos, along with Hermione, daughter of Helen of Troy, into singers and musicians.  Daring because so little is known about Greek singing, but the choral odes were certainly sung and danced:  contemporary melodies, dance and instrumentation, as here, are creative ways to acknowledge what’s unknown while maintaining the pleasures of music.  With some of the performers the singing was beautiful and insinuating — new but, yes, pure Euripides — though with others, the singing masked Euripides’ poetry.

Three playwrights — of any epoch — carrying through on a single narrative line is rare and of great interest.  There are some rough edges here but the cumulative effect of this Oresteia brings one in touch with the powers of the classical Greek playwrights to move and to provoke thought.

Agamemnon and Elektra are directed by Brian Kulick and Gisela Cardenas, and Orestes is directed by Paul Lazar, and associate directed and choreographed by Annie-B Parson.

An Oresteia plays at Classic Stage in NYC East Village through April 19, 2009.  Choices between seeing the three plays on one Sunday (I did) or two on one night and one another.

Review | Brecht’s Life of Galileo | Translated by Charles Laughton | Fourth in the Classic Stage series of Brecht dramatic readings

See the previous post in this series, The Good Person of Sezuan, by Bertolt BrechtDefending Truth

The life and science of Galileo are so inherently dramatic that, I think, they led Brecht somewhat astray as a dramatist–he thought a total play wasn’t needed.  Wasn’t all the drama a playwright could want already there in the searing conflict between Galileo’s heliocentrism and the Church’s no-holds-barred defense of its geocentric doctrine?  What confrontation could be more elemental than that between Science and Dogma–Galileo vs the Inquisition–with its notorious outcome in which Galileo is forced to recant publicly the truths of sciences?  Brecht is a playwright of ideas but in his best plays he includes other paraphernalia of great theater:  living characters engaged in meaningful conflicts with high stakes (at least to them).  In The Life of Galileo, translated by Charles Laughton, the conflict could not be more significant–truth itself is at stake.  Yet characters live mainly as mouthpieces of ideas.

Maybe, also, that’s why the play is jam packed with marvelous lines and memorable aphorisms:  “Truth is the daughter of time, not the author.”  “I have no patience with a man who doesn’t use his brains to fill his belly.”  They help keep us going–luckily!

Because in working out the implications of Galileo’s recantation, Brecht’s ingenious humanism comes into play, raising the importance of this flawed drama.  True, the recantation of the famous scientist is taken throughout Europe as a set-back for science.  But bear in mind, as Brecht make sure we do, that Galileo was shown the very instruments of torture in a purposeful, programmed climax to his interrogation by the Inquisition.  Hence Brecht’s implicit challenges in this play:  Why would you expect Galileo to act otherwiseWhy do you rely on heroes?  and the essential Brecht:  Rely on yourselves.  For this playwright, Galileo is not a failed hero:  he is a man with extraordinary brains and insight who is quite normally human in his fear of pain and love of pleasure.  “Unhappy is the land that has no hero,” a disillusioned assistant moans, visiting Galileo during his life-time sentence of house arrest.  “Unhappy is the land that needs a hero,” is Galileo’s fast retort.

Brian Kulick, Artistic Director of Classic Stage who directed the reading of The Life of Galileo  for the First Look series, treated us to the two extant endings of the play:  one hopeless, one hopeful.  Immediate:  while I was still in the theater, winding down from the reading, I took the hopeless ending to be the “true” one, but in thinking about all I have learned from these readings of four Brecht plays, in reflecting on Brecht’s humanism, and on Classic Stage’s genereosity and high achievement,  I’m leaning toward “hopeful.”

Nearby restaurant favorite — Cafe Deville, 103 3rd Avenue

Next Week:  The Oedipus Cycle at Pearl Theatre

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén