Itís a long way from the epic Angels in America to this Ė and Iím afraid itís all downhill. I thought Tony Kushner was a major new playwright, but everything since Angels (with the exception of the musical Caroline, or Change) suggests heís more of a one-hit-wonder. Only one of these five short plays really works Ė the rest is like Beckett on acid. The first play has Albaniaís Queen Zog with a fictional(?) American musician on the moon. Itís preposterous, pointless and dreadfully over-acted. The second is a conversation between a lesbian therapist and her gay ex-client; I havenít got a clue what it was about. The third takes an interesting true story of tax evasion but by presenting it as a breathless monologue I became so irritated that I stopped paying attention to the story. If you return after the interval (we did!) the fourth is another obtuse sketch about Nixon's psychotherapist in paradise. The play that does work is the last one Ė a chilling tale where Laura Bush reads Dostoyevsky to dead Iraqi children. Sadly, this is too little to late. I found a lot of the acting coarse, but given the material this may be excusable. Of course, it may be that Iím just thick, but it seems to me Kushner is following the well-worn path of others like Beckett, Pinter and Churchill; playwrights whose become minimalist with work so ambiguous, so obtuse and so obscure that they appear to be disappearing up their own backsides (or in this case, butt Ė heís American). Itís also a long way from Minneapolis, but I have to be honest and say that from where I was sitting it was a wasted journey. - Gareth James
14 Sep 10
4 stars for the acting and a begrudging 3 for the writing. Out of the five plays 2 stand out and each of these has a solo performer. East Coast Ode to Howard Jarvis, performed by Jim Lichtscheidl, is a virtuoso turn of accents and characters and was the best, but Kate Eifrig runs him a close second with her beautifully mannered portrayal of Laura Welch Bush (yes the president's wife) reading to a group of dead Iraqi children. The first play, Flip Flap Fly, was, I think, too bizarre for a British audience - I could imagine the howls of laughter the actors would have received from a Minneapolis audience so the deathly silence of a County Kilburn audience must have been very unnerving for them, but Kate Eifrig and Valeri Mudek valiantly battled on - god bless 'em. The two other plays would go down well in NYC but London? Two out of three for me then but for you it may be 5 out of 5. Even so it's good to see these transatlantic exchanges and I hope we get the chance to experience many more. - rds
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