Theater

New York Arts in Edinburgh

The Man Who Had All the Luck, by Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller’s earliest play to run on the Broadway stage, The Man Who Had All the Luck (1944), began in the form of a novel – his student, friend and biographer Christopher Bigsby tells us in his pre-show talk on January 20. Over the course of four years, Miller wrote several drafts, unsure how best to present his themes; through which medium? through which plot? should there be an enlightened redemption or a tragic fall for his hero? From 1941 he began working the “fable” into a play. In late 1944 it arrived at the Forrest Theater, where it ran for three days and four performances before being called off the stage, a failure, though recognized by many critics as a promising indication of good work to come.
Theater

Black Watch

Black Watch
by Gregory Burke
Dir. John Tiffany
National Theatre of Scotland

St. Ann’s Warehouse, Brooklyn, October 25th, 2008

Gregory Burke’s Black Watch, the sensation of the 2006 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, has returned to Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Warehouse …

A London Summer with Huntley Dent

Under the Blue Sky by David Eldridge at the Duke of York’s Theatre

Love goes ka-boom. I read an interview with a young playwright, David Eldridge, who was asked about current conditions in the British theater. At 27 he had a precocious smash hit at the Royal Court in 2000 with Under the Blue Sky, a study in three scenes of romance and sexual frustration among secondary school teachers. The subject sounds deadly, and one can understand why five London theatres originally turned it down. The commercial West End trembles like melting marmalade when faced with serious dramatic writing, and the pay for playwrights is criminally low, to the point that talented ones scrounge for a living, even after having a hit. (I’m reminded of the improbable moment when Sam Goldwyn brought the poet-playwright Maurice Maeterlinck from Paris to Hollywood. Goldwyn’s familiarity with Maeterlinck’s masterpiece, Pelleas et Melisande, was dubious. The work to be adapted for the big screen was a strange naturalist treatise, The Life of the Bee. After reading the first draft of the script, Goldwyn rushed out of his office screaming, “My God, it’s about a bee!”)
A London Summer with Huntley Dent

Landscape and A Slight Ache by Harold Pinter at the National Theatre

The observer effect. After the play Betrayal, from 1981, I lost track of Harold Pinter. London productions of his plays have the zing of authentic English irony, etched menace, and pithy delivery that doesn’t come across with American accents. One could see Pinter as an actor as late as 1995 when he appeared in the West End in a revival of an earlier work, The Hothouse. Pinter is as strange and threatening on stage as on paper, although a witty anecdote circulated around that production. Supposedly his wife, Lady Antonia Fraser, phoned up the management and said, “The whole run has been so successful, Harold and I were thinking that you should have the Comedy Theatre renamed the Pinter Theater,” to which the manager replied, “Or he could just rename himself Harold Comedy.”
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