Monday, March 03, 2008
Year One of the Empire
The problem with Year One of the Empire, aside from the fact that it's three acts long, is that it bloodlessly tackles a large American injustice. Elinor Fuchs and Joyce Antler have assembled hundreds of texts for this "play of American politics, war, and protest taken from the historical record," but one begs for some measure of Chuck Mee-like elaboration to this collage, for without some boundary pushing flair, the show flatlines through the paces. At its best, the show is history up on its feet, but those unwilling to read a New Yorker essay about the water cure are unlikely to sit through three hours of back-of-your-seat drama; at its worst, the show features actors who would make your seventh-grade history teacher look good. Due to illness, a stand-in went on for Lee Dobson: understandably, he read lines off a clipboard. (I'm can't say why John Tobias was using a script, only that it looked very unprofessional.) It says a lot about the passivity of the play that these recitations sounded no different from anything else.