Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Prisoner of the Crown
Richard F. Stockton's courtroom drama Prisoner of the Crown is filled with so many dubious distinctions about the defendant, Sir Roger Casement, that the play should be a knockout. For example, put to death in 1916, Sir Roger has the "honor" of being the last knight ever to be executed for treason. But the play suffers artistically from some dubious distinctions of its own, most notably how sloppy it looks and misdirected it feels. One of the most vague and anachronistic dramas I've ever seen (scene changes are set to sad jazz; actors even dance into their costume changes), Prisoner of the Crown would rather play than be a play. Some audiences will enjoy a history lesson that uses ammo like "No empire can survive the loss of its moral authority" to cast judgment on our current political mudslinging. But most will be bored and confused by this unimaginative and too comic "swift boat" of a play. Here's a political parallel for you: one cannot run a campaign (or a play) on cleverness: you need passion, too.