Thursday, September 11, 2008

Oh What War

Photo/Ryan Jensen

I won't pretend to understand all the nuances or layers to Jason Craig's 2008 reinvention of Joan Littlewood's 1963 Oh What a Lovely War, but I can say that it's an utterly fascinating war. Less confrontational than his punk send-up, The Fall and Rise of the Rising Fallen, Craig's latest work quietly murmurs through a sense of Brechtian loss (and songs, pulled right from the WW1 era), clownish satire, and mysterious performances (the Dadist's Cabaret Voltaire is cited), provoking our fascination through the complexly beautiful language and the Peter Ksander's elegantly rustic set. Things get muddy toward the end, when the nonlinear snippets--reports from an underground (metaphoric or otherwise) of ragtag deserters and victims--not only coalesce, but try to put the focus on the audience, and away from the tremulous language and potent stories. We can't explain war, we can only look at interpretations of it.

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