Sunday, May 06, 2012

An Early History of Fire

While watching the not-particularly-enthralling New Group production of David Rabe's new play, An Early History of Fire, I had to wonder if we really need yet another coming-of-age story in which a son breaks away from his domineering dad and outgrows his childhood friends, with everyone drinking amounts of alcohol that would leave them unconscious in real life. Well, if we do need another one, this isn't it.

Theo Stockman, Claire van der Boom
Photo: Monique Carboni
Although An Early History of Fire is full of incident--fights, fires, an extended case of not-quite-coitis interruptus--it is flat, with two-dimensional characters and little intensity (a surprising criticism for a Rabe play!). The heightened language rings false--not everyone of earth speaks in metaphors, and while lyrical dialogue can add much to a play, it feels forced here. Similarly, the period references that set the play in the early 1960s come across as too-knowing and even a little precious.

The set, direction, acting, etc, are all good, but ultimately, An Early History of Fire fails to ignite.

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