Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Brustein Is Back

This week's New Republic has a refreshing surprise...Robert Brustein's huge review of the Stoppard Trilogy Coast of Utopia.

Eric Bentley once rattled the theater world by conceiving of the playwright as thinker. I wonder what he would call Tom Stoppard--the playwright as teaching assistant? Shaw added prefaces to his published plays, Pirandello included "premises," Strindberg gave us forewords, and Brecht a "Little Organon." Stoppard provides reading lists...

The question is, how successfully has the playwright converted his research into viable dramatic action? Having now completed the entire eight-and-a-half-hour course and bibliography, I suggest that you study the syllabus, do the assigned reading, and bag the lectures.

2 comments:

Thomas Garvey said...

I haven't seen Coast of Utopia, but it's worth noting that Brustein almost always has it in for Stoppard - he didn't even like Arcadia - there was too much of that boring science stuff in it.

YS said...

Good Point.

In this piece he actually takes on Hare, Frayn, and Stoppard.

He has a good point though in portraying them as increasingly didactic. His comparison is to playwrights like Shaw, but then again, didn't Shaw get increasingly didactic?