Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Kill The Messengers?

I haven't seen the Small World Big Sky Production of Tom Stoppard's Indian Ink, (I did read the play years ago, and, well, I'm just not that excited about seeing it,) so I would probably have let Ed Siegel's review of the production pass by, but it seems to me that Mr. Siegel might be blaming the actors for what are shortcomings in the play and, (some would argue,) Stoppard's writing in general:

For the most part, though, the actors don't have the seasoning to capture the flavor of Stoppard's wry humor or to get at the heart of what the playwright is trying to say about assimilation. What Stoppard brings to the table is a fresher approach than Paul Scott or E.M. Forster about how the English-Indian experience played and plays into contemporary identity -- what makes someone British? Or Indian? The playwright himself is a Jewish Czech émigré, so this is
no mere intellectual concern for Stoppard.

It may be more than an intellectual concern for Stoppard the person, but before we start accusing the actors, it must be established whether or not that is successfully dramatized in Stoppard's play. This is a case where just a bit more elaboration is needed, with probably some textual and anecdotal support.

Don't get me wrong, Siegel gives credit to the company where he believes it is due. And another review, from Edge Boston, seems to support some of his claims about the acting, which is why I was a little hesitant about even mentioning this.

But if you can't read the whole play, read the description of the play in the Edge Boston review to get an idea of what I talking about. The actors may not have charisma, but think about what that says of Stoppard's play. It seems to me, from my experience reading Indian Ink, that there is not a whole lot that ragingly charismatic actors are going to bring to it, aside from making the three hour running time just little more pleasing.

You can't make a fire rubbing two icicles together.


BJ said...

I find it strange that Siegel calls the play "muddled" and The Dig pronounced it "a mess." If anything, it's too ordered.

"You can't make a fire rubbing two icicles together."

Heh. Indeed.

Art said...

Good Point about that distinction.