Friday, January 22, 2010

Have Young Will Travel...


Experimental playwright Young Jean Lee's Lear is igniting critical skirmishes in the Big Apple.

Here is TimeOut New York Critic David Cote:

What I find telling is how many reviews feel the need to compare Lear qualitatively to the great tragedy that inspired it. The inaptness of this tactic is astounding. Lear is not a deconstruction, parody or adaptation of any kind. It’s a new play in dialogue with the classic and our expectations of it (and that’s just in the first hour, really). Its heightened poetic language, compounded with a variety of other rhetorical modes, actually makes it dramaturgically closer to Shakespeare than 90 percent of playwriting out there, but we’ll let that pass. The real way to review it is in the context of Lee’s previous work and the last 20 or so years of stage experimentation.



Meanwhile, Lee's earlier play The Shipment has traveled to Berlin where it is reviewed by a German critic: (Spoiler Alert for those clicking through the extensive review.)

While I did not feel significantly affected emotionally after the show, the evening appears more complex as I think about it more closely. I also perceived a fundamental question -- and a fundamental problem -- in exporting this work to non-American countries. The performance aims at undermining the audience's deeply ingrained prejudicial modes of seeing. Each of the four parts addresses discriminatory perceptions, of which no one can be free, and it is the necessary labor of a meaningful Sisyphus to point them out time and again. The problem with performing such a labor beyond the borders of one's culture is that perceptions of discriminatory perceptions are necessarily very different there.

1 comment:

Thomas Garvey said...

Sigh. Can anyone just say the truth, and call David Cote's postings what they are - i.e., career protection? He went all-in for Young Jean Lee - in past columns he even said he "worshipped" her. Now, in her biggest forum yet, she absolutely tanks - she even tries to put over scenes from Sesame Street as a response to King Lear! Suddenly the empress has no clothes, so Cote is rushing to the tailor's. That is all.