Sideswiped

Only two words in the thoroughly inert script of The Other Side have even provisional value, and they must be the ones that convinced the Manhattan Theatre Club, along with director Blanka Zizka and the beloved artists Rosemary Harris and John Cullum, to pour money, time, and effort into a piece of this worthlessness. The words are "Ariel Dorfman," and they appear as an author credit on the script's title page, thereby demonstrating that prominence in other walks of life doesn't have any correlation to one's ability to write for the stage.

Border skirmish: Harris, Gene Farber, and Cullum
photo: Joan Marcus
Border skirmish: Harris, Gene Farber, and Cullum

A post-Absurdist allegory about the dangers of living in a war-torn world, The Other Side demonstrates a maddeningly efficient ability to be exactly as factitious as it is secondhand. While it shifts its focus and forgets the parameters it has just established from second to second, you glumly watch it turn into a parade of familiar plays by Dorfman's predecessors and betters, including Camus, Ionesco, Arrabal, and even Joseph Heller's We Bombed in New Haven. A program of excerpts, read by Harris and Cullum from lecterns on an otherwise bare stage, would be both more valid drama and better fun.

 
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