Old Battles Rethought

Several revivals of WWI-era plays raise ghosts of unfinished business

Hugh Dancy and Stark Sands in Journey's End
Paul Kolnik
Hugh Dancy and Stark Sands in Journey's End


Journey's End
By R. C. Sherriff
Belasco Theatre
111 West 44th Street

Mary Rose
By J. M. Barrie
Vineyard Theatre
108 East 15th Street

The Madras House
By Harley Granville Barker
Mint Theater
311 West 43rd Street

Less unhappy, though with a marginally less riveting script, is the Mint's latest venture into prewar British drama, Granville Barker's 1909 survey of male-female relations in the industrial era, The Madras House. Enshrined as an innovative director and a major Shakespeare critic, Barker is only now being discovered by New York as a playwright, for the good reason that the power and intelligence in his dramas is sometimes veiled by a self-effacing grayness in his sensibility; he rarely paints in the bold colors of his close friend and colleague Bernard Shaw. Still, dust off the gray cobwebs and the gritty substance underneath rings as true to 2007 as to 1909. Set among the owners and staff of a fashion house, Madras cunningly runs through almost every situation sexual attraction can supply between a man and a woman; Gus Kaikkonen's production lays it out lucidly, if unthrillingly. When a bold performer like Laurie Kennedy or Roberta Maxwell seizes the moment, you might think you were hearing a forgotten work by Shaw.

« Previous Page