Two New Productions Play Politics

History glows in The Conscientious Objector; vapidity kills Caryl Churchill's dumb cartoon


That's the opposite of Caryl Churchill's misguided tactic in Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?, a 45-minute piece (admission, $50), the glib and familiar premise of which would maybe suit a 10-minute revue sketch. Sam (Scott Cohen) is "a country"—ours—for love of which Guy (Samuel West), "a man," has left his wife, homeland, and job. Aggressive, forceful, and exciting, Sam commits nothing but evil, spreading violence and exploitation throughout the world, with hapless Guy eagerly playing along, except when an occasional moral qualm flickers up to cause a rift in their oh-so-special relationship.

Allies and adversaries: Woodside and Cullum in The Conscientious Objector
Theresa Squire
Allies and adversaries: Woodside and Cullum in The Conscientious Objector

Details

The Conscientious Objector
By Michael Murphy
Clurman Theater, Theater Row
410 West 42nd Street
212-279-4200

Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?
By Caryl Churchill
The Public Theater
425 Lafayette Street
212-967-7555

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Churchill's intriguingly choppy language, all disordered images and unfinished thoughts, mitigates the play's vapidity a little, implying that this dim-witted political cartoon, with its hopelessly inadequate metaphor, is a delirium dream she's trying to shake off. This doesn't work because the image, unlike great political cartoons, has no depth; it merely asserts, instead of resonating, and what it asserts is both dumb (all Americans are evil, but only one Englishman) and unhelpful: If all that England can do, as Churchill seems to imply, is lie back and get fucked by America, what's the use of complaining? Better to close your eyes and recall the British Empire—which, if an American may point out the fact, spent a century serving as a role model for our current global behavior.

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