Thursday, September 22, 2011

Why We Have a Body, at the Magic

(Lauren English and Rebecca Dines in the Magic Theatre's production. Photo by Jennifer Reiley.)

This week's review, of Claire Chafee's Why We Have a Body, is decidedly mixed—not because of anything the play did, but because of what the play is not. Suffice it to say, it was a beautiful production whose politics felt subtly dated.

In one sense, it's a little unfair to hold a production to these standards: How can I criticize a play for failing to be something other than what it is? But I feel the very choice to produce a play is often a bolder artistic statement than a new interpretation of it, an experimental design or an unusual casting decision. There is no clearer statement of a theater's priorities than list of works it decides to produce.

Kenneth Tynan once wrote, "A good drama critic is one who perceives what is happening in the theatre of his time. A great drama critic also perceives what is not happening." It's too rare that I even attempt to comment on the latter, so writing this review was a valuable critical exercise. I guess I just wish I hadn't feel compelled to make such demands on a production that I otherwise very much liked.

Why We Have a Body continues through Oct. 2. Info here.

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