Sunday, October 14, 2012

who is christopher hampton?, part 2

OK.  I promise this will be my last theater post for a little while.

As I might have mentioned before, the Guthrie Theater is currently doing three Christopher Hampton plays on its three stages, and I saw the second and third of those this week.  Three plays, three subjects.  What these plays had in common for me was that I came out of each thinking, "So what?"  What motivated Christopher Hampton to write any of these, and what did he want to say?  I don't know.

The first, Tales From Hollywood, I covered in a previous post.  The second, Appomattox, has two distinct acts, one taking place in the last days of the U.S. Civil War, 1865 (Lincoln, Grant, Lee, etc.), and the second in 1965, at the height of the civil rights era (LBJ, Lady Bird, MLK, etc.).  This was a world premiere.  It seems to me to be unstructured and pointless.  My suggestion to Mr. Hampton, if he wants to save this play, is to drop the whole first act and focus on Lyndon Johnson, a crudely effective president who comes across in this production as a terrific stage character.

The third is a small play, Embers, a three-person play that is mostly a monologue by one of the characters.  I at least liked it better than Appomattox.  It may be talky, but at least it's not hard to figure out what it is.

The Hampton plays, as well as the playwright himself of course, are very British, even though two of them take place in America and one in Hungary.  They all have highly intelligent dialogue.  They just need to give the audience a reason to care.

No comments: