Friday, July 14, 2006


Simon Singes Synge

CultureGrrl occasionally strays to other art forms. (After all, I'm not merely ArtGirl, though I kinda like her site!)

I feel moved to note the complete disconnect between two reviews of the same theatrical event---Lincoln Center Festival's DruidSynge---a marathon 8 1/2 hours of the six-play theatrical oeuvre of Irish playwright John Millington Synge.

Here's the acerbic John Simon, in today's Bloomberg:

The brogue used is so thick it could blunt any knife trying to cut it, and left most of the audience chasing after comprehensible words like sparrows after sparse crumbs. The poor acoustics at John Jay College's theater made things tougher yet. Of the 19 actors, maybe three or four belong on a metropolitan stage....

Garry Hynes, the Druid's artistic director, is not really major league despite her lofty reputation at home and abroad. She gets the job done, but without that inconspicuously convincing extra touch that marks the true master.

Most important, poor, tubercular Synge, dying at age 37, did not grow into a significant dramatist.

And here's the ecstatic Charles Isherwood, two days ago in the NY Times:

Grandly entertaining and powerfully moving, “DruidSynge” is a major achievement for Ms. Hynes, her design collaborators and her superb 19-member acting company. Ranging across wide emotional territory without missing a beat, it brings alive a milieu that feels both intriguingly remote and utterly intimate, exotic in the eccentric syntax and unruly lyricism of its earthy dialogue — God bless the Irish! — but familiar in its consoling knowledge of the loneliness and despair that are the sorrowful scars of all humankind.

Interestingly, Simon (or his editors?) mercifully withdrew a slap at veteran actress Marie Mullen that appeared in an earlier posting of his review (which I saw). Isherwood called her "great and glorious."

In today's Wall Street Journal, Terry Teachout comes down somewhere in between. (You'll have to scroll down a couple of items on his blog's July 14 entries to get to Synge.)

Who would you trust, in deciding what to do with 8 1/2 idle hours on a summer's day? (As for me, I'm going to Broadway to see Sarah Jones this weekend!)

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