Arts Runoff: VICTORY

Victory: Choices in Reaction. Great play, bad subtitle.

Summary: A play by Howard Barker loosely based on England in the 1660s–the monarchy was deposed, a commonwealth declared, then the monarchy came back. Runtime of almost 3 hours, lots of swearing. Intricate language. Severed heads.

Good: Like The Europeans (staged at Midd a couple years ago) but easier to follow and grab onto. // The Theater Dept. often aims really high with artsy, emotionally intense, challenging plays. Often, they don’t quite make it. But this time they actually got there. // Freshman Matt Ball really impresses as the reinstated king who can’t figure out what being king actually means. // Perfectly unified punky look, from light to sound to ultra-skinny pants.

Bad: Half of the time the long, stylized transitions between scenes were interesting. Half of the time they just felt like long transitions between scenes. // Lilli Stein rather typecast as a powerful but chipped  firebrand with a precise accent.

Broad: Howard Barker invented a philosophy called “theater of catastrophe.” (Of course he did–why does every playwright feel the need to invent a theater of something?) The idea is to traumatize the audience without any forgiveness or recompense, so as to motivate them toward making change in the real world. I think he’s full of shit on that point. Victory is entertaining, enticing, and full of beautiful language. It has moments that make you feel the characters are justified in at least some of their actions. Now, either Barker is just doing all that stuff as a ploy to draw us in, or he cares at least a bit about beauty, which means he’s a hypocrite. Just a thought.

Contextual rating: The run is already over, but I would’ve suggested that you…
-…do it, and see this show if you can.
-…put off that important thing you have to do and see Victory.
-…skip it. SEE THIS SHOW.


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