ANOUILH: A Study in Theatrics by John Harvey

ANOUILH: A Study in Theatrics

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Even if Anouilh's controversial fantasies, comedies and pieces noires are eventually to retain the label of popular boulevard drama, his artistry in pure, effective theatrical form cannot be overlooked. This study keeps away from the problems of metaphysical content and concentrates upon the methods behind the playwright's aesthetic of ""theatricalism,"" in which theater is a jeu, a play in every sense. From ""The Waltz of the Toreadors"" to ""Becket,"" it is the values of distortion, theatrical license and artifice, and the histrionic sensibility that usurp the stage. Highly stylized in story and language, Anouilh's plays depend upon caricature, self-dramatization, and exteriorized descriptions for their effectiveness. Even his staging is intended to ""transpose reality, not translate it"" into the world of the theater. For this French disciple of Giraudoux and Pirandello, life, too, is a game with roles to be played; and beneath the comedy and ridicule resides his blacker view of the war between pleasure and boredom, purity and compromise. With ample illustrations from the plays, the author manages to elucidate, without judging from vantage points of modern avantgardism. As a lesson in theatrics, as well as in popular entertainment, Anouilh receives here the careful treatment his work deserves. A book for his spectators and for anyone connected with contemporary theatrical presentation, who--regardless of posterity's decision--cannot but be involved in Anouilh's successful jeu.

Publisher: Yale University Press