THE NEW BRITISH DRAMA: Fourteen Play wrights since Osborne and Pinter by Oleg Kerensky

THE NEW BRITISH DRAMA: Fourteen Play wrights since Osborne and Pinter

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Superficial, not-quite-up-to-date (c. 1977), but nonetheless welcome rundowns on 14 current London-based dramatists--with a brief introduction that rather misrepresents recent U.S. playwrighting and certainly exaggerates the anti-Establishment/unconventional element in English commercial theater today. There are also some odd anglings in Kerensky's playwright-by-playwright chapters: the basically old-fashioned and slick Peter Shaffer (Equus, Five Finger Exercise) draws disproportionate praise; the wildly original and important Tom Stoppard is bewilderingly downplayed, lumped together with conventional funnymen Alan Ayckbourn and Simon Gray; David Storey's representative plays are overshadowed by a detailed discourse on his one foray into absurdist vulgarity; and Kerensky seems to have quite a blind spot when it comes to the difficult yet certainly powerful Edward Bond. But for the most part, Kerensky's profiles are balanced and straightforward, describing each of the playwright's major works and the critical reaction it has received. True, there's no real illumination here: Kerensky's comments chiefly point out the obvious; chunks of dialogue are used as illustration, but without much discrimination (Kerensky apparently dotes on the art of the double-entendre); the influences of earlier writers are under-explored; and the quoted comments from the playwrights themselves are only really helpful in the case of the aggressively political writers, who declare their extreme left-wing allegiances. But, with so many of these writers being imported to U.S. theaters (the virtually unknown Stephen Poliakoff recently joined Peter Nichols and Trevor Griffiths in the N.Y. limelight), serious theater-watchers who want to stay au courant will appreciate even a once-over-lightly, ephemeral handbook like this one.

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1979
Publisher: Taplinger