Monday, October 16, 2006

Rachel Corrie's Name Finally Spoken At Minetta Lane Opening

Rachel Corrie's Name Finally Spoken At Minetta Lane Opening

After months of handwringing, hype and even a haze of hate, the transfer of My Name Is Rachel Corrie to a New York stage is ultimately a triumph for defenders of free speech everywhere regardless of one's opinion of the ongoing crisis in the Mideast.

The story that opened last night at the Minetta Lane Theatre is culled directly from e-mails, letters and journal entries of one 23 year old American from Olympia, Washington whose sympathies with the Palestinian people culminated in her own journey to this troubled region. In trying to save a Palestinian home, she placed herself in the path of an Israeli bulldozer, only to perish. With all the controversy generated over the play's mounting, the central question is no longer whether it should be staged, but instead whether or not it's a compelling story worthy of being seen and heard.

Summing up his review by stating, "If you like your plays political, this one is for you," New York's Daily News critic Joe Dziemianowicz is perhaps the most positive: "It's a gripping performance that pulls you deep into Corrie's experience for much of the evening."

Variety's David Rooney also gives the play some high marks: "As a portrait of a young idealist finding a focus for the fire in her belly, it's intermittently powerful; as political theater, it's stirring but also naïvely simplistic in its account of a complex ongoing conflict....But the shift in the action to the Middle East when Corrie travels there with the Intl. Solidarity Movement brings with it a bracing shift into more arresting theatricality....The fragile, often penetrating play has been done a disservice by the noise that surrounds it."

Frank Scheck of the New York Post says, "In the end, it was much ado about nothing....And despite the controversy surrounding it, the play proved to be an innocuous piece about the tragically short life of its title character....[I]t's only in the final moments -- when we see a home video of the real 10-year-old Corrie making a speech about world hunger -- that we truly feel her loss."

Ben Brantley of The New York Times writes, "Toward the end of the performance I attended, I heard one man choking back sobs and another snoring. I could sympathize with both responses....The play, directed by Mr. (Alan) Rickman, is not an animated recruiting poster for Palestinian activists. Its deeper fascination lies in its invigoratingly detailed portrait of a passionate political idealist in search of a constructive outlet....No matter what side you come down on politically, Ms. Corrie’s sense of a world gone so awry that it forces her to question her 'fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature' is sure to strike sadly familiar chords."

My Name Is Rachel Corrie is slated to run through November 19.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
Freedom of Speech Wins with Scheduled New York Performances for My Name Is Rachel Corrie (June 22, 2006)

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