Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Theater of the Absurdly Criminal

The director of the Motorcycle Diaries, Jose Rivera, continues his project of whitewashing Che Guevara’s crimes against humanity with a new play at the Public Theater, School of the Americas. Roma Torre gives it her patented smack-down review on NY1’s On Stage (rerun last night), using phrases like:

“an ambitious, but ultimately flimsy drama.”

“there’s a sense of the cliché in the way that Rivera imagines the brief meetings between Che and the bright but naïve teacher.”

“the whole thing comes off as stilted and contrived”

“there are plenty of Christ-like allusions to the tortured, soon-to-be-executed martyr, which makes the play seem all the more forced.”

“it doesn’t help that he [the director] resorts to heavy-handed symbolism at the end.”

However, Torre lets the Public Theater off the hook for glamorizing an executioner who advocated sadistic torture as an act of revolutionary zeal. If a playwright were to compare a National Socialist torturer to Jesus, presumably she would take exception to it. In this case she gives Rivera a pass for doing exactly that with Che, but she won’t let him off the hook for foisting a clichéd piece of dreary propaganda on New York’s theater audiences. Applaud her for maintaining some standards, at least.