It seems clear that Prebble’s play loses more than most by just being read on the page rather than seen on the stage, since apparently the production itself is a real extravaganza of dance, music, zippy high-tech effects, and so on. Spectacle is no doubt an appropriate mode for this story, which is all about the use of smoke and mirrors to occlude reality. The play itself is loose and lively, with lots of fast-paced short scenes stitched together, rather than long lugubrious capital-D dramatic scenes. I’d have to see it to say much more, but this seems to me a promising mode for coping with the problems of depicting historical realities on stage.
In my comments on David Hare’s The Vertical Hour, I opened up a little vein regarding Anglo/American relations as played out, so to speak, through the vector of theater. Add this to that, filed under Interesting and Unexplained: Prebble’s play was a smash hit in London but absolutely bombed when it moved to Broadway. Thoughts?