Summarized by Kent Larsen
'Bash's' Brutality a Shade Too Bitter
Orange co CA Register 7Dec99 A2
By Paul Hodgins: Orange County Register Theatre Critic
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA -- The controversial production 'Bash,' made
up of three plays by LDS playwright Neil LaBute was panned by Orange
County Register Theatre Critic Hodgins, who says that LaBute doesn't do
enough to gain the audiences' sympathy before showing them his horrors.
Hodgins says that LaBute's trilogy of three one-act plays does have
"heroic efforts" from its three actors, but the text comes across more
like "a bitter round of Mormon-bashing." However, this and other
comments in the review imply that Hodgins doesn't realize that LaBute
is, by all accounts, an active member of the LDS Church. But this fact
must make his plays all the more difficult and confusing.
Hodgins points out that the classic tragedies of American Theatre, plays
like "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Death of a Salesman," build their
stories slowly, giving the audience context, motivation and sympathy for
the characters. But, he claims, LaBute doesn't bother with this. Hodgins
seems to think that LaBute did better with his first film, "In the
Company of Men," where LaBute, "showed he can make us understand the
reasoning that motivates vindictiveness."
Instead, Hodgins says that "Bash" asks the audience "to see the Mormon
church as the underlying villain in these domestic tragedies." The
audience ends up with a black and white picture of religious people with
moral blind spots, a picture that ultimately fails.
Still, Hodgins praises the performances, which include TV actress
Calista Flockhart of the TV drama "Ally McBeal," saying that they
deliver deceptive, mesmerizing performances.
"Bash" continues through December 19th on Saturdays and Sundays at the
Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills.