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For week ended December 12, 1999 Posted 18 Dec 1999

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'Bash's' Brutality a Shade Too Bitter

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.

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information