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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
DRUNK ENOUGH TO SAY I LOVE YOU?
at the Public

MORE THAN DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL
By Bill Stevenson

  Samuel West and Scott Cohe/PH: Sara Krulwich

Caryl Churchill's new two-man play lasts only 45 minutes, but that's enough time for the playwright to say plenty about the United States' military involvements over the past 50 years. It may sound like a romance, but Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? is actually an allegory of America's courtship of Great Britain and of our imperialistic ways.

The two characters are the American Sam (Scott Cohen) and the Englishman Guy (Samuel West), who have apparently resumed an affair. In the first scene Sam is trying to get Guy to leave his wife and children for him. As the play progresses, it becomes clear that Sam represents the U.S. and Guy stands in for England. Now we need to prevent some elections, Guy says early on, explaining one of many military and CIA operations. Sam runs through a long list of American meddling in foreign countries: Vietnam, Iraq, Iran, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, to name a few. Toward the end, he explains the merits of the Star Wars missile defense systems and dismisses Guy's concerns about Global Warming as junk science.

In each scene, the couch the two men sits on is elevated further off the ground against a black background. Under James Macdonald's smooth direction, props like cigarettes and glasses appear out of nowhere and are dropped out of sight. Eugene Lee designed the set, in which the couch silently moves higher and higher as the two men become increasingly detached from reality.

Churchill (whose Top Girls is being revived this spring by Manhattan Theatre Club) makes her damning points about U.S. involvement in wars, coups, assassinations, and torture while framing it in the context of a gay love affair. (Here the U.S. and Britain aren't in bed together but cuddle on a couch together.) Despite its brief length, the play amounts to a lengthy laundry list of American wrongdoing around the world. Churchill fans won't mind, but anyone planning to vote for John McCain probably will. Meanwhile, the clipped, staccato dialogue-consisting almost entirely of incomplete sentences-is likely to annoy a majority of the audience.

Nonetheless, it's nice to see that the ever-inventive and always outspoken Churchill is still making bold political statements in her pointed plays, and the Public Theatre has given her short, scathing anti-American diatribe an impeccable production.

 


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