The case for onstage violence.

Behind the scenes.
May 3 2006 12:47 PM

Break a Leg!

No, really, break it. We need more violence onstage.

(Continued from Page 1)

But after watching play after play in which all the fighting takes place behind closed doors, it's strangely exhilarating to see naked cruelty right before our eyes. Compare the mere talk of violence to a chilling moment in Deborah Warner's 2002 Broadway production of Medea. When Fiona Shaw, as the title character, went behind a translucent wall to kill her kids, we shuddered as a streak of blood splattered across the glass from within.

Writing in the New York Times, Caryn James argued that stage violence is inevitably less realistic than it is on film, and that in Inishmore it's "cartoonish." The shootout in Inishmore certainly has an element of absurdity, but so do the works of Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese, two action-movie masterminds to whom McDonagh is often compared.

Advertisement

For all the talk of attracting young people to the theater, producers have completely ignored the escapist thrills of action and horror that send kids flocking to the multiplex and turning on their TV sets. No wonder musical spectacles dominate the Broadway box office. McDonagh is one of the few contemporary playwrights whose plays actually make money. Inishmore could give him three commercial Broadway hits in four tries—an astounding feat for a young writer.

So, bring forth the Max Fischer of Broadway, an impresario who will find a story of good guys chasing bad guys, hire some pyros, throw in a ton of cash, and take us on the ride of our lives. Harvey Weinstein is currently adapting Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon into an epic martial-arts musical. Some might see a show like that as a cynical attempt to bring in the masses, and it might not end up as artful, funny, poignant, or human as McDonagh's plays. But as the purists run and hide, I'll be sitting in seat A1. And I won't need any coffee.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.