Myth, Propaganda and Disaster in Nazi Germany and Contemporary America

BY STEPHEN SEWELL
10 November 2004 — 11 December 2004

TimeOut Critics choice.

“"Have you seen the play? No, but I've read the title." So ran an old joke about Peter Weiss's conveniently shortened Marat-Sade. The same gag could be applied to Stephen Sewell's play. Its title refers to a book written by its hero, an Australian academic at an Ivy League university. The hero, needless to say, can't get his book published. Happily, Sewell's play, feted in its native Australia, has made it here, where it galvanised its first-night audience. The play has such energy, vitality, anger and topicality. Sewell's play is both fictionally gripping and politically stimulating. With its echoes of Kafka, Oleanna and Pakula's The Parallax View, it shows Talbot being falsely accused of harassment, persecuted by an anonymous, pistol-packing heavy and professionally destroyed. What Sewell is clearly saying is that America is now a country in which the Socratic quest for truth is subordinate to iron certainty. And, although he underplays the surviving itch of dissent, he is right to point to "certain cultural similarities" between 1930s Germany and contemporary America. Physically, it's very well staged, in its equation of Talbot's academic office with a prison cell. Jonathan Guy Lewis as the beleaguered hero, Amanda Royle as his screenwriter wife and Julia Sandiford as a Chomsky-esque student are all first rate and, like it or not, the play sends you out into the night passionately arguing.” The Guardian