Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Road to Mecca Opens on Broadway

Athol Fugard, one of South Africa's best known playwrights (at least to American audiences) is back on Broadway. At least, one of his plays is. The play stars Rosemary Harris, Jim Dale, and Carla Gugino and is about a woman who builds her own Mecca in her home which the townspeople view as an eyesore until she befriends a young school teacher who sees the good in her.

The script itself has been described as being self indulgent and wordy, leaving the production itself to make the play work or fail. believes the play does that all well enough, with the set, lights, and actors pall doing their parts to pull up the poor script -- a feat unto itself -- but the review did not say whether the show was stellar or not.

The New York Times, however, has said it all in one paragraph. Ben Brantley wrote, "As Rosemary Harris says the word, 'darkness' is a thing with tentacles that clutch and choke and smother. It erupts from her with a soul-deep rumble late in the first act of Athol Fugard’s Road to Mecca, which opened on Tuesday night at the American Airlines Theater. And once Ms. Harris has said 'darkness" — or said it that way — it’s impossible to look on her character or the play in which she appears with the comfort of detachment." Brantley went on to describe that the show was "quiet, slow and ultimately powerful."

The Road to Mecca "throbs with a despairing awareness of the South Africa of the 1970s as a broken and corrupting nation, a spiritual prison for those who inhabit it." Brantley also commented on how slow the show's first act is, but praised the performance of Rosemary Harris, who really makes the show.

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