Monstrous Martyrdoms: Three Plays
Northwestern University Press, 2007 M04 18 - 250 pages
Winner of 2006 International Association of Theatre Critics Thalia Prize
Recipient of 2007 The Robert Chesley Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in Playwriting
Winner of 2006 Village Voice OBIE Awards Lifetime Achievement Award
"The road will be red with monstrous martyrdoms, but we shall win." Oscar Wilde wrote these words at the end of the nineteenth century after serving two years at hard labor for the crime of being homosexual. This modern martyrdom is the subject of Lord Alfred's Lover, Eric Bentley's Brechtian dramatization of Wilde's last days.
H for Hamlet is another variation on the modern martyr play, this time in homage to Pirandello. The protagonist thinks, or once thought, he was Hamlet. Fantasy? Perhaps. But, to paraphrase Marianne Moore, there was a real toad in the imaginary garden--a real martyr in the toy theatre.
In German Requiem, Bentley takes inspiration from Heinrich von Kleist's play The Schroffenstein Family, which in turn is a version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The young star-crossed lovers in his play are martyrs of an internecine conflict much like those seen in recent history in Ireland and the Middle East.
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actor AGNES ALDO Arthur Marling BARNA believe Bernardo body BOSIE BROWNE CARSON castle cave CHAMBERMAID Charlie Parker Cliburn and Allen clothes confessed CONSTANCE COTTER Count crazy CYRIL daughter dear death Doctor door dress Elsinore enters Eric Bentley EUNICE eyes Father Murphy finger FINTENRING Freddy Wood GERTRUDE girl give guilty HAMLET hand head hear heard HIGGINS JACK JEROME JIMMY JOHANN kill kiss laughing leave LOCKWOOD look Lord Alfred Douglas LORD ALFRED resumes Lord Rosebery MARTIN mother mountain murder never Ophelia Oscar Wilde OTTO PARKER Pause play Polonius PRIEST Queen QUEENSBERRY ROBBIE Robbie Ross Rosset RUPERT SANTING scene Schroffenstein SERVANT shock treatment Silence SIMPSON sodomite someone speak stop STURM SUSIE sword SYLVESTER Sylvester's SYLVIUS talk tell THEISTIN there's things Tite Street turn URSULA Varvand voice VYVYAN WANDERER What's WILLIAM word young