I happily direct you today to the beginning of a weeklong journal in Slate on London Theatre by Slate correspondent and (may I say?) Playgoer reader June Thomas, a Brit expat now [correction-- formerly!] based in the Pacific Northwest. Tune in here every day this week for more dispatches.
She started yesterday with a review of the West End showing of "Rachel Corrie," and yet again we have a testimony to this play's ability--in performance, mind you--to overcome people's initial hesitations, whether politically rightist or aesthetically leftist:
Until seeing My Name Is …, I'd dismissed the real Rachel Corrie as a naive kid who got mixed up in something she didn't really understand. The play convinced me I'd done her a disservice. The young woman who emerges in Californian actress Megan Dodds' almost painfully vulnerable portrayal is politically conscious in the best sense—aware of her privilege, conscious of her limitations, but unable to ignore the suffering of others. Perhaps it's because the text is drawn from unpolished writing in journals and e-mails that Corrie's openness seems so endearing...
Corrie's natural eloquence, combined with a very simple staging, makes this a very personal story about one American rather than a political play about the Middle East. (In the end, she spent less than two months in the region.) My Name Is Rachel Corrie may seem an unlikely exemplar of British theater, but it makes sense to me that it has succeeded there. Corrie was a diarist, not a polemicist, and her writing is persuasive because it's clear, not because it's clever. That's how it is with British actors—they're seldom gorgeous, but they're often utterly convincing.
And much thanks to June, of course, for the hat tip to Playgoer. If any of you Slate readers wish to catch up on the "Rachel Corrie" fracas you can scroll back through to February 28, or just type "Rachel Corrie" and/or "NYTW" in the Google box at the top of the page.
Meanwhile, still standing by for an announcement from Mr. Rickman this week...(?)