A Man's a Man. Classic Stage Company (see Off Broadway). By Bertolt Brecht. Music by Duncan Sheik. Directed by Brian Kulick. With Gibson Frazier, Justin Vivian Bond, Stephen Spinella. Running time: 2hrs 15mins. One intermission.
A Man's a Man: In brief
Gibson Frazier plays the malleable Galy Gay and downtown culture leader Justin Vivian Bond is the Widow Begbick in a revival of Bertolt Brecht's 1926 investigation of personal identity in wartime. Classic Stage Company's Brian Kulick directs the production, which features new music by Duncan Sheik.
A Man’s a Man: Theater review by Adam Feldman
First performed in 1926, the cynical parable A Man’s a Man is among Bertolt Brecht’s earliest works, and it is what it is. Patches of the play are messy, and some are blunt; such are the teething pains of an artist finding his bite. But the writing is already incisive enough to draw a little blood. Set in British colonial India, the plot follows a weak-willed porter named Galy Gay (the understatedly hilarious Frazier), conscripted by soldiers to assume the identity of a missing member of their company (who is hiding after robbing a temple). Brainwashed by his new pals, Galy morphs quickly from an imperfectly decent fellow into a killing machine.
Brian Kulick’s staging, which features lots of creative monkeying with barrels, uses the CSC’s thrust stage to bring out the play’s vaudevillian aspects. The adroit nine-person cast interacts with the audience; as venal canteen owner Widow Begbick, Justin Vivian Bond adds rumbling notes of caustic, saloon-singer camp. (The appealing new score is by Spring Awakening’s Duncan Sheik.) For all its wry theatrics, though, the play is no mere goof. When the fog of war lifts at the end, a chill of carnage takes its place.—Theater review by Adam Feldman
THE BOTTOM LINE A lively revival keeps Brecht in fighting trim.
Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam
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