Myth, Propaganda and Disaster in Nazi Germany and Contemporary America
At the Nuremberg Trials, Hermann Goering told a confidant that there is no trick in leading a reluctant people into war. “All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”Australian playwright Stephen Sewell applies that concept to post-9/11 America in his bold play with a cumbersome title, Myth, Propaganda and Disaster in Nazi Germany and Contemporary America. It’s all about the corrupting nature of power and the corrosive effect of lies.
Be forewarned, it’s more violent and overtly political than Sam Shepard’s dark national-security farce The God of Hell, which offended some comedy-oriented patrons when it was staged at the B Street Theatre earlier this year. Shepard’s play featured good-hearted Midwesterners whose way of life was destroyed by a visiting agent. Sewell’s play, by contrast, tours the underbelly of affluent, self-serving academia. Full of deception and manipulation, the play’s staging at a UC campus makes it all the more delicious.
The story concerns Talbot Finch, an Australian professor who doesn’t realize that his leftist views are getting him into trouble. Soon, he’s delivered to a Kafkaesque fate.
The production is directed by Jade McCutcheon. An Australian theater scholar, McCutcheon’s lived in this country for four years, but doesn’t have permanent residence, which raises the question, “Could something like this happen to her?”
The three-hour show has a number of awkward aspects, including the last-minute substitution of Equity actor and master’s of fine arts candidate Victor Toman in the leading role. He did the show “on book” last weekend, but otherwise handled it well.
Myth is definitely not for everybody, but if you’re looking for a tough, take-no-prisoners political drama, this is your ticket.