(Charles Isherwood’s article appeared in The New York Times, 11/21; video is from the National Theatre production.)

The gifts referred to in the title of “Blood and Gifts,” a superb new play by J. T. Rogers about the long history behind the American involvement in Afghanistan, are on ominous view throughout the play. Big boxes are carried onstage and cracked open to reveal piles of artillery. Shiny new rifles are waved in the air like harmless toys. Suitcases full of dollars are handed over with a cool smile.

On the other hand, blood never flows in Mr. Rogers’s drama, which opened on Monday night at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater in a first-rate production from Lincoln Center Theater. But then it is hardly necessary to go to the theater to get an unpleasantly vivid sense of the violence that has stained the country for decades now. You only need to read today’s headlines to comprehend the continuing human cost of the political and military transactions depicted in this engrossing, illuminating play from the author of “The Overwhelming.”


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