(Helen Shaw’s article ran in Time Out New York, 7/15.)
Playwright Howard Barker—rageful, vulgar, riotous, brilliant, cynical and vain (in other words, the dark Shakespeare of our times)—does not care for theater that runs smoothly. In plays and essays, he rails against uniformity, even wholeness of theatrical experience: “The baying of an audience in the pursuit of unity is a sound of despair.” So Barker certainly wouldn’t mind the unevenness in PTP/NYC’s production of 1983’s Victory: Choices in Reaction, his cruelly funny historical drama that gallops roughshod through the nastiest bits of Restoration England. As always, the work makes us drunk on rich, cerebral wine. So if Barker doesn’t mind the wobbles, why should we?