It's always interesting to get the British reaction to plays recently seen in Los Angeles. John Patrick Shanley's "Savage in Limbo," which got a beautiful production last summer at the Cast Theater, opened at London's Gate Theater last month to mixed-positive reviews.
The critics showed some resistance to its typically American setup--five drifters spouting off in a bar--but most agreed that Shanley was trying to get at something real and all agreed that he knew how to throw the language around.
"A good evening that captures the cry of the cornered soul in high-octane prose," wrote Michael Billington in the Guardian. "There is no doubt that he has a terrific ear for dialogue," wrote Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. "Unfortunately, he appears to have almost nothing to say."
Some of the London critics went back to see "Sarcophagus" when it transferred from the Royal Shakespeare Company to the Mermaid Theater. (Our version is at the Los Angeles Theatre Center.) Michael Coveney of the Financial Times thought that Vladimir Gubaryev's play had become "a superfluous minor document," now that the world was so aware of what had happened at Chernobyl Reactor 4. Alex Renton disagreed in the Independent: "What is remarkable is the spectacle of an uncensored Russian's insight into the contemporary Russian mind."