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I find it highly ironic that MaryBeth A. Muchmore summed up her review of the play The Day of the Dogs (Arts, April 10) by accusing it of "veer[ing] a little too far into the realm of absurdity." Had the reviewer been familiar with Martin Esslin's The Theater of the Absurd, an indespensible text for anyone studying 20th century theater, she would have known that elements of the play with which she found fault are, point for point, markers of absurd theatre.
Muchmore's criticism of Alon Hilu's play could have been applied to almost any play by Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionescu or other Absurd playwrights. "The same joke is repeated relentlessly," writes Muchmore. "It then turns out that the whole conflict has also ocurred mulitple times...[the characters in the play] inhabit their own world, one that lacks meaningful contact with the real world...it walks a thin line between reality and oddball fantasy...[and] asks a few more questions than it ends up answering...The characters succesfully end up seeming crazy without being enlightening...[and the play] never gives us sufficient oppurtunity to do anything but distance ourselves from the characters. If this is the rationale behind Muchmore's labeling of the play as mediocre, then the same label must be applied to such plays as Waiting for Godot (Beckett), The Bald Soprano (Ionescu), The Maids (Genet) and The Homecoming (Pinter).
Muchmore also complained that the play had no "concrete substance or universal applicability." Judging by the number of audience members who reacted to the harsh criticism of Israeli politics and mentality which is subtly embedded in the text, I feel justified in saying that the reviewer simply did not understand the play. I agree that The Day of the Dogs was not an easy play to stomach. It was not meant to be. --Gili Bar-Hillel, Translator and Director, The Day of the Dogs
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