The (Annoying) God Of Hell

TG and I bought season tickets at the Geffen Playhouse here in Los Angeles, and enjoyed a season that included productions of “Cat on A Hot Tin Roof” and “All My Sons”.

Last week we went to the final play of the season, Sam Shepard’s “The God of Hell”.The play involves a mildly clueless Midwestern family, a scientist escaped from a secret Colorado facility, Plutonium contamination, an undercover American agent with a thing for red-white-and-blue bunting, and torture.

Needless to say, I started the evening somewhat cynically.

But it was actually a really good play; put the politics aside for a moment (I’ll get back to them) damn well acted, well imagined by the director, and with Shepard’s solidly American magical realism – solidly 60’s American, but American nonetheless.

We stayed for a discussion of the play afterward, and I bit my tongue quite a bit as the audience and cast congratulated themselves for their courage in putting it on in this, the sixth year of the Bush Reign.

I almost asked one question – “Do you really think it takes courage to put on an anti-Bush anti-war play in West Los Angeles in this day and age?” – but I decided silence was a virtue that evening.

They polled the audience for reactions, and interestingly enough one woman stood and announced herself outraged by the play.

The play offended her, she said, as much as she detested Bush. Given the hard reality of the attacks on Israel that were going on as we sat in our comfortable theater seats, she felt angry watching the play. I waited for a hostile reaction from the crowd, and instead heard a murmur of approval.

This conflict is going to present a lot of people with interesting personal dilemmas before it is over.

6 thoughts on “The (Annoying) God Of Hell”

  1. I think an even more pointed question would have been, “Wouldn’t it have taken more courage to put on a pro-Bush play in West LA in this day and age?”

  2. _This conflict is going to present a lot of people with interesting personal dilemmas before it is over._

    Yes. That is one reason I don’t despair about public support for resisting the Islamacist assault on western civilization.

    At least, not yet.

  3. There is a law of journalism and letters that I believe Feynman attributed to his colleague Gell-Mann.

    Gell-Mann would read an article about some physics discovery in the LA Times, and being a Nobel laureate Caltech physicist, he knew all of the details regarding discoveries in physics from primary sources, and he would cringe over how the LA Times got so many facts wrong. He would then read another article about fighting between the IDF and Palestinians in the West Bank, and we would believe every word of it because it was printed in the newspaper, and being a physicist and not an expert on the Middle East, he didn’t not have any basis to believe differently.

    Holding a private pilote license and having read literature regarding airplanes, I have only one thing to say about “All My Sons”, the whole body of Arthur Miller’s work, and the whole genre of fiction bashing American exceptionalism.

    That the protagonist in All My Sons covered up defects under the pressure of war-time production is a central plot point. It turns out that welding is an accepted practice for the repair of airplane engine cylinder heads, so if I believe anything else written by Arthur Miller, I am suffering from the Gell-Mann effect.

  4. The play offended her, she said, as much as she detested Bush. Given the hard reality of the attacks on Israel that were going on as we sat in our comfortable theater seats, she felt angry watching the play. I waited for a hostile reaction from the crowd, and instead heard a murmur of approval.

    I guess I’m reading this statement a little bit different. To me it’s notable that what upset her was apparently not that her own country was fighting a war and that her own people were being attacked but that another country was being attacked.

    Lest someone get the wrong idea, Israel is an ally (undoubtedly our best in that part of the world) and we’re fighting a common enemy but while it is good to support your allies, it’s another to care more about the welfare of another nation (even an ally) than your own.

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