“Fear Turns to Wrath”

Walking into the theater, I didn’t know what the unfinished structure in the middle of the stage was. It looked a little like a house, but surely it wasn’t done yet. Were we too early? Was the stage crew still setting up? Show was starting in 10 minutes, so they better kick it into high gear. Seven minutes were left, still no stage crew. Two minutes, still nobody. Then there was no time left, time to see what was happening. The projectors turned on and the house was instantly complete.

What trickery was this? Well whatever it was, I was instantly interested. (Photos courtesy of BAM)

They say history repeats itself. And I’d say that the producers at BAM would agree. The appropriately named production of House/Divided fused together the past and the present. Taking parts of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath to illustrate their point. What does Steinbeck’s classic and the current financial state have in common? More that you’d think. Let’s take Rosasharn’s baby for example. A stillbirth. Why though? Is it a symbol that new life cannot be supported in these desperate times? If it is then why did House/Divided put it in their play? Are they trying to tell us something?

Back to the set. A symbol in itself. Throughout the play, pieces of the house are broken off and tossed away. Is the house itself a symbol? It must have been important enough to be put in the title. A House/Divided, yes there is a house on set. And it is being divided, but what other house do we know of? Is it in our government, or perhaps the economy itself? The symbolism is everywhere. If the production gets you to think (which it did for me) then it did its job. If the house is the economy itself, then then the play is illustrating its eventual demise. The Grapes of Wrath was a perfect juxtaposition with today. However it was not a juxtaposition of current events, but time itself. Time is one of the only factors that was different. Shown with the folk music, different music and lighting. The struggle, sadness, and sorrow is apparent in both eras.

But who is to blame? At the end of the play, the house topples to a elongated table. At the end of it sits Alan Greenspan (well, an actor playing him.) Mr. Greenspan was the head of the Fed when the current recession began. According to the play, he was a force in the current economic situation. As well as the banking system in general. Have we, as a nation, become too dependent on banks and the government? Is there a need for reform? Do we need to regulate or deregulate? Many questions are raised after viewing the play. And only the individual can answer them because this society will never agree.

History repeats itself unless we learn from it. Will we—as a nation—ever learn?

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One Response to “Fear Turns to Wrath”

  1. Professor Bernstein says:

    A sharp review. Very thoughtful!

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