The Hostage Essay

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Brustein is one of the most respected drama critics of the late-twentieth century. In this excerpt, he appraises Behan's play as "neither serious nor even a play," instead calling the work "too disordered to support any more than a wink of solemnity."

It has been suggested that in The Hostage Brendan Behan is trying to "open up the stage." This is an understatement. He would like to hack the stage to bits, crunch the proscenium across his knee, trample the scenery underfoot, and throw debris wildly in all directions. Like his various prototypes—Jack Fal-staff, Harpo Marx, W. C. Fields, and Dylan Thomas—Behan is pure Libido on a rampage, mostly in its destructive phase; and if he has not yet achieved the Dionysian purity of those eminent anarchists, he is still a welcome presence in our sanctimonious times. In America, comedy went underground (i.e., turned "sick...

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This section contains 1,126 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Hostage Study Guide
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Drama for Students
The Hostage from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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