Friday, April 23, 2004

More Manchuria

In writing yesterday's piece about The Manchurian Candidate, I quite forgot that I have also seen a stage version of the book. This was written by John Lahr (son of Bert Lahr -- Wizard of Oz et cetera). The plot in Lahr's version was somewhat updated, as the movie remake no doubt will be, and this time the villains, as I recall, were the Japanese. The script has been published in the US and is available on

Need I say that the stage version didn't work? Any reasonably sensible person who had seen the movie would know that a stage adaptation couldn't possibly work, but that, apparently, didn't prevent a number of starry names from signing up to the project. I saw a pre-London performance at the Theatre Royal, Bath, perhaps ten years ago. When it got to London it lasted about four weeks.

I was once part of a committee which arranged for John Lahr to give a lecture and he seemed a pleasant enough guy. But he didn't mention anything about his interest in The Manchurian Candidate. If only you'd said, John, I could have told you.

There was also a production of this play in New York in 2003. You can see a review of it here. The play was done on an Equity showcase basis, which means that nobody gets paid but people have a chance to look at it and see if it works. Doug De Vita, the reviewer, didn't seem to be much more impressed than I was. Interesting, yes. The material could hardly fail to be interesting. But gripping and thrilling, no.

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