Act II: American Racial History Plays in London
Ben Brantley in NY Times:
"FOR years, Eugene O'Neill's "Emperor Jones" has usually been looked upon with a wince. It is as if this stark psychological parable from 1920, which charts the degeneration of a self-appointed black emperor from regal swagger into primal fear, were some formerly famous, deeply embarrassing old relative - the kind you introduce into polite company only with winks and mouthed apologies behind his back.
But the United Kingdom, whatever its official immigration policy, has a way of taking in and rehabilitating the cultural castoffs of the American theater, especially difficult or ostensibly lesser works by masters like O'Neill, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. Now a small London company called the Gate has wrapped the unloved "Emperor Jones" in a bear hug of a production that allows no room for protective self-consciousness or irony. The results have left audiences and critics dazed, disturbed and gasping for superlatives. (more)