The Theater: New Plays In Manhattan, Feb. 19, 1951

Billy Budd (adapted from Herman Melville's story by Louis O. Coxe & Robert Chapman; produced by Chandler Cowles & Anthony B. Farrell) is a brave shot at a difficult target. On its own terms the sea story that constitutes Herman Melville's valedictory to life is certainly great enough. But to recast it for the theater means tackling a subject far deeper than the sea, grappling with a far-from-well-told story. It means handling utterance that now soars on wings, now walks on stilts. It means working with characters that are essentially black & white, must not become flesh & blood. In essence,...