Theater: The Naked & the Damned

The Deer Park. Norman Mailer likes to play the judge-penitent. He is a man who castigates the flesh while enjoying the fleshpots, who hates himself the morning after for what he has done the night before. In Deer Park, Mailer's first full-scale dramatic effort, he uses Hollywood as his metaphor for hell. The stunning staleness of this image is equaled by an esthetic sloth that leads him to pilfer rather than plot. He picks over the bones of the Louis B. Mayer legend, among others, and the off-Broadway evening is spooned out in 88 scenes, each punctuated by a fight-ring gong....

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