Theater: Laughter in Hell

Oh What a Lovely War grins like a skull at the follies of World War I. An animated musical documentary, directed with blazing skill and ingenuity by Britain's Joan Littlewood, Lovely War is constructed like a theatrical montage. Period songs, sketches, gauze-clad music-hall girls and blown-up film stills fill the stage while a lighted news ticker across the backdrop impersonally taps out the monstrous dance of death: ALLIES LOSE 850,000 MEN IN 1914. Mockingly ironic, magnetically fascinating, Lovely War defies a playgoer to settle back in his seat. Tender, frolicsome and tragic,...

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