Theater: Tragedy in an Aching Stoop

FEN by Caryl Churchill

Tiny spires of smoke rise from the stage as if the earth were releasing noxious fumes. In the brooding mist on this blasted brown heath, we almost expect Macbeth's three witches to materialize.

The women who do appear are simple farm laborers gathering up a potato crop. In rigid lines and soulless silence, they move forward, whisking loose dirt from the potatoes and tossing them into baskets. They are harrowing illustrations from Edwin Markham's The Man with the Hoe: "Time's tragedy is in that aching stoop."

Currently at Joseph Papp's Public Theater, Fen is the third of British Playwright Caryl...

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