Succeeding At Extremes

TITLE: THE GIFT OF THE GORGON

AUTHOR: PETER SHAFFER

WHERE: BARBICAN CENTER, LONDON

THE BOTTOM LINE: High-flown themes and high-risk theatricality are brought off with fierce conviction.

The case against Peter Shaffer is well established. Shaffer himself has presented it, in such hugely successful plays as Equus (1973), Amadeus (1979) and Lettice and Lovage (1987). He is stagy, melodramatic, given to portentous evocations of myth, an obsessive juggler of the duality between head and heart, reason and inspiration, ordered restraint and exalted excess. Of course the same plays, viewed from another angle, make a strong case in Shaffer's favor. He is...

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