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386 Comparative Drama J. L. Styan. Max Reinhardt. Directors in Perspective series. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982. Pp. xvi + 171. 29 illustrations. Hardcover: $32.50. Paperback: $10.95. It may come as a surprise that this is the first objective book-length study of the entirety of Max Reinhardt’s career to appear in English. As such, the book is extremely valuable, especially since its rather short ( 127page ) text is supplemented by a chronology of Reinhardt’s career, a bib­ liography of English- and German-language sources, and a remarkable 28-page list of the director’s productions over his forty-three year career. The production list alone overwhelms the reader with the volume and range of Reinhardt’s accomplishments as a director, the vast numbers of plays he produced and directed, the number of theatres he founded or reconstructed, and the extent of his international exposure and influence. The strength of the book is its recognition of Reinhardt’s reputation as a “theatrical jackdaw, a popularizer and a showman” (p. 23). J. L. Styan shows that Reinhardt’s ecclecticism was in fact his greatest strength, his ability to find “a style for every play,” as one chapter is titled; indeed, Reinhardt often created a new theatre, stage and actor-audience relation­ ship for each style and period of dramaturgy he produced. Of all twentiethcentury directors, Reinhardt seems ideally suited to the scholarly tem­ perament of Styan, whose books have often centered on the theatrical vitality embedded in the works of particular playwrights (Shakespeare and Chekhov among others) and, most recently, on the interrelationship of developments in modem drama and the modem theatre (the threevolume Modern Drama in Theory and Practice). Reinhardt’s genius as a director, Styan convincingly proves, was his ability to identify the inherent theatricality of each play and to find a mode of presentation uniquely suitable to it. This explains in part Reinhardt’s ability to work in many different theatrical styles at the same time, as well as to pro­ duce mass spectacles and classical revivals using the “arsenal of devices” (p. 15) which he acquired while serving as an advocate of new move­ ments such as Symbolism and Expressionism. Styan presents each style of production and genre of dramaturgy in a separate chapter, describing, in details drawn from the director’s Regiebucher and contemporary re­ views, at least one exemplary production in each chapter. Chapters include “impressionistic realism” (illustrated by the production of Ghosts designed by Edvard Munch) ; Symbolism (Sumurûn and Venetian Nights, the latter of which is convincingly presented as a precursor of Dada and Surrealism); Expressionism (Danton’s Death, among others); Shake­ speare; productions of Commedia, Faust, and the Greek classics; and the “Baroque spectacles” (Everyman, and the numerous versions of The Miracle). Reinhardt would rework many of his productions on tour and recreate them in different countries and languages through the years; and Styan often traces the evolution of a production, such as A Midsummer Nighfs Dream, through its thirty manifestations in twenty-four cities over a thirty-five year period. The handlist of productions in the appendix becomes particularly useful here, for while reading about the particular production aesthetic for a particular dramatic repertoire in one chapter, one tends to forget about the other highly contrasting work which the Reviews 387 director was doing at the same time. This problem of chronology some­ times defeats even Styan, who at times plays fast and loose with the dates of his supporting documents, especially regarding the productions revamped over a period of years. Readers should therefore exercise cau­ tion when sorting through Styan’s supporting quotations. For example, Granville Barker visited Germany in 1910; his views, published that year, are cited to describe the 1933 version of Faust and the 1912 British version of Oedipus. There are other occasional slips: Reinhardt’s produc­ tion of The Taming of the Shrew which, Styan alleges on p. 54, Martin Harvey brought to the Prince of Wales’ Theatre in 1909, did not exist. (Harvey produced his own Reinhardt-inspired version of the play in 1913, assisted by William Poel, which Huntly Carter describes in The Theatre of Max Reinhardt, evidently Styan’s source). Surely...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 386-387
Launched on MUSE
2018-07-11
Open Access
No
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