First and foremost, Bernard Kops is a lyric poet who uses the theater, television, and radio as vehicles for poetry. Theatrically, he is an innovator in his use of music and songs and in his often successful attempts to restore vitality to hackneyed themes. Kops’s exploration of fantasy, of inner states of being, and of schizophrenia is juxtaposed to the presentation of realistic, sordid surroundings. His handling of dream logic is superb and explains why he is so attracted to the radio as a dramatic form. Radio drama depends on pauses, sounds, words, silences, and the intimate relationship between the listeners (the unseen audience) and the unseen performers in the studio. Such a form is ideally suited to Kops’s synthesis of past and present, actuality and fantasy.
Kops’s plays have been hailed as triumphs of sordid realism much in the kitchen-sink mold, as imaginative explorations of psychic worlds, and as politically charged allegories. Kops was at first bracketed with Harold Pinter and Arnold Wesker, two other East End Jewish dramatists who emerged in the new wave of British drama heralded by the 1956 Royal Court Theatre performance of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger. Each subsequently went his own way, the differences being greater than the similarities. Unlike Pinter’s work, Kops’s theater is frequently overtly Jewish. While hostility in Pinter is characterized by innuendo and body movement, sometimes erupting into violence,...
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