Marat/Sade Critical Overview - Essay

Peter Weiss

Critical Overview

(Drama for Students)

When the work Marat/Sade was first produced, it became a bit of a joke to some. A common jibe was often directed at the play's lengthy name: "No, I haven't seen the play, but I've read the title." The first production of the play was staged in West Berlin, Germany, under the direction of Konrad Swinarski. From the start the work was controversial, which is often the best publicity. In its initial run, many critics saw the influence of fellow German Bertolt Brecht on Weiss and his play. Weiss admitted his debt to the great playwright, stating "Brecht influenced me as a dramatist. I learnt most from Brecht. I learnt clarity from him, the necessity of making clear the social question in a play. I learnt from his lightness. He is never heavy in the psychological German way." Of this first production, the London Times claimed it was "the most ambitious example of the Theatre of Cruelty yet to appear. Practically every influence current in operation in intellectual high fashion is to be found in this play."

It was the direction of Peter Brook and his London production of the play, however, that brought Marat/Sade to the highest level of international critical acclaim. Brook attended rehearsals for the first production in West Berlin and there met Weiss. The two agreed to take the play to London, where Brook would reinterpret it and later move the production to New York. The Brook-directed version made its debut at the Aldwych Theatre in 1964.

As with the German production, the London performances almost...

(The entire section is 632 words.)