Page extent: 320
Includes the plays Judith, (Uncle) Vanya, A House of Correction, Let Me and Lot and His God
Barker’s radical rewriting of Chekhov’s classic Uncle Vanya brought him more controversy than most of his other works put together. Interrogating not so much Chekhov’s text as the use to which society has put it, Barker turns Vanya’s defeat into victory and converts a play of sadness into a tragedy of desire. A House of Correction is a meditation on cause and effect. Set on the eve of a war which may destroy a society, the seemingly arbitrary arrival of a messenger with a vital communication sets off an agonizing train of events in the lives of three desperate women.
Few works of drama can have plumbed the depths of solitude and rage that characterize Let Me, a nightmare set on the frontiers of the Roman Empire during the barbarian invasions. Biblical narratives serve as the origin of two shorter works, of which Judith is a contemporary classic of cultural conflict, a reinterpretation of the status of the heroine in Israel’s war of survival against the Assyrians. In Lot and His God, the imminent destruction of Sodom simultaneously licenses the moral decay of an angel and the erotic epiphany of an adored wife.