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Review: A Child’s History of Bombing/NeoFuturists

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Let me begin by saying that Greg Allen and Donovan Sherman’s artfully skewed look at a century’s worth of blowing up civilians attacks its subject with passion and theatrical wit. Several moments in this NeoFuturists production linger in the memory: the video interviews with Allen’s uncle, a participant in the Manhattan Project; the burning paper house that represents the incineration of Tokyo during World War II; the empty chair reserved for Henry Kissinger. “A Child’s History” is an intelligent treatment of a topic that could not be more timely, and you should go see it. Having said that, one of the most interesting moments of the opening-night performance raises questions about the play’s tactics. Asked by Allen whether she would have assassinated Hitler, an audience member responded that history is driven by forces larger than even the most malevolent individual. Allen and Sherman’s play often threatens to slip into the same logic of demonization for which they rightfully take Bush pere and fils to task. If the mantra “Saddam Hussein” is not enough to explain the world’s problems, neither are the names “Bomber Harris” or “Curtis LeMay.” The diagnosis of the wretched history they cite is often left at the level of “some crazy people are in love with bombs,” or “the West is appallingly racist.” It’s hard to argue with either, but the grand scale of the play’s themes demands a deeper analysis, one that might leave its audience even less comfortable. (John Beer)

“A Child’s History of Bombing” is now closed.

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