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Arts & Entertainment
Journey's End at the Belasco Theatre
By Thomas Todd
April 30, 2007
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II wouldn’t have seen the play Journey’s End if a friend hadn’t suggested it. I knew about the great reviews, but I felt as if I’d had it up to here with war and its depictions in art. The worshipping of celebrities by this society has nearly devoured all anti-war and war films from years past, making the films almost insufferable to sit through. As for an antiquated play from 1928, I could only imagine a similar, and predictable, ordeal. Thankfully, my friend’s persistence prevailed.

There’s more power in the play Journey’s End than suggested by any of the many laudatory reviews. So forceful was the play’s ending that I felt as if I’d been catapulted straight out of my seat onto the pavement—and left reeling. When the full power of the play hits, you simply aren’t ready for it. Outside in front of the Belasco Theatre, my friend and I were nearly speechless—and for days afterward, I was haunted by Journey’s End.

As a work of art, Journey’s End goes further than any other creative endeavor I’ve encountered in making the audience feel the experience. The final moments of the play make war come to life with an almost unbearable shock. There’s no distancing oneself from what’s happening onstage—and I was reminded of the shattering poetry of Wilfred Owen, the WWI poet who was killed at age 27. Such is the power of R.C. Sherriff’s play that it evokes Chekhov far more than it does a film such as Saving Private Ryan.

What’s truly amazing about this play is that there is absolutely nothing dated about the writing. The acting, direction and design are worthy of all praise received. And as for Boyett Ostar Productions—they deserve special mention for having the courage and moral authority to bring this stunning work to Broadway in 2007, our annus horribilis.