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"Bristles with the intelligence and insight of a major writer." -Financial Times "Brilliantly ... evoke[s] the mood of a country through snapshot images." -Guardian "An act of moral commitment as well as theatrical virtuosity." -London Sunday Times Mad Forest explores the reactions of ordinary people to confused events, focusing in particular on two families. What emerges is "Bristles with the intelligence and insight of a major writer." -Financial Times "Brilliantly ... evoke[s] the mood of a country through snapshot images." -Guardian "An act of moral commitment as well as theatrical virtuosity." -London Sunday Times Mad Forest explores the reactions of ordinary people to confused events, focusing in particular on two families. What emerges is the dreadful damage done to people's lives by repression and the painful difficulties of lasting change. Caryl Churchill's play about the Romanian revolution was written after she, the director and a group of students from London's Central School of Speech and Drama went to Romania to work with acting students there. The play was first performed in 1990, only three months after their return. Caryl Churchill has written for the stage, television and radio. A renowned and prolific playwright, her plays include Cloud Nine, Top Girls, Far Away, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?, Bliss, Love and Information, Mad Forest and A Number. In 2002, she received the Obie Lifetime Achievement Award and 2010, she was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.


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"Bristles with the intelligence and insight of a major writer." -Financial Times "Brilliantly ... evoke[s] the mood of a country through snapshot images." -Guardian "An act of moral commitment as well as theatrical virtuosity." -London Sunday Times Mad Forest explores the reactions of ordinary people to confused events, focusing in particular on two families. What emerges is "Bristles with the intelligence and insight of a major writer." -Financial Times "Brilliantly ... evoke[s] the mood of a country through snapshot images." -Guardian "An act of moral commitment as well as theatrical virtuosity." -London Sunday Times Mad Forest explores the reactions of ordinary people to confused events, focusing in particular on two families. What emerges is the dreadful damage done to people's lives by repression and the painful difficulties of lasting change. Caryl Churchill's play about the Romanian revolution was written after she, the director and a group of students from London's Central School of Speech and Drama went to Romania to work with acting students there. The play was first performed in 1990, only three months after their return. Caryl Churchill has written for the stage, television and radio. A renowned and prolific playwright, her plays include Cloud Nine, Top Girls, Far Away, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?, Bliss, Love and Information, Mad Forest and A Number. In 2002, she received the Obie Lifetime Achievement Award and 2010, she was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.

30 review for Mad Forest: A Play from Romania

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jodi Geever

    I enjoy plays, which is what this work is. I have a personal interest in Romania, and in the events surrounding its 1989 revolution, which I will not discuss here. Through a play the reader is taken through scenes in Bucharest, Romania immediately prior to, and in the immediate aftermath of, the people's uprising and revolution of December 1989. The result of the revolution was the death by public execution of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu (pronounced Char-ches-ku) for genocide by starvation and c I enjoy plays, which is what this work is. I have a personal interest in Romania, and in the events surrounding its 1989 revolution, which I will not discuss here. Through a play the reader is taken through scenes in Bucharest, Romania immediately prior to, and in the immediate aftermath of, the people's uprising and revolution of December 1989. The result of the revolution was the death by public execution of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu (pronounced Char-ches-ku) for genocide by starvation and crimes against the Romanian people. The scenes include a celebration of Christmas, (which occurred in 1989 in Bucharest for the first time in over twenty years), confusion in the hospitals over the revolution itself, the safety of the city's water, (at one point it was thought that the Ceausescu's had poisoned the water in Bucharest), the reuse of needles (shoddily sterilized with drinking alcohol where possible--leading to Romania's AIDS epidemic), and the attempted assimilation of Nicolae and Elena (under assumed names) into average Romanian society to save their own skins. This effort ultimately failed, and the two were executed by firing squad). A square of chocolate is a Christmas luxury. People don't trust even children or intimate family members due to the infiltration of the Securitate (Gestapo-esque secret police) into every walk of life. Dogs and people starve all the same, and yet the hope, spirit, and heart of the Romanian people comes through. This play will break your heart. And it should be read by everyone.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    (5/10) Maybe this would have been better performed -- it's a funny thing, reading a stageplay instead of watching it, but given how rarely I go out to the theatre it's necessary to try and explore this area of literature. But this just left me cold and a bit confused. Churchill sets her play around the Romanian revolution that deposed the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. The problem is that Churchill doesn't really seem to have much to say about the revolt other than the obvious trumpeting of liberty (5/10) Maybe this would have been better performed -- it's a funny thing, reading a stageplay instead of watching it, but given how rarely I go out to the theatre it's necessary to try and explore this area of literature. But this just left me cold and a bit confused. Churchill sets her play around the Romanian revolution that deposed the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. The problem is that Churchill doesn't really seem to have much to say about the revolt other than the obvious trumpeting of liberty. At times she actively tries to write around historical fact, trying to push the Western image of the revolution as anti-communist over the fact that, when given a free vote, the Romanians chose to put the Communists back into power. Structurally the play consists of two relatively conventional acts, set before and after the revolution, about two interlocked families, and a choral centrepiece which is a kind of "voice of the people" portrayal of the revolution. It's interesting to see such a socialistic technique -- Eisensteinian types collectively overthrowing the old order, each worker accorded his own opinion -- in an anti-communist play. Whether this is intentional irony or ideological undercutting and appropriation depends on your viewpoint and how much credit you're willing to give Churchill. As for the more conventional acts, the highlight is the super-realist dialogue, where characters will interrupt and talk over each other with no regard for the viewer. Unfortunately, the characters and plot in this section are one-dimensional and flat, and I never found a reason to care about any of it. With some work the central choral section could have been expanded into a decent work, as contained within is a nascent sense of the chaos that all revolutions, even the most just, are filled with. But as a whole Mad Forest seems like a cautionary tale of trying to adapt current events for the stage.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

    This is quite possibly my favourite play of all time and am I now crying because I get to be in it? Maybe.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    I really don’t know what to make of the majority of the play. I enjoyed some of the surreal elements – the angel and the priest, the vampire and the dog and the sense of paranoia and touches of xenophobia.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    What's kind of pathetic is that I can't remember if I actually read this one for my Stoppard/Churchill class or not... but it looks really familiar. The problem is that we read one by Stoppard about Czechoslovakia, and I think they've melded in my brain. Dang.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stuart

    Certainly one of Churchill's more famous plays, if not one of her best. Sprawling, complex, maybe more interesting than compelling, it often feels more like a sketch than an in-depth exploration of Romania, its past, and its struggle to enter the modern world. The characters are plentiful and a little interchangeable, which makes them hard to latch onto individually or even collectively, and though their basic conflicts are human and relatable, they often seem to exist in large part due to the s Certainly one of Churchill's more famous plays, if not one of her best. Sprawling, complex, maybe more interesting than compelling, it often feels more like a sketch than an in-depth exploration of Romania, its past, and its struggle to enter the modern world. The characters are plentiful and a little interchangeable, which makes them hard to latch onto individually or even collectively, and though their basic conflicts are human and relatable, they often seem to exist in large part due to the structure and focus of the play, which itself feels at the mercy of the playwright and her theme. A powerful and articulate piece of social-political theater, there is no doubt, but maybe not as entertaining or profound as it could be, or aspires to be, though almost worth the price of admission for Churchill's signature surrealism, which is present in spades.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Raphael d’Urbino

    Good.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Hope

    This play was different from most Caryl Churchill plays I've read because the action does not take place in England. I thought this departure did not detract from Churchill's unique writing style and story telling ability. Using her characteristic scene structure and overlapping dialogue, she was able to create a snapshot of the Romanian Revolution through the eyes of two families and individual stories. The cyclical structure of the play (part 1 is a wedding before the revolution, part 2 is a s This play was different from most Caryl Churchill plays I've read because the action does not take place in England. I thought this departure did not detract from Churchill's unique writing style and story telling ability. Using her characteristic scene structure and overlapping dialogue, she was able to create a snapshot of the Romanian Revolution through the eyes of two families and individual stories. The cyclical structure of the play (part 1 is a wedding before the revolution, part 2 is a series of stories the first night of the revolution in December 1989, and part 3 is another wedding post-revolution) provides interesting commentary on the nature of governments and the patter of revolution. The families reflect the generations, ideals, and lifestyles of those these revolutions impact and asks the audience through what is and isn't said to consider the consequences and benefits.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Titan3lla

    I loved the play! I have so many questions about everything... Like if Ianos's character was Hungarian, why his name was not written in Hungarian? Or what was happening really about the shootings? And so on, can't even write them down there's so many... I got my hands on Mad Forest, after I choose to write the essay about Top Girls for my Modern Drama class. I really enjoyed Top Girls as well, and during my research I read about Churchill's other plays... Next in the line I'm gonna read is Cloud I loved the play! I have so many questions about everything... Like if Ianos's character was Hungarian, why his name was not written in Hungarian? Or what was happening really about the shootings? And so on, can't even write them down there's so many... I got my hands on Mad Forest, after I choose to write the essay about Top Girls for my Modern Drama class. I really enjoyed Top Girls as well, and during my research I read about Churchill's other plays... Next in the line I'm gonna read is Cloud Nine. The funny thing is I never enjoyed reading plays, they belong to the stage, but since I can't see them, I am too interested...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Li Chai

    Read it for class. For now I can say this is really cool that Churchill created various conversations between characters to present the conflicts of their deeply rooted political views. And I really like Part Ⅱ where Churchill present the revolution(?) through another set of characters with different social backgrounds. Successfully, the depiction from different perspectives leads us to see the whole picture.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    an exploration of the romanian revolution, stunning new use of language. a very sad play, exploring the cycle of revolution- from one dictator to the next.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I forced myself through the entire play. I'm not sure I understood much of it, but I was speed-reading it for class.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Corey Haydu

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Koski

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cam Roberts

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sam Whale

  17. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lane Williamson

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ian

  20. 4 out of 5

    James

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

  23. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

  24. 5 out of 5

    seymourglass

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michael the Girl

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ariana

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Hamby

  30. 4 out of 5

    Maya White-Lurie

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