"What are the real powers of sorcery? To alter? To define? To transport? Tony Kushner and Pierre Corneille before him go for all three, which is only part of the magic in Kushner's fanciful adaptation of Corneille's L'Illusion Comique. Freely adapted it is, in the best sense. For Corneille, whose later, loftier verse plays earned him the stodgy title of Father of French Tragedy, The Illusion was a mildly satirical precursor to all that a glitch, written when he was only twenty-nine. Yet even then, it was burdened by a ponderous Seventeenth-Century neo-classical style that kept the word comique out of Twentieth-Century range. Kushner's achievement is digging under all the circumlocution to salvage an ageless and universal tale, stripping the nugget of its ornamentation and serving it up to us lingually lucid and lean. There is some colloquial indulgence in the rewritten language, but it's mostly judicious. We're in on the joke, which never goes too far. Simply put, this the tale of a rigid father, Pridament, who, stricken with remorse for having provoked his son to flee the family home, searches out the magician Aleandre in the hope that he will help him find out what happened to the wayward boy. Aleandre does, and the ironic twist of the piece is that after several false starts, passionate re-enactments, comic delusions and confusions, the truth is revealed and Papa finds he doesn't like it. The light-hearted ending is a cynical but honest lesson in selective affection. All the fun, however, is in getting there. The Illusion takes us into territory on which theater thrives: fantasy, witchcraft, transcended place and time."--Sylvie Drake, Los Angeles Times.
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