What is the artist’s responsibility, indeed, what is the role of Art itself in a repressive heinous political environment? Can the edifying aims of Art and the cold cruelty of Politics exist on hermetically separate planes or are should they be inescapably intertwined?
Ronald Harwood’s intriguing play 1995 Taking Sides pretends to leave those answers to the audience at the Chicken Coop Theatre production in Boca Raton, but it does depict radically different viewpoints and shamelessly stacks the deck.
Much of the script – a best new play winner in London – is disappointingly simple and single-minded until the last 15 minutes when Harwood (The Dresser) finally lets loose a cyclone of clashing intellectual and moral arguments that nearly make up for the unsubtle bulk of the evening.
The production also boasts a couple of solid performances, but it’s seriously crippled for most of the show by the central actor’s loud unvaried sledgehammer acting job with no nuance, perhaps because the actor is also busy being the play’s director.