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Blood on the Stage, 1975-2000: Milestone Plays of Crime, Mystery and Detection

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  • Posted March 15, 2013

    Following on his previous three volumes in this series, which ad

    Following on his previous three volumes in this series, which addressed the first three quarters of the twentieth century, comes Amnon Kabatchnik’s latest 646-page tome: Blood on the Stage, 1975–2000. As insightful and as rich a source of information on stagecraft as his previous repertoires have been, Blood on the Stage, 1975–2000 not only neatly rounds off his broad-sweeping overview of the century’s crime, mystery and detection stage productions, but also enhances the other volumes in the series by his many allusions to the dramatists of previous eras.
    For each of the 80 plays and musicals that Kabatchnik features in the latest volume, this Rodgers & Hammerstein award-winning director and Professor of Theater provides a comprehensive and highly readable account not only of the plot, but also of the playwright’s background, the production history of the piece, and how it was received by both audience and critics alike. 
    Kabatchnik’s all round and firsthand experience of stagecraft conveys a sense of the enthralldom of the medium, of which he is an acknowledged expert. By contextualizing each of the dramatic works that he covers in relation to other theatrical pieces in the genre not only does Kabatchnik clearly show the depth of his erudition, but his expansive vision of the whole spectrum of which he writes entrenches his rapport with his audience. The result is that we are uplifted into the entrancing ambience and ethos of theater, and transported from our everyday, mundane existence to the world behind and beyond the footlights. This is the best that a dramatist can do, and Kabatchnik clearly does it here in print.    
    Not sufficing himself with trenchant commentary on, and the contextualization and analysis of, each of the plays that he covers, Kabatchnik concludes the collection with several fascinating appendices, treating the use of deadly poison on stage and the vulnerability of children as portrayed in twentieth-century drama, as well as listing the century’s courtroom dramas, death-row plays and “Notable One-Acts of Mayhem, Mischief, and Murder”. The 20-page index is both clear and comprehensive, facilitating access to the text in such a logical and well-reasoned way that using it is a joy.  
    The fluent rhythm and cadence of Kabatchnik’s writing has no doubt contributed greatly to the general reading public’s positive reception of the author’s work, with the authentic ring of his work being bound to appeal to those who love the crime, mystery and detection genre both on the stage and in the written text.    

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