Artistic merit is, of course, almost entirely in the eye of the beholder. But whatever artistic claims may be made for My Name Is Rachel Corrie, it is above all else a piece of propaganda — and a nasty, incendiary and deeply misleading piece of propaganda at that. If the Young Vic was genuinely seeking to deal with the issues surrounding Gaza and the Middle East, it could have arranged a series of events and plays exploring the many different perspectives in a hugely complicated story. But it clearly has no such intent. Rather, it is in the business of peddling and stirring up anti-Israel hate — putting this play in its schedule with no attempt at any parallel narrative to give even a hint that there may be another side to the story. The words of the Young Vic’s artistic director, David Lan, are in this context disturbing: “Anything that keeps Gaza at the front of our consciousness is to be valued.” Anything? As a theatre director, he of all people should know that words matter — and in this context the “anything” that some of those involved, such as Hamas, use to push their view of Gaza can be horrendous. More than anything, the Young Vic is betraying its audience, offering them unthinking agitprop distortion rather than reasoned and nuanced debate.
A true great
It is a tribute to Dustin Hoffman’s remarkable skill as an actor that, for many, he remains fresh faced Benjamin Braddock even while we watch him perform as he approaches his 80th birthday. We pay tribute to him this week, assessing not just his many great roles but his contribution to drama itself. But we also have something simpler to say: Happy Birthday!