This third entry in the retired Stanford theater professor’s “Blood on the Stage” series is preceded by volumes on 1900–1925 and 1925–1950 (Scarecrow, 2008 and 2009, respectively). Not intended as an anthology, this is a chronological guide to notable plays from the period. Along with a plot synopsis, Kabatchnik gives a brief history of the play, including interesting circumstances of its creation, its critical reception, its later performances and film adaptations, and a biography of the playwright(s). His definition of “plays of crime, mystery, and detection” is surprisingly broad, listing obvious choices—mysteries such as Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap (1952) and courtroom dramas like Meyer Levin’s Compulsion (1957)—but also two adaptations of Dracula, musicals (Lionel Bart’s 1960 Oliver!), and “literary” works (Arthur Miller’s 1953 The Crucible). The book’s wide scope and context make it useful for research; its clear and straightforward writing engaging for casual perusal. The entries are concise enough to browse easily, and the variety offers up surprises that a simple Internet search might miss.
If your taste runs to seeing crime on stage, you won't want to miss Amnon Kabatchnik's Blood on the Stage, 1950-1975: Milestone Plays of Crime, Mystery and Detection....Thereare descriptions of 124 plays performed or published during that 25 year period — and what a Golden Era it was....For fans of crime writing and the theatre, this 683 page book could be the biggest and best bargain you're likely to find.
The third volume of this monumental reference work lives up to the high standard of the first two. Defining crime and mystery as broadly as Otto Penzler (who considers a mystery any story involving a crime or the threat of a crime), Kabatchnik begins chronologically with the Damon Runyon-inspired musical Guys and Dolls, book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows in service of Frank Loesser’s music and lyrics, and finishes with Graham Greene’s The Return of A.J. Raffles with over a hundred other stops along the way....A typical entry, running from two or three to over ten pages, includes a synopsis (surprise solution included), critical response, production history, biographies of the playwright and (in the case of adaptations) author of the original work, availability of acting edition, awards and honors if any, and notes. Appendices on plays concerning poison, courtroom drama, death row, and children in peril span the whole 20th Century and repeat material from earlier volumes, while providing additional information and corrections. The 23-page index covers personal names and titles.