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Blood on the Stage, 1975-2000

Milestone Plays of Crime, Mystery, and Detection

Amnon Kabatchnik

Hardback
eBook
In Blood on the Stage, 1975-2000: Milestone Plays of Crime, Mystery, and Detection: An Annotated Repertoire, Amnon Kabatchnik provides an overview of the most important and memorable theatrical works of crime and detection of this period. Continuing the work of his previous volumes (1900-1925, 1925-1950, and 1950-1975), Kabatchnik describes more than 80 full-length plays produced in the last quarter of the 20th century, with an emphasis on New York and London performances.

Arranged in chronological order, the productions are all works of enduring importance, pioneering contributions, singular innovations, or outstanding success. Many of the most notable playwrights of the era are represented, including Ariel Dorfman, Larry Gelbart, Ira Levin, David Mamet, Terence Rattigan, Reginald Rose, Sam Shepard, Stephen Sondheim, Aaron Sorkin, and Tom Stoppard. The stories involve murder, theft, chicanery, kidnapping, political intrigue, or espionage, with each entry including a plot synopsis, production data, and the opinions of well-known and respected critics and scholars.

The plays in this era encompass suspenseful melodramas, psychological thrillers, baffling whodunits, and even musicals, including such memorable works as
Assassins, City of Angels, Deathtrap, Death and the Maiden, A Few Good Men, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Sweeney Todd, and The Phantom of the Opera.
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Scarecrow Press
Pages: 646Size: 6 3/8 x 9 1/4
978-0-8108-8354-3 • Hardback • October 2012 • $150.00 • (£100.00)
978-0-8108-8355-0 • eBook • October 2012 • $149.99 • (£100.00)
Amnon Kabatchnik, now retired, was a professor of theatre at SUNY Binghamton, Stanford University, Ohio State University, Florida State University, and Elmira College. He is the author of the three previous Blood on the Stage volumes: 1900-1925 (2008), 1925-1950 (2009), and 1950-1975 (2011), as well as the author of Sherlock Holmes: A Chronological Encyclopedia of Plays Featuring the Great Detective (2008), all published by Scarecrow Press.
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chicago (1975) by Fred Ebb, Bob Fosse, and John Kander
American Buffalo (1975) by David Mamet
Streamers (1976) by David Rabe
The Runner Stumbles (1976) by Milan Stitt
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1976) by Tim Kelly
Twelve Angry Women (1977) by Reginald Rose
Cause Célèbre (1977) by Terence Rattigan
A Murder Is Announced (1977) by Leslie Darbon
The Crucifer of Blood (1978) by Paul Giovanni
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1978) by F. Andrew Leslie
No Orchids for Miss Blandish (1978) by Robert David MacDonald
Deathtrap (1978) by Ira Levin
Buried Child (1978) by Sam Shepard
The Penultimate Problem of Sherlock Holmes (1978) by John Nassivera
The Little Sister (1978) by Stuart and Carolyn Gordon
Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979) by Hugh Wheeler and Stephen Sondheim
Murder at the Howard Johnson’s (1979) by Ron Clark and Sam Bobrick
Agnes of God (1980) by John Pielmeier
The author correctly describes this work as “a labor of love.” It is also a fascinating document that deserves a place in any library with a sizable collection on theater.
American Reference Books Annual


Kabatchnik (Sherlock Holmes on the Stage) lists featured plays of the era in chronological order, providing synopsis and background, critical reception, and playwright information (previous entries in the series covered 1900-25, 1925-50 and 1950-75). Not meant to be an exhaustive list, this is more of a sampling of more than 80 plays of crime and mystery. Some musicals (Chicago, Sweeney Todd, Phantom of the Opera) are also explored since they deal with mystery and/or crime. Plays based on literary classics such as Jane Eyre (1997), Dracula (1980, ’95) and notable works American Buffalo by David Mamet, Buried Child by Sam Shepard, and M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang are examined. Three versions of The Hound of the Baskervilles (1976, ’78, ’82) and other Holmes plays are also highlighted here. Some listed plays that are not very well known include Moose Murders, which was a “legendary flop,” and Anthony Shaffer’s (known for Sleuth) poorly reviewed Whodunnit; and Tricks of the Trade (1980), which closed after one performance. Appendixes provide more specific theater information such as “Twentieth Century Death Row Plays” and “Twentieth Century Courtroom Dramas.” The profiles are concise and place the plays in a historical context. Useful quotes from reviews give an idea of how a play was received at the time. Although it is part of a series, this title can stand alone. VERDICT A niche resource with genre appeal. While the title will likely find use in academic theater collections, mystery theater buffs will also enjoy it.
Library Journal


Mr. Kabatchnik’s study is far from a mere list of plays and plots. He gives an historical background for his bloody theme reaching back into the earliest annals of drama....It is almost impossible to dip into the thick (646 page) volume without catching some of the author’s passion for his material. Each of the 80 plays in the book is given an essay placing the work in a context helping to anchor it to the atmosphere of its time....If this all sounds dry and academic, guess again. Mr. Kabatchnik is an unabashed academe, but he is far from boring. Just as the playwrights in Mr. Kabatchnik’s thorough study drop enticing clues for their detective characters—and eventually their audiences—to follow, the author leaves a trail of appealing informational tidbits that draw the reader forward from insight to insight. Blood on the Stage, 1975–2000: Milestone Plays of Crime, Mystery and Detection is entertaining material for theater lovers, and a potentially valuable resource to theater historians and those interested in the sociological ambiance reflected in the theatrical productions of our times.
New York Journal of Books


If this were the best of all possible worlds, Amnon Kabatchnik’s Blood on the Stage, 1975-2000 would be under consideration for its fourth Edgar Award in the Biography/Literary Criticism category. This, the fourth book in the Blood on the Stage series that started with 1900-1925, hasn’t won yet, but it deserves to. Yes, this is a book for theater buffs such as yours truly, but it provides much information for readers of the mystery and other forms of literature. Over 80 plays are summarized as to story and history, including first performances, leading cast members, revivals, and movie and television adaptations. Besides writers important to the mystery (eleven plays are about Sherlock Holmes and three are based on Agatha Christie) there are plays by mainstream writers such as Charlotte Bronte, Graham Greene, Ariel Dorfman, Tom Stoppard, and Harper Lee of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD fame. There are also plays based on the work of Edgar Wallace, Patricia
Highsmith, Ira Levin, and Raymond Chandler. Not only are the summaries readable, but they are based on impeccable research. To cite just one example, I had been trying, with no success, to determine who played Philip Marlowe in a 1978 Chicago version of Chandler’s The Little Sister. Kabatchnik has that information. In the last 25 years or so West End and Broadway musicals have often been about crime, and Kabatchnik does not ignore them, discussing Chicago, Sweeney Todd, Les Misérables, and Phantom of the Opera among others. Accuracy is important in a book such as this that can be used for reference as well as pleasurable reading. There are thousands of facts presented, and I could find few errors, despite wearing my nit-picking hat.

Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine


Santa Monica resident Amnon Kabatchnik has released his newest book “Blood on the Stage, 1975-2000” that provides an overview of the milestone plays of crime, mystery, and detection produced in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Featuring such works as suspense melodramas, psychological thrillers, and baffling whodunits – plays revolving around murder, theft, chicanery, kidnapping, political intrigue, or espionage – “Blood on the Stage, 1975-2000” highlights those works of enduring importance, pioneering contributions, singular innovations, outstanding success, and representative works by prolific playwrights within the genre. Presented chronologically, each entry includes a plot synopsis, production data, and opinions of well-known and respected critics and scholars.
Santa Monica Mirror


In this fourth volume of the series, author Kabatchnik provides an overview of milestone plays that deal with a wide variety of topics—murder, theft, chicanery, kidnapping, political intrigue, or espionage. Chronologically arranged entries include plot synopses (spoiler alert!), production information, and critical and scholarly opinions. The variety of plays included, from American Buffalo, Chicago, Death and the Maiden and Extremities to M. Butterfly, The Mystery of Irma Vep, and Sweeney Todd, offers ample proof that the genre is alive and well on the American stage. Appendixes include an essay on plays in which “poison has claimed victims on the stage,” a list of courtroom dramas, a list of death-row plays, an essay about plays featuring children in peril, and a list of notable one-act plays. If you like your theater bloody, this is the reference book for you.
Booklist


Taking plays from many acclaimed writers, sharing their story and acclaim with a comprehensive coverage of their successes and awards, this volume acts as an excellent volume that covers the rise of mystery on the stage. A complete and comprehensive reference with annotations throughout, “Blood on the Stage 1975-2000” is a strongly recommended addition to any theatre or literary studies collection, not to be overlooked.
Midwest Book Review


Blood on the Stage 1975 – 2000 is a keeper. Doesn’t matter whether you are a student or fan of mystery theatre, if you enjoy exciting puzzling stories (each play’s synopsis is a descriptive short story without dialogue) then at 603 pages, Amnon Kabatchnik’s scholarly recording of milestone plays is a book that is easy to dip into and return to, both for reference and pleasure. If you can’t get it for yourself, lobby your local library or college and share the enjoyment.
Bookpleasures.com


This fourth volume in Kabatchnik’s encyclopedic series covers eighty-two stage plays and musicals featuring crime, mystery, and/or detection that debuted in the last quarter of the 20th century. In his introduction, Kabatchnik surveys the themes and motifs of crime on stage from the time of Aeschylus to the present. In the body of the book he probes deeper into the dark imagination as he discusses the productions of Chicago, Deathtrap, and Phantom of the Opera, among many others. Entries look at the stories behind the plays, the backgrounds of the playwrights, plot, staging, and critical reception.
The Mystery Review


This is the fourth volume of Kabatchnik's groundbreaking reference series on theatrical crime and mystery drama. Previous volumes are Blood on the Stage (2008), Blood on the Stage: 1925-1950 (2009), and Blood on the Stage: 1950-1975 (2011). Kabatchnik, a notable off-Broadway director and newspaper columnist, is an expert in crime drama and live theater. Like its three companion works, this monograph provides a comprehensive listing of the most important Broadway plays that feature crime or mystery plot lines. Kabatchnik starts off his work by introducing readers to mystery and crime drama in theater through the entire 20th century. Then, from Bob Fosse's Chicago to Moisés Kaufman's The Laramie Project, each play is highlighted in a fully comprehensive article. Each playwright/librettist receives full biographical treatment, including all awards won for script writing. The appendixes cover incidental material that highlights aspects of theatrical mystery, including articles on poison, courtroom drama, death-row plays, children in mysteries, and notable one-act plays. This volume is a must for any academic or public library reference collection, particularly for libraries already holding the three companion volumes and libraries hosting a comprehensive theater collection. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers.
CHOICE


Featuring such works as suspense melodramas, psychological thrillers, and baffling whodunits- plays revolving around murder, theft, chicanery, kidnapping, political intrigue, or espionage- “Blood on the Stage, 1975-2000” highlights those works of enduring importance, pioneering contributions, singular innovations, outstanding success, and representative works by prolific playwrights within the genre
Santa Monica Mirror


Amnon Kabatchnik, author of Blood on the Stage 1975-2000 has compiled a list of these heart hammerers and a marvelous list it is; each play selected (there are over 80) has a detailed plot synopsis, info on the productions and staging of the work, bio sketches of the playwright, director, actors, and reviews by major critics.

What is particularly engaging about Blood on the Stage is I've discovered books that were translated to the stage that I didn't know about.

Amnon Kabatchnik's entertaining research and reporting style makes for a really interesting read.

Blood on the stage 1975-2000 is a keeper.

Amnon Kabatchnik's scholarly recording of milestone plays is a book that is easy to dip into and return to. both for reference and pleasure. If you can't get it for yourself, lobby your local library or college and share the enjoyment.
The Midwest Quarterly


• Winner, Bronze Medal in the Reference category of the Independent Publisher Book Awards (2013)
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