The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye, and so is my blood pressure, thanks to the revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!”
In director Daniel Fish’s pretentious production — which opened Sunday on Broadway, fresh from Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Warehouse — everything you cherish about this classic has been taken out behind the barn and shot, replaced by an auteur’s bag of tricks and a thesis on gun control and westward expansion. Here, the West was won by a culture of violence and toxic masculinity — what fun!
The audience at the Circle in the Square Theatre sits on three sides of the stage, the plywood-covered walls plastered with rifles. The pit orchestra’s more like a seven-person bluegrass band, decked out in plaid, and the house lights are cranked all the way up. This looks like a hootenanny, you think.
Well, hold your horses. The lights stay on in the house for most of the show, maybe to create intimacy. But the almost constant brightness, which changes only a handful of times to neon green or red and at one point goes dark entirely, muddies the storytelling. No scene seems any different from the next, and the whole thing is a mostly joyless chore.