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Homebody/Kabul Paperback – 28 Jun 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 172 pages
  • Publisher: Theatre Communications Group Inc.,U.S.; Rev Sub edition (28 Jun. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559362391
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559362399
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,486,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Kushner's first big work on a great big canvas since Angels in America. This eerily timely work about Afghanistan is comparably mesmerising and mournful, vast and intimate, emotionally generous and stylistically fabulist, wildly verbal, politically progressive and scarily well informed' Newsday. 'What a feast of a play! No playwright in the English language has a more consuming curiosity or a greater passion for language than Kushner... Brilliant' Chicago Tribune. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Tony Kushner is best-known for the two-part Angels in America, which premiered at the National Theatre in London, and won the Pulitzer prize and a Tony Award in New York. His other plays include A Bright Room Called Day and Slavs!, as well as adaptations of The Illusion and The Dybbuk, all available from NHB. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Jun. 2002
Format: Paperback
I have seen this as well as read it now, and it is an amazing tour de force. Kushner is taking over the mantle of Arthur Miller and perhaps surpassing it. Where Miller is the master of the straight play, Kushner takes inspiration from all the developments in fringe and performance theatre since the 1980s to create extraordinary, challenging drama that provokes and amuses in equal measure.
Homebody/Kabul is an amazing play for so many reasons: first of all, here is an American writing eloquently for the British voice - and the Afghan voice. Secondly, the first hour of this play is a monologue for a mature actress. Structurally, this makes this play incredibly interesting, particularly as the play unfolds and we see how the dramatist uses the information delivered to the audience in the Act 1 monologue in the subsequent acts. Then, in Act 2, there is one of the most heart-rending, amazing speeches ever written in theatre, spoken by an educated Afghan woman in a bizarre blend of European and Asian languages, an aria of pain and confusion and bitterness. This is not mention the fine parts written for the drug-raddled Westerner stranded in Kabul and the emotionally-stifled husband of the monologist, whose opium-fuelled riffs are hilarious and painful - the only time I've ever seen drug-induced highs interestingly portrayed on stage.
This is a wonderful play. I happen to think it is even better than Kushner's great triumph, Angels in America I & II, because it is tighter, even more intense and totally committed. It is a play that resonates with erudition, compassion, sensitivity and is a testament to the power of the pen.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
A feast of language 24 Jan. 2003
By J. Ott - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I was fortunate enough to see this performed in New York last year. This play unleashes great torrents of language and ideas at every turn and is the theatrical equivalent of a clusterbomb. Yet, with time to read and mull, it becomes something quite different.
Years of work and research are hung on the frame of a simple melodrama about a father and daughter searching in a strange country for a wife and mother. Kushner's mythical Afghanistan is a place where the tower of Babel toppled and people speak everything from Russian to Esperanto. The hapless British thrust into this burka'd world will never grasp that we in the west have "succumbed to luxury" -- though perhaps the audience will.
Some other reviewers found the Homebody's monologue dull on the page. I assure you it is quite stirring in performance. The same may be said of much of the play which, like Angels in America, is unwieldy but brilliant. Kushner has admitted in interviews that the play should be trimmed but I think, when reading the play, the overambitiousness is a plus. Kushner is a playwright with a social consciousness, but also a literary and poetic conscientiousness. The use of 'sunny' as an adjective recalls Sunni and the etymology of Quango's name is a play unto itself.
This play is 'about' too many things to effectively say what it is about. I appreciate it as a feast of language and a virtuoso display of Kushner's talent. While it may run long and fail to cohere thematically, it is shorter and more thematically coherent than Angels. What is a clusterbomb in the theater is chocolate cake when iced with covers.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The great dramatist of our time takes on Afghanistan 24 Feb. 2004
By Andrew Loviska - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have been a huge Tony Kushner fan ever since i read and subsequently performed in Angels in America my first and second years of college. I bought Homebody/Kabul as soon as it came out in paperback, and was fortunate enough to see it performed at the Intiman Theater in Seattle recently. After reading and seeing this play, my love for Kushner and his work has only deepened.
At this point, to call Kushner a master of language is to belabor the point. He capable of provoking any reaction under the sun, from hilarity to pathos to utter despair, with a simple, poetic phrase one moment, then a completely different reaction the next. I also won't waste time your time with my interpretation of the "message" of the play, though it certainly has many messages. The first act of Homebody/Kabul consist of one character (the Homebody) sitting in a chair recounting a selective history of Afghanistan mixed in with stories from her life, for an entire hour! Now, read on the page this can get tedious at times, though the stories are interesting. But Ellen McLaughlin, the masterful actor who performed the role in Seattle, sat on stage in one place for that whole hour and commanded the entire attention of the audience. It was mind-boggling, awe-inspiring, transporting, and reminded me forcibly of the difference between reading and performance. McLaughlin took the, admittedly brilliantly constructed, words on the page and turned them into something vital, poetic, and magical.
The rest of the play deals with the aftermath of the Homebody's decision to go to Kabul and disappear. Her husband Milton and her daughter Priscilla, hearing she has been killed, go to Kabul to recover her body. Soon evidence turns up that she may have taken the veil and married a Muslim man. But she is never actually seen again, leaving the other characters to come to their own conclusions and deal with her disappearance as best they can. Along the way we are treated to hilariously funny moments, such as Priscilla almost setting her burqua on fire with a cigarrette and Milton trying opium and heroin with junkie NGO employee Quango Twistleton, and heartbreaking ones such as an Afghan woman's multilingual rant about the state of her country and a man moved to tears by a Frank Sinatra song.
As a whole the play is certainly not perfect, it is sometimes unwieldy and some scenes seem under developed. But for me this is more than made up for by its scope, ambition, and searching intelligence. This is not Tony Kushner telling us what to think, he is presenting us with historical information filtered through the eyes of some deeply flawed but fascinating and ultimately human characters. In the end, he does not lay blame for the miserable state of Afghanistan on this or that country or faction, but shows how eveyone is responsible and no one wants to take the responsibility of really making it right. See it performed if you can, but if you can't, read the script, mull it over, and come to your own conclusions.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Kushner's Prescient Drama 5 Aug. 2002
By James Fisher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although some readers may be disappointed the Tony Kushner's latest play is not at all similar to his first great play, ANGELS IN AMERICA, it is one of the best plays of the decade. Kushner begins with a character who is drawn to travel to Afghanistan where she disappears. Her husband and grown daughter arrive in Kabul under the Taliban to find their wife/mother. They never do find her, but instead are exposed to life in Afghanistan under the Taliban -- a country retaining aspects of its great history, but living in a present of oppression and fear. Through this, Kushner explores the West's culpability in the tragedy of Afghanistan, the ability of the human spirit to survive under the worst possible circumstances, and the need on both sides to truly experience and understand the other. The play is filled with Kushner's trademark style -- a Brechtian, cinematic structure -- and lyrical flights of language, rich characterizations, and fascinating, disturbing ideas about a part of the world few Americans understood or knew much about prior to the tragedies of September 11. Now, more than ever, this play raises some of the most important questions of our time.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Ambitious But Ultimately Over Reaching 9 July 2002
By K. Alford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Tony Kushner, who with "Angels in America" arguably gave us the two greatest works of American drama since "Death of a Salesman," continues his drive to create a grand theatrical voice with "Homebody/Kabul."
And though he falls far short in his attempt, it feels a little crass to fault him for it. This play should be appreciated for its ambition and for the unabashed joy Kushner shows for the intricacy and the density of the English language. His work is great to read even when it ultimately misses the mark.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Pick your poison 6 Dec. 2002
By Bryce Wisan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Like Angels in America, Kushner juxtaposes two seemingly different people and their respective societies, only to show how similar they really are. What are more absurd, Kushner seems to ask, some of the obvious horrors of life in Afghanistan, or some of the subtle opiates that constitute life in the Western world? Neither society appears to be fulfilling in the long run, though a change of scenery seems to be the tonic. Kushner describes a world in which the insanity of one world appears to be the cure for the insanity caused by the other.
This play is certainl though-provoking, and not easily forgotten. I'd love to see it in the theater.
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