Friday, June 09, 2006

On Neil Labute

Ben Brantley, in his review of Neil Labute's latest play Some Girl(s), beautifully distills what I find so distasteful about Neil Labute:

"As both dramatist ("Fat Pig") and filmmaker ("In the Company of Men"), Mr. LaBute has built a prolific career on vivisecting the unfair sex, with clinically contemptuous works that put the human male under a microscope and watch the little sucker squirm. Both moralistic and voyeuristic, his plays and movies seem always to be writhing in some ecstasy of self-flagellation, whispering all the while, "Oh, guys, we're bad, bad, bad — jerks, lowlife, pond scum." If there is masochism in the implicit litany, there is self-stroking smugness as well."

Labute is deeply dishonest -- as Brantley says, moralistic AND voyeuristic, masochistic AND smug. His is the glee of the elementary school thug who gleefully shouts at the girls, "Wanna see something gross?" Pathetic.


parabasis said...


Couldn't agree with you more. And the problem with playwrights like LaBute is that there are playwrights out there who really *are* interested in limning the depths of what we're capable of, psychologically, spiritually, politically, physically etc... and I think this dishonesty of the more mainstream versions of this outlook (LaBute, some but not all of Gilman) tarnish the reputations in a guilt-by-association way of their betters.

MattJ said...

agreed. But I don't like LaBute really just because I think his work is sort of boring and pedestrain, as well as theatrically conservative. I just don't care. His stuff is like a long sitcom to me.

Anonymous said...

Wait a second !

Now you've missed the mark TOTALLY PEOPLE !!!!

Take a step back...what about BEN BRANTLEY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Can we say how much he sucks first !!!!!!!

Scott Walters said...

Nope. See, the cool thing about having your own blog is that you can talk about what YOU want to talk about, and I wanted to talk about Neil Labute. Like, TOTALLY! I also wanted to talk about Neil Labute using language that rose above the level of banal adolescence. PEOPLE!

YS said...

Somebody is doing yet another production of Shape of Things here in Boston.

I am sure in no time at all we will start to see multiple productions of Fat Pig, Autobahn, This is How it Goes, etc.

Labute is in the system now, but the system doesn't get how bad he is for it. As I have said on my blog, many times, there is very little you can get from a LaBute play that you wouldn't get seeing the movie versions.

"Edgy and Sexy." That's what it's all about.

But why is it, when we try to be edgy or sexy, it never really lives up to that billing.

I have a post in response to a Seattle article about "Edgy Theatre"

Matthew said...

I agree!!!!! The last two Neil Labute palys that I read put me to sleep. Why does anyone care about this guy?

Anonymous said...

Strangly, I find his plays intense and on the mark. I don't always agree with what he says, however, he says it beautifully.

btw, I work in theater, so, I'm not just blithering on... isn't that the best thing about our little world? We all have our favourites!