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Pity in History

From 39 member  reviews
Members say: Confusing, Ambitious, Disappointing, Great acting, Slow

About the show

Potomac Theatre Project presents Howard Barker's 17th-century British civil war drama updated to the present day. A sexy, brazen, and funny examination of a society rife with competing ideologies. More…

'Pity in History' focuses on the overthrow of the old regime by an insurgency with a rigorous and severe view of the world. Art as religious representation and inspiration is challenged as a tool of possibly demonic privilege. Originally produced as a teleplay by the BBC in 1985, this production marks the script's professional stage premiere. Running in repertory with 'Arcadia.'

Member Reviews (39)


Confusing, Ambitious, Disappointing, Great acting, Slow
Avg Score

Intelligent, Relevant, Quirky, Complex, Challenging

See it if Intellectually challenging satire about the necessity and folly of art and war, and the people that pursue them. Witty and deep.

Don't see it if You are looking for more of an emotional connection to the characters.

Ambitious, Great acting, Confusing, Profound

See it if think that one can solve the problems of war.Better than I expected. Great talent

Don't see it if were looking for a fun musical. Clever work but only 65 minutes

Ambitious, Dated, Confusing, Great staging, Slow

See it if You love everything from the BBC & want to see on of their tele-plays on stage. You like shows about big ideas.

Don't see it if You want a play w/a traditional plot or characters: it's a series of scenes where characters spout philosophies & ideologies.

Confusing, Disappointing, Slow

See it if You want to see a very raw and bare-bones type show

Don't see it if You want to see something that is polished and well thought out

Also I wonder who writes these reviews on here? I can't imagine anyone seei... Read more Read less

Barker talkathon is grim and short

See it if Another Barker artist trying to deal with authority -- this time with an Army officer and a chaplain. Written for TV, just over an hour

Don't see it if you don't like gunshots, violence and torture. Fine acting and staging of a war drama. Very grim, though Tindle as the dying cook is a riot.

Edgy, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Clever

See it if you are trying to understand today's political environment and the conflicts between art and ideology

Don't see it if you don't like dark comedy and satire

Clever, Confusing, Ambitious, Funny, Intense

See it if you are interested in a powerful message about the evils of war, with some humor thrown in.

Don't see it if you want a linear plot, that is easy to follow without much thought.

Confusing, Disappointing, Slow, Indulgent

See it if your a fan of British war history.

Don't see it if you are looking for a fast moving drama with interesting character development..

Ambitious, Confusing, Intelligent, Profound, Thought-provoking

See it if You are ok with big ideas and abstract concepts discussed on war, religion, art, and greed.

Don't see it if You need a strong narrative style and clear ideas

Relevant, Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Confusing

See it if an intellectualized take on what conditioning and propaganda can do to a societys' way of thinking

Don't see it if forceful dialogue (not always discernible because of heavy accents) and not a cheerful play

Clever, Confusing, Disappointing, Edgy, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to see a production whose process is more interesting than its message

Don't see it if You are looking for something light

Funny, Entertaining, Clever, Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if if you like black comedy

Don't see it if you like musicals

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound

See it if the wars we are getting into don't make sense

Don't see it if you think God and country are always on our side

Also John Lennon's song "Imagine" would be a good musical accompaniment

Fine acting. but why?????

See it if You just love wordy and multi-layered plays that steam roll to a conclusion.

Don't see it if You don't want to have to concentrate. This one is not easy to take.

Also Faultless acting and direction. Personally I do not want to have to wo... Read more Read less

Dated, Funny, Thought-provoking

See it if You're interested in a script that draws a heavy allegory between two historical times other than our own

Don't see it if You're looking for something light, low-rhetoric, and action-heavy

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to see a play with tremendous mordant wit, performed by a sold ensemble with a brilliantly effortless central performance.

Don't see it if You're looking for light entertainment.

During previews
Ambitious, Disappointing, Confusing, Slow, Entertaining

See it if You don't mind wading through a lot of dielect to get to the play. It wasn't bad...but it seemed to take forever to not get very far.

Don't see it if You want a clear play that touches on subjects relevant to today, this does that but in so much metaphor that it mostly got lost on me.

During previews
Absorbing, Clever, Edgy, Great staging

See it if you enjoy a modern day setting of the English Civil War. You get a good feel of how soldiers and artists feel in wartime.

Don't see it if you enjoy comedy. This is not a pretty show and there is violence.

During previews
Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if You want a great night at a small theatre.

Don't see it if You're needing a musical or a feel good piece

During previews
Confusing, Disappointing, Annoying, Fine acting, Ambitious

See it if enjoy shows with good acting that deal with relevant issues such as art, politics, class, war and fanaticism.

Don't see it if don't like shows that are loud, both difficult to understand and obtuse and somewhat pretentious.

During previews
Thought-provoking, Resonant, Great writing, Great staging, Confusing

See it if you think about whether "We need art to know who we are" and current societal elements through historical lens, apprec. Barker/British plays

Don't see it if you can't understand British dialect, humor and historical references, sit 90 min. w/out interval, focus and think critically/open-mindedly

During previews
Disappointing, Intelligent, Dated, Quirky

See it if you're interested in the writing of playwright Howard Barker; are an alum of Middlebury's drama department, have a friend in the cast.

Don't see it if you are expecting a strong historical drama with good acting, dislike "updating" a play inconsistently

Also This was originally a radio drama. While I don't think the script is t... Read more Read less

During previews
Clever, Slow, Confusing

See it if You will go to anything of Howard Barker, like me. You will be content with some very witty dialogue

Don't see it if You will be annoyed to not understand some of the dialogue (poor delivery) or elements of the plot (the playwright, the direction?)

During previews
Muddled, Disappointing, Indulgent, Slow

See it if you want to see & cheer on a repertory company of mainly young (undergrad) actors regardless of a seemingly aimless production of 65 minutes

Don't see it if you need a clear, compelling plot or dialogue, or you're looking for something light, humorous, or with elaborate production design

During previews
Ambitious, Disappointing, Dated, Slow

See it if If you re very anti - war and a big fan of the director.

Don't see it if you want to see a relevant play that has a new message about war.

Also This play was written in 1984. The themes in the play have been perfor... Read more Read less

July 19th, 2017
“In Howard Barker’s ‘Pity in History,’ the only sure things are death, destruction and a mordant sense of humor…Solidly anchored by Mr. Dykes and Mr. Tindle in comic performances veined with sympathy, this production proves the piece’s merit for the stage. The soldier-dominated scenes could use m...
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July 19th, 2017
“Even high expectations, however, won’t prepare you for the show’s lacerating excellence. This is a short, sharp, shockingly funny production that oxygenates the blood...Gaukroger (the wry, hilarious Dykes)…is the typical Barker antihero: a wise cynic, a mouthy craftsman who knows his (and dogma’...
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July 24th, 2017
"The doubleheader is not for the casual theatergoer, but is worth the effort if you're in the market for some intellectual heavy lifting delivered by a company of actors who forsake highbrow pomposity for sincere understanding of their work...Directed with unabashed grit by Richard Romagnoli...Th...
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July 18th, 2017
“The artist is a mason named Gaukroger played with beautiful restraint by Steven Dykes, attempting to complete the carving of a funeral monument in the crypt of a cathedral with his apprentice Pool, a spot-on Matt Ball, for the widow Venables, a glamorous Kathleen Wise…‘Pity In History’ illuminat...
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