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Homebody/Kabul: Final Revised Version Paperback – February 3, 2005
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Tony Kushner’s searching epic of ideas restores lost connections between theater, thinking and current events. Perhaps no one but Kushner could provide such compelling guidance through the devastation of Kabul, in all its blasted complexity.” Adam Feldman, Time Out New York
Of course, we’ve come to expect celestial wordplay and cosmically elevated thoughts from Kushner, author of A Bright Room Called Day, Slavs! and the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning opus Angels in America. We’ve also come to expect plays that aren’t neat and tidy, that force you to engage rather than passively absorb and don’t let you race home in time to catch the eleven o’clock news Few, if any, modern English-language playwrights of ideas can match Kushner’s intellectual sweep, his subtle but razor-edged sense of humor and his gift for peeling back layers of character until we finally see the naked human within. Even fewer can equal his fiery moral passion or sheer gutsiness. With Homebody/Kabul Kushner has dared to walk through a contemporary minefield, a dramatic terra incognita, without the benefit of a Baedeker to guide him, and emerged intact on the other side with a powerful story to tell.” Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times
Searing Kushner’s use of language and ideas continues to make us think about the deeper questions a masterful conglomerate of words, ideas, and history.” Mary Houlihan, Chicago Sun-Times
Brilliant this is a play for those who are interested in the root causes that preceded September 11, for those who can see through the fog of patriotism to the finer distinctions, who are finally ready to ask how on earth do we get out of this godforsaken place, who can bear to contemplate the thought that we have participated to some extent in our own tragedy.” James Reston Jr., American Theatre
Kushner, a writer who is always on high alert to humanity as well as history, has, in the Homebody, created a characteran impassioned, fluttery, doomed’ characterwho is timeless as well as timely.” Nancy Franklin, New Yorker
Homebody/Kabul is a welcome payoff for all who’ve been waiting a decade for a worthy follow-up to Kushner’s landmark Angels in America. Kushner’s plunge into the murky whirlpools of Afghan history, culture, and politics is astonishing in its intellectual scope. It is also fierce in its dramatic engagement with complex realities and deeply humane. Kushner has led and provoked our minds as richly as he’s engaged our sympathies.” Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle
Dazzingly written, insightful and timely. The playwright’s generous viewpoint is liberal and progressive. His language is rich, his canvas is vast and his storytelling dynamic.” Michael Sommers, Newark Star-Ledger
Homebody/Kabul is a rich and intelligent piece.” Peter Brook
A richly interesting play most American dramatists look inwards. Tony Kushner has always gazed outwards. And not the least remarkable fact about Homebody/Kabul, written well before the events of last September, is that it attempts to embrace and explain the history, culture and ethos of Afghanistan.” Michael Billington, The Guardian (UK)
About the Author
Among many honors, Kushner is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, two Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, two Evening Standard Awards, an Olivier Award, an Emmy Award, two Oscar nominations, and the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2012, he was awarded a National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama. He lives in Manhattan with his husband, Mark Harris.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
This play is certainl though-provoking, and not easily forgotten. I'd love to see it in the theater.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There are points to be made and understandings to be gained from this play but it is wordy, convoluted, and difficult.Published 20 months ago by Faye Girsh
After a very long and really absurd monologue by the Homebody at home, the story takes a steep curve and takes you to a torn up Afganistan in Taliban under the Taliban regime. Read morePublished on January 22, 2014 by Bas Kuijlenburg
I felt that this play was a bit self indulgent and even a little masturbatory. It seemed like Kushner was just showing off his extensive knowledge of intricate language. Read morePublished on April 2, 2012 by Molly Mahar
I had to read it for a class. It was O.K. At times it grabbed my interest more than I thought it would. Read morePublished on August 9, 2009 by Athena
Some people believe in reincarnation. I don't but for those who do, here is some evidence to support your case/cause. Read morePublished on July 28, 2008 by David Schweizer
Can you imagine a play that is awesome? I can, because I saw it last month at the Hillsboro community center for Arts Performance. Read morePublished on July 23, 2003 by Eric Formic
Homebody's extended thought streams and speeches were wonderful. I would like to meet her, assuming she is not dead of course. Read morePublished on March 12, 2003 by Patricia Kramer