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The Illusion Paperback – December 31, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Play Publishing, Inc. (December 31, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881452319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881452310
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #574,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

In a eminently playable, witty adaptation by Tony Kushner, THE ILLUSION comes across as downright entertaining, not an adjective anyone who reads Corneille in college is likely to expect. Unlike his better known plays, which have heroic subjects, THE ILLUSION is concerned with domestic matters the alienation of parents from children, marital infidelity. While it is serious about these subjects, it puts them in an unusual context: A father has consulted a magician about his estranged son, and the magician shows him scenes from his son's life... The comedy is elegant, full of depth. --Howard Kissel, Daily News

What are the real powers of sorcery? To alter? To define? To transport? Tony Kushner and Pierre Corneille before him go for all three, which is only part of the magic in Kushner's fanciful adaptation of Corneille's L'ILLUSION COMIQUE. Freely adapted it is, in the best sense. For Corneille, whose later, loftier verse plays earned him the stodgy title of Father of French Tragedy, THE ILLUSION was a mildly satirical precursor to all that a glitch, written when he was only twenty-nine. Yet even then, it was burdened by a ponderous Seventeenth-Century neo-classical style that kept the word comique out of Twentieth-Century range. Kushner's achievement is digging under all the circumlocution to salvage an ageless and universal tale, stripping the nugget of its ornamentation and serving it up to us lingually lucid and lean. There is some colloquial indulgence in the rewritten language, but it's mostly judicious. We're in on the joke, which never goes too far. Simply put, this the tale of a rigid father, Pridament, who, stricken with remorse for having provoked his son to flee the family home, searches out the magician Aleandre in the hope that he will help him find out what happened to the wayward boy. Aleandre does, and the ironic twist of the piece is that after several false starts, passionate re-enactments, comic delusions and confusions, the truth is revealed and Papa finds he doesn't like it. The light-hearted ending is a cynical but honest lesson in selective affection. All the fun, however, is in getting there. THE ILLUSION takes us into territory on which theater thrives: fantasy, witchcraft, transcended place and time --Sylvie Drake, Los Angeles Times

What a fascinating, totally theatrical excursion we're in for in this 17th Century fairytale-fable first spun by French classical dramatist Pierre Corneille. In 1639, L'ILLUSION COMIQUE was a comedy they didn't know what to make of; Twentieth Century playwright Tony Kushner knows what to make of it. Triumphantly exhumed and enlivened three and a half centuries later in Kushner's fresh, free adaptation; it proves indeed to be...`a prematurely modern play'. Both modern and ancient, timeless and timely, flippant and profound... It is a thorough delight.... L'ILLUSION COMIQUE was a masterpiece waiting for its time to happen. Tony Kushner made it happen and made it better. It is essence of theater, essence of archetypal magic. Carl Jung would have loved it. --Polly Warfield, Drama-Logue

What are the real powers of sorcery? To alter? To define? To transport? Tony Kushner and Pierre Corneille before him go for all three, which is only part of the magic in Kushner's fanciful adaptation of Corneille's L'ILLUSION COMIQUE. Freely adapted it is, in the best sense. For Corneille, whose later, loftier verse plays earned him the stodgy title of Father of French Tragedy, THE ILLUSION was a mildly satirical precursor to all that a glitch, written when he was only twenty-nine. Yet even then, it was burdened by a ponderous Seventeenth-Century neo-classical style that kept the word comique out of Twentieth-Century range. Kushner's achievement is digging under all the circumlocution to salvage an ageless and universal tale, stripping the nugget of its ornamentation and serving it up to us lingually lucid and lean. There is some colloquial indulgence in the rewritten language, but it's mostly judicious. We're in on the joke, which never goes too far. Simply put, this the tale of a rigid father, Pridament, who, stricken with remorse for having provoked his son to flee the family home, searches out the magician Aleandre in the hope that he will help him find out what happened to the wayward boy. Aleandre does, and the ironic twist of the piece is that after several false starts, passionate re-enactments, comic delusions and confusions, the truth is revealed and Papa finds he doesn't like it. The light-hearted ending is a cynical but honest lesson in selective affection. All the fun, however, is in getting there. THE ILLUSION takes us into territory on which theater thrives: fantasy, witchcraft, transcended place and time --Sylvie Drake, Los Angeles Times

What a fascinating, totally theatrical excursion we're in for in this 17th Century fairytale-fable first spun by French classical dramatist Pierre Corneille. In 1639, L'ILLUSION COMIQUE was a comedy they didn't know what to make of; Twentieth Century playwright Tony Kushner knows what to make of it. Triumphantly exhumed and enlivened three and a half centuries later in Kushner's fresh, free adaptation; it proves indeed to be...`a prematurely modern play'. Both modern and ancient, timeless and timely, flippant and profound... It is a thorough delight.... L'ILLUSION COMIQUE was a masterpiece waiting for its time to happen. Tony Kushner made it happen and made it better. It is essence of theater, essence of archetypal magic. Carl Jung would have loved it. --Polly Warfield, Drama-Logue

About the Author

<DIV>Tony Kushner's plays include A Bright Room Called Day and Slavs!; as well as adaptations of Corneille's The Illusion, Ansky's The Dybbuk, Brecht's The Good Person of Szecguan and Goethe's Stella. Current projects include: Henry Box Brown or The Mirror of Slavery; and two musical plays: St. Cecilia or The Power of Music and Caroline or Change. His collaboration with Maurice Sendak on an American version of the children's opera, Brundibar, appeared in book form Fall 2003. Kushner grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and he lives in New York.</DIV>

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
This spring, we will be performing Tony Kushner's adaptation of "The Illusion" at my high school. I could not have asked for a better play. Besides the fact that I'll be playing Pridament (a wonderful boost to my ego), the play itself is genius. I was under its spell starting on page one, and didn't stop enjoying it until the twist ending and startling conclusion. It is the prime example of a perfect play: stylized, with your typical hero-heroine-rival-clown setup. Comic dialogue, a tragic, heartbreaking theme, and most of the sensual delights of a traditional sex farce.

The story outline is simple: a desperate, depressed, dying lawyer (Pridament of Avignon) visits the cave of the magician Alcandre. His dying wish is to find his only son, whom he had banished fifteen years before. With the help of Alcandre and his servant, the tortured deaf-mute Amanuensis, Pridament sees several visions of his son's life over the past years. He witnesses three different visions, all of which involve his son, a lover and her scheming maid, and a vengeful rival. Most of the action of the play takes place within these visions, with Alcandre and Pridament simply watching from the outside. But when this play really shines is within the short scenes between the father, magician, and servant. The characterizations of all three, especially of the Amanuensis (a mostly silent role), are key to the theme of the play.

The diction of this play is phenomenal. Written completely in free poetic verse, it has the most extensive vocabulary of any play I have read. Full of alliteration, allusion, rhyme and bizarre sentance structure, The Illusion truly lives up to its name.

"He doesn't speak because he has no tongue..."

"If not in this life, than in the next."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steven W. Bouler on March 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent and very performable version of Corneille's play. It is an adaptation and not just a mere translation. It is an early work of Kushner, who most recently turned his translating and adaptation skills to a highly successful version of Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children, performed recently in a significant production in NY.

BTW, Mr. Helbig, what part of Angels in America is BLOATED? It might not be perfect, but dramaturgically it is VERY tightly constructed. Kushner maintains this while telling an epic and sweeping story in a highly theatrical manner that is consistently compelling and interesting. If anything, it's too brief, and that's after 7 hours!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ophelia on December 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
I loved this play! I first saw it in college, and it was very moving, funny, and interesting. It doesn't hurt that we had a fantastic cast. I love the spooky elements of Alcandre and Pridamant's meeting- I love the translation of this play, by the genius Tony Kushner. There's a timeless element of the Illusion of life in the theatre, as well as death and surprise and twist endings.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By tnt on September 12, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ater enjoying the plays of Moliere, I came across a little gem of a play in French that really intrigued me. My French is rusty but the first 20 pages had wet my appetite so when the Kindle version became available I decided to try out my first play version of this masterpiece. Once I started resding I was caught up in what was and was not and the twists and finished the book in one evening totally beguiled with the contents that I as thatre director am considering this work for production within the next two years. I highly recommend this translation of the work by Moliere.
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