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Customer Review

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An imprisoned mind set free, October 28, 2001
This review is from: The Miracle Worker (Paperback)
"The Miracle Worker," a play by William Gibson, has had an enduring presence as a piece of living literature. It appeared on Broadway during the 1959-60 dramatic season, was made into a motion picture a couple of years later, and then was remade as a television movie for the 1979-80 season. The play's genesis lies in the real story of Helen Keller (1880-1968), the woman who was struck deaf and blind by illness at the age of 19 months. "The Miracle Worker" tells how a young Helen was led out of her prison of silence and darkness by the remarkable Anne Sullivan, who set out to teach the girl sign language.
"The Miracle Worker" is a truly great play. Gibson brilliantly takes the historical facts of Keller's childhood (many of which can be found in "The Story of My Life," Keller's 1902 autobiography) and turns them into a suspenseful, profoundly moving piece of theater. Although the core of the play is the fiery relationship between Sullivan and the wildly undisciplined Helen, Gibson's drama takes in the entire Keller household. I was particularly moved by the relationship between "Miss Annie" and Helen's frustrated but devoted mother.
"The Miracle Worker" is remarkable because much of the story is told not in dialogue, but in Gibson's stage directions. This is one of those plays which is not only powerful in performance, but also a gripping read.
Gibson's play is one of those great examples of a drama that takes real American life stories and turns them into enduring art; in that sense, it is comparable to such great works as "The Crucible," by Arthur Miller, or "The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail," by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee.
"The Miracle Worker" is not only a compelling human drama, but also a reflection on courage, love, education, and the transcendent power of language. As an interesting complementary text, I recommend Octavia Butler's science fiction story "Speech Sounds" (which can be found in Butler's book "Bloodchild and Other Stories").
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