Bring Down the House

A Robert Moses play plays the hits.

The Lower Manhattan Expressway Ben Denzer

  • Straight Line Crazy, a play by David Hare, ends its run at the Shed on December 18.

The play Straight Line Crazy, written by David Hare and starring Ralph Fiennes, is ostensibly about Robert Moses, the urban planner, city and state park mogul, highway fetishist, and reformist technocrat par excellence. In fact, Moses here is little more than a vessel through which Hare and by extension bourgeois everywhere attempt to work out a dim sort of self-awareness of their role in twentieth-century history. This would be all well and good if Hare, a seasoned playwright, were capable of such a project; he patently is not. As such what could have been a relatively interesting entry in the overstuffed-to-bursting catalog of media pertaining to the Moses/Jacobs theomachy is instead a ponderous rug-pull played out over two and a half hours.

This slog of a run time is divided into two acts, which find Moses at pivotal points in his career. In the first, set in 1926, he’s an upstart liberal politico flirting dangerously with a sort of democratic populism. A…

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