I went to see this play last Thursday with my amazing friend, Steffi. The company that she works for can get her free tickets to lots of events in Düsseldorf - and there's a lot of events! Being the sweet girl that she is, she takes me to the not-so-germanic items up for show.
Per usual, we walked into the play not knowing a thing about it. That's generally how I role with these sorts of things. I rarely read the back of a book before I start reading it, seldom check out movie reviews before I watch them.... I prefer making my own first impression and then, if I remain interested, to see what other people's impressions were later (i.e. reviews, etc.).
The play ended up being about as I'd guessed it by seeing the posters and reading a spare few sentences on the back of a pamphlet: American army men and their time in an American army "prison," probably as punishment for some misdemeanor, but we never learn why any of the characters are there. In fact, one could say that we don't learn anything about the characters at all. The play takes almost all individuality away from the characters - we see only guards and prisoners. The prisoners themselves are called by number, not name, and I believe that the guards are refered to by their ranking, but I can't quite remember. One might ask, "A play with no character development? How could that have been a story at all?" But it did have a begining, a middle and an end; of that I am sure, so that makes it a story.
The play was written in something like 1947, so I can see how at the time, it must've been extremely avant garde. I think that the social commentary is just as relevant, only now we're familiar with the genre of media into which The Brig falls. We've all already read 1984 and we've seen Schindler's List and Angels in America. When I encounter pieces like The Brig, I have to make a concious effort to remind myself that it was something special in its time. For that, I respect the play, but then we come to aesthetics - what one finds pleasing to oneself - and for me, The Brig wudn't really my thang.