Battle of the Times Drama Titans

benbrantley184.jpgLast season, the New York Times drama critic Charles (Not Christopher) Isherwood threw cold water on the heated enthusiasm of his colleague, Ben Brantley (pictured), for Tom Stoppard’s three-part play, “The Coast of Utopia.” Judging from the year’s-best lists in this weekend’s Times, could Brantley be about to return the favor by expressing reservations about Isherwood’s current favorite, the Tracy Letts’ play, “August: Osage County“? In his year-end accounting, Brantley called the Letts’ family drama “vigorously entertaining,” but he pointedly left it off his Top Ten. To Letts’ magnificent family saga he preferred the arid “Blackbird,” the slim “Dying City,” and the emperors-new-clothes Pinter dreariness called “The Homecoming.” Brantley’s late-in-year string of rave reviews have had some people wondering whether, figuratively speaking, he had adjusted his meds. His mere two cheers for “August” suggests: Maybe Not.

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