Sneaky review of “The Monster-Builder”

Now that the play “The Monster-Builder,” by Amy Freed, has opened – indeed premiered – at the Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, Ore., here is a theater review. The writer, Richard Wattenberg, is not identified other than as, I presume, a regular reviewer. His review is much more interesting than the one I last posted. He, at least, has had the advantage of having seen the play. The headline is “Amy Freed’s ‘The Monster-Builder’ at Artists Rep entertains but also dishes up lots of food for thought.” Too bad the reviewer doesn’t really chew on that food. He has alluring things to say about the performance of the actors but little about the ideas in Freed’s play. It is a comedy. He says that Freed “eschews the serious in her attack on the Modernist world view.” What does that mean? Well, here’s another quote, immediately beforehand, that may shed some light:

[H]e [the protagonist/modern architect] does not design buildings for people but instead imposes environments on them. In short, he exemplifies an intellectual elite that hides its hunger for power behind jargon and a fraudulent faith in a clean, clear, unified and pure vision – a vision free of the emotional baggage and nostalgia that supposedly muddies the waters of traditional culture.

As I say, for whatever it’s worth. Am I finding a refusal among critics to directly address the ideas of Amy Freed that (based on her interview in my first post about this play) criticize modern architecture, or am I interpreting these critics as saying what I expect them to say? That’s something I occasionally criticize others for doing. Any thoughts?

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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1 Response to Sneaky review of “The Monster-Builder”

  1. Sheryltop11 says:

    Nice posting. Thank you for sharing with us. Personally I like it.


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