Pros: When I began reading this, the only book I could find that detailed a performance of Goethe's Faust I and II (which is seldom performed, let alone written about), I was under the false impression that this critic was only going to cover the highlights of these long performances. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of analysis provided in this book. I can't say I've seen all the performances covered here, as each is a sort of marathon of theater, but this book left me with an appreciation of the place and intent of Einstein on the Beach and Nicholas Nickleby, which I had actively avoided, and broader critical perspective on The Ramayana and my beloved Faust, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Even seeing all of these performances is a noteworthy feat, but the discussion here goes far beyond simply conveying their immensity, artistry, and flaws.
Cons: I cannot fault the author for taking an academic stance at times, and when he does, he does a good job of making obtuse cultural concepts accessible to anyone with a basic appreciation of culture and theory. However, I found the analysis of Angels in America more difficult than the others. Perhaps this is in tandem with the complexity of the work; perhaps it is because of my own background in queer theory. There is a lot written about this play and for good reason because it isn't easy to navigate. I have sought an analysis that I could really get into for some time, and the treatment here approaches a good combination of thoroughness and theory, but I still felt unresolved at the end, like there was more to say but it was maybe not polite or savvy to do so.
Summary: I challenge you to find another book on this subject that isn't the subject of a dissertation, as this book examines some of the most ambitious works ever performed. More-over, it is written with a conscious and penetrating style, to offer depth where once I saw none, and complexity where once I generalized. It is an *enjoyable* work of criticism, which I seldom encounter. 4.5 stars.