"The Madman in Charge Doesn't Know What He's Doing"

Times theatre critic Ben Brantley is in London on a month-long play-watching marathon, including left-wing anti-American playwright Harold Pinter's "The Hothouse."

Brantley began: "The madman in charge doesn't know what he's doing. Nobody trusts anybody else. All conversation is obfuscation. And if you open your ears, you hear a rising murmur of discontent among the people the institution is supposed to be serving."

Wait for it....

"Does that sound like your office? Then how about your country? The creepy workplace portrayed in Harold Pinter's political-Gothic comedy 'The Hothouse,' which opened last week in a revival at the National Theater, has a familiarity that draws hard but anxious laughter from London theatergoers, the kind that erupts when the lines between funny and scary blur."

That wasn't the first time Brantley has singled out anti-Americanism on the London stage (admittedly not hard to find). This is from a September 13, 2004 review of an anti-Bush, anti-Blair play, "Stuff Happens": "Adjoa Andoh's caustic Condoleezza Rice, Dermot Crowley's bull-terrierish Rumsfeld and Desmond Barrit's lizardlike Dick Cheney: they're all rendered as manipulative gargoyles. They're intermittently entertaining but not half as scary as the real thing."