Tim Robbins’ ‘Embedded’ Takes Heavy Fire

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By: E&P Staff

If you can believe most of the critics, Tim Robbins’ new play focusing on embedded journalists is a lot of bull — and not of the Durham variety.

The satirical play, called “Embedded,” opened at the Public Theater in New York City last night and has drawn scathing reviews across the ideological spectrum. The New York Times observed that even audience members sympathetic with Robbins’ political views “will quite possibly go from nodding in agreement to simply nodding off… It is hard to avoid the sensation that everything said here has been said before, in some cases many years before.”

And that was one of the kinder reviews. The New York Daily News called it “slapdash” and “adolescent.” The Associated Press said it should have been called “Embalmed,” and added, “finding genuine wit in ‘Embedded’ is as difficult as finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.” Newsday observed that a hard look at the “upsetting combination” of the words “embedded” and “journalist” was overdue, but Robbins’ play is nothing but an “agitprop cartoon.” The New York Post, far to Robbins’ right, actually kept its criticism muted, finding the play “just a bore.”

One favorable review came from the Star-Ledger in Newark, which declared: “Performed with energy and confidence by a capable cast of fresh faces. ‘Embedded’ never ceases to make keen-witted mockery of what Robbins aptly terms a prime-time war.”

The play portrays three groups of individuals: U.S. soldiers, embedded journalists, and a cabal of war managers in Washington (who wear funny masks) with giveaway names like Rum Rum, Dick, and Woof. A certain female rescued soldier is called “Private Ryan.” Journalists sway to swing music while attending a military press conference and generally go along with the Pentagon line.

Robbins wrote and directed the play, but does not appear in it. “Embedded” opened in Los Angeles last fall.

See the full AP review here.

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