From the Archives: John Heilpern on Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury died this week at the age of 91 and there have been a number of remembrances of his life and work. From The Observer archives, here is a piece by John Heilpern, a long-time drama critic for this publication. The piece is a review of a stage production of Bradbury’s masterpiece 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451, which the author adapted into a one-act play in 1979. Mr. Heilpern discusses how the novel was never appealing to him until seeing the play, which was performed by the Godlight Theatre Company in 2006:

My fascination wasn’t in Mr. Bradbury’s science fiction, however. To the contrary, director Joe Tantalo has staged an unpretentiously minimalist production lacking any futuristic effects. Rather, it’s an imagined contemporary reality that disturbed me. The appeal of Fahrenheit 451 in its stage version, at least for me, is that it has become a clairvoyant parable of a world that has lost its reason…Mr. Bradbury also foresaw reality TV, the end of privacy, the babble of 24-hour cable news, random killing in the streets, mass sedation by television and tranquilizers. He didn’t see global religious warfare coming, only fanaticism, obedience and conformity. He saw the future as early as 1953 with the publication of Fahrenheit 451, and I can only hope he doesn’t see it today.

Read the rest of it here.