But Fish’s determination to highlight the carnage inflicted by guns leads him to rewrite—indeed, to pervert—the play’s crucial scene: the fight between Curly and Jud, in which Jud dies. In the original production, a drunken Jud attacks Curly with a knife. As Curly dodges the blade, Jud falls on his own knife. At a makeshift trial, a jury made up of local town folk, aware of the longstanding rivalry between the men and believing that Jud’s death was accidental, declare Curly “not guilty.” Moments later, Curly and Laurey leave for their honeymoon on their proverbial surrey with the fringe on top.
In Fish’s rendition, Jud presents a gun to Curly as a wedding gift, seeming to offer himself up for slaughter. There is no struggle. Curly simply points the gun at Jud and fires—point blank—splattering his own and his bride’s faces and white suits with his rival’s blood. [Here is a collection of links to other reviews.]