I walked out halfway through Alan Parker’s bombastic 1996 version of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1978 musical about Argentina’s national heroine Eva Peroncoscripted by Oliver Stone, who also teamed up with Parker on the lurid fantasies of Midnight Express. I figured if I stayed longer I’d only become angrier, which wouldn’t do anybody any good. In what I saw, Madonna in the title role tries bravely not to buckle under the weight of Stone and Parker’s sense of Stalinist monumentality and fails honorably, while the Lloyd Webber music goes on being nonmusical. Antonio Banderas plays a character serving as chorus and emcee, Jonathan Pryce is the heroine’s totalitarian husband, and Jimmy Nail is on hand as the tango-singer lover who enabled her to move to Buenos Aires. Parker’s Argentina between the 30s and 50s bears a close resemblance to his Midnight Express Turkey and his Mississippi Burning Mississippi. I’ve rarely felt so liberated as I did when I escaped from this torture engine, and I’m eagerly waiting for all the critics who called Nixon Shakespearean to explain why this equally inflated companion piece is Brechtian. (JR)

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