PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Oct. 26-Nov. 1: Betrayal Opens, Real Thing to Return and Public Theater Scores
By Robert Simonson
The Broadway revival of Harold Pinter's time-bending drama Betrayal, starring Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Rafe Spall, officially opened Oct. 27 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
What the reviews said about the production couldn't have mattered less, since the producers have been minting money in the basement of the Barrymore since preview one. Nonetheless, the critics—out of some misguided sense of duty, no doubt—came anyway, and filed notices. If you're curious, here's a sampling:
Variety: "Anyone who shelled out the big bucks to see James Bond in the flesh will get more than they bargained for in Mike Nichols' impeccable revival of Betrayal. They'll be getting a powerful performance from Daniel Craig, a movie star who still has his stage legs. Rachel Weisz, Craig's wife in the real world, and Rafe Spall, both superb, claim much of the stage time as the adulterous lovers in this enigmatic 1978 play that Harold Pinter based on one of his own extramarital affairs. But it's the smoldering Craig, as the cuckolded husband, whose brooding presence is overpowering."
Bloomberg: "Mike Nichols's devastating production is above all a showcase for this terrific actress...Nichols has calibrated each of those 100 minutes to strike a nerve. You quickly forget you're watching capital-S Stars. The show has more urgency than the Broadway original or the very good 1983 film."
Chicago Tribune: "Despite the play's reputation as an exquisite fusion of simmering menace and incontrovertible sexual desire, the haunting, richly textured Broadway revival of Harold Pinter's backward-traveling Betrayal has been infused with an aching ennui by the redoubtable Mike Nichols, a director who has lived long enough to have seen that even adultery grows old, and the aging adulterers sad and pathetic."
Time Out New York: "So the design is lovely, the cast is appealing and the play itself, while of its time, is not essentially dated. It's simply that nobody gets the tone..."
New York Times: "This is not a Betrayal to leave you brooding and melancholy about our capacity to wound one another and to reach out, hopelessly and heroically, for a sustenance in others that they can never provide...this is a sexed-up Betrayal, which is not the same as a sexy Betrayal. All those contradictory, fleeting, haunting shades of thought that you expect to see playing on the features of Pinter's characters are nowhere in evidence."
Film star Ewan McGregor will make his Broadway debut in 2014, starring in the Roundabout Theatre Company production of Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing, which will begin previews Oct. 2, 2014.
Directed by Sam Gold, the limited engagement will play the American Airlines Theatre.
Stoppard's The Real Thing, a drama about a playwright who begins to wonder if his personal life has begun to resemble his fiction, premiered Nov. 16, 1982, at The Strand Theatre in London, and came to New York in 1984.
The Real Thing was most recently revived on Broadway in 2000. Like certain plays by Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Eugene O'Neill, it appears that the Stoppard drama has now become one of those modern classics that have fallen into steady rotation on Broadway. Somebody should really should scrape together a few bucks and send today's producers some old 20th-century play anthologies. Because at this rate, future theatergoing generations are going to grow up thinking only about 12 good plays have been written since World War II.
The Public Theater and Theatre for a New Audience's co-production of Wallace Shawn's Grasses of a Thousand Colors officially opened Oct. 28 after performances that began Oct. 7 at the Public Theater.
Correctly described by critics as a "nasty and erotic fairy tale" and "brilliant, but bizarre," the three-and-a-half-hour drama (there's a light snack served during the second intermissions) was by and large admired by the critics. It was just the latest victory for the Public Theater. This fall, it seems, the nonprofit just can't lose. Its productions of Elevator Repair Service's Arguendo, The Foundry Theatre's The Good Person of Szechwan received lavish accolades. Mike Daisey's month-long series of monologues in Joe's Pub, All the Faces of the Moon, won the theatre buckets of attention and buzz. And, the new, world-premiere musical Fun Home, based on the graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, just added an additional two weeks of performances.
There is also the latest of Richard Nelson's critically popular "Apple Family" plays, which will doubtlessly end up being another success for the theatre. As the poet Jerry Reed once said, "When You're Hot, You're Hot."
The Brooklyn theatre boom continues.
Last week, Theatre for a New Audience dedicated its new Fort Greene home. This week, St. Ann's Warehouse broke ground on its new DUMBO headquarters, which will be built inside an old brick warehouse.
As with Theatre for a New Audience's new Hugh Hardy-designed theatre, the Civil War-era Tobacco Warehouse, when complete, will represent St. Ann's first permanent home. The innovative company, known for its experimental works (it is currently hosting a praised all-female production of Julius Caesar) got its name from its first home, Church of St. Ann's and the Holy Trinity in Brooklyn Heights, where it performed for 20 years. Since 2001, it has been performing in DUMBO at 38 Water Street. That structure was demolished in 2012; since then, St. Ann's has worked out a temporary residence at 29 Jay Street.
The $27 million project, which is part of the Riverside Brooklyn Bridge Park and sits just beside the eastern reaches of the Brooklyn Bridge, is expected to be completed in fall 2015.
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