This week Off-Broadway, critical favor shone on three very different revivals: Irish Rep's mounting of Brian Friel's monologic drama Molly Sweeney was greeted with near-unanimous huzzahs, for a pristine A median grade, while Classic Stage Company's starry take on Chekhov's Three Sisters garnered mostly enthusiastic praise for its overall effect, to the tune of a B+. Also racking up a solid B+ was Red Bull Theatre's unearthing of the juicy Jacobean triptych The Witch of Edmonton.
The only other noticeable critical agreement was at the other of the scale, with a resounding D for the unfortunate new musical The Road to Qatar. Elsewhere consensus broke down, with critics staking out positions all over the map regarding two high-profile bows by young playwrights, Rajiv Joseph's Gruesome Playground Injuries and Matthew Lopez's The Whipping Man. Each had its share of partisans and detractors, as well as everything in between, with the result of a B- for both.
Something similar happened with the Roudabout's revival of Tennessee Williams' seldom-seen The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, for which the critical spread was wide enough put it squarely in the C range.
This coming week on Broadway, a little-talked-about show from Julie Taymor, Bono, the Edge, and Glen Berger was supposed to have opened. But though producers have pushed the official opening of Spider-man back to March 15, it remains to be seen whether critics will honor that date or buy their own tickets and review the evolving show that's been selling briskly at the Foxwoods Theatre since November of last year. As always, StageGrade will be on the case, and we'll keep you posted.