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Posted on 11/04/13
Photo from Grasses of a Thousand Colors
Photo: Joan Marcus

B-

To describe reviews of Wallace Shawn's Grasses of a Thousand Colors as "mixed" underplays the gap between critics, where at one end Village Voice's Alexis Soloski describes it as a "tour de force" and at the other end Lighting & Sound America's David Barbour calls it "a digression in search of a play." What critics tend to agree on is that it's not for everyone, particularly as it runs over three hours and includes long, explicit descriptions of every kind of sex man and beast can share under the sun. Critics who appreciate it focus on Wallace Shawn's captivating performance and the intricacies of the writing. But overall, many critics do wish it were scaled back, tighter in focus, and less distracted by the shocking eroticism.


Posted on 10/31/13
Photo from Good Person of Szechwan
Photo: Carol Rosegg

A

The move to the Public Theater from LaMaMa has only strengthened the acclaim for the Foundry Theatre’s production of Brecht’s 1943 masterwork. “Sublime,” “invigorating and exuberant,” and, as Talkin’ Broadway’s Murray proclaims, “one of the most fulfilling productions of 2013,” are only some of the superlatives bandied about this show, helmed by innovative director Lear DeBessonet. The accolades for “the staggeringly charismatic Taylor Mac” and his “virtuosic star turn” (Time Out’s Feldman) are even more gushing for his “exceptional” and “devastating” performance. The rest of the cast (including Lisa Kron, whose Fun Home is garnering high praise a few floors away at the Public) and the “terrific” songs by César Alvarez and the Lisps fully support this “thoroughly entertaining romp.”


Posted on 10/30/13
Photo from The Snow Geese
Photo: Joan Marcus

C+

After his impressive debut with last season's The Other Place, Sharr White raised high hopes with his second Broadway production, especially one featuring the likes of Victoria Clark, Danny Burstein, and Mary-Louise Parker. Unfortunately, most critics feel that a star-studded cast, excellent direction, and beautiful design can't save White's uninteresting take on the Chekhovian mode. They find Daniel Sullivan's production pretty to look at and many of the performances worthy, but think the play takes too long to reach its point and could use some rewriting.


Posted on 10/28/13
Photo from Betrayal
Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

A-

It's a given that the draw of this production has less to do with its content and much more to do with its starry cast. Audiences are likely to be pleased in this regard, as both Craig and Weisz are received with general, if moderate, favor. But it is Spall who emerges as the standout in the cast, with several critics calling him “sensational.” Ultimately, even the most enthusiastic critics temper their praise for the production by noting the replacement of the emotional repression synonymous with Pinter with an overcharged sexuality. But this doesn't stop most critics from enjoying the results.


Posted on 10/28/13
Photo from The Winslow Boy
Photo: Joan Marcus

A-

Terence Rattigan was one of the last major playwrights in England writing "the well-made play," and this revival is received by critics as a good example in the form. At its best, critics enjoy the luxury of the writing, the time the story takes to unfurl, and the deeper meditation on interesting issues. For other critics, however, the pace of the work in comparison with the somewhat banal details that unfold over the course of the play make it a more tiresome and less rewarding experience.


Posted on 10/28/13
Photo from The Seagull
Photo: Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

C

Many of the critics can’t help but mention Trudie Styler’s most recognizable role ("Mrs. Sting," as more than one person put it), and reviews of her performance range from “plain and wooden” to “poised and elegant.” There are greater concerns about Max Stafford-Clark’s directorial choices, which range from “tonally very, very odd” to “feather-headed.” Whether one comes out on the side of the “das” or the “nyets” also seems to be related to how much one appreciates Thomas Kilroy’s adaptation, which has moved the play to Ireland from Russia.


Posted on 10/28/13
Photo from Juno and the Paycock
Photo: James Higgins

B+

J. Smith-Cameron “dazzles” nearly all critics with her bravura performance as the titular Juno. The revival itself garners more diverse opinions, from WSJ’s Teachout, who declares that he doubts “that Juno will receive a more eloquent or sympathetic production in my lifetime than this one,” to the Village Voice’s Thorp, who finds the production more wanting. There’s also a general feeling (Teachout’s rave aside) that the play is not always as engaging as it could be.


Posted on 10/25/13
Photo from Fun Home
Photo: Joan Marcus

A

“Groundbreaking,” “powerful,” and “extraordinary” are just a few of the superlatives that this "splendid new musical" garners in its debut at the Public Theatre. Alison Bechdel’s acclaimed memoir, adapted “sensitively and warmly” by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori with “superlative” direction by Sam Gold and performed by a “winning cast”—particularly noted are Michael Cerveris and Judy Kuhn—is universally lauded. Even the quibbles are more positive than negative—many wish that the talented Ms. Kuhn had a larger role, for example. A few critics don’t feel as emotionally engaged as they think they should be, but even these minor criticisms are couched in great praise for the accomplishments of this “unique and stunning show.”


Posted on 10/25/13
Photo from Marie Antoinette
Photo: Pavel Antonov

B+

It's not easy being queen, especially as written by playwright David Adjmi. The responses here are a bit mixed: Rebecca Taichman's stripped-down production is viewed as either bracing and fresh, or lacking a much-needed lavishness. The same ambivalence is present in responses to Adjmi's script, which critics find intriguing but not exactly revelatory, though all seem to appreciate the high level of compassion within the satire. What's not to be argued is that Marin Ireland's portrayal of her majesty rules; the actress receives raves nearly across the board.


Posted on 10/25/13
Photo from The Landing
Photo: Carol Rosegg

B-

The Landing is composer John Kander's first collaboration with someone other than Fred Ebb, who died in 2004. Critics admire the previous work of his new partner Greg Pierce (last year's Slowgirl, for instance), but the majority count themselves bored with the work they produced together. They see the most potential in the final one-act, "The Landing," about a gay couple who adopt a seemingly perfect boy, and find the most fault with "The Brick," in which David Hyde Pierce literally plays a brick, finding that the intended humor doesn't land.