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


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


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


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


“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


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


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.

Posted on 10/24/13


The ambiguities that Luce explores result in correspondingly diverse critical reactions. Though nearly all appreciate the “nuanced and deeply provocative examination of privilege and power politics in America” (TheatreMania's Stewart), many feel that the play doesn’t fulfill its initial promise, with the execution somewhat lacking and less fleshed out than it could have been. The ending also comes up for debate, with the Times’ Isherwood pointing out, “Depending on your view, this could be admirably open-ended, or a dramatic fizzle.” However, the ensemble is mostly applauded, and Bloomberg’s Gerard speaks for many when he writes that playwright J.C. Lee "couldn’t have dreamed up a better showcase, with this fine cast and concise staging.”

Posted on 10/23/13
Photo from A Time to Kill
Photo: Carol Rosegg


The verdict is in: Critics deem the Broadway adaptation of John Grisham's 1989 legal thriller not nearly as effective as its source material, or even the 1996 film. Standouts are Patrick Page as the slimy d.a. and John Douglas Thompson as the impassioned and vengeful father; indeed, the cast is generally given a pass because, as is noted by all, they don't have much to work with. Adapter Holmes is credited for slimming down Grisham's tome, but he's also charged with stripping the characters to nil and with a general lack of subtlety, while director Ethan McSweeny's competent direction is acknowledged but not celebrated. According to critics, A Time to Kill is neither guilty or innocent: It just is.

Posted on 10/22/13
Photo from Romeo and Juliet
Photo: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times


AP’s Farrar says she attended a “spirited remake” of this season’s newest R&J revival, but the majority of her colleagues’ opinions are closer to the Post’s Vincentelli, who calls this an “inept, birdbrained concoction.” There is much dissent about which are the most troubled and troubling elements here, but many are disappointed by the young leads, who some considered “thoroughly lifeless,” while the performances of the older actors fare better. A good portion of the blame is placed on director Tea Alagic, who is considered “capable of providing striking and unusual bits of business” (LS&A’s Barbour) but otherwise only provides “a collection of isolated ideas, with nothing connected stylistically or thematically” (Bergen Record’s Feldberg). One especial sticking point: Romeo's inexplicable Winnie the Pooh mask in the ball scene.

Posted on 10/21/13
Photo from Bronx Bombers
Photo: James Leynse


The producers of Bronx Bombers, the third of Eric Simonson's sports plays, announced last night that it will transfer to Broadway, starting previews at the Circle in the Square in January. Though there were a few positive reviews for the Off-Broadway production, the response from the critics was mostly a "meh"--not the kind of reviews that typically lead to Broadway. Some of the complaints included that there is little at stake dramatically and that the play is too insider-y for those not versed Yankees minutiae.