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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.


Posted on 10/24/13

B

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

C+

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

C-

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

C

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.


Posted on 10/21/13
Photo from Lady Day
Photo: Carol Rosegg

C+

For once, the critics are pretty much all in agreement: They find Dee Dee Bridgewater is a fine interpreter of Billie Holiday's songs, but they would rather watch her sing the songs without writer/director Stephen Stahl's melodramatic book scenes--basically, what you might expect from a bio-musical.


Posted on 10/20/13
Photo from The Model Apartment
Photo: James Leynse

A

Donald Margulies' 1995 play hasn't been seen in years, and critics are largely glad to see it again. In fact, it's hard to find a critic who'll say a bad word about it. Those who hail its return laud its deeply unsettling tone, the detailed design, and Margulies' complex script. Not everyone is on board, though: both Talkin' Broadway's Matthew Murray and Village Voice's Miriam Felton-Dansky raise issues with the performances for being overly broad. These concerns are not shared by other critics, such as Time's Richard Zoglin who calls the play "a neglected American masterpiece."


Posted on 10/20/13
Photo from A Night with Janis Joplin
Photo: Jenny Anderson

B

No one's arguing with Mary Bridget Davies’s startlingly spot-on vocal impersonation of the rock songstress, though there are a couple minor quibbles about her acting chops. Then again, all are in agreement that Randy Johnson's book--which whitewashes Joplin's self-destructive tendencies and harps on the meaning of the blues--doesn't give the actress anything to work with. But let's be honest: No one's going to Janis for story. The critics know this, and recommend the the show as a superb tribute concert for Joplin fans.


Posted on 10/20/13

A

Contrary to Shakespeare’s original text, the critics come to praise this Julius Caesar, not to bury it. There's universal acclaim for director Phyllida Lloyd’s “brilliant” all-female casting of this classic tale of ambition, loyalty, and betrayal, and the cast is unanimously hailed, especially the “extraordinary” Harriet Walter as Brutus and the “imposing” Frances Barber as Caesar. To be clear, gender-bending casting isn’t new, particularly in Shakespearean productions, but as Time Out’s Cote notes—and his critical counterparts agree—“this may be the most thrilling, lucid and, yes, authentic Julius Caesar for years to come.”