Stage Door: Burn This, Hadestown, and King Lear
Friday, April 19, 2019 at 3:30PM
Eric Blume in Adam Driver, Brandon Uranowitz, Glenda Jackson, Hadestown, Keri Russell, King Lear, NYC, Reviews, Ruth Wilson, Stage Door, Tony Awards, musicals

by Eric Blume

It’s pre-Tony Awards time here in New York, which means new shows are opening left and right. Here’s a quick look at three of them…

BURN THIS
Adam Driver and Keri Russell headline the first Broadway revival of Lanford Wilson’s 1987 play, the original of which featured John Malkovich and Joan Allen (who won the Best Actress Tony that year). The play, about a group of people brought together after the death of a beloved roommate and brother, has aged quite well. Wilson always wrote beautiful stage dialogue, able to lift occasionally into the near-poetic, with strong and nteresting characters. Multiple love stories are intertwined here with elegance, and all four characters have their grace moments: it’s a play that’s uncompromising and harsh, but also thorough and fair to everyone.

Director Michael Mayer gets this tough-but-tender throb just right, and guides his actors with a sure hand. David Furr brings a nice complexity to Russell’s other suitor, and Brandon Uranowitz brings the comedy to the forefront in a winning performance that could net him a Featured Actor Tony this year. Russell takes a while nestling into her role. tentative at the start and a little stagey. Fortunately she blossoms throughout the evening and delivers when it counts, giving Driver what he needs to do his dance.

这是亚当的驾驶。这个角色是written for volcanic acting, and Driver doubles down. He’s kinetic and surprising, a bit of a live wire; you’re never sure what he’s going to do next, because the thing he just did wasn’t what you were expecting. Driver has always had force and power in his acting, and this role lets him soar. He’s gloriously funny, slightly terrifying, divinely sexy, and sweetly magnetic. It’s a major performance from a major talent.

Glenda Jackson and Ruth Wilson photographed by Annie Liebovitz for Vogue

KING LEAR
One of the season’s other major revivals, Glenda Jackson as Shakespeare’s
King Lear, delivers less pleasures. There’s a lot happening in this production, but very little stands out. Miriam Buether’s blisteringly gold set provides a proper playground, but director Sam Gold doesn’t give us enough memorable tableaux within it to sustain the three and a half hours.

While the cast features a few famous folks (Elizabeth Marvel, Pedro Pascal), only Ruth Wilson manages to cut into us emotionally in her double roles of Cordelia and The Fool -- she's very compelling to watch and is the only person who can touch Jackson, who is the reason this Lear exists. Jackson is, unsurprisingly, mind-blowing: in her eighties, she has such ferocity and focus that it’s almost incomprehensible. She’s a marvel, and a thrill to witness. Unfortunately, most everything surrounding her comes up short.

HADESTOWN
The best of the trio, the new musicalHadestown,wears its heart on its sleeve in the best way possible. This ravishing production takes a very delicate piece about love and goes full-throttle with it: the entire creative team commits fully to the material, and it’s transporting art.

Hadestownbrings together the Greek myths of Orpheus and Eurydice and Hades and Persephone, sets it in a timeless milieu, and puts it to music that crosses 1920s jazz, Pointers Sisters harmonies, folk rock, and traditional show music. Itshouldall be very messy, but director Rachel Chavkin’s genius vision unifies everything. Her work is thrillingly theatrical, yet simple and centered. She guides her cast to go-for-broke performances that stop just short of toppling over the edge.

The show itself has flaws, and in lesser hands than the ones on this creative team across-the-board, it could be laughable. But these artists have dug their talons into this material, and this beautifully-sung, strange and electrifying production grabs you by the throat. It’s absolutely stunning theater that shouldn’t be missed.

Article originally appeared on The Film Experience (//www.cfp-vi.com/).
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