Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Real Thing **

Let me confess right off that I wasn’t that impressed by Stoppard’s romantic comedy when I saw the 2000 Tony-awarded revival with Stephen Dillane and Jennifer Ehle. However, that version was superior to the current revival at Roundabout’s American Airlines Theater. I only attended out of curiosity to see Ewan McGregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal in their Broadway debuts. McGregor is fine as Henry, the Stoppard surrogate who writes plays that have more wit than heart. Gyllenhaal is equally good as Annie, Henry’s mistress in act one and wife in act two. They should have more chemistry together though. Cynthia Nixon as Henry’s first wife Charlotte and Josh Hamilton as Annie’s first husband Max are less successful. Director Sam Gold does not seem to have a firm grip on the material; his decision to interpolate songs of the period sung by the cast between scenes misfires. He seems to like sets that are wide and shallow. The set by David Zinn is almost as unattractive as the one for “Look Back in Anger,” another Roundabout production directed by Gold. For an allegedly well-made play, I found the second act to be a bit scattershot and its echoes of the play’s opening scene rather clumsy. I grew increasingly restless as the second act dragged on. If you crave Stoppard, you'll do better with Roundabout's other revival, "Indian Ink." Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes including intermission.

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