Tuesday, October 21, 2008

All My Sons

I actually saw this a couple weeks ago and just haven't had a chance to write about it. I'm sitting and waiting for the exterminator to show up now though. I probably should be mopping my floors, but couldn't bring myself to do it in addition to everything else I've done today, apartment-wise. I hope they come soon though, because after they do their thing I have to stay out of the apartment for four hours and I'd really like to get back in fairly early so I can start the ice cream making process.

But anyway, the play: I thought it was OK but nothing more. Katie Holmes managed not to embarrass herself, I suppose, although she lacks the ability and theatrical presence of her costars like John Lithgow and Patrick Wilson. She doesn't really project. But she wasn't laughably bad, so there you have it.

In the New York Times review Ben Brantley writes:
I have seen such portraiture in revivals of “All My Sons” from the Roundabout Theater Company (in 1997) and in particular at the National Theater in London (in 2000), productions that had much of the audience in tears. The preview performance I saw of this one left me stone cold, despite some electric moments from a very fine Mr. Lithgow and Mr. Wilson.
Brantley lays this at director Simon McBurney's feet and while I liked the play better than he did, I do agree that there are problems that can be laid at the feet of the director. I've only seen one other thing McBurney directed and that was The Elephant Vanishes a few years back. Based on 3 of Murakami's short stories, it's a very different sort of text than All My Sons what with Murakami's interest in surrealism, fantasy, etc. And while it wasn't without flaws I think it seemed like a more natural fit for McBurney's aesthetic than this did. It seemed like all the flaws in the play--the too-convenient-by-half ending, the speechifying--were highlighted rather than minimized by the stylization. I think that--at least in part-- is what limits the emotional impact of the production. I didn't like the multimedia. The videos of wartime production, etc. made the play even more heavyhanded than it already is. And while for a different play I think I would have liked the actors not "on" sitting visibly to the side, I don't think it was effective for this one.

Give McBurney this though, it's not boring. And Lithgow and Wilson were marvelous--the scenes between them worked. So that was enjoyable.

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