Monday, September 11, 2006

NYT critic: "Squeee!"

Ok not really, but close enough. Ben Brantley previews The Coast of Utopia:

... Now Mr. Stoppard alone bids fair to make this the most dynamically verbal theater season since Shaw was a young thing of 70. (Shaw, incidentally, is fittingly represented by “Heartbreak House,” his rueful but energetic meditation on a social class paralyzed by world-annihilating war, in a revival from the Roundabout Theater Company.)

In “The Coast of Utopia,” the first installment of which, “Voyage,” begins performances on Oct. 17 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center, Mr. Stoppard has filled not one but three plays with the lives of the intellectual forebears of the Russian Revolution. Their discussions and arguments, which span three decades of the 19th century and consume roughly nine hours of stage time, concern mind-quaking subjects like the dialectic of history, the path of nations, the impact of literature and even the limitations of their favorite weapons, words themselves.

When the trilogy was first produced at the National Theater of London, this talk teemed with such passion that I left (to my surprise) more energized than depleted. The New York version is directed by Jack O’Brien, who propitiously proved his mastery of epic scope and towering language in the first-rate Lincoln Center Theater production of Shakespeare’s “Henry IV.”

With “Utopia,” whose three parts will open sequentially, Mr. O’Brien will be overseeing (gulp!) more than 40 actors in 70 roles. The ensemble includes Billy Crudup, Richard Easton, Jennifer Ehle, Josh Hamilton, Ethan Hawke, Amy Irving, Brian F. O’Byrne and Martha Plimpton, none of whom is likely to lapse into the automatic rhythms of “yadda yadda yadda.”

There's also an audio slide show of Mr Brantley narrating/squeeing, with photos from the 2002 production and some of the LCT actors. More subdued is a preview of the entire season by George Hunka. There are heaps more previews that don't really differ in content.

Check out this cracking post at Martha Plimpton's blog about Utopia thematic discussions and Tom Stoppard mixing his metaphors bigtime. Refer back to the interview with director Jack O'Brien which kindasorta elucidates this. Look for the bit that begins "That's very Stoppardian...".

No comments: