I'm about to go to sleep, but wanted to post a few quick thoughts on tonights performance.
This is definitely a brilliant piece of theater. Though some parts (for me) were hard to follow due to the many many characters to keep track of and the history behind it all, the language is absolutely gorgeous and the acting is fabulous.
Billy Crudup stole the show as Vissarion Belinsky. He owned the stage every time he was on (which was a lot) and even got exit applause after two of his long monologues. Just fantastic.
Martha Plimpton was incredible as Varenka. I loved her in SHINING CITY last year in her small role, but in Act 1 of VOYAGE, she was really able to show that she is a fantastic actress. Such stage presence and excellent diction as well. It's hard to keep your eyes off of her when she's on stage.
Ethan Hawke as Michael Bakunin was very good. I kind of had to warm up to him becuase his voice seemed a little off this evening...did it seem kind of raspy to any of you? Or was he doing that in character? I liked him a lot more in Act 2, but still, he was very good.
Brian F. O'Byrne as Alexander Herzen was only in 2-3 scenes in Act 2 and did not have much to do, so I won't comment on him in VOYAGE. I'm sure he will have a much larger role in SHIPWRECK and SALVAGE.
David Manis did a great job filling in for Richard Easton...I couldn't tell at all that he was an understudy. In fact, the play ran so smoothly, I couldn't even tell it was a preview.
The sets are gorgeous. The set change for Act 2 actually got applause...my audience was really into it! The reason why the sets are so amazing is because of the lighting. For the most part, the sets are scrims in the background with a few tables and chairs and other props, but the lighting is some of the best I've seen on Broadway. I'm not sure how to describe it except most of this play is like looking at a work of art. Just beautiful.
It was a very fast three hours for me and I look forward to reading some of the suggested reading list from the playbill insert and seeing SHIPWRECK and SALVAGE over the next few months.
Two NYT reader reviews are also up, both giving the show five stars.
Thrilling Stuff Here, October 20, 2006
Billy Crudup's performance alone is amazing enough to haunt one for days. Mr. Hawke is also great and the scenes with the two of them are as real as it gets. This rich production transports you far from the theater and plunges you into the ever entralling drama that is the history of Russia. Get your tickets now, they won't last long.
Sailor's Delight, October 19, 2006
This first installment of Stoppard's trilogy sets sail with flawless mastery on every level. Technically, this is a magic show filled with slight of hand, a Disneyland of sorts for the eye and mind. This play is a milestone in theatre history, if for no other reason the sheer scope of the material presented in a concise and entertaining way. They'll have to dig up Cecil B. DeMille to do the film version! Perhaps it isn't fair to single out an actor from this this stellar cast, but I have to mention Billy Crudup. An actor known for dramatic roles in Pillowman, Elephant Man, and Arcadia now shows us something new as a source of comic relief. His character is at once nervous and shy, akward even, but at the same time strong and determined. Belinsky (Cruddup) is the only member of this group of intellectuals not born to the nobility, the only one limited to reading and speaking Russian. His contemporaries brag of fluency in five languages, especially French. He is an outsider brought into this golden circle where by rights he doesn't belong. These contradictions are artfully nuanced by Crudup, putting the personal beliefs, resolves and actions of the audience under the microscope. The connection the audience feels for their surrogate on stage is proven by applause after Crudup's first monologue. This is a show to be seen more than once, a diamond to be held in various sources of light.
You can read the latest on Richard Easton's condition in the NY Post. Turns out it was a heart arrhythmia. Also, the LCT site now has biographies of all the cast members.