Get your tickets now. Once it wins Best Play this spring, it will be only a thing of the past.
This is a once in a lifetime event. It's not just play - it's three part structure (yes, requiring 3 different tickets) qualifies it for an event.
Stoppard's new play is a masterpiece. It is brilliantly and beautifully written. When you are sitting in the theatre watching this miracle unfold, you will feel like you have literally died and gone to heaven. I experienced pure awe and bliss this afternoon, and it will absolutely go down as one of my favorite theatrical experiences ever.
The entire cast, from top to bottom, is exemplory. Pristine, even. Billy Crudup is brilliant as the well...brilliant, awkward Vissarion Belinsky. He is so strong, so solid, and just plain wonderful. David Manis is clearly still finding his way in the role, after having just replaced Easton a few nights ago. His performance is still undeniably strong - and it's only up from here. Jennifer Ehle, Josh Hamilton, David Harbour, Jason Butler Harner, Amy Irving, and Brian F. O'Byrne are each fantastic. Each of them shine and deliver strong, unwavering performances. It's quite the accomplishment. Martha Plimpton is in her finest form here. She is a miraculous little actress, and delivers a performance of sheer perfection. I was pleasantly surprised by Ethan Hawke. I thought he would come off as the "amateur" of the bunch, and I was entirely wrong. He is absolutely winning as the obnoxious, aloof, bratty Michael Bakunin. He is an excellent stage actor, and I cannot wait to see his work in the next two parts.
The visuals will take your breath away. Brian MacDevitt's lighting is as equally brilliant and stunning as everything else. Bob Crowley and Bob Pask's sets are minimalist, but perhaps the most effective work each of them have done. Mr. Crowley, I forgive you for TARZAN. (Well, the design part.)
Mark Bennett's original score is exciting, beautiful, and triumphant. It is the best original score written for a play I have ever heard - and one can only hope that he will land a nomination this year.
Watching this show is like watching a sweeping, epic film. It plays like a film, it looks like a flim, and it is undeniably cinematic. Jack O'Brien should be awarded the Nobel Prize for this staging and creation - it is THAT strong and THAT brilliant.
There were several moments during the show when I was just overwhelmed with what I was experiencing. I couldn't believe it. I do not have a single complaint or criticism about thie piece.
I had read some background information on the show when it was first announced, and I will admit that I was very intimidated by it. This play, in the wrong hands, could be an unmitigated disaster. O'Brien always brings a friendly touch to his plays that make it all the more accessible - as he did two seasons ago with HENRY IV. He is a master at what he does, and he WILL win the Tony this year.
Perhaps this play is not as strong as I think it is, or perhaps O'Brien's staging isn't as strong as I think it is. It doesn't matter. When the two halves mix to form this one whole, you will be so blinded by the light it emits that you will be hard pressed to find something as utterly terrific as this. It's the first, great Broadway dramatic masterpiece since ANGELS IN AMERICA.
There's a more ambivalent, brief response to the show at A room with a view and Susan Rhoades, who attended the night of Mr Easton's collapse, found the half she saw "talky and static". Also, in the same thread as Munkustrap's review above, VeuveClicquot was "flummoxed":
Well, since the question was "What are your thoughts," here are mine.
This show made my head hurt.
First of all, I LOVE Stoppard. Also, I'm a bit of a Ruskophile.
I agree, Crudup was amazing. And the first act made me THINK.
The second act, however, lost me. We went back seven years? Why?
As if the whole Pushkin/Hagel philosophy lesson wasn't hard enough, we were forced to live it again?
I'm flummoxed by this play. I'm an intelligent, well-educated person. And I love Stoppard. I think he's a genius.
But the second act of "The Voyage" lost me.
I'm looking forward to the rest of it. I get what he's trying to say. I understand the broad strokes.
But seriously, he pushed me too far as an author. Setting the second act of "The Voyage" back in time, as he did, made the whole thing too difficult to understand. I barely got to know the characters is the first act, and I think pushing ahead in a chronological manner would have benefitted the piece.
And another NY Times reader review as well:
A "Must See" Performance, October 21, 2006
Billy Crudup is...well..."amazing" can't get close to describing his performance... Stoppard wrote his character exceedingly well, but to see a great character in the hands of this inventive, unique, brilliant, instinctive, yet technically masterful actor...Wow! ...Just Wow! If you, the reader, are an actor, you've got to see this performance.