Monday, October 30, 2006

Voyage roundup

First, read Martha Plimpton's update on being up to her eyeballs in Russia and enjoying it. Don't ingest liquids while reading.

Meanwhile, Voyage isn't to everyone's taste. Primo, Gerry Devito reckons there's too much talk.

This play is just talk, talk, talk, talk, talk and more Stoppard talk! Speeches ramble on and on and on. It is as if Stoppard took notes on the period and then put all his notes into his characters’ monologues. It just goes on and on and on, and I just lose track of the idea and what is trying to be said. This three-hour Part 1 was set in Russia in 1835 and goes forward in time. Student comes home on university holiday to his family and brings some fellow students with him. They meet his four sisters; it reminds one of Chekov’s THE THREE SISTERS. Stoppard does Chekov one better by having FOUR! Better not let him read this or he may write a play about The Four Sisters. The Russians are sad that they never had a Renaissance, a cultural revolution. They have not contributed to the culture of the world. Act 1 spans from 1833 to 1841. When we get to Act 2 we go back in time again to 1834 at the University in Moscow to see how everyone met there. This Act goes from 1834 to 1844. The time element gets confusing. Why didn’t Stoppard just write the play in a chronological time sequence? I do not think I shall bother with the three-hour Part 2 Shipwreck that will begin in December or the three-hour Part 3 Salvage that will begin in February. Then one can attend all nine hours in one day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. beginning in March. One could not ask for a better cast: Richard Easton as the head of the family with his gorgeous booming voice with a big role in Part 1 (he collapsed on the stage the next evening and has undergone a pacemaker operation; he should be back in the play in a few weeks); Amy Irving in a small role as the mother; Martha Plimton as the oldest sister; Ethan Hawke playing it rather swish as the brother who goes to University; Billy Crudup as a philosopher; Brian F. O’Bryne in a very minor role. Too bad the play was not as good as its 40 cast members!!

Mme Bahorel, a big fan of the London production, has a long, descriptive, spoileriffic report with accounts of the script changes. It also rips the show to shreds. This is how it begins:

Where's God when you need him?

So, Voyage. Jack O'Brien can go boil his head. There are some wretched cast members, the production design sucks ass, and the direction goes places I don't want. [...]

On the other hand, David digs the play despite his initial misgivings.

Saw my first play at Lincoln Center tonight, Tom Stoppard’s “The Coast of Utopia”. Tonight’s show is the first of a trilogy. I only bought tickets to the first show, because I wasn’t sure I’d like it. I mean, a show that’s set in 19th century Russia about philosophy doesn’t sound like my cup of tea.

Tom Stoppard is best known for writing “Shakespeare in Love”. The cast includes Ethan Hawke and Billy Crudup.

Crudup, in particular, is amazing. The play itself is fantastic. It’s very funny and fast paced.

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