"Shines", "brilliance", "luminous" (x2), "electric"...all point to one thing!
Anyway. Just uploaded a bunch of Coast of Utopia images onto our Photobucket album, borrowed from the LCT's multimedia section, Playbill multimedia, the NY Times Shipwreck slideshow, as well as Newsday's. There are four random scans from the clippings package as well. That one there is from the Utopia Playbill. Familiar photo, no?
On with the bread and butter. Leonard Jacobs of Backstage:
[...] Beyond Jack O'Brien's staging (far less obstreperous than in Voyage), beyond Stoppard's dense-as-a-thicket dialogue (where a dispute about coffee might naturally precede a debate about censorship), what's increasingly admirable is how beautifully the actors zero in on the key qualities each scene must convey. If Stoppard gives himself barely any time to convey truth, story, and character, the actors have even less of it. In this sense, O'Byrne is a dynamo. His Herzen has a stark freshness, while Ehle's voice revels in the musicality of Stoppard's words, riding them, one and all, with consummate breath and meaning. Shipwreck is, in the end, as much Natalie's story as Alexander's, as much that of any of those men of mid-19th-century Europe and Russia. All in all, it's a compelling midpoint in Stoppard's audacious historical voyage.
And a Shipwreck article by NY Magazine's Jeremy McCarter:
[...] It’s gratifying when actors ease into their roles this way, but sometimes the reverse occurs, and a role begins to better suit its performer. In Part One, Brían F. O’Byrne, usually the most mesmerizing actor on whatever stage he inhabits, seemed oddly muted as the patrician revolutionary Alexander Herzen; the philosophical speeches, even when impassioned, felt distant, abstract. In the second act here, when Stoppard shifts from historical fanfare to domestic ballad, O’Byrne’s old allure returns. Herzen and his wife (exquisite Jennifer Ehle) set up a household with his best friend, the German poet Herwegh (David Harbour), who’s been cuckolding him. The inevitable confrontation may just be old-fashioned melodrama, but Herzen’s bitterness and fury help us see what makes O’Byrne great. Though some actors lean on a rich voice or effortless poise, his most valuable asset may be his tenacity—the ability to grip a role and not let go. Here, finally, are scenes he can dig his nails into; I hope they’re not the last. [...]
A new NY Times reader review is up as well.
[...] Jennifer Ehle is luminous throughout, and David Harbour and Jason Butler Harner also give excellent performances. Amy Irving and Richard Easton also give very entertaining cameo performances. And Ethan Hawke and Billy Crudup (the terrific rightful star of part one) make shorter appearances in their respective roles. Still on display, of course, is the sumptuous physical production of the show, which remains memorable in all respects. I must confess to feeling a little disappointed at the end of The Voyage, but Shipwreck has renewed my excitement and anticipation for the final part of the triology.
Also here's an audio review by Matt Windman for AM NY, and critical ones by Aaron Riccio and Hollywood Reporter's Frank Scheck. There's love from Luanne Rice though:
[...] there's one scene in "shipwreck" between jennifer ehle and martha plimpton that's so electric and emotional and delightful, really alive. the only problem is that stoppard is such an intellectual writer--he writes in ideas, and i think in emotions. it's my blessing/it's my curse, especially while watching stoppard. [...]
Likewise from William Wolf:
[...] The play delves into the relationship between the exiled Herzen and his wife, Natalie, portrayed with further brilliance by Jennifer Ehle. Natalie falls in love with family friend George Herwegh, a German poet who is smitten by her. Even in this atmosphere of being free spirits, the entanglement devastates Herzen, and it is fascinating to watch the pain come over O’Bryne’s face as he absorbs the shock of finding out what has been going on. [...]
and Lesley Alexander at CitiTour:
[...] Director Jack O’Brien has deftly adds touches of ambience through the use of the ever present servants and he contributes greatly to crafting the emotional touches performed with élan by Jennifer Ehle as Herzen’s frustrated wife. Brian F. O’Byrne gives a splendid performance as the wealthy landowner and the technical aspects add magnificent flourishes to the senses. [...]
Vince's Broadway Blog toes the lightbulb line:
[...] The production also benefits by getting away from the Bakunin household to tell the much more poignant story of Herzen, Herzen's wife Natalie (a luminous Jennifer Ehle), and his deaf son. For while there is a good deal to admire and enjoy in Stoppard’s witty exchanges, the piece finds its emotional depth in what happens to the individual characters. It is in part two that we not only learn of the tragedies that befall Herzin, but also of the imprisonment of Bakunin, and the death of Billy Crudup’s compelling Belinsky, who figured so centrally in the latter half of The Voyage. [...]
NY Theater Thoughts too:
[...] Some of the previous characters drop in to share their sentiments. We see a much older Belinsky (Billy Crudup) and a still rebellious Michael Bakunin (Ethan Hawke, seen waiving the flag in the picture to the left) as well as several others. The focus also shifts to the women, whereas in the Voyage they had too little of a part to play. Jennifer Ehle shines as Natalie Herzen who is exploring the idea utopian love through her marriage and an affair with a German poet, George Herwegh. Amy Irving also shows a different side as Maria, the estranged wife to Nicholas Ogarev (Josh Hamilton). [...]
Victoria Sullivan at Culture Catch writes a thematic review of the show, and CS Monitor's Iris Fanger gives it an A.
Finally, on January 8th there was a discussion with Tom Stoppard run by Drama Desk. Wee writeup at CurtainUp and photos at BroadwayWorld.
PS. Jerry rocks.