Monday, February 19, 2007

Salvage press reviews

Aw, the last first night. BroadwayWorld folks beat us to the roundup, but here's the relevant quotage. The photo above is from Playbill which has a handful - none of our frau. Watch this post: it'll be updated as more reviews come in. Newer stuff is up top.
  • Michael Sommers, Star Ledger.
    [...] Ehle's stern yet loving governess is an oddly radiant figure. [...]
  • Malcolm Johnson, Hartford Courant.
    [...] The most telling and watchable performance in "Salvage" comes from Jennifer Ehle as the tightlipped Malwida. Having played a girlish innocent in "Voyage," and an adoring but swept-away wife in "Shipwrecked," she now reveals an iron core as the strict governess who can only watch in horror as the feckless Natasha, so extravagantly costumed by Catherine Zuber, distributes presents to the Herzen children. [...]
  • Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News.
    [...] In one story strand, he strives to launch the Free Russian Press, to give radicals a voice. In another, he deals with a complicated home that includes his children, a stern German governess (Jennifer Ehle, fabulous and unrecognizable from Parts 1 and 2), revolutionary friends and a married lover. Sometimes it smacks of "One Radical Life to Live." [...]
  • Ben Brantley, NY Times (discussed at All That Chat).
    [...] Nearly every scene is built on the impossibility of imposing order on the squirming mass of contradictions of human existence. The same evidence of dashed intentions comes across in matters domestic (in the chaotic rearing of Herzen’s children, despite a resolute German governess, played by the Jennifer Ehle) and epochal (the freeing of the serfs in Russia in 1861). [...]

    This production also lets us savor the actor’s tasty art of expert reincarnation, via performers who showed up in different roles in earlier installments. (Ms. Ehle’s obdurate governess and Richard Easton’s dying Polish count are especially memorable.) Fans of Ethan Hawke will be pleased to know that his character, the anarchist Bakunin, gets out of prison and is, if possible, even more obnoxious than before. (That’s meant as praise.) [...]
  • Michael Kuchwara, Associated Press.
    [...] When Herzen isn't agitating for freeing the serfs, he is dealing with domestic duties, trying to make sense of his family life after the death of his wife and younger son. He still has three other children to care for and into their orbit comes a stern German governess, played with crisp, Teutonic authority by a marvelous Jennifer Ehle. [...]
  • David Rooney, Variety.
    [...] O'Byrne's performance has steadily grown in stature and humanity through its accumulation of fine details, turning increasingly more introspective to shed light on the man and his alienation. As the strong-willed German governess to the widowed Herzen's children, Jennifer Ehle adds another flinty characterization to stand alongside her intelligent work as Liubov Bakunin in the first installment, "Voyage," and her luminous Natalie Herzen in "Shipwreck" -- three remarkably distinct women who share deep self-knowledge. [...]
  • Clive Barnes, NY Post.
    [...] Nor can we forget the women - Martha Plimpton, Amy Irving (like Crudup, not in "Salvage") and the extraordinary Jennifer Ehle - who together with all the rest made up a cast that represented repertory acting at its finest. [...]
  • David Finkle, TheaterMania.
    [...] The sad situation, however, is that Herzen is a plodding, dour character. In Salvage, he whiles away the latter part of his life attempting to establish a broadsheet called The Bell, while also trying to keep his children-overrun household in order. While Stoppard's idea is to show how often an influential person's private life is mundane in contrast to the public life, daily routine isn't the surefire stuff of compelling dramaturgy -- even if some of it is devoted to Herzen's passionate dalliance with Ogarev's wife Natasha (Martha Plimpton) and to spirited domestic exchanges with the children's German governess, Malwida von Meysenbug (Jennifer Ehle). [...]

    In Salvage though, Hawke finally gets away with his bellowing now that his Bukanin has turned Falstaffian, while Ehle, Harner, and especially Plimpton seem most at home in Stoppard's diffuse world. [...]
  • Matthew Murray, Talkin' Broadway.
    [...] Inextricably bound to his plans for arousing Russian serfs’ ire through nonviolent means are his own relationships, with the paternal Polish √©migr√©, Count Stanislaw Worcell (Richard Easton), through whom Herzen works to establish free Russian and Polish presses; with his son, Sasha (played at different ages by Evan Daves and Matt Dickson); with his longtime friends and one-time schoolmates Michael Bakunin (Ethan Hawke) and Nicholas Ogarev (Josh Hamilton); and with two devastating women, his German governess Malvida von Meysenbug (Jennifer Ehle) and Nicholas’s wife, Natasha (Martha Plimpton), with whom he creates some lives and destroys still others. [...]

    Other actors, however, do some of their best work of all three plays here. Easton’s Polish count is highly persuasive as a man who knows he’s outlived his own usefulness, but who becomes crucial in Herzen’s own development; Ehle finds layer after chilly layer in the dominating yet brittle Malvida. Plimpton’s Natasha is a gorgeous rendering, smoothly acidic and comic, devoted to Nicholas and yet longing for Herzen’s more understanding arms. Plimpton makes you feel every moment of confusion, every kickback from the wounds she inflicts in Nicholas, and you respect - as you might not expect to - the choices that lead to several global and personal downfalls. [...]
  • Richard Ouzounian, Toronto Star (review of whole trilogy).

    [...] There's also astonishing work from Jennifer Ehle, who delivers three distinct and galvanizing performances, and Amy Irving, who portrays two diametrically different women. [...]

  • Michael Giltz, NY Daily News. Interview with Jack O'Brien and Ethan Hawke.
And non-press reviews:
  • Aaron Riccio has another Salvage review:
    [...] Along the way, Stoppard continues to introduce us to characters that all deserve their own plays. Billy Crudup might be missing from Salvage, but there are plenty of interesting characters to be found in Count Stanislaw Worcell (Richard Easton), the doddering but passionate voice of the past, Malwida von Meysenburg (Jennifer Ehle), the steely German governess, and once-peripheral but now-central characters like Nicholas Ogarev (Josh Hamilton), his second wife, Natasha (Martha Plimpton), and the famed writer Ivan Turgenev (Jason Butler Harner). Easton is, as always, a pleasure, and Hamilton and Harner are even more mellifluous now than they were previously. As for Ehle, playing a disciplinarian may prove to be the best move of her career. Aside from showing off her range, stripping her of her all-too-easy dramatics forces her to find a deeper strength, and the controlled chaos that she experiences in the Herzen household is wonderful to see. [...]
  • Yankeefan007 at BroadwayWorld (with discussion):
    [...] Ethan Hawke is phenominal, again, as usual, as the flamboyant and now heavily bearded and fat Bakunin. Jennifer Ehle as Malwida is appropriately restrained (I enjoyed her more as Natalia). Also wonderful are Martha Plimpton and Josh Hamilton as the Ogarevs. [...]

  • Voyage review at Where's Higgs.
  • Negative Salvage review at Mokka mit Schlag.

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