Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"A visual and verbal feast"

At long last, some more theatre-goers have posted their opinions on Utopia in the NY Times Reader Review section.

The most laudatory of the two is from mapbrook, a marathon survivor, who describes the show as 'a visual and verbal feast':

I saw the trilogy all in one day, and I am still reeling with excitement. Don't fear the text, the wordiness or the history--it's great theater performed by an extraordinary cast, directed by a superb director and designed by a top-notch team of designers. It's easy to follow and understand. Theater events like this come around so rarely. Don't miss it. And don't eat or drink too much before the show. You'll want to hear and see everything this banquet offers.

Meanwhile, francisdyer went to the Saturday 21st matinee performance of Shipwreck. There is some negative discussion about Kolya, including a quite amusing vilification of his little spinning top. Overall though, this reviewer gives the show 4 out of 5 stars and implies that it clearly is great, even if he doesn't quite feel it.

This reviewer also wrote about Voyage for which there was a little more positivity but still an element of puzzlement and confusion.

Also, on this page of the NY Times reader reviews, I have just noticed a comment made by someone on November 30 2006. In response to previous reviews, this person used the title 'Ravishing' and wrote:

I just do not understand all the negative comments! The set design more than compensates for the actors expressing complex historical Russian experiences with their American acting idiom.

And what was the reviewer's name? Bruce Pask. Would that by any chance be Bruce Pask the set designer? Twin brother of Utopia set designer Scott Pask? I think it is a safe assumption! It goes to show that these reviews are read by at least some of the people involved! (And responded to - well done Mr Pask!)

There is also the odd Utopia fan spreading joy over at After describing the show as 'the most important theatrical event of the past 60 years', here is what else P. Bonoff "Yaleman" had to say earlier this month on the show and its legendary writer:
Stoppard's eloquence and wit are only the beginning. The subject is monumental and speaks to our times. Wisdom emerges at the perfect pace. Catharsis at the end. I have seen the trilogy and will see it twice more in marathon experiences. Reading the text beforehand enhances the understanding of the contest and of what takes place. If you don't recognize the importance of The Decembrists, please review some history before seeing and/or reading the trilogy. If you don't know at least a bit about Tsar Alexander, please look at wikipedia and go from there. Very timely and relevant and ominous. And if you read the inspiring text either before or after the experience, the catharsis will be even more powerful. If you haven't seen the epic, this is a must-read.

Thank you, Tom Stoppard (and ensemble) for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. "Rock & Roll" goes further. IMO, this is a transformational work which materially enhances Stoppard's prospects for already likely Nobel Prize. What next? What a genius. Unforgettable lessons to be learned dramatically.

But, there are two sides to every story, and E.Rabinovich posts the largely negative letter he/she sent to the New York Times in response to Ben Brantley's review.

Meanwhile, if you are not into online purchasing, Alexander Herzen's My Past and Thoughts is on sale in the New York Public Library bookshop should you happen to be in the vicinity without a lot to carry.
Lastly, if you fancy being talked to for half an hour, here is KCRW 's 'Politics of Culture' radio programme about Utopia and the subject matter behind it. It was recorded just after Voyage opened, and is hosted by Michael Silverblatt and Ruth Seymour. Largely elementary, but interesting nonetheless.


Anonymous said...

You've put together an excellent review - just wish I was the other side of the pond and could see Coast for myself! LizB

Abi said...

Hi Liz!

Where on the other side of the pond are you from?! I live near Cambridge normally - I'm just over here for uni until May!