Monday, April 09, 2007

'Beautiful', 'wonderful', 'charismatic' Ehle

Saturday's marathon seems by all accounts to have been another runaway success. Famous faces spotted this time included Ms Ehle's former co-star Ralph Fiennes as well as Brian Cox and Randy Harrison.

The show certainly lived up to emomango's expectations, who is another advocate of the three-in-one approach:

[We were] excited about the event for its event-ness itself, but we quickly fell in love with the production and thrived in our 12-hour experience with all 3 parts of the play.

The set, by Bob Crowley, was gorgeous and genius; the lighting by Brian McDevitt stunning. The acting was fantastic all around, and, instead of feeling like we had crammed too much in one day (as it is possible to see the 3 parts on separate nights as well), we finished the day feeling that the marathon was the best way to see The Coast of Utopia -- it was a journey for the actors as well as for the audience.

There was much praise for the cast as well as the crew, not least for a certain person:

Jennifer Ehle was beautiful and wonderful, as was Billy Crudup, who transformed so completely that he was almost unrecognizable. Ethan Hawke was impressive, too, which redeemed him in my eyes as a stage actor. ... Tonight, he was passionate and charismatic as well as endearingly engaging throughout the 3 parts.

The entire production was executed beautifully... and we left the theater feeling we'd witnessed a spectacularly special show. The Coast of Utopia reminded us of the beauty and power of theater, just how wonderful and magical a theatrical experience could be.

ImTedGreen was also present on Saturday, and came to a similarly laudatory conclusion:
The acting is amazing and, as usual, Tom Stoppard's writing is fascinating. I actually found this show easier to understand than other Stoppard shows I've seen.

thechorine, meanwhile, who attended an earlier marathon, described Brian O'Byrne as 'magnetic' and Ms Ehle as 'charismatic'. But perhaps more interestingly, here is another person for whom Mr Hawke's portrayal of Bakunin has managed to turn their previously negative opinion of him around.

This person also speaks highly of the theatre and Utopia's use of it:
...the sets and effects are MAGNIFICENT. The Vivian a beautiful theater, and what they can do with it boggles the mind.

It does indeed.

Tingly-spined whizzofactory ran a marathon last month and describes Utopia as... of the most extraordinary theater experiences of all. Stoppard is able to weave ideas, history, drama, love and culture together in a wide 40-year arc. It was wonderful seeing it in one take. The staging is also outstanding, with elements that send tingles down the spine. It was worth every minute and every dollar.

Critic-wise, no reviews today, but two captivating discussions instead...

Alice T. Carter of the Tribune talks about the trend of live theater being packaged as 'events' in an effort to attract the modern, spoilt-for-choice audience member. Utopia is mentioned very briefly as an example of a production marketed in this manner.

The NY Times meanwhile, discusses the debate the legendary Stephen Fry provoked, regarding British accents. The Times uses the Lincoln's production of Utopia to argue that a British accent is not a prerequisite for a successful production of Stoppard: doesn’t necessarily take a Briton to do justice to Tom Stoppard, whose dialogue is replete with tongue twisters and intellectual rhapsodies. Like Mr. Frayn’s “Copenhagen,” “The Coast of Utopia,” Mr. Stoppard’s sprawling trilogy about philosophizing Russian revolutionaries, is more exciting in New York (at Lincoln Center, where it runs through mid-May) than it was at the National in London. Granted, in the London production everyone seemed to be more on the same page, or reading from the same sheet music. The American cast (which includes the odd Briton, Canadian and Irishman) is more eclectic, more emphatic and less nuanced. Which is sometimes just what British erudition needs to acquire the racing pulse that makes theater come alive.

Now I'm a Brit, but I can't argue with the box office!

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