Saturday, April 21, 2007

Expecting the unexpected

  • The NY Times has a nice piece on the plethora of unplanned disasters that can occur mid-performance. One of the disasters mentioned is Mr Easton's collapse in Utopia previews:

Martha Plimpton heard a thud. When she turned and saw her “Coast of Utopia” co-star Richard Easton prone on the stage floor during the second preview, she presumed he had merely tripped. But Ethan Hawke, who had seen Mr. Easton collapse, said he “thought Richard had passed away.”

The two actors found Mr. Easton unconscious. “I never thought I’d say those words, but I said, ‘Is there a doctor in the house?’ ” Ms. Plimpton recalled. The Lincoln Center audience that night in October did not respond, thinking that the moment was part of the show, especially since Mr. Easton’s character had just finished a fiery diatribe that ended with “That is my last word,” and since the house lights remained down. “The audience just thought, ‘Oh, Tom Stoppard is getting all Pirandello on us,’ ” Mr. Hawke said, referring to the “Utopia” playwright. “Breaking the fourth wall is harder than you think.” [...]

In the fall the “Coast of Utopia” audience realized that Mr. Easton’s collapse was not scripted only when Mr. Hawke made an announcement, stepping center stage and, as Ms. Plimpton did, asking for medical help. (Will Coholan, a stagehand, stepped forward to perform CPR.) That night the actors had no need to stay in character. After what seemed like an eternity, they said, emergency medical workers finally took Mr. Easton, who had suffered an arrhythmia, to the hospital, and everyone went home. “It was the only time I didn’t finish a show,” Mr. Hawke said. “That felt strange.” But leaving the theater early was nothing, Mr. Hawke said, compared with how he and Ms. Plimpton felt when Mr. Easton returned. They felt normal with the understudy in the scene in which Mr. Easton had collapsed, but with Mr. Easton back, they were petrified about it. “I just kept looking at Ethan,” Ms. Plimpton said, while Mr. Hawke said he was busy “hoping the moment would just pass.” It is a feeling the two actors can’t quite shake. “It all depends on how Richard performs it,” Ms. Plimpton said. “If he does it differently, it’s fine, but when he does it just like that night, then we spend the whole scene feeling worried.”

  • Robert Simonson of interviews Jack O'Brien. On whether he still checks up on Utopia, he said:

I [still] wander through [the Beaumont dressing rooms] at half hour and then I go my merry way.

  • NY Times reader reviewer cagott admires the show as a whole, but is troubled by Ms Ehle's apparent breathlessness at the end of lines. francisdyer implies that Salvage was best, and like so many people, gives a big thumbs up to the visual and musical elements of the entire production:

...Being in touch with the mind of Herzen as rock amid the stormy emotions of his fellow reformers, was dramatic experience. But it was the grandness of the visual, music, ballet-like movement, lighting that held me spellbound. [...] It was just grand theater and these people were daring breaking new ground. [...] I thank them all. Broadway is here and just fine.

  • Peter Daniels of the World Socialist Web Site gives a long round-up of the play.
  • Dan Irwin at nnseek discusses the viability of Utopia going national.
  • Past famous faces: the fabulous Julianne Moore.
  • Future famous faces: Tom Stoppard, Bob Crowley and Jack O'Brien are marathoning April 28th, if you are deciding which of the few remaining shows to attend.
  • For those of you who live in the NYC vicinity, tomorrow is ATW seminar day. For those of us who don't, watch this space for the link!

1 comment:

Kate said...

Is Road to the Sky now known as Before the Rains? (see imdb)