Friday, February 26, 2010

I found one !

Yes, after two tiresome hours of net hunting, I found a newspaper review in which the author seemed to have actually enjoyed Mr & Mrs Fitch:

Played with great panache by John Lithgow (which you might expect) and Jennifer Ehle (a fine dramatic actress unveiling a shining talent for comedy) [...] what makes the play such fun is the seamless collaboration among writer, actors and director Scott Ellis, who never let's the evening momentum flag.
The Fitches' great shared joy is their love of language. They never use one word when 10 will do; they don't speak plainly when it's so much more satisfying to be clever.

Second good news is that we have a video of Mr & Mrs Fitch premiere party which took place on Monday, February 22, in which Jennifer Ehle gets to speak about her role, and some nice pictures of it.

(Director Scott Ellis, Actors Jennifer Ehle and John Lithgow, playwright Douglas Carter Beane)

The other reviews...well, it's really a simple story - they all seem to have been built on the same pattern (it's quite impressive - and always disconcerting - to see such unanimity...) - a pattern which can be summarized as : Laughs are there but a plot is missing (The Washington examiner)

First part of the reviews: the set is great, the actors are good...

Romping about designer Allen Moyer's ultra-glam setting, complete with a spiral staircase and a grand piano, an aristocratic Lithgow and a bewitching Ehle do their considerable best to evoke Scott and Zelda, Noel and Gertie and the Lunts are rolled into one. (

John Lithgow, an actor who can play comedy with a heavy hand and make it seem
extraordinarily right, is the former [Mr Fitch]; a lower-tier newspaper gossiper feeling pangs of frustration for wasting his life on a trashy column instead of
writing that novel lingering in his imagination. Jennifer Ehle has an endearing quality as the Jersey girl who fell in love with Manhattan, and conveniently, with one who makes his living surveying its nightlife. (

Lithgow and Ehle are working hard to be amusing. (

...But, second part of the reviews, the play, stuffed with bons mots, epigrams, inside jokes, social and intellectual references and arch put-downs, falls to rise interest during two hours:

It doesn't take long before their repartee sounds more like a debate in which the content is only as good as the speed with which it is delivered. (

What might have been mildly amusing as a one-act eventually gets strained to the breaking point, and a plot element involving the pair's making up a fictional character who suddenly takes on a life of his own is far too silly to make its intended satirical point (

Quantity has taken over quality in Beane's latest play...(...) The barrage of
self-satisfied quips is so relentless that the show quickly becomes numbing (...) It doesn't make sense, like anything else in this bewildering, sloppily plotted comedy. (

I certainly forgot other reviews of this type - sorry for their authors, but they're all quite the same! - the meanest one being Joe Dziemianowicz's at NY Daily News.

More original ones includes Cindy Adams review with 10 reasons why the Fitches' are not real journalists - I thought that was obvious, given it's theatre...- and, more funny, how it could be fixed.

An article well informed on all the references (87 !!) mentioned in the play. You can complete it if they are some missing.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Before the rush

In a few hours opens the official premiere of Mr & Mrs Fitch at the Second Stage Theatre, and gives us three first pictures of Jennifer Ehle and John Lithgow on stage:

(Photos by Joan Marcus)

Before the rush of critics that will flow then, two early and mixed reviews:
- one from the Opinionist, who underlines that
If it were possible to assemble a substantial evening of theater out of clever one-liners, gifted actors and crackling chemistry, Douglas Carter Beane's Mr & Mrs Fitch would be a smashing success. Starring the equally adept John Lithgow and Jennifer Ehle, the story (which is the weak link here) concerns two married Manhattan gossip columnists ....
Naturally, complications arise, but unfortunately they don't pile up quickly enough to sustain the insubstantial plot of this full-length play. By the start of act two, the effervescence turns a little flat...
But, in the end, "it's hard not to enjoy yourself when these two are savoring such saw one-liners as "Gossip is just news that's interesting" (...) "Theater, you know, that thing movie people do when they want to announce they're available for television".
- the ShoNuff Lives begins with
The talent is outstanding: Douglas Carter Beane, John Lithgow and Jennifer Ehle. The barbs are vicious, pernicious and delicious. The play, however, is a disappointment.
The part on Jennifer Ehle is particularly laudatory though:
Ehle, who's somewhat less known outside the theater community, is a marvel. Having seen her in the Coast of Utopia trilogy (not to mention her rocketing to fame in the BBC's Pride and Prejudice), I know what she's capable of. Here, her mannered accent warbles a bit, but she smiles deliciously with every witticism launched. She hobbles around on unseemly heels, but does it with grace and elegance. I'd watch her read from the phone book, but she has about as much to do here. The play is very much centered around Mr Fitch, and Mrs Fitch is basically a compliment to him, another gorgeous object that helps him operate his world.

Overall, it's not a bad night in the theatre, but it's essentially disappointing because it could be a great one given the talent involved.

You can see a tiny second of Ms Ehle and Mr Lithgow in the play at this View video or here (thanks Tez!), while John Lithgow is eagerly answering his fan questions (maybe yours?) in this one.
Finally, for those of you unlucky readers who can not make the trip to NYC to see Fitch with your own eyes and make your playbill signed by the actors, you can always write to the Second Stage Theater to ask for a signed playbill. It seems to have worked pretty well for a couple of fans.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Like we were on stage!

So, better late than never, right ?

I've just discovered Meredith blog, and she happens to work on Mr & Mrs Fitch props!

In her recent fascinating post [where you can find really nice photos of the set] she reveals details about the dreamy apartment in which Jennifer Ehle and John Lithgow make their show every night, and why it all looks so real:

The set for Mr & Mrs Fitch holds the distinction of being the first set I've worked on where someone has asked to purchase almost every single item on the set after the production. Why ? Because its set in a totally baller apartment. [...]

What we ended up doing was having two artists: Ryan Ketchum and Pete Sarafin loan works to the show. [...] The paintings on the wall give a huge amount of depth and range to the set: they make it feel like a real place because they are real things.

Read an older post of hers with two more photos where she explains how they had to borrow dozens of books to fill in the giant bookcase you see on the picture above.

Thank you very much Meredith for your explanations and pictures, it sounds like you're doing a great job!

The author of Mr & Mrs Fitch himself, Douglas Carter Beane, will be discussing his new comedy and talking about his fascination for New York City on Thirteen this Friday 19th of February at 1 am. Watch and tell us !

[EDIT : After an exchange with Meredith, I had to take down the photos - as they represent not only her work but the work of the designers and the theatre, she has only permission to post them on her blog - I should have known better ! I apologize sincerely to Meredith and you readers, and encourage you to go and see the pictures on her blog...]

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Misters

This week on the net seems to be all about men...

1. Mister Fitch

(Picture of the Fitch billboard in Manhattan on the right from R.Borucki blog, thanks for this photo!)

Two of John Lithgow's latest tweets (from the 4th and the 15th of February)

FITCH gets better with every tweak, love those previews...

Working furiously on FITCH (wonderful) but neglecting tweets...

give us an insight into the fascinating work-in-progress that must still be Mr & Mrs Fitch, where he plays alongside Jennifer Ehle.

The man seems indeed tireless. After an interesting interview in the New York magazine where he reveals one or two juicy details about his life and admits, laughing, to be "a gossip whore like anyone else", John Lithgow was on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, showing another of his (numerous) talents with a napkin! For you lucky American readers, he will be making an appearance to talk about Fitch on The View's 2nd Annual Mutt Show on abc this Friday night...

Meanwhile, more reviews on the play are being shared :
  • at Broadwayworld, where a few people disagree on the witticism vs shallowness of the play
  • at The New York Times theater section, where critics go from "What a waste of 2 hours" to "To see Lithgow and Ehle up close (the theatre is intimate) and doing their thing is a wonder to behold" or "Fascinating to watch these two great actors in an intimate theatre, tearing into a very witty and playful script" - pick your one!
  • at AllThatChat, where the casting relevance is discussed

2. Mister Firth

As much in Oscar daze as Colin Firth seems to be right now, he still has some time to speak to the Belfast Telegraph about his role as King George VI, the Queen's father, in the King's speech, where he'll be playing alongside Jennifer Ehle for the first time in 15 years. The actor confesses his apprehension on knowing that some living Royal family would see the film, and that he tried to put his political view on monarchy out of his work:

I know they [the Royal family] don't comment on such things but I was very aware
that not only would his daughter (Queen Elizabeth II) see it, but the characters
played by Geoffrey Rush had living family as well.

I think he [George VI] was enormously admirable and I had overwhelming
affection for the characters, so I hope that affection and respect came across.
I think there's something quietly heroic about him. We'll leave my own
political view out of this.

Who would want to bet that Mr Firth will be getting a second Oscar nomination next year ?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bits of hope

Winter's nearly coming!
Yes, I know, for lots of you, readers from the North continents, winter's already there and very annoying! (The other lucky ones will have to imagine: cold, snow and chilling wind...).
But I'm talking about a very different kind of winter, a kind that includes the beautiful Jennifer Ehle wearing an auburn wig and playing the icy Catelyn Stark, lady of Winterfell and loving mother of five children.
For the past few weeks, the net has indeed rustled with some very promising signs that A Game of Thrones will soon be picked as a new HBO series. The more exciting one is an interwiew with HBO programming chief Michael Lombardo from The Hollywood Reporter, in which Lombardo tells us that
Everything looks fantastic [...] The director got great performances [...] I would be surprised if it doesn't [get green lit]. It has everything going for it.

More encouraging signs at the vital Winter is Coming blog where an extra in the pilot reveals that the agency that hired him in Belfast asked AGOT-related questions in their 2010 registration form (eg questions on skills in "horse riding, combat training and historical re-enactments"). Let's hope they're preparing for more Thrones!
While waiting for the big announcement (coming in March if all goes well), you can always participate to casting conjectures about Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish, Catelyn's childhood friend, at Westeros forum - having in mind that the actor should be a smidgeon younger and shorter than Ms Ehle; or you can watch a video of the confirmed cast so far, to help visualize...
Aren't you feeling a lot warmer now ?

Sunday, February 07, 2010


"Il faut un début à tout!"

"There's a beginning to everything", that's what we say in France to give courage to someone new to here I am, Ceci, a French girl who'll assist Janet in pleasing every fan of the great actress we all love. Please accept all my apologies in advance if some language mistakes should worm their way into my posts, for English is not my native language...but I'll try and be alert!

Back to the essentials, this week is a particular one for Jennifer Ehle as well, for the previews of Mr & Mrs Fitch have started and, with them, the first reactions of the audience. Readers, prepare yourselves for some controversy, for, if the general impression is so far favourable - especially concerning the two actors performance - the play in itself arouses more contrasted opinions.

Rachel from the Opiniatedbitch offers us an extensive and interesting review, and reckons that:

In a play that only features two characters, it's imperative that the
two actors cast are able to carry the entire performance. Luckily for Mr
& Mrs Fitch
, John Lithgow and Jennifer Ehle are. [...] While the
set and the actors are stellar, Mr & Mrs Fitch falls a little
flat with the play itself...

Read the entire review if you want to know more about the reasons for this judgement, but be aware of the many spoilers it contains.

Shorter reviews and opinions will be found at Goldstar and BroadwayWorld, where pros-cons discussions go on nicely. I particularly liked Paul's one, who mentioned that, given the nature of the play - two arrogant gossip columnists threatened in their jobs and willing to do anything to stay in the game - "if you disliked the characters, it's all the more reason the play was brilliant". Indeed !

In occasions such as these, the only sound advice to give would be to go see the play and judge by yourselves - good news is that NYC & Company offers on the house 2 tickets for 1, and that Mr and Mrs Fitch is on the programme! The offer is valid from the 8th to the 28th of February, so don't wait too much! As Director Scott Ellis said himself in an AmericanTheatreWing interview, it's a rare opportunity to see Jennifer Ehle's great skills in comedy...

Last but not least, congratulations to John Lithgow for his Golden Globe won thanks to his performance in Dexter. The great man has accepted to answer fan questions, but you have until tomorrow (8th of February) to submit yours, so don't take too much time...

Another congratulation to Colin Firth for his nomination to the Oscar 2010 as best actor for his performance in A Single Man. The least we can say is that Ms Ehle knows how to choose her co-workers!