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Review: “The Iceman Cometh” at BAM

February 14th, 2015 Comments off

by Samuel L. Leiter

The cast of "The Iceman Cometh" at BAM. (photo: Richard Termine)

The cast of “The Iceman Cometh” at BAM. (photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

There’s no question that Eugene O’Neill’s barroom drama about the hopelessness of hope, The Iceman Cometh, is a superlative contribution from one of America’s three top serious dramatists, worthy of respect as a modern classic. For me, it falls just shy of true greatness because of its inordinate length, something critics have carped about since its original Broadway production in 1946. Director Robert Falls’s widely lauded revival, brought intact from Chicago’s Goodman Theatre to BAM’s Harvey Theatre, runs four hours and forty-five minutes, nearly as long as it takes to fly from Los Angeles to New York. For all its superb dramatic qualities, its duration makes one conscious of its overly repetitive thematic points, its wordiness, and its excess of self-pitying characters.

Still, the full house when I attended remained riveted throughout, and, after four acts with three 15-minute intermissions, rose like Hokusai’s wave to splash the 18-member ensemble with loving applause and shouted admiration. Foremost of the recipients was Nathan Lane, normally so brilliant in comedic roles, demonstrating the remarkable acuity of his tragic chops in the role of Theodore “Hickey” Hickman, the traveling salesman who, after a life-changing experience, abandons his optimistic pipe dreaming and seeks to smash those that sustain a barroom packed with self-deluded drunks. Brian Dennehy, who played Hickey in Fall’s 1990 Goodman Theatre production, now portrays, with glowering power, the play’s second lead, Larry Slade, once a fiery syndicalist-anarchist but now a wreck depending on pipe dreams to get him through the night.

(l to r) Nathan Lane, Brian Dennehy and Salvatore Inzerillo in "The Iceman Cometh." (photo: Richard Termine)

(l to r) Nathan Lane, Brian Dennehy and Salvatore Inzerillo in “The Iceman Cometh.” (photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

The Iceman Cometh, loosely based on O’Neill’s own experiences, has been called an American The Lower Depths because of its incisive picture of the boozers, pimps, tarts (a term they prefer to “whores”), anarchists, gamblers, con men, war vets, and dreamers frequenting Harry Hope’s Bowery bar and flophouse. These bums do little more than drink and sleep at Harry’s, surviving on glorified memories and romantic illusions of one day being able to restore their broken lives.

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Gyllenhaal Is All Yours, Johannson Slips In & More Theater News

September 21st, 2012 Comments off

Annie Funke & Jake Gyllenhaal in "If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet". Photo by Joan Marcus.

You’ve heard of friends with benefits? Well, this is a post with benefits so pucker up and get ready for this week’s theater news round-up…

  • Part theater geek garage sale and part outdoor fan convention, the annual Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction takes over Shubert Alley & Times Square this Sunday from 10am – 7pm. In addition to the popular autograph table (this year featuring the likes of Cheyenne Jackson, Bebe Neuwirth, Steve Kazee, Bernadette Peters, Jeremy Jordan and more), the marquee event is an auction of priceless memorabilia and events including lunch with Angela Lansbury…with all proceeds going to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Start bidding now!
  • Still jonesing for a big ticket reward? The Drama League is sponsoring an online auction of their own with some amazing items including tickets to see If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet including a VIP backstage photo with star Jake Gyllenhaal. Just keep your hands to yourself when you get that picture taken with my boyfriend.
  • David Schwimmer in "Detroit". Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

    There are lots of benefits (ouch, that transition gave me whiplash) to seeing shows beyond Broadway. Check out the glowing reviews for two big, starry Off-Broadway openings this week. First, David Schwimmer and Amy Ryan headline “the superb” new play about downward mobility Detroit at Playwrights Horizons. Then the transcript-based, wrongly accused prisoners docudrama The Exonerated, returns in a revival that “still has the power to unsettle” with its rotating cast including Stockard Channing and Brian Dennehy.

  • Broadway Cares isn’t done yet; they’ve got a benefit — that’s like butter — planned for October 12 titled Hello Gorgeous: A Salute to the Streisand Songbook. Performers scheduled to belt their tuches off include Lorna Luft (Grease 2 again!), Ann Hampton Callaway, Daisy Eagan (The Secret Garden), Nick Adams (Priscilla: Queen of the Desert) and Jim Caruso (“Cast Party” at Birdland).
  • The New York Times is reporting that Scarlett Johansson will slip out of her superhero leather and into a slip when she returns to Broadway as Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof this winter. Her equally fetching, though perhaps not in a slip, co-stars will be Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson himself Benjamin Walker, Ciaran Hinds and Debra Monk.
  • Finally, start planning your Christmas Day trip to movie theaters now because the big budget adaption of Les Miserables has been moved back two weeks to December 25. Not sure if it will be goodies or coal in your stocking? After the jump, check out a juicy behind-the-scenes preview that made the rounds yesterday. Color me very, very impressed with how some of the singing, recorded live on the set, sounds…

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