Review Roundup: NO MAN'S LAND & WAITING FOR GODOT Open on Broadway - All the Reviews!
The Broadway repertory season of Harold Pinter¹s NO MAN¹S LAND and Samuel Beckett¹s WAITING FOR GODOT opens today, November 24. Starring Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Billy Crudup and Shuler Hensley and directed by Sean Mathias, this limited engagement repertory season plays through Sunday, March 2 at the Cort Theatre (138 West 48th Street).
Designs for the productions include sets and costumes by Stephen Brimson Lewis (twice Tony-nominated for Indiscretions), lighting by Peter Kaczorowski (a Tony Award winner for Contact and The Producers) sound and music by Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (Breakfast At Tiffany¹s), projections by Zachary Borovay (Ann) and hair and make-up by Tom Watson (The Assembled Parties).
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld: "Director Sean Mathias and his talented quartet of actors (they are billed above the title alphabetically as Billy Crudup, Shuler Hensley, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart) do lovely service to both of them. No big bangs and whistles at the Cort Theatre; just a solidly acted pair of straightforward mountings that, despite all the attention paid to the two more famously named stage artists, serve the playwrights very well...Though the production comes to town as a star-vehicle event attracting fans of Stewart's and McKellen's blockbuster film and television work, those in the know recognize them as impeccable stage artists (Crudup and Hensley ain't no slouches in that respect either) who display intelligent craft and commitment in contrasting pieces. There is certainly no ambiguity about that."
Ben Brantley, The New York Times: "... as directed by Sean Mathias, with sturdy supporting performances by Billy Crudup and Shuler Hensley, these productions find the pure entertainment value in existential emptiness. I have never before heard American audiences respond to any production of Pinter or Beckett with such warm and embracing laughter...Now, if you'll allow me (and it will only sting a second), I'm going to offer one major caveat regarding two improbably pleasurable shows. Mr. Mathias's productions seldom give full value to the deep mortal chill of these plays, of the fraught dangers in Pinter's universe or the aching pathos within Beckett's. Ideally, you should leave "No Man's Land" and "Godot" with a shiver as well as a smile. These productions mostly stay, comfortably and tantalizingly, on the surface. But in doing so, they also bring out the beguiling polish and shimmer in Pinter and Beckett's language...Only the sourest theatergoers will begrudge themselves the joy that Mr. McKellen and Mr. Stewart derive and impart from embodying this contradiction. These shows are an irresistible celebration of two actors' love affairs with their scripts.
Elysa Gardner, USA Today: "As played by Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, Beckett's iconic hobos suggest two old vaudevillians, well past their prime but not incapable of recapturing that old magic... [in GODOT] the leading men are as haunting as they are amusing. McKellen's withered but still-mischievous Estragon watches as his companion's ludicrous faith is repeatedly tested. By the time the other duo makes its second and final appearance - the flamboyant bravado of Hensley's Pozzo now broken - the spryness of Stewart's Vladimir is fading to a sort of desperate defiance, inspiring a moving tenderness in his partner...this Land captures the mesmerizing, inextricable brutality and humor of Pinter's dialogue far more potently than the starry but stiff Betrayal running a block away. Both Land and Godot, in fact, prove that the most challenging and unsettling material can make for accessible, even buoyant, entertainment.