Review Roundup: Old Vic's OTHER DESERT CITIES
The UK premiere of Jon Robin Baitz's acclaimed play, Other Desert Cities, just opened at The Old Vic on Monday 24 March with previews from Thursday 13 March. Directed by Lindsay Posner, the new production stars Sinead Cusack, Peter Egan, Clare Higgins, Daniel Lapaine and Martha Plimpton.
Other Desert Cities is the first play in a new season of productions which will be presented in-the-round at The Old Vic. Other Desert Cities is a fierce and funny drama deftly exploring family politics, love, loss and redemption.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Charles Spencer, Telegraph: Lindsay Posner's impeccably judged production, staged in the round and sleekly designed by Robert Innes-Hopkins, finds all the drama's strengths with the help of a terrific cast. The American actress Martha Plimpton is superb as the troubled daughter, capturing all the character's anguish and grief as well as the writer's fierce need to tell the truth whatever the personal cost. Sinéad Cusack plays the mother with an icy clarity and ferocious control that put me in mind of Nancy Reagan, while Peter Egan is deeply moving as the grieving father appalled by what his beloved daughter is proposing to do. This is a beautifully crafted and continually absorbing play that proves much richer than the hatchet job on American Republicans that it initially seems to be.
Paul Taylor, Independent: "Honey, this Pucci is a lot more real than your Pat Buckley shtick," declares Clare Higgins's sparky, wise-cracking Silda who slops around in garish, bargain-rack prints. But by the end of Baitz's clever, even-handed play, this unreconstructed liberal is looking pretty compromised and inauthentic too. A great start to the in-the-round season.
Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard: Cusack, full of icy rationality and aversion to 'lefties whining' and Plimpton, who cleverly deploys Brooke's depressive tendencies as a get-out-of-jail free card, both give magnificent performances; Clare Higgins slyly steals scenes as an alcoholic aunt. In fact, come an unlikely second half reveal, they increasingly soar above the material they are given.
Dominic Maxwell, The Times: This buried-secret family drama by Jon Robin Baitz went down so well in New York in 2011 that it was shortlisted for a Pulitzer prize. Here, despite a brilliant cast led by Sinéad Cusack and Martha Plimpton, it comes across as a moderate play fancying itself as a great one. While I was intrigued by Baitz's wealthy Wyeth clan at the outset, I was hard pushed to care which way their lives would go in this traumatic evening for them.
Michael Coveney, Whatsonstage: The title of Jon Robin Baitz's exceptionally well-written and historically resonant domestic dust-up in Palm Springs is a road sign as you leave the place, but also a hint of the war elsewhere in Iraq. The year is 2004, slap bang in the middle of the second George Bush presidency, but the big family secret harks back to the war in Vietnam, when the eldest son joined up, dropped out and disappeared after a fatal incident in a recruitment centre.