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Review Roundup: MAN AND BOY


Roundabout Theatre Company is presenting three-time Tony Award® winner Frank Langella as "Gregor Antonescu" in Terence Rattigan's drama Man and Boy, directed by Maria Aitken. Man and Boy began previews on September 9th and opened officially last night, October 9th, 2011 at the American Airlines Theatre on Broadway. 

In Man and Boy, at the height of the Great Depression, ruthless financier Gregor Antonescu's (Langella) business is dangerously close to crumbling. In order to escape the wolves at his door, Gregor tracks down his estranged son Basil in the hopes of using his Greenwich Village apartment as a base to make a company-saving deal. Can this reunion help them reconcile? Or will this corrupt father use his only son as a pawn in one last power play? Man and Boy is a gripping story about family, success and what we're willing to sacrifice for both.

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Ben Brantley, NY Times: But the main raison d'être of this production - and the one compelling reason to see it - is the occasion it gives its star to explore the pathology of power. Few performers are as good as Mr. Langella at using an actor's instinctive narcissism to capture the egomania that fuels (and sometimes topples) the wildly successful.

Keith Staskiewicz, Entertainment Weekly: This unhealthy father-son dynamic should make for excellent theater, but strangely - and despite what the play's title might suggest - these two characters' relationship feels underdeveloped. Basil awkwardly vacillates between petulant rejection of his father and pure adulation. Driver can't come close to matching his costar's stage presence and the struggle ends up lopsided, with Basil's accuastory speech to his father at the end of the first act hitting with all of the force of overcooked spaghetti.

Elysa Gardner, USA Today: It's ultimately Langella's show, though. His Gregor comes on as icy-smooth as Dracula. But as his fortunes threaten to crumble, the actor lets that fa?ade dissolve, subtly and masterfully. This mogul is a complicated man who never appears entirely defeated.
"Never, in the future, let the truth make you cry," Gregor tells Basil in a particularly dark moment. It's a bit of practical advice that seems as timely as ever at this juncture.

Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News: We've reasonably come to expect dramatic fireworks when Frank Langella acts on Broadway. But even a triple Tony-winning powerhouse can't make damp gunpowder flash and ignite. And "Man and Boy" - a melodrama of high finance and low morals - is packed with the stuff.

Linda Winer, Newsday: The critical relationship between father and son strains for Ibsenesque revelation. In lieu of anything near that, we get to watch Langella demonstrate how much a master can communicate with the weary flick of a cigarette and deliver sophisticated, horrifying lines as if words actually leave their tastes in his mouth. Dare you to take your eyes off him.

Fern Siegel, Huffington Post: Mostly, the production is an opportunity to see strong dramatic performances. This year, the centenary of the British playwright's birth is being marked both here and in England. His work was popular post-war -- The Winslow Boy, The Deep Blue Sea -- but he fell from grace in the late 1950s.

Michael Musto, Village Voice: It's pretty racy stuff--the man will stop at nothing, even gay baiting, while admitting "Love is a commodity I can't afford"--and the play's financial shenanigans seem very current in the age of Bernie Madoff, especially when you consider the suicide of Madoff's son. Despite all that, for a lot of Act One, Man and Boy comes off stuffy and talky.

Jeremy Gerard, Business Week: "Man and Boy" isn't first-rate Rattigan along the lines of "The Browning Version" and "The Winslow Boy." But it's first- class entertainment, especially in our post-Madoff era. The notion that one man's cunning criminal behavior can have such far-reaching consequences not only for the wealthy, but for the recipients of his largesse, seems thoroughly credible. Langella made a similarly devastating case for Richard M. Nixon in "Frost/Nixon." He's every bit as riveting here.

Michael Sommers, NJ Newsroom: Sure, Roundabout Theatre Company's "Man and Boy" reviVal May be dismissed as merely so much cheese and ham by some viewers, but I find it yummy. Anyone with a taste for old-fashioned Broadway theatrics richly furnished will enjoy the production that opened Sunday at American Airlines Theatre.

Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: Zach Grenier and especially Michael Siberry, terrific as Antonescu's shifty confidant, give excellent support, but there are too many stretches when Langella is left to fend for himself. Too bad: "Man and Boy" isn't a great play, but with equal sparring partners, it could have been a very good show.

Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: What emerges is a somewhat clunky and sometimes limp seven-character play about the complicated relationship between fathers and sons that gets a surge of electricity whenever Frank Langella - at his fussy, oily best - appears. Yet so strongly does the actor loom that he threatens to destabilize the production.

Robert Feldberg, The Bergen Record: The fall theater season has barely started, and, already, a strong candidate for worst show of the year has emerged. "Man and Boy" is a second-rate production of a third-rate play. It flopped, in London and on Broadway, when it debuted in 1963; and bad enough should have been left alone. The English playwright Terence Rattigan was past his prime when he wrote this clunky melodrama, and this inane production, directed by Maria Aitken, only emphasizes its emptiness - even the great Frank Langella delivers a shallow, mannered performance.

David Cote, Time Out NY: It's hard to imagine a more commanding and forceful actor in the city. Langella is such a master manipulator of space and time, it's hard to believe that his character is destined for a semitragic fall. English director Maria Aitken ("The 39 Steps") deserves full credit for taking a solid cast and keeping them all on the same page. Under her steady gaze Man and Boy clips along, a cynical tale of fathers, sons and human bonds sold for profit. Adam Driver continues to impress.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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