Review Roundup: Matthew Broderick Stars in THE CLOSET at Williamstown Theatre Festival
Tony Award winner, Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Matthew Broderick stars in this world premiere comedy by Douglas Carter Beane, inspired by Le Placard, the French comedy by Academy Award nominee Francis Veber.
Martin O'Reilly (Broderick) is stuck in Scranton in a dead-end job, his marriage is over, and his son won't return his calls. His only friend is his eternally optimistic co-worker (Tony nominee Jessica Hecht), who can't bake enough muffins to stave off her romantic longings.
When a stranger (Tony nominee Brooks Ashmanskas) sashays into their world, he drags Martin -- and everyone around him -- out of their respective closets. Helmed by Mark Brokaw, this contemporary satire breaks the chains of political correctness and celebrates the possibility of finding authenticity, love (and show tunes) in unexpected places.
Let's see what the critics had to say!
Don Aucoin, The Boston Globe: Though it's obviously coming from the opposite end of the political spectrum, "The Closet' turns back the clock in its own way. While it's a world premiere at Williamstown Theatre Festival and is set in the present day, an old-fashioned, self-consciously "naughty' vibe pervades "The Closet,' making it feel curiously dated at times. There are unwelcome echoes of "Three's Company' in the way we are asked to believe that a case of mistaken homosexuality would unleash pandemonium in 2018.
Katherine Abbott, The Berkshire Eagle: Political correctness gives way to honesty, Brokaw said. But not without care. Beane is advocating for both honesty and thought. Exuberance and satire on sensitivity exercises overflow - and they look at what it means to come face to face with someone unfamiliar, or to think differently about someone familiar.
Chris Rohman, Valley Advocate: The seamless ensemble, under Mark Brokaw's spirited direction, are hilarious and perfectly cast. As Ronnie, Brooks Ashmanskas, owner of a complete vocabulary of camp moves and mannerisms, employs them all, shall we say, fabulously. Broderick is the marquee name, but he mostly plays, um, straight man to the others' quirkier characters. He does it amusingly and affectingly, at first baffled, then embracing the subterfuge with a dorky enthusiasm, learning to "act gay" under Ronnie's flamboyant tutelage.
J. Peter Bergmann, The Berkshire Edge: Matthew Broderick plays Martin. He is quite wonderful as the schlemiel who is taken in by everyone and every incident until he finally takes a hand in his own fate. Broderick plays this sort of role with a dry, droll delivery and is as believable as anyone could be caught in such a delicate dilemma.
Alexander Stevens, The Milford Daily News: But watching "The Closet" serves as a reminder that writing a light comedy doesn't absolve the playwright from operating within believable boundaries. The play hits one of its false notes with the relationship between Martin and his son, Jack (Ben Ahlers), who transforms from venomous to loving in a way that never feels authentic.
Steve Barnes, Albany Times Union: "The Closet" asks us to believe much and excuse even more to accept the humor, which, as funny as the lines often are, feels like it's from another era. (The original screenplay is 17 years old, an eternity in the politics of sexuality, sexual identity and social acceptance.) Beane is too shrewd not to make it seem contemporary on the surface, but ultimately "The Closet" is more regressive than transgressive.
Jeffrey Borak, The Berkshire Eagle: Martin O'Reilly's life is falling apart. As played by Matthew Broderick in the world premiere of Douglas Carter Beane's arch, self-conscious farce, "The Closet" - which officially opened over the weekend at Williamstown Theatre Festival's Main Stage - he is a virtual bystander to his life.