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Review Roundup: THE YOUNG MAN FROM ATLANTA at Signature Theatre - What Did the Critics Think?

Review Roundup: THE YOUNG MAN FROM ATLANTA at Signature Theatre - What Did the Critics Think?

The Young Man from Atlanta is the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by two-time Academy Award winner and former Signature Residency One Playwright Horton Foote, directed by Michael Wilson. Tickets are on sale now for the production, which officially opened on Sunday, November 24th in The Irene Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center.

The cast for The Young Man From Atlanta includes Devon Abner (Signature's The Orphans' Home Cycle and The Trip to Bountiful) as Ted Cleveland Jr., Dan Bittner (Brittany Runs a Marathon) as Tom Jackson, Pat Bowie (Signature's The Orphans' Home Cycle) as Etta Doris, Kristine Nielsen (Signature's What I Did Last Summer) as Lily Dale, Jon Orsini (Signature's Incident at Vichy) as Carson, Stephen Payne as Pete Davenport, and Aidan Quinn (CBS' "Elementary") as Will Kidder.

Let's see what the critics are saying...


Ben Brantley, New York Times: In the second act, though, the reticence pays off, as that stealthy Horton Foote magic asserts itself anew. The revelations of plot make way for the bigger revelation that the complacent, well-heeled Will and Lily Dale are defenseless against life's universal solitude. The emotional floodgates collapse, and each has a devastating, fully earned moment of breakdown and release.

Robert Hofler, The Wrap: Fortunately, melodrama thrives under capitalism gone amok, and "The Young Man From Atlanta" is ultimately an effective indictment of it. A son is blackmailed, a husband is fired, a wife is bamboozled by a virtual stranger from Atlanta. Money can make an American family go round and round, to paraphrase Kander and Ebb, and it can also bring them down.

Jesse Oxfeld, New York Stage Review: The play is directed by Michael Wilson, a frequent Foote interpreter, who presents a solid, straightforward production. The performances are equally solid and straightforward, livened somewhat by Nielsen's restrained kookiness. The costumes, by Van Broughton Ramsey, are appropriately, straightforwardly, midcentury Texan, too. There are no surprises, except perhaps from Jeff Cowie's set, an elegant, high-1950s living room, low and long, with a wall of windows and curtains always being opened and closed.

James Wilson, Talkin' Broadway: With direction by Michael Wilson, the cast is uniformly strong, and they keep the audience guessing about the uncomfortable truths. Answers about Bill's death, the relationship between Bill and Randy, and the motives of Randy are constantly shifting. Unlike Foote's best plays, however, which offer quieter ruminations of characters facing a transforming zeitgeist, The Young Man from Atlanta feels somewhat mechanical. The exposition is a bit heavy handed, and the appearance of particular characters (including a former maid, portrayed by the excellent Pat Bowie, as well as the arrival of an acquaintance of Bill and Randy) rings as rather too coincidental. Still, the performances express the underlying sadness, trepidation, and anxiousness associated with living in a capricious universe.

Joe Dziemianowicz, Theater News Online: Horton Foote's laureled family drama set in 1950 Houston, The Young Man From Atlanta, leaves you wanting - and wondering. This won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize? Yes, it did. Tracing the fallout of an apparent suicide, secrets and lies, and belt-tightening times, the saga clunks along more than it clicks. Foote's folksy plainspokenness tolls, and the quietly eloquent grace notes that tug you in are scarce. That's not the fault of director Michael Wilson, who knows his way around this author, but this stiff and at times unwieldy staging is.

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