Review Roundup: Tracy Letts' LINDA VISTA Opens On Broadway - See What The Critics Are Saying!
Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Tracy Letts (August: Osage County) returns to Broadway this season with Linda Vista, a brutally comedic look at Wheeler, a 50-year-old divorcee in the throes of a mid-life spiral.
Just out of his ex-wife's garage and into a place of his own, Wheeler starts on a path toward self-discovery-navigating blind dates, old friends, and new love. Full of opinions, yet short on self-examination, Wheeler must reconcile the man he has become with the man he wants to be.
Directed by Dexter Bullard, the production will feature Ian Barford (Wheeler), Sally Murphy (Margaret), Caroline Neff (Anita), Chantal Thuy (Minnie), Jim True-Frost (Paul), Cora Vander Broek (Jules) and Troy West (Michael).
Let's see what the critics has to say!
Ben Brantley, The New York Times: The everyday poison known as toxic masculinity becomes dangerously easy to swallow in "Linda Vista," Tracy Letts's inspired, ruthless take on the classic midlife-crisis comedy. In the sunny opening scenes of this very funny, equally unsettling Steppenwolf Theater production - which opened on Thursday at the Hayes Theater - you'll probably feel like cozying up to that sheepish, disheveled big guy who rules the stage with his outspoken wit.
Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld: If there ever was a demand for greater representation on Broadway stages for straight, single, cisgender white guys in their 50s who are insensitive to the women they manage to date and have sex with, Tracy Letts' Linda Vista would surely fill the void. A sort of 21st Century toxic male take on Paddy Chayefsky's classic "Marty", Letts' new one has its funny moments, and maybe even a bit of poignancy here and there, but is it worth spending nearly three hours watching some full-of-himself average lug continually screw up his romantic opportunities?
Greg Evans, Deadline: He can't, of course, and his awakening is no less rude for being expected. Letts, his director and his cast show no mercy on characters whose lurking selfishness and cruelty would, in any Neil Simon comedy, give way to repentance and forgiveness. Linda Vista doesn't let anyone off the hook that easily, and if there's hope to be had, it won't come cheap.
Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: Although it sags a bit in places, it coheres in the end, and Barford and Letts give Wheeler precisely the right amount of rot. The play sees right through this guy, and the view behind him isn't pretty.
Robert Hofler, The Wrap: The creep is a middle-aged guy named Dick Wheeler, and the role fits Ian Barford like a well-used boxing glove. He immediately seduces with his wild, irreverent sense of humor, and Letts wraps him up with cutting barbs. "Linda Vista" is one of those boulevard comedies that you don't see on Broadway anymore. Television made them obsolete, and in its opening scenes, "Linda Vista" plays like a great TV pilot.
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: Tracy Letts, the profusely gifted playwright who also happens to be a brilliant actor, or vice versa, is working in an elevated sitcom mode as well as a revealing personal vein in Linda Vista. The self-inflicted woes of a middle-aged white man, victim of his own inebriating cocktail of testosterone and narcissism, might seem a tone-deaf subject for character study in our current moment of masculinity vivisected and reconstructed. But don't let the slick barrage of one-liners deceive you into thinking there's no room here for bruising self-examination and perhaps even tentative growth.
Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: He's got one foot in the movies of Woody Allen: a lovable loser with whom younger women mysteriously want to sleep. He's got a big toe in "High Fidelity," resembling Rob Gordon in his misanthropic attempts to fight off the cheap mass culture that now assaults his delicate aesthetic sensibilities from the age of vinyl. And there's a good bit of the Howard Beale about him, except that no one gives two shakes of a lamb's tail about his being mad as hell, even if he can't take it anymore.
Joe Dziemianowicz, Theater News Online: Barford, uninhibited and honest, is perfectly cast and leads a uniformly very fine ensemble in this Steppenwolf production presented on Broadway by Second Stage. Throughout the nearly three-hour show, songs by Steely Dan such as Deacon Blues blare. Fitting, since it's the soundtrack of Wheeler's youth, and the band knows its way around less-than-likable guys.
Steven Suskin, New York Stage Review: Tracy Letts, well known in these parts for his Pulitzer Prize-winning August: Osage County and as a Tony Award-winning actor (in plays including the 2012 revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), is back at his keyboard, and the results are superb. While his past oeuvre has not been noted for laughs-this is the man who wrote Killer Joe and Bug, after all-time and tide have caught up with the playwright, who battles his own fifty-year mark with wild comic lances thrust at life's annoyances, only to have these darts more or less boomerang. The results are knowing, prickly, and altogether hilarious.
Melissa Rose Bernardo, New York Stage Review: Usually a messed-up central character takes some sort of journey toward redemption in a play; he gets better. But in this case, Wheeler acknowledges he's a wreck and actually gets worse as time goes on. (Act 2 Wheeler, fair warning, is a real A-hole.) But actually...staggeringly realistic.
Roma Torre, NY1: "Linda Vista" turns out to be an engaging, if flawed, portrait of a modern day everyman who's incredibly smart on the one hand while behaving so inexplicably dumb on the other. The bones of this play are all there, but like the 50-year-old Wheeler, the body could use some tightening.