Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review - To Be Or Not To Be: Highly Questionable

Start with a wonderful dark comedy from 1942, director Ernst Lubitsch's To Be Or Not To Be, which starred Jack Benny and Carol Lombard as the married, spotlight-hogging stars of a theatre troupe in Nazi occupied Warsaw who wind up using their acting skills to play a part in the Polish resistance,...

...have most of the humor, all of the pathos and everything that's interesting about the screenplay by Lubitsch and Edwin Justus Mayer (story by Melchior Lengyel) removed by playwright Nick Whitby,...

...and, while we're at it, give no billing the film's creators,...

...leave a very capable pair of comic stars (David Rasche and Jan Maxwell) and a cast full of dependable stage actors (including Peter Benson, Steve Kazee, Michael McCarty, Rocco Sisto and Kristine Nielsen) doing what they can with the skeletal remains of the story and Casey Nicholaw's static direction,...

...give the film's most famous comic moment - the moment the picture is named after, for goodness sake - no build-up and race through the thing in order to guarantee no chance of a decent laugh,...

...include too many quick crossover scenes where the actors seem to be racing to get their lines out while competing for stage space with a swiftly moving curtain,...

...project historical film footage on said curtain, which is too pleated to show anything clearly...

...and that's pretty much what we have inside the newly named Samuel J. Friedman Theatre these days.

I never thought I'd ever use these three words in a theatre review:

See the movie.


Related Articles

From This Author Kristin Salaky