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#50Updates on Coast of Utopia site
Posted: 10/21/06 at 1:55am

I'm about to go to sleep, but wanted to post a few quick thoughts on tonights performance.

This is definitely a brilliant piece of theater. Though some parts (for me) were hard to follow due to the many many characters to keep track of and the history behind it all, the language is absolutely gorgeous and the acting is fabulous.

Billy Crudup stole the show as Vissarion Belinsky. He owned the stage every time he was on (which was a lot) and even got exit applause after two of his long monologues. Just fantastic.

Martha Plimpton was incredible as Varenka. I loved her in SHINING CITY last year in her small role, but in Act 1 of VOYAGE, she was really able to show that she is a fantastic actress. Such stage presence and excellent diction as well. It's hard to keep your eyes off of her when she's on stage.

Ethan Hawke as Michael Bakunin was very good. I kind of had to warm up to him becuase his voice seemed a little off this evening...did it seem kind of raspy to any of you? Or was he doing that in character? I liked him a lot more in Act 2, but still, he was very good.

Brian F. O'Byrne as Alexander Herzen was only in 2-3 scenes in Act 2 and did not have much to do, so I won't comment on him in VOYAGE. I'm sure he will have a much larger role in SHIPWRECK and SALVAGE.

David Manis did a great job filling in for Richard Easton...I couldn't tell at all that he was an understudy. In fact, the play ran so smoothly, I couldn't even tell it was a preview.

The sets are gorgeous. The set change for Act 2 actually got applause...my audience was really into it! The reason why the sets are so amazing is because of the lighting. For the most part, the sets are scrims in the background with a few tables and chairs and other props, but the lighting is some of the best I've seen on Broadway. I'm not sure how to describe it except most of this play is like looking at a work of art. Just beautiful.

It was a very fast three hours for me and I look forward to reading some of the suggested reading list from the playbill insert and seeing SHIPWRECK and SALVAGE over the next few months.
Updated On: 10/21/06 at 01:55 AM

#51Updates on Coast of Utopia site
Posted: 10/21/06 at 3:26am

Thanks for the reports. One question for people posting reviews - how do you feel about being quoted at the blog below?

Visit the Jennifer Ehle fan blog, currently obsessively tracking The Coast of Utopia news: press, blog and forum reviews, interviews with cast and crew, photos, Tonys buzz, etc.

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#52Updates on Coast of Utopia site
Posted: 10/21/06 at 9:48am

I saw the show as well last night. Just beautiful. I was sitting next to Veuve, and at intermission he asked me how I was liking and then the biggie "why?". For me, on a first viewing, it was a show that just evoked a sort of visceral response, and while I was totally swept up by the piece, I couldn't quite articulate why. I suppose that's a big part of why I was so taken by it. Stoppard's work is just so rich. There's so much to dig into. I can't wait to go back and re-read Voyage (though I really wish I could afford to go back and see it again sometime later in the run...don't think that's going to happen, as I expect it'll be pretty much sold out, without much hope for day-of rush seats...thanks to LCT for their wonderful StudenTix program though!!!)

I completely agree about Billy stealing the show. I'm pretty sure he's the only person to get applause at the end of a scene (actually, his big Act I monologue got some mid-scene, after one of his many "near exits").

Hawke was very good, but like WAT said, very hoarse. I wonder how he's going to make it through six months of this show if he's already this hoarse less than a week into previews! Though, I seem to remember the same concerns with his Hotspur in Henry IV and he made it through that run. Maybe his voice has just gotten that super-raspy quality over the last few years (a la Pacino of late) and he'll be fine...time will tell, I suppose. Oh, and the one little misstep (literally) that I noticed in this early preview...During an exit in Act II, after much ranting and raving (which he certainly does a hell of a lot of) Hawke slipped and fell flat on his ass. He recovered pretty well, with a half-chuckled, but his hat went flying, as did he! I noticed another little slip when he was making a similar exit a scene or two later. Was it a little slippery patch on stage? Need some better traction on those boots?? Look into it boys!

A few other random thoughts...The opening was just stunning. I won't ruin it for those who haven't seen it yet, but what a way to start the show out with a visual punch!

The lighting was gorgeous. It'll be interesting to see Shipwreck and Salvage, as there are seperate designers for each piece. I'm sure they'll all fit together seamlessly, but it would be an interesting thing to take note of, for those going to the marathons.

While I was sad not to see Easton (both because I enjoy his work, and for the terrible circumstances that caused his absence) Manis did a very impressive job. Again, like WAT said, you wouldn't really know he was an understudy; he filled into the role quite nicely.

Plimpton and Ehle were wonderful, though I wasn't as thrilled with Overbey and Purcell as Tatiana and Alexandra. I thought Overbey was kind of stiff and mannered...or something. I can't quite put my finger on it, but while she was fine, she didn't leave as strong an impression as Ehle and Plimpton, in particular.

Ugh! I suppose that's more than enough for now. I'll definitely be reading up for Shipwreck and Salvage...not because I feel I necessarily need to to follow the show, but because I'm genuinely interested in exploring the suggested reading and learning about the history and philosophy that inspired this work. I do feel like you can enjoy the play(s) going in cold, but the more you read, the more you'll see it open up and really breathe.

But when did New Hampshire become--Such a backward wasteland of seatbelt hating crazies?...I mean, only 40 people actually live there. The others are just visitors who come for the tax-free liquor and three inches of novelty coastline. John Hodgeman on The Daily Show (1-30-07)

#53Updates on Coast of Utopia site
Posted: 10/24/06 at 1:46pm

The LCT review now has all the articles up. Interesting reading.

Visit the Jennifer Ehle fan blog, currently obsessively tracking The Coast of Utopia news: press, blog and forum reviews, interviews with cast and crew, photos, Tonys buzz, etc.

#54Updates on Coast of Utopia site
Posted: 10/24/06 at 8:28pm

Here's the link for the Lincoln Center Theater Review:


"What a story........ everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end." -- Birdie [http://margochanning.broadwayworld.com/] "The Devil Be Hittin' Me" -- Whitney



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