Page: 1

Retreat from Moscow (spoilerS)

cmleidi
Broadway Star
joined:9/27/03
Broadway Star
joined:
9/27/03
Retreat from Moscow (spoilerS)#0
Posted: 10/13/03 at 1:14pm
Eileen Atkins and Ben Chaplin are aces. John Lithgow is a bit of a problem. I never felt that he knew much about his character which really isn't his fault, but it's the least interesting character of the three. Hopefully, by the opening, he will have found the character. I also couldn't tell if he were trying an accent because most of the time he spoke in his regular voice, but on occasion, he would attempt a British pronounciation of certain words. Either way, he should not attempt an accent.

The play is fine, but it never grabbed me. One problem is that Eileen Atkins' character is such a shrew that you applaud Lithgow's character for leaving her. Yet Lithgow's character is such a coward that I never cared whether he found happiness or not. There's a distance from the characters that is distracting. There's a lack of warmth and intensity. The play is very clinical and detailed, but it lacks much emotion.

One of the strengths of the play is the humor. There are some laugh out loud moments in the play, and I wish the playwright had made the play more a biting comedy and less a somber treatise about marriage, loss, etc. Eileen Atkins sure knows how to deliver a line for maximum benefit, and there's a bit with a dog that brought down the house.

Ben Chaplin's character is a bit of a mystery, and the people around me summised that he were gay which may explain the weird (but humorous) introduction of Atkins' character working at an AIDS hotline. She tells her son that her coworkers believe that he is gay, and he replies that he is not. The people around me didn't buy it, and it did feel like this scene was only included to address the issue. A shame really because it's also one of the funniest.

The music between scenes is annoying as hell.

All in all, it's a solid effort that could have been much better.
macbeth Profile Photomacbeth Profile Photo
macbeth
Leading Actor
joined:5/7/03
Leading Actor
joined:
5/7/03
re: Retreat from Moscow (spoilerS)#1
Posted: 10/13/03 at 3:15pm
I too was surprised by John Lithgow seemingly miscast for one of the first times in his acting career. I think his accent will settle by opening though. I'm going back after opening though so it'll be interesting to see how it evolves.
cmleidi
Broadway Star
joined:9/27/03
Broadway Star
joined:
9/27/03
re: re: Retreat from Moscow (spoilerS)#2
Posted: 10/13/03 at 9:08pm
I was surprised by Lithgow's performance, but part of the blame must rest on the playwright. Lithgow's role is just not very interesting, In fact, it could be eliminated altogether, and the play could rest on the shoulders of Atkins and Chaplin.
JO125
Featured Actor
joined:7/16/03
Featured Actor
joined:
7/16/03
re: re: re: Retreat from Moscow (spoilerS)#3
Posted: 10/13/03 at 9:24pm
Eileen Atkins was wonderful. I thought it was a nice, quietly intense play, but it didn't keep me riveted. I agree about the various moments of levity, such as the dog scene.
Alex the Cat Profile PhotoAlex the Cat Profile Photo
Alex the Cat
Understudy
joined:7/10/03
Understudy
joined:
7/10/03
I saw this on Saturday, and it was definitely better than I expected- I was pleasantly surprised. I don't know if Lithgow's been working on his accent, but he seemed to do British quite well at this performance, and overall the play was very well done. I found that it gradually got more intense- in the beginning there was some humor and there were some big laughs- but gradually the audience got sucked into the reality of what was happening in the characters' lives. I think Lithgow's character is meant to seem detached from reality in the beginning- he doesn't realize that he's living his life as someone else's idea of who he should be, so he distances himself from his wife and son, and even from himself. He starts to come alive in the second act after meeting someone new and starting to feel comfortable in his own skin for the first time in years. There were quite a few people in the audience in tears.

I didn't really get Ben Chaplin's character, however- I too thought that he was gay... I didn't feel that he showed why he was so unhappy. The ending I didn't care for at all- very odd I thought, with Chaplin's character addressing the audience and then a sudden ending which was rather anti-climactic.

Other than that, a good play I thought... minor problems but very well done.
thirdrowcenter Profile Photothirdrowcenter Profile Photo
thirdrowcenter
Broadway Legend
joined:5/16/03
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/16/03
I saw Retreat From Moscow today and wanted to see what others thought about the play. Alex The Cat I agree with your synopsis.
I too, had a problem with the ending but I really enjoyed the show. Eileen Atkins was wonderful as a woman in an empty 33 year marriage. Ben Chaplin was good in this conflicted role.
John Lithgow's character didn't let me care about him. Every person in the audience could relate to one of the characters in the play, imo.
Updated On: 11/6/03 at 09:04 PM