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Review Roundup: Lincoln Center Theater's DOMESTICATED


DOMESTICATED opened tonight, November 4, at the Lincoln Center Theater. The new play by Bruce Norris, directed by Anna D. Shapiro, features Vanessa Aspillaga, Mia Barron, Robin De Jesus, Jeff Goldblum, Lizbeth MacKay, Emily Meade, Laurie Metcalf, Mary Beth Peil, Karen Pittman, Aleque Reid and Misha Seo.

DOMESTICATED is about politics and gender involving a husband and wife (played by Jeff Goldblum and Laurie Metcalf) whose marriage is upended when they become embroiled in a scandal.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: You, dear theatergoer, probably will laugh, at least fitfully, and listen, perhaps fitfully, too, as you watch "Domesticated," which features fiery performances from Jeff Goldblum as a disgraced politician and Laurie Metcalf as the wife he done wrong. If Mr. Norris has his way, you'll gasp, too, thinking, "I can't believe they just said that." Some of you, though, may grimace wearily and say to yourself, "I've sure heard this one before."...In "Domesticated," though, you grasp the basic argument so early that you start to feel that the play doesn't really develop as it goes along; it just gets louder. Mr. Norris hasn't created characters as much as antithetical positions, which in turn are stripped down to a set of inalterable physical impulses. If we tune out as they rant on and on, it isn't because we're afraid to listen to the truth; it's because they keep saying the same thing.

Marilyn Stasio, Variety: "Domesticated" is the kind of play that big subscription houses are always on the hunt for: An entertaining domestic drama on a stimulating topic (the breakup of a marriage under scandalous circumstances), written by a reliable scribe (Bruce Norris, Pulitzer and Tony-winning author of "Clybourne Park"), performed by top-drawer thesps (Jeff Goldblum and Laurie Metcalf), and guaranteed to give auds something to talk (argue?) about on the drive home. In short, the kind of play you might just have to commission, which is just what Lincoln Center Theater did.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: What Bruce Norris did for prickly attitudes surrounding race in his Pulitzer- and Tony-winning Clybourne Park, the playwright does for similarly irreconcilable issues of gender politics inDomesticated. While not as incisive or ingeniously structured as the earlier work, this is a tart, provocative comedy of the most corrosive kind, driven by scathingly funny dialogue. Anna D. Shapiro's super-streamlined production for Lincoln Center Theater boasts a terrific cast, with a superbly matched Jeff Goldblum and Laurie Metcalf facing off as the warring husband and wife under a sticky spotlight.

Robert Kahn, NBC New York: Playwright Bruce Norris cast a jaundiced eye on race and class in his Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning "Clybourne Park." With"Domesticated" a meaty new drama, he sifts through equally fertile soil -- gender and sexuality -- with nearly as satisfying results...Though Bill's behavior spurs the action -- Goldblum is our go-to-guy for playing angsty, overprivileged, misogynistic men -- it's Metcalf who does the heavy dramatic lifting, channeling much the same persona she did in "The Other Place." Her Judy is detached, frenetic and stressed to the point of developing TMJ. Can there possibly be a Hillary-esque rebound on her horizon?

Linda Winer, Newsday: With power actors Jeff Goldblum and Laurie Metcalf as power couple Bill and Judy, Norris sculpts a mercilessly amusing first act that plays at satisfying our inevitable voyeuristic curiosity...In the second act, which I suspect will disappoint theatergoers enjoying the thrill of easy-target revenge, Norris knots up his intentions with messier, far more contentious ambiguities about love, monogamy and the bigotry of some gender politics...Goldblum's Bill is both magnificently unlikeable and understandable. Metcalf's Judy, a compassionate and opportunistic socialite in beige folds of silk, surely has the saddest, most expressive dimples in the theater.

Jesse Green, Vulture: Make no mistake: This latest provocation from the author of the Pulitzer prize-winning Clybourne Park is more than a gloss on Eliot and Silda Spitzer, the most obvious of many possible models for his Bill and Judy Pulver. Norris is in it for something much bigger than a takedown of political hypocrisy...What happens to Bill and Judy - Jeff Goldblum and Laurie Metcalf, in brilliant, unimpeachable performances - is both hilarious and awful...Certainly the director, Anna D. Shapiro, who also directed Clybourne Park, has staged the play with enormous punch.

David Finkle, The Huffington Post: Led by Metcalf and Goldblum...the Domesticated ensemble is expert. Not mentioned so far is Vanessa Aspillaga, who, as Pulver retainer Pilar, gets one of the play's biggest yuks with a simple "Uh-oh." She's fine in five other diverse roles. Robin De Jesus is a bar patron who's among the many figures arguing imbalanced man-woman relationships, which is another of the themes Norris energetically airs. By the way, Piel, who also appears as Bill's sees-no-wrong-in-son mother, shows up regularly in a similar role on CBS's The Good Wife. So okay, Domesticated may not be the first to take on the Hilary-Silda-Huma condition, but for the most part, Norris gazes long and hard at it.

Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly: Norris, whose Clybourne Park was a Pulitzer and Tony-winning update of A Raisin in the Sun that explored the tricky politics of contemporary American race relations, is not content with exploring the raw edges of one political marriage in the aftermath of scandal. He strives to make a larger point about modern gender relations and the utility (and possibility) of male monogamy. But despite Anna D. Shapiro's crisp, well-paced direction, Domesticated is better on caustic humor and verbal one-upmanship than real insight or character development. Metcalf comes the closest to creating a woman with genuine shades of hurt beneath the brittle exterior wit. But while the theater consistently rings with laughter, the show too seldom rings true. B

Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News: Plays as caustic as "Domesticated" ought to come with a warning label: Will cause burns. Everybody in this sex-charged saga walks away with second-degree blisters or worse in this blunt and blackly hilarious button-pusher by Bruce Norris.

Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: For his new play, "Domesticated," Norris set another big target in his crosshairs: the war between the sexes - and here, it goes nuclear. But while the show is well-crafted and often bitterly funny, it also lacks the even-handed heart that tempered "Clybourne Park."

David Cote, TimeOut NY: This being a Norris satire (sleekly staged by Anna D. Shapiro), none of the characters is a saint or a reliable moralizer, but they're also not cardboard figures to be mowed down. Gender scripts are recited, only to be deftly subverted. Whether you view Bill as typical dude, sexual deviant or prime specimen of Homo emasculati, Norris assures us: In the end, everyone gets fucked.

Robert Hofler, The Wrap: Going to the theater can often seem like an exercise in déjà vu: There are lots of revivals, too many plays are pale imitations of classics, and most musicals are based on movies from 20 or 30 years ago. Norris is that rare playwright who's totally up-to-date - with his Pulitzer Prize-winning "Clybourne Park," the more recent "A Parallelogram," and now "Domesticated." His latest opens with one of those all-too-common news conferences in which a disgraced politician is having to resign from office over some sex scandal while his faithful wife stands by in stoic, pained silence.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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