Weller Martin and Fonsia Dorsey, residents of a modest retirement home and the sole characters in D. L. Coburn's 1976 play, "The Gin Game," have withdrawn from the world, willingly or not, and await the inevitable end with minimal protest. By contrast, James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson, who are playing these roles in the excellent Broadway revival of Mr. Coburn's flinty comedy, still seem to be in their glowing prime, actors with long and distinguished careers behind them who nevertheless keep seeking further heights to scale...Mr. Coburn's play cannot exactly be called an Everest of contemporary drama. Still, it proves a sturdy, humming vehicle, its gentle comedy undergirded by dark emotional coloring...Mr. Jones and Ms. Tyson draw out all its nuances, as Weller and Fonsia bicker and make nice over a card table. These two superlative performers establish beyond doubt, if we needed any reminding, that great talent is ageless and ever-rewarding.
The Gin Game on Broadway Reviews
Reviews of The Gin Game on Broadway. See what all the critics had and read all the reviews for The Gin Game including the New York Times and More...
From: New York Times | By: Charles Isherwood | Date: 10/14/2015
From: Associated Press | By: Mark Kennedy | Date: 10/14/2015
One thing you should probably not bet against at "The Gin Game" on Broadway is the little old lady onstage who seems to have supernatural luck with cards. Another is the two-person cast, James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson...The handsome and beautifully acted revival of D.L. Coburn's Pulitzer Prize-winning play...about two lonely, alienated nursing home residents is directed by Leonard Foglia, who has put an emphasis on the play's humor. That makes for an enjoyable evening but also makes the come-out-of-nowhere ending a gut-wrencher...Jones curses up a storm, pushes for faster games and slaps the cards down on the table in hopes of winning just a single hand. Tyson plays her little old lady with a stutter-step and tentativeness to her gait, but a mind sharp and stinging. There's a girlish glee that comes over her as each new round ends with her victory. Watching them together is a sheer honor.
From: Variety | By: Marilyn Stasio | Date: 10/14/2015
...this two-hander really is a slip of a thing, elevated to dramatic art by captivating Broadway performances from two of the most enchanting actors you'd ever hope to see on the same stage...the real name of this game is "Let's Pretend," and Fonsia and Weller are doing a brilliant job of pretending that they are still alive and that they still matter -- if not to society, then to each other...Like the principals in any other romantic comedy, the stars handle this relationship with delicacy, restraint, and great wit -- until the supposedly untutored Fonsia starts winning big-time. Both stars play to their strengths in Leonard Foglia's beautifully paced production. Jones makes wonderful use of Weller's superior size and strength to bully and bluster his way through every contested hand, while Tyson's priceless skills in the gentle art of passive aggression make the oh-so-delicate Fonsia a fierce and formidable opponent.
From: Hollywood Reporter | By: David Rooney | Date: 10/14/2015
Foglia leans heavily on the humor in The Gin Game, perhaps dimming some of the more emotionally affecting notes and making the shift into sobering home truths and self-recriminations somewhat abrupt...What keeps the slender piece engaging is the delicate dance between Jones and Tyson, as she gets repeatedly scared off by his bluster and then is coaxed back, following an apology, for a couple more hands of gin. Despite being a little hunched with age, Weller remains a fearsome bear of a man in Jones' well-honed characterization, using his thunderous basso voice to stifle any uncomfortable small talk or implied criticism...Tyson is tiny and birdlike, affecting a butter-wouldn't-melt innocence and a vise-like handbag grip...But this sweet, shuffling figure turns out to be quite passive-aggressive, revealing her barely disguised glee each time she humiliates Weller by piercing his masculine pride.
From: Newsday | By: Linda Winer | Date: 10/14/2015
The multi-award-winning virtuosos, who have worked together at least five other times, manage to play off the intimate rhythms of one another while still making us believe that their characters begin as strangers...Directed with leisurely sensitivity by Leonard Foglia, the production lets the balance of powers shift and flow through the games of gin that Coburn uses as a device to weave the characters' bond. Tyson, in fuzzy light brown curls and an omnipresent handbag, has a simplicity that makes everything look easy. Jones, mostly in old windbreakers and a scowl, uses a showy technique to suggest how hard the volatile Weller works to hide his own isolation. Both are estranged from their families and, after a while, we start to understand why.
James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson are outstanding in four-star revival of ‘The Gin Game’ on Broadway
From: NY Daily News | By: Joe Dziemianowicz | Date: 10/14/2015
There are six aces in the bang-up Broadway revival of "The Gin Game." Four of them are in deck of cards used in the play. The other two are Cicely Tyson and James Earl Jones, stage vets whose performances are so natural and thoughtful that it's like watching a couple of seniors eking out their lives, not actors filling out roles...It's not exactly subtle...But the play is satisfying for its own element of surprise. It's not a sunny one-dimensional portrait of codgers in their twilight. The story doesn't shy from harsh truths about getting old and get increasingly dark as Weller's short fuse and instability seals his fate. Under Leonard Foglia's direction, Tyson and Jones hit all the right notes of charming, amusing, ornery and scary.
From: amNY | By: Matt Windman | Date: 10/14/2015
Although it's hard to believe that it deserved a Pulitzer Prize, "The Gin Game" is a nice little play about an unlikely friendship, and Leonard Foglia's revival is generally pleasant. Showing strong chemistry, Jones and Tyson make fine sparring partners. With pitch-perfect delivery, Jones digs into every line with fervor, booming bombast and an endearingly cranky spirit, while Tyson has a warm presence and navigates her character's dramatic moments with aplomb.
From: The Wrap | By: Robert Hofler | Date: 10/14/2015
Cicely Tyson doesn't let her approaching 91st birthday get in the way of being downright girlish on stage. She achieves this marvel twice in the new Broadway revival of "The Gin Game"...She evokes youthful giddiness at beating the pants of James Earl Jones's card-playing veteran in the first act. Later, when she may be falling in love with him, their hands accidentally touch and then they dance. Tyson suddenly has the glow and all of the stability of an adolescent...[Jones'] immense build, especially in comparison to the petite Tyson, is again on display in "The Gin Game," but to poignant effect. His character rages at all that power being trapped in an old body that no longer works the way he wants it to...What doesn't work (except as an excuse to watch two pros go at it) is Coburn's play.
From: NJ.com | By: Christopher Kelly | Date: 10/14/2015
There's probably not much that a pair of old pros like James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson couldn't put over on stage. At age 84, he still possesses that haunting, deep bass voice; is still capable of sliding like quicksilver from gentle humor to powerhouse authority. At age 90, she still looks ethereal and commands attention despite that tiny frame and sometimes whispery manner...They generate considerable laughs alongside moments of quiet tenderness, and each actor find moments to shine and other moments to relinquish the spotlight -- it's a duet with glorious solos. Where this "Gin Game" stumbles is in its second half, when Coburn's play takes a series of dark turns and the two characters begin mercilessly attacking one another. Except director Leonard Foglia and his actors don't entirely take those turns alongside Coburn, preferring instead to keep the tone broad and semi-jokey...The result feels a little too much like empty calories; a "Gin Game" that goes down exceedingly easy, but leaves you hungry for real substance.
First Nighter: James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson Play 'The Gin Game'; Oren Safdie's Unseemly 'Unseamly'
From: Huffington Post | By: David Finkle | Date: 10/14/2015
If you think you're about to hear anything critical of the two old pros James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson in director Leonard Foglia's revival of D. L. Coburn's 1977 comedy, The Gin Game, at the Golden Theatre, you better think again. As two lonely residents at a home for the aged who find comfort playing cards with each other in a rundown backyard, they're well nigh perfect -- which is what you already knew they would be.
From: TimeOut NY | By: Adam Feldman | Date: 10/14/2015
Together, the stars of The Gin Game, James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson, are 175 years old. They draw from massive piles of skill and goodwill, and watching these masters play the audience is a delight. Watching them play cards for two hours, however, is less compelling. Jones is the ornery, hypercompetitive Weller; Tyson is the prim, shrewd Fonsia...As they chat, flirt and turn on each other, the play asks us to consider how much of their isolation stems from bad hands they've been dealt, and how much from bad judgment...Leonard Foglia's revival lacks that sense of purpose in its shape. The age of the actors perhaps makes them slower and cuter than might be ideal; the result is likable but shambling.
From: Vulture | By: Jesse Green | Date: 10/14/2015
Beloved, James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson certainly are. Whether their roles are meaty depends on whether you classify stamped patties of denatured cow parts as meat...Nothing happens to either of them in the course of the bleak action except that their foibles are revealed, over and over, in a series of hands of gin...the production is so lame and misguided (by the director Leonard Foglia) you would almost prefer that they suddenly started ad libbing selections from far better work each of them has done. As it is, they stick at least to the outlines of the script. In so doing, they successfully establish the general outlines of their characters, and it's undeniably a nostalgic pleasure, for about one shuffle, to hear Jones boom and bustle and see Tyson offer her aren't-I-cute moue as she lays out her winning hands. But mostly their game looks like solitaire, not gin...
From: Guardian | By: Alexis Soloski | Date: 10/14/2015
Jones and Tyson are actors of expertise, originality and allure, and it is pleasant to watch them disport themselves on Riccardo Hernandez's shabby set. Under Leonard Foglia's indulgent direction, Jones cavorts through Weller's frailties and rages, using his walking stick as crutch and club. Weller counts out loud when he deals the cards and you can hear the amusement Jones finds in each pedantic number. Tyson, clutching her purse like body armor, alternates primness with fervor. She can bring dignity to a terrycloth bathrobe and that is saying something. Her voice is much thinner and shriller than Jones's (everyone's is), but it carries.
From: NBC New York | By: Robert Kahn | Date: 10/14/2015
In case the prospect of old age and its frailties doesn't already frighten you, allow me to direct your attention to the lonesome and raw revival of D.L. Coburn's "The Gin Game"...Nothing in director Leonard Foglia's ("Master Class") update of "The Gin Game" is stylized...As Weller, a decaying businessman who was outmaneuvered by his partners, Jones wears clothes that are sizes too big, making him seem literally a man smaller than he once was. Jones seethes and seethes as Fonsia wins and wins, building up to a crescendo of ire that terrifies her...Tyson shuffles across the stage like a once-powerful woman not used to having to be careful with her body. It's a perfectly ladylike performance, until it's time to put the screws to her verbally abusive new friend, and then she really lets him have it. Jones and Tyson, it will surprise no one, make for lively sparring partners.