Review Roundup: WAKEY, WAKEY Starring Tony Hale at A.C.T. - What Did the Critics Think?
Starring two-time Emmy Award winner Tony Hale (HBO's Veep and Fox's/Netflix's Arrested Development) with Kathryn Smith-McGlynn, Wakey, Wakey is a remarkable combination of the everyday and the extraordinary that invites you to share the pleasure, humor, and beautiful mystery of life.
Experience the play that has everyone talking-plus The Substitution, a never-before-seen companion play commissioned and developed by A.C.T. and written by Will Eno featuring Kathryn Smith-McGlynn alongside students from A.C.T.'s acclaimed MFA program, and refreshments to follow the show.
Tickets are available by calling 415-749-2228 or visiting www.act-sf.org.
Let's see what the critics are saying...
Tim Sullivan, BroadwayWorld: Hale's elasticity as a performer brings clarity to Eno's wide-ranging script. Bringing the audience to near hysterics one minute, the next a single tear might roll down his cheek and break your heart. He confronts his own mortality with the bravery and humor we all might hope to possess. Beckett had a penchant for casting clowns in his existential plays, and Hale would find himself at home in that master's works as well.
Lily Janiak, Datebook: You've seen metatheater before, theater that breaks out of its own constraints, that comments on itself, that breaks the fourth wall. Will Eno's play, which opened Wednesday, Jan. 29, at ACT's Geary Theater, goes further still. It seeks to take leave of itself. It wants to nudge you and say, "Hey, how 'bout we get out of here," but then stare at you and stay exactly where it is. It wants you to then laugh uncomfortably, or not get the joke, or be angry at it and yourself for not getting the joke.
Marke B., 48 Hills: I'm happy to report that Wakey, Wakey is both a stunt play and brilliant. It's also pretty description-proof. The best thing about it could be how Eno toys with our expectation of a "reveal"-what is really going on here?-delivering instead a swerve from the hallucinatory to the briefly maudlin to the miraculous. Wakey, Wakey, directed by Anne Kauffman, somehow captures the way we feel and speak in this era of a zillion mediating screens and second-guesses. It wields sincerity, briefly, as a weapon (what are we more afraid of in this age of self-branding but looking too earnest?), but values all the tricks we use to seem above it all.
Jean Schiffman, SF Examiner: As for Hale: Familiar to TV audiences as the dysfunctional mama's boy in "Arrested Development" and Julia Louis-Dreyfus' overeager assistant in "Veep," he's completely different here: soft-spoken and vulnerable, a simpatico Everyman. In a smaller role as sort of visiting angel, Kathryn Smith-McGlynn offers strong support.
David John Chavez, Bay Area Plays: While Hale has some incredible moments of empathy that he creates by just being a fascinating talent as his character begins his untimely descent, by the time we reach the resolution, the build up of emotion and the eventual denouement falls flat.
Patrick Thomas, Talkin' Broadway: Do not, however, expect this inspiring message to come at you with anything like a narrative arc, or recognizable characters, or even Pinteresque subtext that reveals the true emotions hidden behind a façade of civility or social expectations. Eno's work has been described as "stand-up existentialism." For me, however, what makes his plays so wildly enjoyable is that, even with Eno's off-kilter, even outré, approach to theatre, he presents peculiarities in such an ordinary way that they become simultaneously hilarious and touching.