Let's Talk Off Broadway

Yvonne Korshak reviews Off-Broadway, Broadway, Film and Art

Tag: Michael Grandage

Review | Danton’s Death by George Buchner | New version by Howard Brenton | Directed by Michael Grandage | National Theatre | Olivier Theatre

… means and ends …

Buchner’s early 19th-century play (1835), in its new version by Brenton, portrays on one level the interpersonal dynamics of the reign of terror of the French Revolution, and on a deeper level the tragic consequences of an ideologue-at-work, Robespierre, who places concept over humanity.  Danton, as brilliantly played by Toby Stephens, mistakenly believes that his past services to the Revolution and his reputation as a revolutionary will secure his future.  He does not grasp the full consequences of Robespierre’s single-minded pursuit of “political cleansing”.  But, as Robespierre says at Danton’s trial, “He [Danton’s friend Lacroix] thinks a special privilege is attached to that name.  We want no privileges, we want no false gods!”

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Review | Red by John Logan | With Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne | Directed by Michael Grandage | Golden Theater

… the red and the black …

RED is an intimate play about a profound painter in whose soul a Manichaean battle between life and death is played out on his canvases by a struggle between red and black.  The subject is the painter Mark Rothko and the playwright focuses on a key period in his life, when he’s designing a complete, coordinated group of large paintings for the expensive, high-rollers’ Four Seasons Restaurant, under construction in NYC.  On the one hand, he’s glad to be making the big bucks and creating his first total environment.  On the other, he’s uneasy that his work, quasi religious and inspiring of meditation, as he sees it, is headed for a restaurant filled with earthbound, self-interested, fashionable people.  Hardly the right atmosphere.

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Review | Shakespeare’s Hamlet | Starring Jude Law | Directed by Michael Grandage | Broadhurst Theater

… a two man show …

Sometimes theater goers will say of classic plays, “I saw The Seagull — or A Doll’s House — or Hamlet — recently, I’m just not ready to see another one”. Fair enough, but Jude Law puts such a distinctive mark on Hamlet that, believe me, you haven’t seen this, ever.

His Hamlet is a younger man than most seem to be (regardless of the actor’s age).  His performance is athletic, unquestionably charismatic (the audience applauds after every great scene like after an aria in an opera), and openly vulnerable.  He listens to others intensely, and his words, thoughts and actions come as genuine responses flowing from within — the script falls away and Shakespeare’s character emerges as a real, conflicted, engaged man.  He’s all over the stage.  He gives himself completely, with a great actor’s generosity, to the performance.

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