Today’s Wall Street Journal drama column is a triple-header. First up, Jumpers, about which I had nothing but great things to say:
Most playwrights of ideas are content to play with the ideas of others. Tom Stoppard has his own, and in “Jumpers” he serves them up with plenty of hot pepper on the side. Imagine a Broadway show in which a beleaguered professor of moral philosophy agonizes over the existence of God. Then stir in a pin-striped totalitarian sharpie, a half-witted police inspector, a half-crazy musical-comedy star (that’s the professor’s wife), a mute secretary, a jazz trio, eight acrobats and–oh, yes–two murders. That’s “Jumpers,” the frightening farce currently being performed by the National Theatre of Great Britain at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in a revival directed with coruscating flair by David Leveaux….
Next is Raisin in the Sun, a generally outstanding revival that has, alas, a gaping hole smack dab in the middle:
Not to keep you in suspense, but Sean Combs, the Rapper Formerly Known as P. Diddy, can’t act, though he does what I suspect is his best in the revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” playing through July 11 at the Royale Theatre. Not only does he remember all his lines, but he even manages to insert a touch of emotion here and there. Alas, Mr. Combs hasn’t the foggiest idea of how a thirtysomething father from the Chicago ghetto circa 1950 might have looked and sounded. Instead, he portrays Walter Lee Younger as a proto-rapper–blustery, adolescent and phony to the core. That he should have the gall to make his Broadway debut alongside Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald suggests that his capacity for embarrassment is insufficiently developed….
Last and most definitely least, Bombay Dreams:
It won’t be enough if “Bombay Dreams” flops–I’d like to see it removed from the Broadway Theatre with bulldozers at high noon. Not since “Urban Cowboy” have I endured a show so irredeemably stupid as this backhanded “tribute” to the musicals churned out in boxcar lots by “Bollywood,” the Bombay-based Indian film industry. Their simple-minded scripts and drop-of-a-turban production numbers are said to be charming, but you couldn’t prove it by “Bombay Dreams,” a mishmash of tuneless tunes, vapid lyrics, dull choreography, and pointlessly expensive sets (including a sunken on-stage fountain) that put me in mind of an Elvis Presley movie with a billion-dollar budget….
No link. Go buy Friday’s Journal. (And yes, Aaron, it only costs a dollar, nyaah nyaah nyaah!)