In today’s Wall Street Journal I have high praise (mostly) for a zippy new adaptation of an Edwardian semi-classic, The Voysey Inheritance, and two revivals, Antigone and The Apple Tree. Reading from top to bottom:
In theater, the innocent-looking word “adaptation” can cover a multitude of approaches–or sins. David Mamet has adapted “The Voysey Inheritance” with respect and a sharp knife, skillfully trimming two hours out of the four-hour running time of Harley Granville Barker’s engrossing but verbose 1905 play about a family of financiers with a scandalous secret. The result is a smart, exciting show that’s short enough to get you to the train on time….
A century ago, Granville Barker was widely regarded as England’s most forward-looking stage director. Judging by this tale of hypocrisy among the upper middle classes, he was also a top-notch playwright….
Jean Anouilh’s oh-so-Parisian 1944 adaptation of “Antigone” is a cheval of a different color, a modern-dress rewrite of a Greek tragedy in which the plot was subtly altered to make discreet but definite reference to the Nazi occupation of Vichy France. You don’t have to know that, though, to delight in the elegance and intelligence with which Anouilh put a still-fresh spin on Sophocles’ timeless tale….
Anouilh’s once-fashionable plays long ago vanished from Broadway, so I am happy to report that the Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, one of Manhattan’s most artistically ambitious new Off-Off Broadway companies, has given “Antigone” a revival of exceptionally high quality….
Rejoice greatly, musical-comedy fans: The Roundabout Theatre Company has revived “The Apple Tree” as a vehicle for Kristin Chenoweth, and she drives it up and down Broadway like a brand-new Beemer….
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