A bunch of them, now that the strike there is over.
I’ve been curious to hear about two plays: Aaron Sorkin’s latest — The Farnsworth Invention — starring Hamk Azaria (about the invention of the TV), and Tracy Lett’s latest — August: Osage County.
As for Farnsworth, the New York Times was luke-warm:
This information-crammed, surface-skimming biodrama about the creators of television suggests nothing so much as a classroom presentation on a seven-figure budget.
The show certainly deserves high marks for all those traits that exacting schoolteachers hold dear: conciseness, legibility, correct use of topic sentences, evidence in defense of two sides of an argument and colorful examples to support the main thesis.
And yet you’re likely to leave “The Farnsworth Invention” feeling that you have just watched an animated Wikipedia entry, fleshed out with the sort of anecdotal scenes that figure in “re-enactments” on E! channel documentaries and true-crime shows. This two-hour play is a fast-moving sequence of reflex-stimulating information- and emotion-bites. It never pauses long enough to find depth in any of them.
As for August, how can you beat this review from the New York Times?
A fraught, densely plotted saga of an Oklahoma clan in a state of near-apocalyptic meltdown, “August” is probably the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years. Oh, forget probably: It is, flat-out, no asterisks and without qualifications, the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years. Fiercely funny and bitingly sad, this turbo-charged tragicomedy — which spans three acts and more than three blissful hours — doesn’t just jump-start the fall theater season, recently stalled when the stagehands went on strike. “August” throws it instantaneously into high gear.
The play has the zip and zingy humor of classic television situation comedy and the absorbing narrative propulsion of a juicy soap opera, too.
In other words, this isn’t theater-that’s-good-for-you theater. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, to quote an immortal line from a beloved sitcom.) It’s theater that continually keeps you hooked with shocks, surprises and delights, although it has a moving, heart-sore core. Watching it is like sitting at home on a rainy night, greedily devouring two, three, four episodes of your favorite series in a row on DVR or DVD. You will leave the Imperial Theater emotionally wrung out and exhausted from laughing, but you may still find yourself hungry for more.
It’s a Steppenwolf production, so you know it’s going to be the best in ensemble-style acting, with no-name (but soon to be known) actors. Apparently it is as funny as it is harrowing.
Gotta get me some tix.