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The Columnist with John Lithgow


skynyc
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The latest offering from Manhattan Theater Club is this smart, complex and fascinating piece by David Auburn, whose Proof is a personal favorite of mine. I love the discussions I had with all of my friends who saw Proof, and while this current play doesn't have the same "did he or didn't he" dilemma, I found it just as compelling.

 

Telling the story of popular columnist Joseph Alsop, this play recounts many truths. SPOILERS AHEAD! We see Mr. Alsop entrapped by the KGB, sleeping with a Russian agent, (and photographed in the act). We see Alsop wedding an associates widow for her functional ability to be the hostess in his home. We see his devotion to politics, as he discusses FDR with relish, Eisenhower with disdain and Kennedy with reverence. His grief at Kennedy's assassination is so great, that it's almost intrusive to watch.

 

Lithgow is given a sensational part here...his best since M Butterfly (and I loved him in Sweet Smell of Success.) Pompous, and vulnerable, irascible, and brilliant, he works stage magic in portraying the many dimensions of a very complex character. And he is so ably backed up by Margaret Colin, Boyd Gaines and Grace Gummer among others.

 

The dialogue is so smart and real, the tale is complex, yet discernable, and the production values are terrific. I have to say, that this is one not to miss.

 

I saw it on a tdf ticket, and was sitting in the last row of the mezz, and every line was discernible. The people next to us did leave at intermission. "Too talky" was overheard as they pushed past. They hated it; I will probably see this again.

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SPOILER ALERT>>>>

 

 

In a word...BORING!!!!

 

Saw it last night and almost fell asleep. Lithgow is amazing, as always but the script just doesn't have enough to sustain the story line and from what I could figure out, there's not much story to go around. Thank God I had a free ticket!

 

ED

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