When I was up in NYC to see Sleater-Kinney I also got to see David Mamet’s new Broadway play starring Al Pacino, China Doll. It was disappointing. I’m a big Mamet fan, but this doesn’t stand up to his best work. Pacino was decent in it, I think they problem was more about the material than the acting. Most of the play consists of Pacino talking on the phone to people. So not a lot of real dialogue or character development. Just a lot of one sided conversations that move the plot along. Meh.
During the second act there was also an idiot in the 4th row (annoying located since I was in the 5th row) who not only took pictures with his phone but did so with the sound on. Moron.
I don't bother to review most plays that I go to unless there is a clear pop culture connection. But DC has a great theater scene and I usually try to catch a play each time I go up to NYC. Everything you see isn't great. But sometimes you think something is going to be a sure fire positive experience. And when those plays turn out to suck, man are you pissed. This fall I saw Clive Owen's Broadway debut. That being the award winning actor with a long history of doing awesome theater in England Clive Owen. Staring across from Kelly Reilly, an award winning actress who I'd previously seen in After Miss Julie in 2004 in London. Also starring across Eve Best, who I'd never seen perform but had heard of because she has a stellar reputation. All performing in a Harold Pinter play. That being the Nobel laureate Harold Pinter.
That combination of things should have been awesome. In the worst case scenario it should have been great acting but with a mediocre staging or script. But no, friends. The Roundabout Theatre Broadway production of Old Times featuring all of those people was the worst play I've ever seen. By a long shot. The only positive thing about the play was that it was only 65 minutes with no intermission. Because I would have left at intermission. When the play was over a middle-aged women said "What on earth was that supposed to be about?" A man a few rows back clearly said "How much money did we just pay for this shit?" The elderly lady to my left asked me, "Did that make any sense to you?" No ma'am, it didn't. I have no idea what the fuck happened in this play. And not in a "wow that's so mysterious, I wonder what it all meant" kind of way. I didn't care about the characters at all. When the bizarre sequence of events unfolded, it was so uninteresting that I didn't even care that I didn't know what was going on. Nothing in this play was remotely interesting or worthwhile. Absolutely nothing. The staging was ridiculous. There was a quasi northern background, giant spotlights that would flash at the audience for dramatic effect during scene changes while overwrought dramatic music played. A cube of fake ice in the middle of the stage served as an apartment door and a bathroom.
Your next movie better kick ass, Clive Owen. Because my opinion of you is not very good right now. Wish me better luck this weekend when I'll be seeing Al Pacino in David Mamet's new play, China Doll.