Friday, January 26, 2007

Did Translations Translate Into Good Reviews?

Did Translations Translate Into Good Reviews

Manhattan Theatre Club, all is apparently forgiven for last fall's losing Losing Louie debacle. That's because last evening's opening of Translations at the Biltmore Theatre has opened to mostly positive reviews.

Translations, of course, is a limited run revival of yet another Brian Friel play set in Ireland. Last year, similar praise was heaped upon the revival of his Faith Healer when it opened on Broadway.

Proclaiming it "nothing short of glorious," Charles Isherwood of the New York Times waxes rhapsodic: "A basic fluency in the workings of the human heart is all that’s necessary to absorb the beauties of Mr. Friel’s tender, sad and funny play about the difficulty of finding a home in the world, a person to share it with, and a name to call it by....On this occasion it has wisely been entrusted to Garry Hynes...Ms. Hynes has in turn wisely entrusted Mr. Friel’s challenging play to a stageful of little-known but hugely talented actors, creating an ensemble of an extraordinarily high caliber and consistency."

Labeling Translations "engrossing," the New York Sun's Eric Grode sounds a positive note: "Director Garry Hynes, follows (Friel's) lead, crafting a well-paced, suitably raucous potboiler that slips in cultural commentary with admirable stealth. Not even a handful of over-the-top performances can dampen the bracing effect of her empathy for Mr. Friel's boisterous, doomed villagers.

In offering up a three-and-a-half star review, USA Today's Elysa Gardner notes: "The Manhattan Theatre Club's absorbing, heartbreaking revival...captures the tortured contradictions at the heart of Friel's drama without stooping to sentimentality. Garry Hynes...expertly directs Translations, which is anchored by a trio of superb performances....After more than 25 years, Friel's study of the beauty and futility of words, and the power and difficulty of human connection, remains as haunting and relevant as ever."

The Associated Press' Michael Kuchwara also has words of praise: "It is an extraordinary play, emotionally satisfying and intellectually bracing at the same time. And this splendid Broadway revival...has been able to tap into both aspects. It expertly recreates what is the most heartbreaking of Friel's many fine dramas....Credit should go most prominently to director Garry Hynes. She has brought together a gifted collection of actors as well as several fine designers (specifically Francis O'Connor and Davy Cunningham), who have given the play a dark, shadow-flecked setting that suggests a world ominously on the brink of change."

Calling the show "fascinatingly flawed" in his two-and-a-half star review, New York Post's Clive Barnes laments: "It can't...overcome the play's ramshackle structure, and one of those terribly Irish, O'Casey-style endings that leaves you up in the air with a sense of loss, without knowing quite what has happened. It's a difficult play to better than most in uncovering playwright Friel's elusive inner poetry. We also have some grand performances, best of all (Niall) Buggy's boisterous, near tragic Hugh. Yet despite many beauties displayed, the play's broken-backed problems are here left quite a distance from solution."

Now we'll see whether mostly positive reviews translates into green at the box office, for although Translations was filled to 87.5% capacity last week, it was primarily through deeply discounted tickets -- the average ticket price last week was a mere $40.15, the lowest of any show currently on Broadway.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
Oíche Tosaigh: Translations For Opening Night (January 25, 2007)

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