Critics Acquit Frost/Nixon
Praising it as "briskly entertaining," The New York Times
' Ben Brantley
is very favorable: "[L]et it be proclaimed, with drums and fanfare, that theater decisively trumps television in the production that opened last night at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater
....Most of the credit for this victory belongs to a truly titanic performance from the man playing the famously sweaty victim of a cool medium. That’s Frank Langella
, whose portrayal of Nixon is one of those made-for-the-stage studies in controlled excess in which larger-than-life seems truer-to-life than merely life-size ever could."
Proclaiming the play "one of those definitive Broadway experiences" in his three-and-a-half star review, New York Post
's Clive Barnes
opines: "It is the job of the actors and the director (referee, perhaps?) Michael Grandage
to make it interesting. And do they ever. You watch with the kind of fascinated delight rare in the theater as Langella and Sheen go at one another with the dedicated skill of a Muhammad Ali and a Joe Frazier."
Citing "pair of champion actors at the top of their game," Elysa Gardner
of USA Today
offers up three and a half stars: "Langella's Nixon...seems a little buffoonish, though the actor wisely stops short of caricature. However shameful or complacent Nixon might seem, however dopey his jokes about political life or his perspiration problem, Langella provides subtle, masterful hints of the reserves of frustration and cunning his character harbors..As supremely entertaining theater, though, Frost/Nixon
is an undisputed winner."
Calling it "entertaining if sketchy," the Associated Press' Michael Kuchwara
is positive: "The play is awash in urgency, both verbally and physically. Under Grandage's direction, it never stops moving, particularly while setting up the ultimate confrontation between talk-show host and subject....Langella perfectly captures (Nixon's) defensive uncertainty....Yet the actor's portrait is never cartoonish, and despite his ultimate admission, a degree of sympathy emerges for the man."
Labeling this as "lean and " David Rooney
is mostly upbeat: "(Morgan's) first stage play turns the potentially dry docudrama of a disgraced former president's unexpected public apology into lively sociopolitical reflection....while it's easy to imagine the play seeming more fragile with less resourceful actors, (Michael) Sheen
and Langella could hardly be better....(Sheen) brilliantly underplays both the character's smarmy brashness and his faint air of desperation. Sheen's nuanced work as Tony Blair in "The Queen" was vastly underappreciated amid all the hosannas heaped upon Helen Mirren, and he risks a similar slight against the formidable Langella. Grandage nonetheless maintains a keen balance that serves both actors."
I'll be providing my own review of Frost/Nixon after taking in the show next week.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
Labels: Broadway, Critics' Capsule, Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon, Michael Grandage, Michael Sheen, Play, Transfer