Friday, March 12, 2010

The Miracle Worker (The SOB Review)

The Miracle Worker (The SOB Review) - Circle In The Square Theatre, New York City, New York

*1/2 (out of ****)

It's been just over 50 years since William Gibson's The Miracle Worker made its debut on Broadway and became a major hit.

The 1959 work famously teamed Anne Bancroft as teacher Annie Sullivan with a very young Patty Duke as Helen Keller, the inspirational figure who lost her vision and hearing as an infant. The dramatization, which ran one and a half years, earned four Tony Awards, including for Best Play and Bancroft's performance.

Now, after helming the miraculously stunning Ruined, Kate Whoriskey is making her Great White Way directorial debut with the first Broadway revival of The Miracle Worker. You'd think Whoriskey could at least be capable of working miracles with a time-honored play such as this.

Sadly, instead of further demonstrating she knows her way around a stage, it's almost as if she's feeling her way through. Whoriskey and the cast -- headlined by the amazing Alison Pill as Annie and Academy Award-nominated child actress Abigail Breslin in a solid performance as Helen -- are simply ill-served by the Circle in the Square's theatre-in-the-round staging. As a result, the audience suffers.

As purposely spare as Derek McLane's scenic design is, no doubt to leave the actors largely unobscured, there are just one too many instances in which the blocking of the actors themselves conceal pivotal moments in the play, often at the edge of the stage. In what seems to be a cruel joke on the audience, we've been forced into Keller's sightless shoes by having to fill in the blanks for what we're missing.

However impactful the play might be is nearly negated from the fact we cannot see. How ironic. It's not only frustrating, but maddening.

Miracles may happen. Just not at the Circle in the Square.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.

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