Monday, May 08, 2006

Critics' Verdicts for The Caine Mutiny Court Martial Are In

Critics' Verdicts for The Caine Mutiny Court Martial Are In

A bored Ben Brantley writes in today's The New York Times: "...It is just possible that a stint weighing a worker's compensation case could offer more thrills than this eye-glazing attempt to resurrect Herman Wouk's 1953 play, adapted from his novel 'The Caine Mutiny.'" Ouch!

Most other members of the jury known as critics rendered a damning verdict for The Caine Mutiny Court Martial. But given an innate distrust by some in New York of those from the Left Coast trying their hand at the Great White Way recently, it's probably not surprising that most of the critical sentencing of all was focused squarely on one former "Friend" David Schwimmer.

Comparing director Jerry Zaks' production to summer stock, Newsday's Linda Winer still devotes much of her backhand at Schwimmer: "Sober, earnest, stiff as a toy-soldier." New York Daily News' Howard Kissel panned his performance as well, noting, "Schwimmer conveys none of this complexity. But then the production itself, directed by Jerry Zaks, seldom gets below the surface."

Sounding slightly more enthused were New York Post's Clive Barnes and USA Today's Elysa Gardner, both of whom gave the show ** 1/2 stars. The latter also took issue with Schwimmer's capabilities: "Schwimmer's portrayal of Lt. Barney Greenwald...has the self-conscious, at times preening quality of a diligent but overeager student. His tonally repetitive line readings, particularly in the first act, aren't nuanced enough to relay Greenwald's conflicted feelings about representing a young man whose actions and attitude disturb him."

A decidedly more upbeat Barnes writes, "It is an archetypal example of the well-made, wonderfully pleasurable but basically manipulative play. Well, not entirely manipulative, for at its own simplistic level it's a whole lot of fun and even thought-provoking."

Aside from a near unanimous decision that this 1954 courtroom drama doesn't hold up so well 52 years later, most praise Zeljko Ivanek's portrayal of Captain Queeg as a personal triumph, if not the singular redeeming aspect of this production.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
The Caine Mutiny Court Martial Faces Jury of Critics Tonight (May 7, 2006)

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