Friday, February 23, 2007

Did Journey's End Offer Good Trip For Critics?

Did Journey's End Offer Good Trip For Critics?

Like a surprise attack, critics seemed genuinely caught off guard by the disarming new revival of Journey's End, which opened last night on Broadway. However, fortunately in this case, the surprise was anything but unfavorable.

Proclaiming the production "exceptional," the Associated Press' Michael Kuchwara offers praise: "[T]he play has universal appeal. The staggering sense of loss depicted by Journey's End in this sterling revival will continue to haunt theatergoers for a long, long time."

Eric Grode of the The New York Sun apparently agrees: "From out of nowhere, a British director named David Grindley has exhumed R.C. Sherriff's 1929 World War I drama Journey's End and turned it into a profoundly moving evocation of life during wartime, a poignant tribute to those who fight and wait and talk and wait and comfort and wait and wait and die."

Noting that the production is "acutely staged and acted," The New York Times' Ben Brantley is positive: "Journey’s End turns out to be no quaint curiosity from an age of innocence, dusted off and spruced up for our ironic inspection. It is instead that theatrical rarity, an uncompromising, cleareyed play about war -- and not war as it echoes on the home front or in chambers of government, but war as a daily phenomenon for those who fight it....Waiting is the dynamic of Journey’s End. But with a fine, largely American cast that keeps its characters’ anxieties on a taut leash, watching the waiting is anything but tedious."

Citing director David Grindly's "spectacular job" in his three-star review, New York Post's Clive Barnes says the Journey's End "is a well-bred hymn to that sacrifice, and a beautifully crafted vehicle for over-the-top and through-the-barbed-wire acting that is genuinely moving because of its simple, slightly rose-colored sincerity....The acting is truly remarkable -- a terrific ensemble as fine as Broadway has seen in many a year."

Despite his quibble that "The cast of Journey’s End hasn’t quite captured yet the awkward oneness of men living shoulder-to-shoulder with each other and their fear in cramped quarters," Variety's David Rooney is mostly positive: "Grindley’s exacting staging never shrinks from...potential stumbling blocks. He methodically follows the playwright’s careful blueprint, secure in the knowledge that when the drama’s inactivity detonates into emotional rawness, the effect will be devastating. But rarely does a play that initially seems so phlegmatic acquire such visceral power as it progresses -- crescendoing in a stunning final tableau."

The acclaim should offer a boost to the flagging box office for this limited run play -- last week, the play only attracted a capacity of 41.7%. The war drama's own Broadway journey at the Belasco Theatre is currently set to end on July 1.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for ticket information.
Related Stories:
Beginning Of The End: "Journey's" Opens On Broadway (February 22, 2007)

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