By Clifford Odets
Directed by Doug Hughes
Roundabout Theatre Company
What's It all About?
Well, you tell me. The second Odets play to grace a Broadway stage this season had me asking the same question as when I saw his Golden Boy back in December: "Of all the plays out there, why would you revive this one?" The testosterone-heavy, exposition-laden, heavy-on-the-long-winded speeches tale is about Charlie Castle (Bobby Cannavale), a movie star who is conflicted about signing a 14-year contract extension with sleazy studio head Marcus Hoff (Richard Kind) who has blackmail information on the star to keep him under his mafioso-type thumb.
What are the Highlights?
Strong performances from Cannavale and Kind and also from Marin Ireland, who plays Charlie's wife, Marion, the only woman on stage whose character gets a little development beyond being there to service the sexual needs of a man. She even does get to complain about being a doormat once (though she keeps taking him back after he cheats). One of the other "gals" likes it when her man physically hurts her.
What Are the Lowlights?
Too many to fully list here (why, oh, why this script, I ask again.) The play is full of ridiculously contrived moments to propel the action: one actor exits, then the phone rings; another character falls asleep before the next one enters a scene -- how convenient. It also contains lines that are so bad, they are funny:
- Never underestimate a man just because you don't know him.
- Boy, if I didn't love people so much, how I'd hate them.
- You have hell in you. Let's enjoy it.
- You can't think beyond the tips of your shoes.
- Go home. You're mother wants you.
The Big Knife runs through June 2 at American Airlines Theatre, 227 West 42nd St., NYC. Tickets and info: http://www.roundabouttheatre.org/Shows-Events/Big-Knife.aspx.
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