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Benjamin Russell

The Poor of New York

April 30, 2019

One of the theater's most skilled 19th-century melodramatists, Boucicault was uninterested in the finer points of history, character development, or narrative objectivity which, of course, is why, as the Metropolitan Playhouse's lively revival of "The Poor of New York" demonstrates, his works are often so much fun. That doesn't mean they're untruthful; it's just that Boucicault wasn't prone to letting a bunch of cumbersome details and ho-hum dramaturgical considerations get in the way of a good story or a necessary cause. But if you're aching to learn how Andrew Jackson's monetary policies and the peculiarities of his personality might have contributed to a downturn in the American economy, there's always the hope Aaron Sorkin will eventually write that play. [more]

Shareholder Value

March 31, 2019

Attea’s point concerns business models that are overly focused on the needs of shareholders, rather than on those of management and employees. But the play is curiously bloodless. Strong plays about the ferocity of capitalism—from Arthur Miller’s "Death of a Salesman" to David Mamet’s "Glengarry Glen Ross"—take interest in the human equation. They focus on the personal anguish that the system can induce. Attea doesn’t delve that deeply here. [more]

The Awful Truth

October 5, 2015

If this story sounds familiar, it is the plot of the classic thirties screwball comedy "The Awful Truth" which starred Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. In fact, Arthur Richman’s 1922 play of the same name has been filmed four times including a 1925 silent version, a 1929 sound version with original stage star Ina Claire which has been lost, and a 1953 musical version with Jane Wyman and Ray Milland. As part of its 24th Season devoted to “Hope,” Metropolitan Playhouse is producing the first New York revival of this unpublished play, surprisingly as the original production ran a successful 144 performances. [more]