EMO KING Both Jan Maxwell, as the widow Bradshaw, and David Barlow, as Charles II of England, look a lot better in earlier scenes of "Victory: Choices in Reaction." But this may be the only time they touch.
July 21, 2011
A FRIEND asked me to join him on Monday night to see "Victory: Choices in Reaction." And I am so glad I said yes. Between that invitation and the 7:30 curtain that night, I was asked to review that very play for the newspaper of record. And I am so glad I had the chance to weigh in on it.
"Victory" is playing at the Atlantic Theater's Stage II on a quiet block of West 16th Street. To get to the tiny basement theater, we walked down multiple flights of stairs, past the cleaning crew's mops and buckets. It was one of the most rewarding trips I've taken this year.
Here are some reasons you should see this play. And you only have one more week to catch it: the last performance is on Sunday, July 31.
(1) It's a powerful drama with huge laughs.
(2) Jan Maxwell gives a performance for the ages. And where else are you going to get to see this powerhouse actress, up close, for $25? Trust me, when her reviews come in for "Follies" this fall, normal people won't be able to get even bad seats for less than a hundred bucks plus a long wait.
(3) Howard Barker is a playwright who deserves to be discovered. And he's no kid.
(4) David Barlow, who plays King Charles II, is a find.
(5) The rest of the ensemble cast, including Robert Zukerman, Michaela Lieberman, Robert Emmet Lunney, Ele Woods, Alex Cranmer, Steven Dykes and Willy McKay, are outstanding.
(6) Reviewing the most recent London production of "Victory," the critic for The Guardian called it "so meaty and juicy that it makes what currently passes as political playwriting seem bloodless and trivial."
Here's the link to my review of "Victory" in today's New York Times ("Puritan Widow Confronts a Randy, Profane King"). It has links to lots more info about Barker, Maxwell, John Milton (who makes a cameo appearance), Nell Gwynn (famous prostitute), the director Richard Romagnoli and the Restoration (but you don't really need to know your English history to totally get the play and be bowled over by it).
"Victory: Choices in Reaction," by Howard Barker, directed by Richard Romagnoli, Atlantic Stage II, 330 West 16th Street, (212) 279-4200, ticketcentral.com. Closes July 31, 2011.
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