Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for October 2010
BY Brandon Voss
October 19 2010 10:10 AM ET
After a summer hiatus so that Laura Linney could shoot The Big C, Donald Margulies’s Time Stands Still returns to Broadway through January 23 at the Cort Theatre. The luminous Linney and Shrek’s Brian d’Arcy James star as war journalists and an unstable couple coping with the physical and emotional aftershock of an Iraqi roadside bombing. I found this drama a bit too restrained upon last review, but I’m so glad I returned to check out new cast member Christina Ricci. Ricci replaces Alicia Silverstone as Mandy, a naive party planner dating the couple’s older editor, an excellent Eric Bogosian. Compared to the Clueless star’s, Ricci’s Mandy is both stronger and more sensitive, igniting much-needed fireworks and providing a fine foil for the judgmental intellectuals. Ricci has clearly triumphed over the stage fright she described in our recent Advocate interview.
As I first noted after seeing last season’s Mark Rothko play, Red, writing about music might be like dancing about architecture, but talking about art can make for exhilarating theater. Such is sometimes but not always the case with The Pitmen Painters, a British import that dries December 12 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Written by Billy Elliot screenwriter Lee Hall, who also wrote the book and lyrics for its stellar musical adaptation, this witty but weakly sketched bio-drama tells the tale of a group of coal miners in Northern England who take an art appreciation class in 1934, display an uncanny talent for painting, and become novelty darlings of the art scene. It’s a fascinating story that I wouldn’t buy if it weren’t true, but the play, which benefits from overhead projections of the men’s colorful canvases, too often feels like a team-taught lecture.