All stories by Ben Brantley on BroadwayStars

Monday, April 6, 2020

Off Broadway’s Season Shook Up Norms of Life and Theater by Ben Brantley and Jesse Green

Our co-chief theater critics discuss the plays and musicals that reflected and predicted an unstable world.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Who Says You Can’t Give Tony Awards in an Abbreviated Season? by Jesse Green and Ben Brantley

Our chief theater critics have no nickel-plated medallions to hand out, but they find plenty to celebrate among shut-down Broadway offerings.

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Friday, March 27, 2020

Turn the Living Room into a Stage: Read Plays Out Loud by Ben Brantley

It’s a tradition this drama critic would highly recommend to those looking for ways to find magic in empty hours.

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Friday, March 20, 2020

In ‘Viral Monologues,’ Theater Mutates Into Online Deliverance by Ben Brantley

Funny, scary and necessary, this series of taped soliloquies contemplate the way we live now, in isolation.

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Thursday, March 12, 2020

Now You Know: A Critic’s Guide to Sondheim by Ben Brantley and Jesse Green

An opinionated take on the songwriter’s major works, from a delayed debut to a Pulitzer Prize- winning classic.

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Stephen Sondheim, the Man Who Felt Too Much by Ben Brantley

Why did it take so long for the composer to be unambivalently embraced? Maybe because ambivalence is what he’s embraced most of all.

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Monday, March 9, 2020

Review: Lies of Love and Memory Swirl Through ‘Unknown Soldier’ by Ben Brantley

This thoughtful, history-spanning portrait of elusive identities testifies to the versatility of its composer, Michael Friedman.

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Friday, March 6, 2020

‘Girl From the North Country’ Review: Bob Dylan’s Amazing Grace by Ben Brantley

This ravishing and singular musical, written and directed by Conor McPherson, hears America singing — Dylan — during the Great Depression.

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Monday, March 2, 2020

Review: In ‘The Hot Wing King,’ a New Recipe for a Family by Ben Brantley

Katori Hall’s genial play, built around a cooking contest in Memphis, uses a sitcom structure to explore black masculinity.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Review: ‘Dana H.’ Maps a Harrowing Journey Into Hell by Ben Brantley

Lucas Hnath’s brilliant, boundary-melting play, starring a marvelous Deirdre O’Connell, is a first-person account of the violent kidnapping of his mother.

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Monday, February 24, 2020

Review: Partying With the Khmer Rouge in ‘Cambodian Rock Band’ by Ben Brantley

Lauren Yee’s ambitious, tonally mixed play uses bait-and-switch tactics to approach the dark heart of a genocidal regime.

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How Laurie Metcalf Became the Sarah Bernhardt of Broadway by Ben Brantley

She may seem self-effacing, but it takes skill and smarts to be Nora and Hillary and, next, Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

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Thursday, February 20, 2020

‘West Side Story’ Review: Sharks vs. Jets vs. Video by Ben Brantley

Ivo van Hove’s attention-splintering revival of the immortal 1957 musical features new choreography, a ravishing orchestra and smothering visual effects.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Prophecies of Beckett and Caryl Churchill Haunt London’s Stages by Ben Brantley

Compelling revivals make “Endgame” (with Alan Cumming and Daniel Radcliffe) and “Far Away” feel more unsettlingly relevant than ever.

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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Review: A Long Night as Tony Kushner Revisits ‘The Visit’ by Ben Brantley

This murky and tedious reworking of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s dark fable of love and lucre is illuminated by Lesley Manville’s dazzling star turn.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Review: In ‘Leopoldstadt,’ Tom Stoppard Reckons With His Jewish Roots by Ben Brantley

In what he says will probably be his last work, a master playwright finds urgent lessons for the present in the past of a Viennese family.

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Monday, February 10, 2020

Review: In ‘Hamlet,’ Ruth Negga Rules as a Player Prince by Ben Brantley

Yaël Farber’s stunning, Dublin-born interpretation of this eternal classic finds the dizzying layers of performance that rule all our lives.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

‘Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice’ Review: Four on a Mattress, With Songs by Ben Brantley

The New Group’s musical adaptation of Paul Mazursky’s 1969 movie, featuring Suzanne Vega, doesn’t smirk but it doesn’t soar, either.

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Thursday, January 30, 2020

‘Medea’ Review: Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale, Torched by Love by Ben Brantley

Simon Stone’s contemporary spin on the classic tale of marital vengeance feels more clinical than tragic.

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Monday, January 27, 2020

‘Hamilton’ Makes a Curious Cameo in Trump Impeachment Trial by Ben Brantley

John Bolton’s new memoir is titled “The Room Where It Happened,” nearly the same as a song from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway hit.

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Review: The Comforts of the Cozy Scare in ‘The Woman in Black’ by Ben Brantley

This ingenious, bare-bones adaptation of Susan Hill’s Gothic novel — a long-running hit in London — allows audiences to take charge of their fear.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Review: Shrinking Lives at a Big Box Store in ‘Paris’ by Ben Brantley

Racism is a stealth force in Eboni Booth’s astute study of the (mostly) quiet desperation of minimum-wage workers in Vermont.

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Friday, January 17, 2020

At Under the Radar, Avant-Garde Shows Leap Outside Reality by Ben Brantley, Jesse Green and Laura Collins-Hughes

The Public Theater’s festival has included 12 featured offerings, four cabaret acts and six pieces of developmental work. Here’s what our critics saw.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

‘Lucy Barton’ Review: Laura Linney Finds Her Perfect Match by Ben Brantley

Ideally cast as a plain-spoken woman made of quiet steel, she acts the way Elizabeth Strout writes in this compelling adaptation of the 2016 novel.

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Drawing on the Past, Living in the Present, Dreaming of the Future by Jesse Green and Ben Brantley

A jazz memoirist, a Palestinian rocketeer and Mexican myths set to music kick off the Public Theater’s annual festival of adventurous work from across the globe.

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Friday, January 10, 2020

‘Queens Row’ Review: Richard Maxwell on Life After Doomsday by Ben Brantley

In this stark, eloquent new play, three women reflect on what remains in the aftermath of an American civil war.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Review: James McAvoy’s Rapping Cyrano Dazzles With Words by Ben Brantley

In Martin Crimp’s time-bending version of the Rostand “Cyrano de Bergerac,” directed by Jamie Lloyd, people make love and war through glorious language.

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Monday, January 6, 2020

Reimagining Old Friends at the National Theater in London by Ben Brantley

New takes on beloved works by Elena Ferrante, Anton Chekhov and Neil Gaiman testify to the pleasures and perils of adaptation.

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Thursday, January 2, 2020

Review: Arthur Miller’s Dying ‘Salesman’ Is Reborn in London by Ben Brantley

An electrifying revival, starring a heartbreaking Wendell Pierce, reimagines Willy Loman as a black man in a white man’s world.

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Friday, December 27, 2019

How a Jerry Herman Song Called a Future Critic to New York by Ben Brantley

A brassy celebration of optimism and urbanity, “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” from “Hello, Dolly!” can still stir the emotions.

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Monday, December 16, 2019

‘Sing Street’ Review: New Wave Music as Sweet Deliverance by Ben Brantley

This tuneful adaptation of John Carney’s movie, about the saving grace of pop music in 1980s Dublin, hasn’t quite found its ideal voice.

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All that Chat

2019-2020 BROADWAY SEASON
Oct 06: Slave Play
Feb 01: The Minutes
TBA: Blue