This is what critic Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times had to say about you this morning:
“What really prevents the first act from igniting, however, is the way the cast deals out Wilde’s paradoxes in such a knowing fashion. Forget about character work — before a punch line has even landed, the actors are congratulating themselves on their stand-up brilliancy.
Veteran Lynn Redgrave understandably falls victim to this as Lady Bracknell, the society brigadier posing as Gwendolen’s “affectionate” and highly aphoristic mother. It’s one of the toughest roles to pull off, so great are the precedents (Edith Evans, most notably, in the 1952 film) and so beloved are the character’s tyrannical quips. (My favorite: “Come, dear, [Gwendolen rises] we have already missed five, if not six trains. To miss any more might expose us to comment on the platform.”
Decked at first in champagne-colored taffeta and a feathered hat, Redgrave appears to be having a lip-smackingly good time. Yet her unrestrained, not to say slightly burlesque, approach turns Jack’s insults to her character (“never met such a Gorgon”; “she is a monster, without being a myth”) into acts of dramatic criticism.”
Well, don’t say I didn’t tell you. Whatever happened to you? Since I “knew” you last, when was it? …seven years ago? … you seem to have lost your courage.
A smart director of Wilde would do well to cast the play perfectly, free up the actors, and stand editorially and fondly back while Wilde’s words take over. To manipulate the actors and the play away from Wilde is an impertinance, and not even a titled director is automatically en-titled to do that (pun intended).
It is clear that if actors are intimidated by a SIR, Peter Hall did himself a disservice by accepting one. But perhaps he feels he gains immunity by it – an assumption long built into the ways of British society. (And imagine this pop-up – today, Wilde would most certainly have been offered a title instead of a prison sentence!)
Here is the review in full: Download file
Not only actors can become intimidated and (openly) uncritical of directors with a title (unless perhaps they own one themselves). One can safely assume that many American journalist/critics suffer from the same respectful paralysis.
As for Los Angeles theatre, that it remains but a poor stepchild in the family of the Hollywood performing arts, can be seen from this review in today’s Hollywood Reporter: It is clear that their critic, Ed Kaufman, who writes a suspiciously excellent review of the play may have been afraid of this production. Download file He even got his pun reference wrong.
Actually, there is no real evidence that he saw it.