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‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ Review: Sarah Snook Dazzles in a Flashy Stage-Meets-Screen Retelling

By David Benedict

David Benedict

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The Picture of Dorian Gray review Sarah Snook

Oscar Wilde himself sat in the Royal Box in the West End’s beautifully gilded Theatre Royal Haymarket in the 1890s for the premieres of his comedies “A Woman of No Importance” and “An Ideal Husband.” Given the glitteringly dangerous ideas that drive his only novel, “ The Picture of Dorian Gray ,” it seems more than likely he would have applauded the sheer audacity of writer-director Kip Williams’ new, dizzyingly high-tech adaptation, in which all 26 characters in the mostly-male Faustian pact are played with delicious range and wholly arresting zeal by “ Succession ” Emmy winner Sarah Snook .

Williams’ staging of his own adaptation opens with a fierce close-up of Snook’s exuberant face on a large, portrait-style screen — the first of many — hanging down at the center of the proscenium arch. Simultaneously, towards the back of the bare, black, open stage, we watch her being filmed. She’s setting the scene, narrating a discussion between Basil, the painter of Dorian’s portrait, and Dorian’s friend and mentor Sir Henry Wotton. But what threatens to be a sub-Ivo-van-Hove evening of filmed images flattening live performance almost immediately develops layers of fascination and tension thanks to David Bergman’s state-of-the-art video, projection and film work. 

The most famous fact of this (im)morality tale is that while he lives a life of increasing indulgence and license, Dorian’s Gray perfect image, captured on canvas and hidden in the attic, rots. Cunningly, that’s the only picture the production never shows. Instead we are treated to an increasingly animated gallery of Snook’s ferocious characterizations in a gothic story that grows ever darker as Dorian proves that (as Wilde later wrote) “nothing succeeds like excess.”

The technical sophistication grows and grows, often with high-level wit creating a wicked sense of camp mirroring the themes of the novel. Interrogating his own beauty begins with just a glorious gleam in Snook’s eye beneath a bubbly blond wig, as his ever more “perfect” face is projected on multiple screens and made ever more false.

Camerawork splashed across them is mixed with filmed sequences allowing Snook to play and simultaneously interrogate multiple characters in dialogue. By the time Dorian fatally re-meets the now terrified painter, the conversation between the two of them, played out live and on film by the same person, feels utterly natural, a tribute to the performance and to the winning craft that has gone before.

Designer Marg Horwell’s simple, stripped-back stage pieces allow for multiple locations. Many of them are knowingly theatrical — there are laughs from a book notable for a lack of them — and they’re delineated by an intensely floral aesthetic which, although stopping short of anything as literal as a green carnation, floods Snook’s often hilariously arch and braying characters with color.

Together with everything from Clemence Williams’ fierce arrangement of Vivaldi’s “Winter” from “The Four Seasons” to Bock and Harnick’s hymn to self-adoration “Gorgeous” from “The Apple Tree” and Giorgio Moroder’s “I Feel Love,” the ever-surprising sound world is integral to the production’s success in building a world that snares the audience.

Unlike the original whose prose lingers at (too) much length in self-admiration, this stage-meets-screen version largely keeps its foot on the accelerator. Only in the final stretch does momentum fail. Just at the point where we need the tale to climax, as terrified, febrile Dorian’s horror peaks, tension slackens.

The element missing from this bravura evening is the engagement of feeling: there is more emoting than heartfelt emotion. But, in Williams and Snook’s defense, that’s absent from the original too and anyone seeking sincerity from “The Picture of Dorian Gray” is looking in the wrong place. Not for nothing did Wilde observe that “The first duty in life is to be as artificial as possible.”

Theatre Royal Haymarket, London; 899 seats; £149 ($187) top; premium top £289 ($363). Opened, reviewed February 15, 2024. Running time: 1 HOUR, 50 MIN.

  • Production: A Michael Cassel and Adam Kenwright, Len Blavatnik and Danny Cohen, Daniel Roth, Amanda Lipitz and Henry Tisch, Jonathan Church presentation of a Sydney Theatre Company production of a play in one act by Kip Williams adapted from the novel by Oscar Wilde.
  • Crew: Directed by Kip Williams. Video designer, David Bergman; sets and costumes, Marg Howell; lighting, Nick Schlieper, composer and sound design, Clemence Williams; production stage manager, Harriet Stewart.
  • Cast: Sarah Snook.

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17 Harmony on Broadway

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18 Best Bubble Artistry on Broadway: Gazillion Bubble Show

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Juliet on Broadway Poster Small

19 A Different Ending for the Greatest Love Story Ever Told: & Juliet

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20 Sweeney Todd

The Broadway show Sweeney Todd will be at the beautiful Lunt-Fontanne Theatre beginning in February 2023. This will be the first time you can experience the play in its original production since 1980. With Tony- and Grammy-nominated Josh Groban as Sweeney Todd and Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford as Mrs. Lovett, you can expect a top-notch cast that will make this musical thriller a very special experience.

  • Winner of 2 Tony Awards 2023

Back to the Future

21 Back to the Future

Experience the epic adventure of Back to the Future as it comes to the Winter Garden Theatre. The story begins when Marty McFly is transported back to 1955 in a time machine constructed by the eccentric scientist Doc Brown. After he accidentally changes history, he must race against time to fix the present, outrun the past, and get himself back to the future. Follow Marty on this exciting and unforgettable journey through Hill Valley as he navigates the twists and turns of time travel.

How Far In Advance Can You Buy Broadway Tickets In 2023?

Typically, you can buy Broadway tickets up to six months in advance. However, the sooner you purchase them, the better your seats will be. Many of the new shows that are coming to Broadway in 2023 have already started previews, so it’s best to buy your tickets as soon as possible.

Musical Tickets at StubHub

If you’re not able to get tickets for one of the specific dates that you want, don’t worry! There are often last-minute ticket sales available on StubHub and other ticket aggregators. So even if you’re only a few weeks away from seeing a show, there’s still a chance that you can get tickets!

How Much Are Tickets To A Broadway Show In New York?

Broadway tickets in New York can vary in price depending on the show you see and the seat location. Generally, though, fees for performances range from $39 to over $200 per ticket.

However, discounts are often available for students, seniors, and groups. Make sure to ask about any special deals when purchasing your tickets. Also, be aware that some Broadway shows charge a service fee on top of the ticket price.

What is the most famous Broadway musical?

According to The Broadway League, The Lion King is the highest-grossing Broadway show, with Wicked at a close second! These shows include songs and dance. The Phantom of the Opera should not be missing from the list – unfortunately, it can no longer be visited.

What is currently the best show on Broadway?

Given the subjectivity of what makes a show the “best,” it’s hard to determine a single best show on Broadway. However, based on multiple listings and guides, some of the current top-rated Broadway shows include “Grey House”, “Hamilton”, and “Sweeney Todd”.

What is a Broadway show?

Broadway shows refer to professional theater productions that are staged in any of the 41 large professional theaters in the Theatre District of Manhattan in New York City.

When are Broadway shows usually held?

Typically, Broadway shows are performed Tuesday through Saturday evenings, with matinees often on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

What is the average cost of a Broadway show ticket?

The cost varies greatly depending on the show, seating location, and time of purchase. Prices can range from around $30 to several hundred dollars.

What is the dress code for a Broadway show?

There is no official dress code. However, attendees typically dress smart-casual. Some attendees choose to dress more formally for evening performances.

Check out my article about what to wear to a broadway show how to dress for a broadway show .

Are there age restrictions for Broadway shows?

Some shows may have age recommendations or restrictions, while others are suitable for all ages. Always check before purchasing tickets.

How early should I arrive for a Broadway show?

It’s recommended to arrive at least 30 minutes before the show’s start time to accommodate security checks and seating.

What's the duration of a Broadway show?

Most Broadway shows last between 2 and 3 hours, including an intermission.

Can I take photos or record videos during the show?

No, it’s generally prohibited to take photos or record videos during a performance due to copyright laws and as a courtesy to the performers and other patrons.

Can I meet the cast of a Broadway show?

Sometimes. It’s a tradition for actors to greet fans at the stage door after performances, but this is not always guaranteed and could vary depending on COVID-19 restrictions.

What does "Off-Broadway" mean?

Off-Broadway refers to professional theater productions in New York City that are not located within the traditional Broadway Theater District and that have a seating capacity between 100 and 499.

Pro tip:   check out my guide about the best Off-Broadway Shows in NYC .

Are Broadway shows only musicals?

No. Broadway shows can include both plays and musicals.

Are there intermissions during a Broadway show?

Yes, most Broadway shows include one intermission, which is typically about 15 minutes long.

Can I bring food and drink into the theater?

Usually, outside food and drink are not allowed in the theater. However, many theaters sell concessions, including drinks and light snacks.

What happens if I'm late to a Broadway show?

If you arrive late, ushers will typically seat you at an appropriate break in the performance to minimize disruption.

What are some of the most popular Broadway shows?

Some popular shows include “ Hamilton ,” “ The Lion King ,” “ Wicked ,” “ The Book of Mormon ,” and “ Chicago .”

What's the difference between Broadway and Off-Broadway shows?

The main differences are the size of the theater and budget. Broadway theaters have 500 or more seats, while Off-Broadway theaters have between 100 and 499. Broadway shows typically have larger budgets and higher production values.

Is there a way to get discounted Broadway show tickets?

Yes, discounted tickets can often be obtained through rush, lottery, or standing room only policies, or from TKTS Discount Booths located in Times Square, Lincoln Center, and Brooklyn.

What does it mean when a show is "in previews?"

When a show is “in previews,” it is performing for audiences before the official opening night. Changes can still be made to the show during this period based on audience reaction and feedback.

What does "Tony Award-winning" mean?

The Tony Awards recognize excellence in live Broadway theater. If a show is “Tony Award-winning,” it means that it has won one or more of these prestigious awards.

Pro tip: Here you can find everything you need to know about the Tony Awards (you will love it!).

What is the #1 iconic Broadway musical?

This is subjective and can vary based on personal preference, historical impact, and cultural influence. However, some of the most iconic Broadway musicals include “ Hamilton ,” and “ The Lion King .” According to the recent listing, “ Hamilton ” is still a top-rated Broadway musical.

What is the best Broadway to watch first time?

“ Hamilton ” is often suggested as a great first-time Broadway show due to its mix of traditional Broadway elements and modern music styles. It tells a powerful story and has been highly acclaimed.

Is it better to eat before or after a Broadway show?

This largely depends on personal preference and scheduling. Some people prefer to eat before to avoid feeling hungry during the performance, while others might enjoy a meal afterward to discuss the show. Keep in mind that Broadway theaters often do not allow outside food and drink, and intermissions are usually brief.

What is the most expensive Broadway show?

“Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” was the most expensive Broadway show ever produced, with a budget of approximately $75 million.

What is "Almost Famous" on Broadway?

“Almost Famous” is a musical adaptation of Cameron Crowe’s 2000 film of the same name. The musical, like the film, is a coming-of-age story about a teenage journalist writing for Rolling Stone in the early 1970s while covering the fictitious rock band Stillwater.

Why is "Hamilton" so popular?

“ Hamilton ” is popular for numerous reasons. Its innovative blend of hip-hop and musical theater has attracted a wide range of audiences, and its diverse cast and contemporary style have redefined expectations for Broadway. The musical also humanizes historical figures, making the story accessible and relatable, while its complex characters and themes encourage repeated viewings. Its popularity is still evident in 2023 as it remains one of the top-rated shows

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Hamilton

Critics’ picks for theater and Broadway in New York

Time Out New York’s theater critics guide you to the best musicals and plays in New York right now

Adam Feldman

At any given moment there's a dizzying array of musicals , plays and experimental works for theater lovers in New York City to choose from. But the sheer volume of choices can make it hard to decide what to see. Let us give you a hand with that! Here is an alphabetical short list of our critics' picks: all the shows that Time Out New York 's critics have seen, reviewed and liked, plus a few that we feel confident recommending in advance. For a wider view of what's playing in NYC, check out our complete list of current  Broadway shows and our extensive Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway listings.

RECOMMENDED:  Best Broadway shows

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Critics’ picks for theater in New York

& Juliet

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West Open run

Broadway review by Adam Feldman “Keep it light, keep it tight, keep it fun, and then we’re done!” That’s the pithy advice that the indignant 16th-century housewife Anne Hathaway (Betsy Wolfe) imparts to her neglectful husband, William Shakespeare (Stark Sands), as a way to improve his play Romeo and Juliet, which she considers too much of a downer. It is also the guiding ethos of the new Broadway jukebox musical & Juliet, a quasi-Elizabethan romp through the chart-toppers of Swedish songwriter-producer Max Martin. A diverting synthetic crossbreed of Moulin Rouge!, Something Rotten!, Mamma Mia! and Head Over Heels, this show delivers just what you’d expect. It is what it is: It gives you the hooks and it gets the ovations.  Martin is the preeminent pop hitmaker of the past 25 years, so & Juliet has a lot to draw from. The show’s 30 songs include multiple bops originally recorded by the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and Katy Perry, as well as tunes that Martin wrote—or, in all but two cases, co-wrote—for Pink, NSYNC, Kesha, Robyn, Kelly Clarkson, Jessie J, Céline Dion, Ariana Grande, Justin Timberlake, Ellie Goulding, Demi Lovato, Adam Lambert, the Weeknd and even Bon Jovi. (Notably absent are any of his collaborations with Taylor Swift.) “Roar,” “Domino,” “Since U Been Gone”: the hit list goes on and on. As a compilation disc performed live, it’s a feast for Millennials; its alternate title might well be Now That’s What I Call a Musical! & Julietl | Photograph: Matthew Murp

Blue Man Group

Blue Man Group

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • price 4 of 4
  • Noho Until Dec 31, 2024

Three deadpan blue-skinned men with extraterrestrial imaginations carry this tourist fave, a show as smart as it is ridiculous. They drum on open tubs of paint, creating splashes of color; they consume Twinkies and Cap'n Crunch; they engulf the audience in a roiling sea of toilet paper. For sheer weird, exuberant fun, it's hard to top this long-running treat. (Note: The playing schedule varies from week to week, with as many as four performances on some days and none on others.)

The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon

  • 5 out of 5 stars

If theater is your religion and the Broadway musical your sect, you've been woefully faith-challenged of late. Venturesome, boundary-pushing works such as Spring Awakening, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Next to Normal closed too soon. American Idiot was shamefully ignored at the Tonys and will be gone in three weeks. Meanwhile, that airborne infection Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark dominates headlines and rakes in millions, without even opening. Celebrities and corporate brands sell poor material, innovation gets shown the door, and crap floats to the top. It's enough to turn you heretic, to sing along with The Book of Mormon's Ugandan villagers: "Fuck you God in the ass, mouth and cunt-a, fuck you in the eye." Such deeply penetrating lyrics offer a smidgen of the manifold scato-theological joys to be had at this viciously hilarious treat crafted by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, of South Park fame, and composer-lyricist Robert Lopez, who cowrote Avenue Q. As you laugh your head off at perky Latter-day Saints tap-dancing while fiercely repressing gay tendencies deep in the African bush, you will be transported back ten years, when The Producers and Urinetown resurrected American musical comedy, imbuing time-tested conventions with metatheatrical irreverence and a healthy dose of bad-taste humor. Brimming with cheerful obscenity, sharp satire and catchy tunes, The Book of Mormon is a sick mystic revelation, the most exuberantly entertaining Broadway musical in years. The high q

Chamber Magic

Chamber Magic

  • Circuses & magic
  • Midtown East Open run

Steve Cohen, billed as the Millionaires’ Magician, conjures high-class parlor magic in the marble-columned Madison Room at the swank Lotte New York Palace. Audiences must dress to be impressed (cocktail attire is required); tickets start at $125, with an option to pay more for meet-and-greet time and extra tricks with Cohen after the show. But if you've come to see a classic-style magic act, you get what you pay for. Sporting a tuxedo and bright rust hair, the magician delivers routines that he has buffed to a patent-leather gleam: In addition to his signature act—"Think-a-Drink," involving a kettle that pours liquids by request—highlights include a lulu of levitation trick and a card-trick finale that leaves you feeling like, well, a million bucks.

The Connector

The Connector

  • Hell's Kitchen Until Mar 17, 2024

Theater review by Melissa Rose Bernardo  Jonathan Marc Sherman and Jason Robert Brown’s The Connector is clearly inspired by real events: This new musical, about a hotshot young writer who falsifies sources and plot points in his features and brings shame upon a respected magazine, bears many resemblances to the story of Stephen Glass and The New Republic in the late 1990s. Unlike Glass, however, Sherman, Brown and director Daisy Prince (who also conceived the show) do not pretend to be telling the truth, which frees them to shape their story any way they please. One of the show’s smartest choices is to shift the spotlight from the overconfident, fresh-outta-Princeton fabulist, Ethan; played by Ben Levi Ross—an erstwhile Evan Hansen, appropriately enough—he never explains himself or reveals his motivations. But even if he did, could we even trust him? As his editor-in-chief, Conrad (Scott Bakula, perfectly cast as an old-school, scotch-at-noon guy’s guy), sings in the very first scene: “The facts can always be manipulated.” Narration duties fall to the far more likable copy editor and would-be writer Robin (a fantastic Hannah Cruz), who chronicles Ethan’s rise and fall at a New Yorker–esque magazine called The Connector.  The Connector | Photograph: Joan Marcus Sherman and Brown set the show in the peak magazine years of the last century, when college grads were fighting for internships at places like Time and Newsweek. Beowulf Boritt’s spectacular set—with its piles of manu

Days of Wine and Roses

Days of Wine and Roses

  • Midtown West Until Apr 28, 2024

Broadway review by Adam Feldman  Days of Wine and Roses, a musical treatment of alcoholism, raises a toast that ends in shattered glass. “Magic time” is what Joe (Brian d’Arcy James) calls drinking, and soon he has Kirsten (Kelli O’Hara) caught up in its spell. He’s a Korean War vet who works in the shadier nooks of public relations in the 1950s, greasing the social wheels for his superiors; she’s his boss’s pretty secretary, fresh from the farm and eager for danger. He teaches her to drink—she’s a quick learner—and at first the bottle’s genie grants their wishes: happiness, love, professional success. But beware the gifts of spirits.  Days of Wine and Roses reunites composer Adam Guettel with playwright Craig Lucas; as in their previous collaboration, 2005’s The Light in the Piazza, the result is ambitious, artful and musically sophisticated. But whereas Piazza delivers a sweeping romantic breadth of Florentine airs, this piece is more intimate and interior in scope, at times claustrophobic. Joe and Kirsten are very nearly the only people in this 105-minute musical who sing at all—their daughter (Tabitha Lawing) has a few lines in the second half—in keeping with the increasingly small world they share. “What about our secret language?” she wails, betrayed, when he decides to go sober. “Who will I talk to?”  Days of Wine and Roses | Photograph: Joan Marcus Guettel’s score has the feel of a chamber opera. For moments of drunken euphoria, it dabbles in cocktail jazz: Passages

Gazillion Bubble Show

Gazillion Bubble Show

  • price 2 of 4
  • Hell's Kitchen Open run

Self-described “bubble scientist” Fan Yang's blissfully disarming act (now performed in New York by his son Deni, daughter Melody and wife Ana) consists mainly of generating a dazzling succession of bubbles in mind-blowing configurations, filling them with smoke or linking them into long chains. Lasers and flashing colored lights add to the trippy visuals.—David Cote   TIME OUT DISCOUNT TICKET OFFER:THE GAZILLION BUBBLE SHOWIt will blow you away!!!Tickets as low as $49 (regular price $79) Promotional description:After twenty years as a Master of Bubbles, Fan Yang brought his unique brand of artistry to the Big Apple in 2007 and has since wowed bubble lovers of all ages. The Gazillion Bubble Show truly is a family affair for Fan: His wife Ana, son Deni, daughter Melody and brother Jano all can be found on stage in New York and around the world performing their bubble magic. Audiences are delighted with an unbubblievable experience and washed with a bubble tide; some even find themselves inside a bubble. Mind-blowing bubble magic, spectacular laser lighting effects and momentary soapy masterpieces will make you smile, laugh and feel like a kid again.THREE WAYS TO BUY TICKETS:1. Online: Click here to buy tickets through Telecharge2. By phone: Call 212-947-8844 and mention code: GBTONYF453. In person: Print this offer and bring it to the New World Stages box officePerformance schedule: Friday at 7pm; Saturday at 11am, 2pm and 4:30pm; Sunday at 12pm and 3pm Running time: 1hr. No

Hadestown

Theater review by Adam Feldman  Here’s my advice: Go to hell. And by hell, of course, I mean Hadestown, Anaïs Mitchell’s fizzy, moody, thrilling new Broadway musical. Ostensibly, at least, the show is a modern retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice: Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy goes to the land of the dead in hopes of retrieving girl, boy loses girl again. “It’s an old song,” sings our narrator, the messenger god Hermes (André De Shields, a master of arch razzle-dazzle). “And we’re gonna sing it again.” But it’s the newness of Mitchell’s musical account—and Rachel Chavkin’s gracefully dynamic staging—that bring this old story to quivering life. In a New Orleans–style bar, hardened waif Eurydice (Eva Noblezada) falls for Orpheus (Reeve Carney), a busboy with an otherworldly high-tenor voice who is working, like Roger in Rent, toward writing one perfect song. But dreams don’t pay the bills, so the desperate Eurydice—taunted by the Fates in three-part jazz harmony—opts to sell her soul to the underworld overlord Hades (Patrick Page, intoning jaded come-ons in his unique sub-sepulchral growl, like a malevolent Leonard Cohen). Soon she is forced, by contract, into the ranks of the leather-clad grunts of Hades’s filthy factory city; if not actually dead, she is “dead to the world anyway.” This Hades is a drawling capitalist patriarch who keeps his minions loyal by giving them the minimum they need to survive. (“The enemy is poverty,” he sings to them in

Hamilton

Hamilton: Theater review by David Cote What is left to say? After Founding Father Alexander Hamilton’s prodigious quill scratched out 12 volumes of nation-building fiscal and military policy; after Lin-Manuel Miranda turned that titanic achievement (via Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography) into the greatest American musical in decades; after every critic in town (including me) praised the Public Theater world premiere to high heaven; and after seeing this language-drunk, rhyme-crazy dynamo a second time, I can only marvel: We've used up all the damn words. Wait, here are three stragglers, straight from the heart: I love Hamilton. I love it like I love New York, or Broadway when it gets it right. And this is so right. A sublime conjunction of radio-ready hip-hop (as well as R&B, Britpop and trad showstoppers), under-dramatized American history and Miranda’s uniquely personal focus as a first-generation Puerto Rican and inexhaustible wordsmith, Hamilton hits multilevel culture buttons, hard. No wonder the show was anointed a sensation before even opening. Assuming you don’t know the basics, ­Hamilton is a (mostly) rapped-through biomusical about an orphan immigrant from the Caribbean who came to New York, served as secretary to General Washington, fought against the redcoats, authored most of the Federalist Papers defending the Constitution, founded the Treasury and the New York Post and even made time for an extramarital affair that he damage-controlled in a scandal-stanching pamphle

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Broadway review by Adam Feldman  Reducio! After 18 months, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has returned to Broadway in a dramatically new form. As though it had cast a Shrinking Charm on itself, the formerly two-part epic is now a single show, albeit a long one: Almost three and a half hours of stage wizardry, set 20 years after the end of J.K. Rowling’s seven-part book series and tied to a complicated time-travel plot about the sons of Harry Potter and his childhood foe Draco Malfoy. (See below for a full review of the 2018 production.) Audiences who were put off by the previous version’s tricky schedule and double price should catch the magic now.  Despite its shrinking, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has kept most of its charm. The spectacular set pieces of John Tiffany’s production remain—the staircase ballet, the underwater swimming scene, the gorgeous flying wraiths—but about a third of the former text has been excised. Some of the changes are surgical trims, and others are more substantial. The older characters take the brunt of the cuts (Harry’s flashback nightmares, for example, are completely gone); there is less texture to the conflicts between the fathers and sons, and the plotting sometimes feels more rushed than before. But the changes have the salutary effect of focusing the story on its most interesting new creations: the resentful Albus Potter (James Romney) and the unpopular Scorpius Malfoy (Brady Dalton Richards), whose bond has been reconceived in a s

Jonah

  • Midtown West Until Mar 10, 2024

Theater review by Adam Feldman  The characters in Jonah are constantly checking in with each other, whether out of concern or to grant or request consent. “Okay? Are you okay?” says the fumbling, sweetly horny teenager Jonah (Hagan Oliveras) as he shares a kiss with his boarding-school classmate Ana (Gabby Beans). “I’m okay,” she affirms. “Okay,” he replies. Such exchanges recur with pointed regularity throughout the script: The word okay (sometimes shortened to ’kay) is spoken 158 times in Rachel Bonds’s 100-minute play.  But Ana is not okay. Yes, she seems fine—unusually self-possessed, even—in the play’s first scenes, which are devoted to her funny and adorable courtship with Jonah: a hopelessly self-conscious manic pixie dreamboy with curly hair and a smooth, leanly muscled body. She’s the one who takes the sexual initiative in their flirtation, flashing her bra at the end of their first encounter. (“I don’t have to do anything. I do what I want,” she later explains.) When she shares her romantic fantasies with him, she spins them with an animation that prefigures her future as a writer.  Jonah | Photograph: Joan Marcus At around the half-hour mark, though, their connection goes haywire. The action shifts from school to Ana’s home, where she lives under the tyranny of an alcoholic stepfather. This Ana is more passive; she serves as a support system for her abused stepbrother Danny—played touchingly and scarily by Samuel H. Levine, of The Inheritance—with whom she shares

Kimberly Akimbo

Kimberly Akimbo

Broadway review by Adam Feldman Sixteen is not sweet for the heroine of the bruisingly joyful new musical Kimberly Akimbo. Adapted by David Lindsay-Abaire from his own 2001 play, with music by Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, or Change), the show has a central conceit that verges on magical realism: Kimberly Levaco suffers from an unnamed, “incredibly rare” genetic disorder that makes her age at a superfast rate. Played by the 63-year-old Victoria Clark, she is physically and psychically out of place among her high school peers, who have more conventional adolescent problems like unrequited crushes. “Getting older is my affliction,” the usually mild-mannered Kimberly sings in a rare burst of confrontation. “Getting older is your cure.”   Life at home in New Jersey with her boozy, incompetently protective father (Steven Boyer) and her pregnant, hypochondriacal and self-absorbed mother (Alli Mauzey) is even less appealing. But as Kimberly stares into a cruelly foreshortened future—the life expectancy for people with her illness is, yes, 16—two agents of disruption reframe her perspective. The first is her aunt Debra (the unstoppable Bonnie Milligan), a hilarious gale force of chaos who blows into town and quickly recruits her niece into an elaborate check-fraud scheme. The other is Seth (the winsome and natural Justin Cooley), a gentle, tuba-playing classmate with an affinity for anagrams that suggests, to Kimberly, that maybe he could shake her up and rearrange her too. Kimberly Aki

The Lion King

The Lion King

Director-designer Julie Taymor takes a reactionary Disney cartoon about the natural right of kings—in which the circle of life is putted against a queeny villain and his jive-talking ghetto pals—and transforms it into a gorgeous celebration of color and movement. The movie’s Elton John–Tim Rice score is expanded with African rhythm and music, and through elegant puppetry, Taymor populates the stage with an amazing menagerie of beasts; her audacious staging expands a simple cub into the pride of Broadway, not merely a fable of heredity but a celebration of heritage. RECOMMENDED: Guide to The Lion King on Broadway  Minskoff Theatre (Broadway). Music by Elton John. Lyrics by Tim Rice. Book by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi. Directed by Julie Taymor. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs 40mins. One intermission.

Little Shop of Horrors

Little Shop of Horrors

Theater review by Adam Feldman  [Note: Darren Criss currently plays Seymour opposite Evan Rachel Wood as Audrey, with Bryce Pinkham as Orin and Brad Oscar as Mushnik.]  Little Shop of Horrors is a weird and adorable show with teeth. Based on Roger Corman’s shlocky 1960 film, Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s 1982 musical tells the Faustian story of a dirt-poor schlub named Seymour (Jonathan Groff), a lowly petal pusher at a Skid Row flower shop, who cultivates a relationship with a most unusual plant. What seems at first a blessing—a way for the lonely Seymour to earn money and to get closer to his boss, Mushnik (Tom Alan Robbins), and his used and bruised coworker, Audrey (Tammy Blanchard)—soon turns sinister. The plant, whom he names Audrey II (designed by Nicholas Mahon and voiced by Kingsley Leggs), requires human blood to grow, and Seymour doesn’t have enough of his own to spare. He doesn’t want to feed the beast, but he can’t resist the lure of the green. Arguably the best musical ever adapted from a movie, Little Shop does for B flicks what Sweeney Todd does for Grand Guignol. Librettist Ashman and composer Menken—who, between this show and their Disney animated films, did more than anyone to return musical theater from its mass-culture exile in the late 20th century—brilliantly wrap a sordid tale of capitalist temptation and moral decay in layers of sweetness, humor, wit and camp. Their extraordinary score bursts with colorful rock & roll, doo-wop, girl-group pop and R&

Magic After Hours

Magic After Hours

Once a week, after closing time, 10 people convene at the city’s oldest magic shop, Tannen’s, for a cozy evening of prestidigitation by the young and engaging Noah Levine. The shelves are crammed with quirky devices; there's a file cabinet behind the counter, a mock elephant in the corner and bins of individual trick instructions in plastic covers, like comic books or sheet music. The charm of Levine's show is in how well it fits the environment of this magic-geek chamber of secrets. As he maneuvers cards, eggs, cups and balls with aplomb, he talks shop, larding his patter with tributes to routines like the Stencel Aces and the Vernon Boat Trick—heirlooms of his trade that he gently polishes and displays for our amazement.

Merrily We Roll Along

Merrily We Roll Along

  • Midtown West Until Mar 24, 2024

Broadway review by Adam Feldman  Merrily We Roll Along is the femme fatale of Stephen Sondheim musicals, beautiful and troubled; people keep thinking they can fix it, rescue it, save it from itself and make it their own. In the decades since its disastrous 1981 premiere on Broadway, where it lasted just two weeks, the show has been revised and revived many times (including by the York in 1994, Encores! in 2012 and Fiasco in 2019). The challenges of Merrily are built into its core in a way that no production can fully overcome. But director Maria Friedman’s revival does a superb job—the best I’ve ever seen—of overlooking them, the way one might forgive the foibles of an old friend.   As a showbiz-steeped investigation of the disillusionment that may accompany adulthood, Merrily is a companion piece to Sondheim’s Follies, with which it shares a key line: “Never look back,” an imperative this show pointedly ignores. Adapted by George Furth from a play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, the musical is structured in reverse. We first meet Franklin Shepard (Jonathan Groff) in 1976, when he is a former composer now leading a hollow life as a producer of Hollywood schlock; successive scenes move backward through the twisting paths on which he has lost both his ideals and his erstwhile best pals, playwright Charley (Daniel Radcliffe) and writer Mary (Lindsay Mendez). The final scene—chronologically, the first—finds them together on a rooftop in 1957, as yet regardless of their doom,

Monday Night Magic: Close-Up & In-Person

Monday Night Magic: Close-Up & In-Person

  • Greenwich Village Open run

For more than two decades, this proudly old-school series has offered a different lineup of professional magicians every week. It's an heir to the vaudeville tradition: Many of the acts incorporate comedic elements, and audience participation is common. (If you have children, bring them; they make especially adorable assistants.) The show has recently moved to the private upstairs dining room at Monte's Trattoria, and the ticket package includes a three-course red-sauce Italian meal. You get a lot of value and variety for your magic dollar, and in contrast to some fancier magic shows, this one feels like comfort food: an all-you-can-eat buffet to which you’re encouraged to return until you’re as stuffed as a hat full of rabbits.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

Theater review by Adam Feldman Red alert! Red alert! If you’re the kind of person who frets that jukebox musicals are taking over Broadway, prepare to tilt at the windmill that is the gorgeous, gaudy, spectacularly overstuffed Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Directed with opulent showmanship by Alex Timbers, this adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 movie may be costume jewelry, but its shine is dazzling.  The place is the legendary Paris nightclub of the title, and the year is ostensibly 1899. Yet the songs—like Catherine Zuber’s eye-popping costumes—span some 150 years of styles. Moulin Rouge! begins with a generous slathering of “Lady Marmalade,” belted to the skies by four women in sexy black lingerie, long velvet gloves and feathered headdresses. Soon they yield the stage to the beautiful courtesan Satine (a sublimely troubled Karen Olivo), who makes her grand entrance descending from the ceiling on a swing, singing “Diamonds Are Forever.” She is the Moulin Rouge’s principal songbird, and Derek McLane’s sumptuous gold-and-red set looms around her like a gilded cage. After falling in with a bohemian crowd, Christian (the boyish Aaron Tveit), a budding songwriter from small-town Ohio, wanders into the Moulin Rouge like Orpheus in the demimonde, his cheeks as rosy with innocence as the showgirls’ are blushed with maquillage. As cruel fate would have it, he instantly falls in love with Satine, and she with him—but she has been promised, alas, to the wicked Duke of Monroth (Tam Mutu)

Oh, Mary!

  • West Village Until Mar 24, 2024

Theater review by Adam Feldman  Cole Escola’s Oh, Mary! is not just funny: It is dizzyingly, breathtakingly funny, the kind of funny that ambushes your body into uncontained laughter. Stage comedies have become an endangered species in recent decades, and when they do pop up they tend to be the kind of funny that evokes smirks, chuckles or wry smiles of recognition. Not so here: I can’t remember the last time I saw a play that made me laugh, helplessly and loudly, as much as Oh, Mary! did—and my reaction was shared by the rest of the audience, which burst into applause at the end of every scene. Fasten your seatbelts: This 80-minute show is a fast and wild joy ride. Escola has earned a cult reputation as a sly comedic genius in their dazzling solo performances (Help! I’m Stuck!) and on TV shows like At Home with Amy Sedaris, Difficult People and Search Party. But Oh, Mary!, their first full-length play, may surprise even longtime fans. In this hilariously anachronistic historical burlesque, Escola plays—who else?—Mary Todd Lincoln, in the weeks leading up to her husband’s assassination. Boozy, vicious and miserable, the unstable and outrageously contrary Mary is oblivious to the Civil War and hell-bent on achieving stardom as—what else?—a cabaret singer.  Oh, Mary! | Photograph: Courtesy Emilio Madrid Described by the long-suffering President Lincoln as “my foul and hateful wife,” this virago makes her entrance snarling and hunched with fury, desperate to find a bottle she h

The Play That Goes Wrong

The Play That Goes Wrong

Theater review by Adam Feldman [Note: This is a review of the 2017 Broadway production, which moves Off Broadway to New World Stages in 2019 with a new cast.] Ah, the joy of watching theater fail. The looming possibility of malfunction is part of what makes live performance exciting, and disasters remind us of that; the rite requires sacrifice. There is more than schadenfreude involved when we giggle at, say, a YouTube video of a high-school Peter Pan crashing haplessly into the scenery. There is also sympathy—there but for the grace of deus ex machina go we all—and, often, a respect for the efforts of the actors to somehow muddle through. Mischief Theatre’s The Play That Goes Wrong takes this experience to farcical extremes, as six amateur British actors (and two crew members who get pressed into service onstage) try to perform a hackneyed whodunnit amid challenges that escalate from minor mishaps (stuck doors, missed cues) to bona fide medical emergencies and massive structural calamities.  Depending on your tolerance for ceaseless slapstick, The Play That Goes Wrong will either have you rolling in the aisles or rolling your eyes. It is certainly a marvel of coordination: The imported British cast deftly navigates the pitfalls of Nigel Hook’s ingeniously tumbledown set, and overacts with relish. (I especially enjoyed the muggings of Dave Hearn, Charlie Russell and coauthor Henry Lewis.) Directed by Mark Bell, the mayhem goes like cuckoo clockwork.  If you want to have a goo

Public Obscenities

Public Obscenities

  • Fort Greene Until Feb 25, 2024

Soho Rep joins forces with the National Asian American Theatre Co. to present the premiere of writer-director Shayok Misha Chowdhury's family drama, which explores queer desire across generations, cultures and languages. Performed in a mix of English and Bangla, the play follows a grad student (Abrar Haque) and his boyfriend (Jakeem Dante Powell) on a trip to Kolkata, where an old camera exposes past secrets. The play had a healthy run last year; now Theatre for a New Audience brings it back for an encore run.

Six

Broadway review by Adam Feldman Who doesn’t enjoy a royal wedding? The zingy Broadway musical Six celebrates, in boisterous fashion, the union of English dynastic history and modern pop music. On a mock concert stage, backed by an all-female band, the six wives of the 16th-century monarch Henry VIII air their grievances in song, and most of them have plenty to complain about: two were beheaded, two were divorced, one died soon after childbirth. In this self-described “histo-remix,” members of the long-suffering sextet spin their pain into bops; the queens sing their heads off and the audience loses its mind.  That may be for the best, because Six is not a show that bears too much thinking about. Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss wrote it when they were still students at Cambridge University, and it has the feel of a very entertaining senior showcase. Its 80 minutes are stuffed with clever turns of rhyme and catchy pastiche melodies that let mega-voiced singers toss off impressive “riffs to ruffle your ruffs.” The show's own riffs on history are educational, too, like a cheeky new British edition of Schoolhouse Rock. If all these hors d’oeuvres don’t quite add up to a meal, they are undeniably tasty. Aside from the opening number and finale and one detour into Sprockets–style German club dancing, Six is devoted to giving each of the queens—let’s call them the Slice Girls—one moment apiece in the spotlight, decked out in glittering jewel-encrusted outfits by Gabriella Slade that are Tu

Sleep No More

Sleep No More

  • Interactive
  • Chelsea Until Feb 25, 2024

To untimely rip and paraphrase a line from Macbeth: Our eyes are made the fools of the other senses, or else worth all the rest. A multitude of searing sights crowd the spectator's gaze at the bedazzling and uncanny theater installation Sleep No More. Your sense of space and depth—already compromised by the half mask that audience members must don—is further blurred as you wend through more than 90 discrete spaces, ranging from a cloistral chapel to a vast ballroom floor. Directors Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle, of the U.K. troupe Punchdrunk, have orchestrated a true astonishment, turning six warehouse floors and approximately 100,000 square feet into a purgatorial maze that blends images from the Scottish play with ones derived from Hitchcock movies—all liberally doused in a distinctly Stanley Kubrick eau de dislocated menace. An experiential, Choose Your Own Adventure project such as this depends on the pluck and instincts of the spectator. You can follow the mute dancers from one floor to the next, or wander aimlessly through empty spaces. I chose the latter, discovering a room lined with empty hospital beds; a leafless wood in which a nurse inside a thatched cottage nervously checks her pocket watch; an office full of apothecary vials and powders; and the ballroom, forested with pine trees screwed to rolling platforms (that would be Birnam Wood). A Shakespearean can walk about checking off visual allusions to the classic tragedy; the less lettered can just revel in the f

Spamalot

Broadway review by Adam Feldman In the extremely funny 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the British comedy troupe’s lampoon of Arthurian legend, there is only one fully fledged musical number: a cutaway to the roundly ludicrous knights of Camelot, who dance in armored kicklines and describe themselves in such ridiculous rhymes as “We sing from the diaphragm a lot” and “We eat ham and jam and Spam a lot.” The very thought of it prompts the questing King Arthur to question his plans. “On second thought, let's not go to Camelot,” he decides. “It is a silly place.” Cut to the 2005 musical Spamalot, which expands the spirit of that 65-second sequence into a two-act Broadway show. It is a silly piece. Adapted by Eric Idle from the Holy Grail screenplay—with help from composer John Du Prez, and a handful of loaners from other Python sources (notably the Life of Brian song “Always Look On the Bright Side of Life”)—this tongue-in-cheeky pageant still tells the episodic story of King Arthur (James Monroe Iglehart) and his entourage in search of a vaunted relic. But jokes about medieval legend now take a back seat to metatheatrical tomfoolery about musical theater as a genre. Winking at Broadway conventions in a succession of zanily oversold numbers, it is essentially an ongoing parody of itself—so much so that when Gerard Allesandrini spoofed Spamalot for his Forbidden Broadway series, he simply had his actors perform an actual song from the show, “The Song That Goes Like Th

Speakeasy Magick

Speakeasy Magick

  • Chelsea Open run

Review by Adam Feldman  The low-key dazzling Speakeasy Magick has been nestled in the atmospheric McKittrick Hotel for more than a year, and now it has moved up to the Lodge: a small wood-framed room at Gallow Green, which functions as a rooftop bar in the summer. The show’s dark and noisy new digs suit it well. Hosted by Todd Robbins (Play Dead), who specializes in mild carnival-sideshow shocks, Speakeasy Magick is a moveable feast of legerdemain; audience members, seated at seven tables, are visited by a series of performers in turn. Robbins describes this as “magic speed dating.” One might also think of it as tricking: an illusion of intimacy, a satisfying climax, and off they go into the night. The evening is punctuated with brief performances on a makeshift stage. When I attended, the hearty Matthew Holtzclaw kicked things off with sleight of hand involving cigarettes and booze; later, the delicate-featured Alex Boyce pulled doves from thin air. But it’s the highly skilled close-up magic that really leaves you gasping with wonder. Holtzclaw’s table act comes to fruition with a highly effective variation on the classic cups-and-balls routine; the elegant, Singapore-born Prakash and the dauntingly tattooed Mark Calabrese—a razor of a card sharp—both find clever ways to integrate cell phones into their acts. Each performer has a tight 10-minute act, and most of them are excellent, but that’s the nice thing about the way the show is structured: If one of them happens to fall

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Broadway review by Adam Feldman  [Note: Aaron Tveit and Sutton Foster take over the lead roles starting February 9, 2024.] Ladies and gentlemen, dinner is served. Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s 1979 Sweeney Todd may well be the greatest of all Broadway musicals: an epic combination of disparate ingredients—horror and humor, cynicism and sentiment, melodrama and sophisticated wit—with a central core of grounded, meaty humanity. But while the show’s quality is baked into the writing, portion sizes in recent years have varied. Sweeney Todd’s scope makes it expensive to stage; its 1989 and 2005 Broadway revivals (and the immersive 2017 Off Broadway incarnation) presented the show with greatly reduced casts and orchestrations. Not so for the thrilling version now playing at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, directed by Hamilton’s Thomas Kail: This production features a 26-piece orchestra and a cast of 25 led by Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford. It’s a feast for the ears.  Groban plays the title role: a Victorian barber, né Benjamin Barker, who returns to London after serving 15 years of hard labor for a crime he didn’t commit, hoping to reunite with his beloved wife, Lucy, and their young daughter, Johanna. But as he learns from his practical neighbor Mrs. Lovett (Ashford)—who operates the squalid meat-pie shop below his old tonsorial parlor—Lucy poisoned herself after being assaulted by the same lecherous judge (Jamie Jackson) who sent him away, who is now the guardian of the teen

Wicked

This musical prequel to The Wizard of Oz addresses surprisingly complex themes, such as standards of beauty, morality and, believe it or not, fighting fascism. Thanks to Winnie Holzman’s witty book and Stephen Schwartz’s pop-inflected score, Wicked soars. The current cast includes Lindsay Pearce as Elphaba and Ginna Claire Mason as Glinda.

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‘the picture of dorian gray’ theater review: sarah snook is phenomenal in bravura oscar wilde adaptation.

The Emmy-winning 'Succession' star steps into all 26 roles in Kip Williams' lauded Sydney Theatre Company production on London's West End, with rumored plans in the air for a Broadway run to follow.

By Demetrios Matheou

Demetrios Matheou

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The Picture of Dorian Gray

If Sarah Snook felt at all concerned about how to follow her career-defining, award-winning turn as Shiv Roy on Succession , a fear of ever reaching such heights again, of even coming close to filling that professional hole, then she must now feel rather blessed — if also, every night, unbelievably exhausted.

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The show itself arrives with a big rep to live up to. Williams, the Sydney Theatre Company’s artistic director, stages his own adaptation, which received great acclaim when it premiered in 2020, playing three sell-out seasons in Sydney and touring Australia. (Snook has taken the acting baton from Eryn Jean Norvill, credited here as dramaturg and creative associate.)

Not only does Williams draw Wilde’s themes into the contemporary light, as bitingly prescient, but he presents the story itself — of a young man whose portrait reveals the age and moral decay that his own visage does not — through a dazzling orchestration of actor, on-stage live cameras and pre-recorded performance. The result survives the hype, as an imaginative, witty, thought-provoking, exhilarating piece of storytelling.

It begins quite calmly. The stage is empty, save for a large, vertical screen that will dominate the action (later to be accompanied by others). Behind it, Snook enters with some of the crew who will be with her throughout the night — operating cameras, moving sets, handing her props, or assisting in her many costume changes. For now, she is dressed in black blouse and blue trousers — as the story’s narrator and looking, for the only time, like herself.

In fact, poor Dorian is the victim of a simultaneous seduction: on one side, Wotton’s amoral and hedonistic philosophy (atmospherically administered here as something like hypnotic suggestion), on the other Basil’s painting, capturing an impossible beauty that even Gray must acknowledge. This results in the youth’s ill-fated exclamation that he would rather see his image age than his own face.

Once Dorian is seduced, Williams escalates his multilayered action. Sometimes Snook is acting directly to the audience, at others in front of a combination of cameras (handheld, on a body rig, on a tripod), her image sent live to one of the screens; sometimes these live images co-exist with pre-recorded ones, allowing multiple characters to be presented at once. All, including Hallward and Wotton, will be fully costumed and bewigged.

At one point, Snook acts alongside some tiny marionettes; as Dorian starts to lose his mind, she uses a smartphone and a face editor to create hideous distortions of herself, also transported to the screen. Once or twice, Dorian and the narrator argue with each other over who is to take up the storytelling.

Williams’ approach allows Snook to utilize both camera and stage muscles: acting into the camera and exploring her face in clinging close-ups, at times wet with effort and emotion; but also using every inch of the stage, pursued by the camera and costume team, who swarm around her, nudging her physicality this way and that. At one point, as Dorian descends into an opium den, Snook actually walks beneath the theater , unseen were it not for the camera on her shoulder.

There’s a sense in the early scenes of Snook’s own enthusiasm, caught up with Dorian’s; just as, two hours later, the actor’s physical exertions, magnified onscreen, are indistinguishable from the character’s increasing mania. In between, she conjures her many other characterizations — from high society dolts to doting servants to underworld denizens, from Sibyl Vane, the actress whose death propels Dorian into his life of decadence, to the brother who vows vengeance.

At the same time, perhaps her most striking character change is within Dorian himself: not simply that the curls have been replaced by a cocky quiff, but the voice has changed, becoming much more like Wotton’s, who was so very keen to influence him.

Influence is one of the key themes of the piece, one of the many mooted by Wilde that Williams cannily reverberates across time, bringing to mind today’s would-be “influencers,” whose effect too often occupies an unfortunate zone between banal and malign.

The obsessions with youth, beauty and status, the preference of outward show and contrived experience over genuine connection, are all magnified by the play’s approach, epitomized by Dorian’s face-edited selfies, splattered across multiple screens. And Wotton’s many aphorisms invariably ring true. “The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about,” would apply to almost anyone seeking the public eye, as might the buffer that social media offers between action and responsibility.

Rather than an affectation, the use of a single actor is true to Dorian’s split personalities — the outward beauty and inner ugliness, the youthful and decayed, the unrepentant and the tortured. In an appropriate twist, Williams never reveals the portrait itself, underlining the fact that of all Dorian’s images, the one denied to the public would be the true reflection of his soul.

Venue: Theatre Royal Haymarket, London Cast: Sarah Snook Playwright: Kip Williams, adapted from the novel by Oscar Wilde Director: Kip Williams Set and costume designer: Marg Horwell Lighting designer: Nick Schlieper Music and sound designer: Clemence Williams Video designer: David Bergman Dramaturg and creative associate: Eryn Jean Norvill Presented by Sydney Theatre Company, Michael Cassel, Adam Kenwright, Len Blavatnik and Danny Cohen, Daryl Roth, Amanda Lipitz and Henry Tisch, Jonathan Church

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Critics' Theatre Review Round-Up Of Shows Currently Playing

Theatre In Chicago lists the reviews from 23 different Chicago area publications. We currently have reviews listed for 42 shows now playing, and a total of 243 different reviews!!!

Chicago Tribune- Recommended

Chicago Sun Times- Highly Recommended

Chicago Reader- Recommended

Talkin Broadway- Highly Recommended

Let's Play Theatrical Reviews- Recommended

Around The Town Chicago- Highly Recommended

Rescripted- Highly Recommended

Buzznews.net- Highly Recommended

NewCity Chicago- Highly Recommended

Chicago Sun Times- Recommended

Chicago Reader- Highly Recommended

Chicago Stage and Screen- Highly Recommended

WTTW- Highly Recommended

The Fourth Walsh- Highly Recommended

Chicagoland Musical Theatre- Recommended

Third Coast Review- Highly Recommended

Chicago On Stage- Highly Recommended

PicksInSix- Highly Recommended

Life and Times- Highly Recommended

Chicago Culture Authority- Highly Recommended

City Pleasures- Highly Recommended

Splash Magazine- Highly Recommended

BroadwayWorld- Highly Recommended

Let's Play Theatrical Reviews- Highly Recommended

Chicago Theatre Review- Highly Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Highly Recommended

Windy City Times- Highly Recommended

Centerstage- Highly Recommended

Chicago Stage Review- Highly Recommended

Stage and Cinema- Highly Recommended

ChicagoCritic- Highly Recommended

Chicago Theatre Review- Recommended

Chicago Theater Beat- Highly Recommended

Third Coast Review- Recommended

Picture This Post- Highly Recommended

Around The Town Chicago- Not Recommended

Picture This Post- Recommended

Chicago Sun Times- Somewhat Recommended

Around The Town Chicago- Recommended

Chicago On Stage- Somewhat Recommended

Life and Times- Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Not Recommended

Chicago On Stage- Recommended

PicksInSix- Recommended

Chicago Culture Authority- Recommended

Chicago Reader- Somewhat Recommended

BroadwayWorld- Somewhat Recommended

Let's Play Theatrical Reviews- Somewhat Recommended

Chicago Stage and Screen- Recommended

Chicago Theatre Review- Somewhat Recommended

Buzznews.net- Recommended

Splash Magazine- Recommended

BroadwayWorld- Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Somewhat Recommended

Third Coast Review- Somewhat Recommended

Buzznews.net- Somewhat Recommended

The Hawk Chicago- Highly Recommended

NewCity Chicago- Recommended

Chicago Stage Review- Recommended

Chicagoland Theater Reviews- Recommended

Around The Town Chicago- Somewhat Recommended

Evanston Roundtable- Highly Recommended

Chicago Theater and Arts- Highly Recommended

Windy City Times- Recommended

See which of these above shows are the top rated by going to the " T.I.C. Top List " page.

reviews of plays

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the opening night judges of The Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee. The entire production is then eligible for nomination for awards at the end of the season. To find out more information visit JeffAwards.org

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London Theatre Reviews

Read the latest London theatre reviews on the newest openings across the West End and beyond. Discover more about the latest must-see West End shows, Off-West End productions, and why you need to see shows in London. Scroll through our full theatre reviews listings of London musicals, plays, and live events from our London Theatre critics.

reviews of plays

'Macbeth' review — Ralph Fiennes and Indira Varma take on Shakespeare’s great tragedy

Read our review of Macbeth, starring Ralph Fiennes and Indira Varma, now in performances at site-specific theatre venue Dock X through 30 March.

reviews of plays

‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ review – Sarah Snook does the impossible onstage

Read our five-star review of Sarah Snook in The Picture of Dorian Gray, now in performances at the Theatre Royal Haymarket through 11 May.

reviews of plays

'Everybody's Talking About Jamie' review – it's a joy to revisit this uniquely British musical

Read our four-star review of Everybody's Talking About Jamie, starring Ivano Turco, now in performances at the Peacock Theatre to 23 March.

reviews of plays

'Dear Octopus' review – Dodie Smith's properly laugh-out-loud funny play deserves a further life

Read our five-star review of Dear Octopus, starring Lindsay Duncan, now in performances at the National Theatre to 27 March.

reviews of plays

'Just For One Day' review – this Live Aid musical is a welcome blast of rock-fuelled optimism

Read our four-star review of Just For One Day, directed by Luke Sheppard, now in performances at the Old Vic to 30 March.

reviews of plays

'Metamorphosis' review – poet Lemn Sissay transforms Kafka's celebrated study in shape-shifting

Read our two-star review of this new adaptation of Metamorphosis, now in performances at the Lyric Hammersmith to 2 March.

reviews of plays

'The Hills of California' review — Jez Butterworth has created a new masterpiece

Read our five-star review of The Hills of California, now in performances at the Harold Pinter Theatre to 15 June.

reviews of plays

'This Might Not Be It' review — devastatingly accurate vision of the NHS's crumbling mental health service

Read our four-star review of This Might Not Be It, now in performances at the Bush Theatre to 7 March.

reviews of plays

'Till the Stars Come Down' review – this hilarious, heart-stopping family saga makes an early bid for play of the year

Read our five-star review of Beth Steel's Till the Stars Come Down, now in performances at the National Theatre to 16 March.

reviews of plays

'Bronco Billy – The Musical' review – this new Wild West show is gloriously camp, colourful fun

Read our three-star review of Bronco Billy – The Musical, now in performances at the Charing Cross Theatre to 7 April.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour

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  • Pop Culture

Two's company, three's allowed in the dating show 'Couple to Throuple'

Linda Holmes

Linda Holmes

reviews of plays

My first thought after watching two episodes of Couple to Throuple was: "This seems like a relationship structure perfect for people who like to attend a lot of meetings." Above, Denyse, left, Wilder, and Corey in the "Communication" episode. Paul Castillero/Peacock hide caption

My first thought after watching two episodes of Couple to Throuple was: "This seems like a relationship structure perfect for people who like to attend a lot of meetings." Above, Denyse, left, Wilder, and Corey in the "Communication" episode.

The only reasons people watch dating shows, really, are sex and mess.

Dating shows have been around for ages, swelling* when there's a big success like The Bachelor or Joe Millionaire or Love Is Blind . But they take all kinds of different shapes — it's a test to see if you'll cheat, or there's a chance the person is ugly, or you have to get married, or whatever. They certainly have wildly varying levels of sex. The Bachelor takes a kind of "and then the door closes and the music plays and you definitely do not even hear anybody making any noises," while some other shows will give you considerably more than that.

They all have mess, too. Not just mess, but messy messy mess. As I was telling a friend this week, Peacock's Couple to Throuple is really just more mess (and it's on the high end for the amount of sex you'll see), and in that sense it's very conventional. But at least it's a different kind of mess than most other shows offer, particularly on mainstream outlets.

reviews of plays

Ashmal, left, and Rehman in the "Boundaries" episode of Couple to Throuple. Paul Castillero/Peacock hide caption

The setup is this: Four couples arrive at a resort. A bunch of single people also show up. Each couple is interested in potentially exploring a throuple, which (for the uninitiated) is an awkward portman-ménage-à-teau for an ongoing relationship among three people. Three of the couples include a man and a woman: Brittne and Sean, Dylan and Lauren, and Wilder and Corey. The other is two men, Rehman and Ashmal. All of the couples have some experience with experimentation with other people, but not in this kind of throuple arrangement. The show brings in some single people, all of whom also have some relevant experience, and each couple gets to pick one to try out as a possible third for their relationship. (If you think this sounds kind of strange and possibly a little unfair to the single person, that does come up.)

I want to make clear that there is nothing inherently salacious about polyamory. There are plenty of people who make it work. So when I say the show is joyfully trashy, that's because of the show, not the relationship structure. After all, you can make joyfully trashy shows about couples, too. There's also nothing particularly new about the throuple life if you happen to know people who do it or have tried it, which an increasing number of us do. But at least it's new mess. Different mess. Mess that makes you go, "Oh, yikes, that's tricky."

The first thing that experienced polyamorous people will tell you, I have learned, is that it requires a lot of work and communication. There are people who go into it — or who just think about it — imagining, "Whee, this must be a no-strings-attached sex festival!" But my first thought after watching two episodes was, "This seems like a relationship structure perfect for people who like to attend a lot of meetings."

reviews of plays

Corey, left, Denyse and Wilder in the "Boundaries" episode of Couple to Throuple. Paul Castillero/Peacock hide caption

Even on dating shows, I have rarely seen this much talking about the relationship . Does the third like both of the people in the couple equally? Do both people in the couple like the third equally? Do these people connect physically but those people emotionally? What are the reasonable expectations of the potential third?

Familiar dynamics take on new specifics, as when the couples do an exercise with their potential thirds where one partner engages in sexier and sexier contact with the third, and the other sees how long they're comfortable before they say the safe word to put a stop to it. In one couple, an argument breaks out in which the partner who was watching later gets mad and basically says, "The question isn't why I didn't use the safe word if I was getting upset, the question is why you didn't use the safe word when you should have known I was getting upset." You gotta think that level of expected mind-reading is going to make a throuple arrangement very, very difficult — as it would a couple arrangement.

There are also some intriguing power shifts where at first, the thirds seem to be trying to put their best feet forward to be "chosen" by the couples, and then trying to impress them, but then before you know it, some of the thirds are sort of looking around saying, "Uh, it was nice knowing you guys." Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug; sometimes you're the pursuer, and sometimes you're the pursued.

It's a mess. I will watch it all.

*I apologize for using the word "swelling" in a discussion of dating shows.

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Review: Sarah Snook Is a Darkly Funny Dorian Gray

In a stage adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” Snook plays all the characters — with the help of screens.

Five large screens hang above a dark stage, displaying different angles of Sarah Snook with a blond quiff. Onstage below, people dressed in black operate camera machinery.

By Houman Barekat

The critic Houman Barekat saw the show in London.

A large, rectangular screen hangs from the top of the stage at the Theater Royal Haymarket in London. It is, rather appropriately, in portrait mode.

Beneath it, the Australian actress Sarah Snook (“ Succession ,” “ Run Rabbit Run ”), sporting a Johnny Bravo-style blonde quiff, is circulated by a small team of black-clad camera operators who broadcast her every move onto the screen in real time as she simultaneously narrates and performs the title role of Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray.”

Later, several more screens descend, playing prerecorded footage of Snook in no fewer than twenty-five other roles. Over the course of the next two hours, the onstage Snook interacts seamlessly with these digitalized selves. There are no other actors involved.

Wilde’s 1890 novel, in which a handsome rake makes a Faustian bargain with the cosmos by trading his soul for eternal youth (and comes to regret it), lends itself to stage adaptation: It is dialogue-heavy, punctuated by witty, morally intelligent exposition; its allegory of human hubris is timeless.

This adaptation, by the Sydney Theater Company, directed by Kip Williams and running through May 11, is a formally ambitious but playful multimedia production. The single-actor format and clever use of camerawork give visual expression to the novel’s themes of overweening egotism and existential dread.

In the show’s most memorable scene, Snook holds up a smartphone in selfie mode, which is synced to the big screen above her. While continuing to narrate the story, she plays around with a filter, altering her facial features to generate a much younger visage — a cartoonish parody of youthful sexiness. She then capriciously turns the filter off and on several times, heightening the contrast with weird scrunched-up faces when the filter is off. This segment, with its implicit allusion to the everyday narcissism of Instagram culture, brings Wilde’s tale into our century.

Snook plays the male characters with a winkingly ironic haughtiness, drawing appreciative titters from the audience. Her Dorian is a caricature of self-regard, inviting judgment but also eliciting mirth; when his pride gives way to anxious ennui, he’s like a rat trapped in a maze. (The voices are naturally tricky, but the fake sideburns go a long way.)

The aesthetic palate here is a blend of period and contemporary — somehow neither and both. While certain props evoke a fin-de-siècle opulence — a chaise longue covered in flowers, a set of luscious blue curtains — we are occasionally yanked back to a generic modernity: An opium den is rendered as a nightclub; the distinctive strains of Donna Summer’s 1977 hit, “I Feel Love,” soundtrack one scene.

There is also something vaguely tongue-in-cheek about much of the period garb, by Marg Horwell. Dorian’s libertine friend, Lord Henry Wotton, who eggs him on in his hedonistic endeavors, wears a purple jacket with a blue bow tie. At one point, he and the Duchess of Monmouth receive Botox injections while languidly sipping on Martinis and dragging on cigarettes.

The show’s true stars are the production team — and, in particular, the video designer, David Bergman — who achieved the feat of making this one-woman show feel positively busy. Crucially, the multimedia format doesn’t feel like a gimmick because it helps tease out the play’s themes: Vanity and its accompanying psychic turmoil are both evoked through relentless use of extreme close-ups, and the multiple screens create a sense of visual cacophony that correlates to psychological disturbance.

Gradually, Dorian’s terrible behavior — most egregiously, his treatment of poor Sibyl Vane, who takes her own life after he cruelly breaks off an engagement with her — catches up with him, culminating in a powerful denouement, in which five screens show Dorian from multiple angles while he writhes in anguish.

Multimedia productions can sometimes carry a whiff of self-importance, but this show is disarmingly playful. There are two faux glitches, in which the onstage Snook and her prerecorded self get in each other’s way, narrating the same lines simultaneously. (The latter graciously gives way, which is how we can be sure it’s scripted.)

Dorian’s knifing of Basil Hallward, the hapless artist responsible for the titular painting, is rendered in darkly comic fashion, with Snook pausing between stabs to check herself in a hand mirror. Shortly afterward, she signals to the audience to temper their laughter: “I’m trying to get away with murder!”

This “Picture of Dorian Gray” is, on its own terms, a triumph. And yet, a bit of doubt remains. The technical wizardry enhances the story — but does it also overshadow it? The eye is always drawn upward, to the screen, such that the physical presence of the actor feels almost incidental. One suspects that many audience members at such a production are never fully in the story.

Instead of pondering the moral vicissitudes of life, we’re thinking about the screens, and the novelty of being in a hallowed auditorium dating back to 1821, looking at digital faces instead of flesh-and-blood people. It works, with Wilde’s material — but I hope it doesn’t catch on.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Through May 11 at the Theater Royal Haymarket in London; trh.co.uk

Elon Musk to seek district court review of order in SEC X case

Tesla CEO and X owner Elon Musk in Paris

Reporting by Chris Prentice; writing by Jasper Ward; editing by Stephen Coates

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Chris Prentice reports on financial crimes, with a focus on securities enforcement matters. She previously covered commodities markets and trade policy. She has received awards for her work from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing and the Newswomen’s Club of New York.

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Helldivers 2 Devs Temporarily Cap Concurrent Players to Around 450,000 to Help With Server Stability

Helldivers 2 also just passed the all-time steam concurrent record of grand theft auto v..

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Helldivers 2 developer Arrowhead Game Studios has temporarily capped concurrent players to 450,000 to help with server stability as it works to "get the ceiling raised" and fix other issues related to its immensely successful launch.

Arrowhead took to Helldivers 2's Discord to share the news, saying it is "working around the clock" to solve the problems players are running into.

"Hello divers! Earlier tonight we had server related issues with a concurrent player spike," Arrowhead wrote. "This lead to some mission payouts failing, some players being kicked to their ships, or being logged out.

"Our team is working around the clock to solve these issues. While we've been able to mitigte some of the causes, we are still struggling to keep up with the scaling that is needed to accommodate all our Helldivers.

"Therefore, we've had to cap our concurrent players to around 450,000 to further improve server stability. We will continue to work with our partners to get the ceiling raised.

"If you have progression-related issues, please restart the game in order for things to sync back up. Thank you for your continued patience!"

As we reported yesterday, the team is doing all it can to help players dive back in "for Freedom" in Helldivers 2. The problem is there are so many who want to take on the evil bug and bot forces. While we wrote that Helldivers 2's Steam concurrent player record had passed that of Starfield, PUBG: Test Server, Counter-Strike, and Destiny, it has since reached 405,514 and knocked down Monster Hunter: World, Kathy Rain, Hitman 2, and Grand Theft Auto V. Yes, Helldivers 2 has taken down GTA and taken 24th place all-time.

While we don't know the numbers on PlayStation 5, it has become the top game in the U.S. ahead of the likes of juggernauts Fortnite and Call of Duty.

In our Helldivers 2 review, we said its "combat feels fantastic, its missions stay fresh and interesting, and its smart progression system doesn’t nickel and dime you."

As you wait for the server stability issues to be resolved, we encourage you to check out our extensive and ever-growing Helldivers 2 wiki, how the devs will alleviate rewards issues with weekend bonuses, and our look at why Helldivers 2 is just so awesome.

Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to [email protected] .

Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.

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Helldivers 2 Has Just Passed the All-Time Steam Concurrent Record of Grand Theft Auto V

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