Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Another review for 'Clive'


Clive by Jonathan Marc Sherman, based on Bertolt Brecht's Baal, directed by Ethan Hawke, The New Group

What a disappointment!  I went to Clive because of two actors, Ethan Hawke, who was outstanding recently in Ivanov at Classic Stage, and Vincent D’Onofrio whose superb acting I watch with fascination on “Law and Order CI” and was excited at the chance to see him on stage.  The upshot:  Hawke gives a stellar, energetic, balletic performance in a play that goes nowhere and has no reason for being, and D’Onofrio’s great gifts are beside the point in the role he plays.     
Clive is a talented, successful but self-defeating singer-musician-songwriter whom women flock to and whom he treats badly, one after the other after the other.  That’s pretty much the play.  The four women, all sexually used and rejected in various brutal ways, are hard to tell apart except for one, Clive’s friend’s girl, who stands out because she starts off as virginal and wearing little girl white knee socks  -- virginal for the friend, that is, but not for Clive, who attracts her with his irresistible sexual pull and drives her to death. 
Eventually Clive, having killed his bearishly good natured friend Doc, flees to Canada where he dies dissolutely and decidedly unloved.  This is not a development, because Clive is a dissolute narcissist from start to finish -- he doesn’t change.  That’s the main reason why we don’t need this play.  Hawke is magnetic but he needs a decent vehicle.
D’Onofrio’s greatness lies in his subtlety that lets you know what's going on inside his head -- there are small changes in his face and body language that signal large outward and inward events.  Even when he lets loose emotionally, he illuminates the character, now and through his history.  Here, as Doc, he plays a big guy who mainly squeezes out animal growls and snarls like someone trying not so playfully to scare a child.   (Why, Mr. D’Onofrio, would you ever take this part?) 
The set, by Derek McLane, is stunning -- a beautiful abstraction made of the differently textured bottoms of whiskey bottles and beer cans, with an allover heavenly tone of silvery blue.  Open to view when one enters, it makes one all but certain there's a wonderful evening of theater ahead.  There isn't.  Clive's a parcel of wasted talent. 
Clive plays at Theatre Row, The Acorn Theatre, on West 42nd Street in Manhattan through March 9.  For more information and tickets, click on live link of title.
Yvonne Korshak


marian kaplan said...

I will ask the same question.

Why Mr. D'onfrio would you take this part?

I don't want to see you on the famous flop wall.

Unless that is what you were shooting for.

Sandy said...

WOW!! That's all I got to say.

Nantz said...

I think she at least tried to find some positive aspects.

Anonymous said...

I live in Podunk aka Albuquerque and if this production would appear here Id be so happy to see it. Doubtful anything this interesting would come here. On Korshak's FB page she says she loved the film The Artist. I could take only about 15 minutes of it. Different Strokes I'd say.

Anonymous said...

A lot of VDO's projects haven't been very popular with the critics; however, he keeps taking artistic risks and trying new avenues, either with Clive, DGITW, etc. This is the main reason I admire VDO as an artist.

I'm glad he has now enough professional recognition and financial stability to be able to try new, interesting projects.


Nantz said...

It does sound like a 'different' kind of play and Vincent has always said that he will take parts that scare him in order to push himself in his career. For that, I give him a high five.

Anonymous said...

Look, everyone is entitled to their opinion BUT traditionally plays get reviewed only after they open ... not while still in previews, which is what you did. That's why you don't see any legitimate reviews for this play yet, it's irresponsible. Every day, before a preview each night these artists are rehearsing, changing, and trying new things to turn a lump of coal into a diamond...if you don't want to wait till it opens, please don't hate.

vikeau said...

Well I'm going to see the play and at this point regardless of the reviews and comments. I'm just going to have to make my own determination. That being said, it;s been a long time since I've been into the theater scence. I tend to favor the musical any way. I'll let you know what I think.

Sandy said...

Please do let us know, Vikeau, because I value your opinion and feel you would give us a true and fair opinion. I hope you enjoy it and have a great time, also maybe get to visit with Vincent to at least saY "hi". I hope it goes well for him.

Nantz said...

I'm not an expert on the protocol for reviews as far as a preview and 'live' so I stand corrected. I think I was more looking for those who saw it and would tweet or FB about it to create an 'early buzz'.

Blanca Acevedo said...

This play is still in previews! No doubt there will be changes made by the time Clive officially opens on Feb. 7. The one thing in the play that I found really confusing was the last scene with Clive addressing the audience. After he stopped speaking the stage went dark, and we waited a few seconds before applauding. A nice touch was Dana Lynn playing the violin after the actors' curtain call. Vincent gestured as if to present her onstage before the actors left. Very cool.