Friday, February 8, 2013

Still more photos of 'Clive' After Party w/ Vincent D'Onofrio


'Theater Reviews: Ethan Hawke’s Clive'

By Scott Brown

I feel like Ethan Hawke and I have grown old together. His latest directorial effort, Clive, is brief yet interrrrrrminable, and our lives together flashed before my eyes. (Slowly. Excruciatingly!) We were Explorers together, we bit reality just a few years apart, and we will always, always have Paris, and Julie Delpy. (Well: He will.) Hawke was X, I was Y; he was a whole lot prettier and, I can safely assume, had a whole lot more fun, his mirror-practiced mope-face aside. And to paraphrase another nineties totem The Crying Game — we're certainly not a young thing anymore.
You know who is a young thing? And always will be? Bertolt Brecht's Baal, the quasi-anti-romantic hero of his first play, Baal. He's all cruelty and animal vitality — a user and discarder of women and men (but especially women), a predator, a scavenger, and, naturally, an artist, though not a particularly great one. (The best, most endearing aspect of Baal is what a square and lame-o poet he is.) Brecht was a college student when he created the character and seems to have had no thunderous opinion on what Baal meant as an archetype or as a man. He was interested in what he was, his phenomenology, how a Baal functioned in a fallen world. Later, Brecht would call Baal a "relative man," a "passive genius" deft at "exploiting the exploiters," who is "antisocial, but in an antisocial society." All of this sounds a lot like late-breaking revisionism to me. (Brecht also wrote, "I admit (and advise you): This play is lacking in wisdom.") There were a lot of fascists running around, hijacking Expressionism, claiming the postromantic hero as their own, and this play was a molotov lobbed through the window of that particularly villainous frat house. Like Baal, Brecht was just having a good time being bad, in anticipation of very bad times to come. 
The problem with Clive — "based on, inspired by, stolen from Brecht's Baal" — is that it's not having a very good time at all. It lacks relish, which would seem to be a key ingredient in any story about the ruthless pursuit of pleasure. Clive is directed by Hawke, who also stars as the title character, a would-be rock idol with Billy Idolatrous hair and eye shadow. It’s set in the kinda-nineties, and there are cheeky nods to Reality Bites, especially in Clive's plunky three-chord songs. At times, the whole thing seems to be a joke on the Hawke persona — or maybe just a joke, period. (In his author's note, playwright/adaptor Jonathan Marc Sherman writes, "I worked from a literal translation courtesy of Google Translate. I do not recommend that you try this." And how!)
But the jest, alas, savours but of shallow wit, when hundreds sleep more than do laugh at it. (Wow, Clive apparently brings out the intellectually defensive English major in all of us!) The opening is highly promising: A grim if not really sincere benediction on the nature of evil from Doc (twitch-monster-from-another-dimension Vincent D'Onofrio, who doffs his hairpiece and puts on a cornpone drawl). This is followed by a strummed hymn croaked by Clive himself. Everyone's hopping around Derek McClane's abstract-yet-lived-in set, with its doors to nowhere and hidden musical instruments built into every cranny. It's a world absotively wet with possibility, a world just waiting to be diddled and despoiled. Now what? 
Now … not much. Clive proceeds systematically to sabotage his ascent as a rock star, throw offal in the faces of the powerful, and go through women like the Goodwill rummage bin. He has two idée fixes: a teenage girl (Zoe Kazan, who has a gift for indecency I wish this production would allow her to explore even further) and an ursine hill-spirit of a grown man (D'Onofrio). Both are innocents, both are Clive (or facets of Clive), and our bad boy, caught between them, eventually destroys both in defense of his sacred independence. Hawke's performance falls into an uncanny valley: He's too close to Clive to have perspective, but too different — and, frankly, a bit too old — to merge with the feral fun. He falls back on the throaty, craggy slackerdom we know so well, and misses opportunities to guide and focus the show's energies as a director, perhaps because he's too busy with actor business. (Hawke's an excellent director — his Lie of the Mind proved that, but it's a tall order to direct and act when you are the play.)  Clive feels more like a busy little bureaucratic tangle of inside jokes and outsize personalities than a fully fleshed production. Instead of pulsating with forbidden, demonic energy, it just kind of sits there chuckling bitterly, the gnomic drunk in the corner instead of the life of the party. Well, balls.   
Clive is playing at Theatre Row through March 9.

'STAGE PORTRAIT: Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio and Zoe Kazan in Clive'


08 Feb 2013
Acclaimed illustrator Ken Fallin's drawings of the greatest stars and scenes of the theatrical world are a recurring part of Playbill.com.

This week Fallin captures The New Group's production of Jonathan Marc Sherman's Clive, about a songwriter living in New York City in the '90s, which recently opened at The New Group at Theatre Row.

Pictured below are Vincent D'OnofrioZoe Kazanand Ethan Hawke.

To purchase prints or original art, e-mail haroldsgallery@gmail.com.
Ken Fallin began his career as an illustrator by lovingly mimicking the style of the late, legendary Al Hirschfeld for the poster art for Forbidden Broadway. Since that time he has been a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal as well as The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Hollywood Reporter, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune and The New Yorker.

His work has illustrated major ad campaigns for American Express, Showtime and Belvedere Vodka. Most recently, he was nominated for a 2010 Emmy for his animated commercial for CNBC.

More 'Clive' After Party Photos


'Peter Dinklage, Vincent D'Onofrio, Ethan Hawke, Chloë Sevigny Meet Off-Broadway's Clive on Opening Night'

Clive top

Realism bites—and so does reality, for that matter. Before Ethan and Winona, there was Bertolt Brecht, the anti-naturalist whose 1923 play Baalabout the self-propelled downward spiral of a poet-cum-anti-hero, serves as inspiration for Jonathan Marc Sherman’s Clive, which opened Off Broadway last night in a New Group production at the Acorn Theatre.

Ethan & ZoeAppropriately enough, Sherman sets his retelling—directed by and starring frequent New Group collaborator Ethan Hawke—squarely in the Gen-X hunk’s heyday: that angsty, flannel-clad era when grungy rock stars burnt up quickly with unironic rage, the 1990s. It’s a far cry from Brecht’s pre WWII Germany, but the portrait of an artist-as-hedonistic-narcissist is a tale as old as time.

Sherman refashions Brecht’s drunken German poet into a drunken New York City musician named Clive, played by Hawke. Following the basic framework of Brecht’s plot, the play presents a series of disjointed, episodic scenes rather than a clear, conventional storyline. Though increasingly bizarre in style as the play progresses, scenes chronicle the sort of typical bad behavior you might expect from a rocker who looks like Ethan Hawke living in 1990s New York City—plenty of booze, pills, and of course, much womanizing with consequences of varying severity.

You shouldn’t need to know much about a play’s source material to greet it on its own terms (although the New Group does provide a written insert), but a few minimally nuanced tidbits from Brecht’s Wiki might be helpful here for anyone who didn’t go to drama school.

Clive 3Though Brecht wrote Baal when he was twenty, before fully developing his signature theory and practice of ‘epic theatre’ (and becoming a staunch Marxist), nascent elements of it are on display here. Brecht and his peers were foremost insistent that the audience never get swept up by the action of a play and forget that they’re sitting in a theatre.

Actors speak their actions (“I wept, openly!”) often in place of performing them, and frequently address the audience directly, breaking the so-called fourth wall.
Alienation, though not an accepted translation of Brecht's desired effect, can feel pretty accurate in Sherman and Hawke's borrowed aesthetic.

Hawke’s ensemble cast includes Vincent D’Onofrio (Law & Order: Criminal Intent), indie darling Zoe Kazan (Angels in America), comic chameleon Brooks Ashmanskas (Promises, Promises), and the playwright himself, each juggling a variety of characters, most of whom are mistreated by Clive or worse on his way to rock-bottom.

Clive 4The production’s integration of musical effects is both inventive and seamless, thanks in no small part to Derek McLane’s imaginative set design with uncommon instruments built into its doors. Though with both playwright and director busy on stage, Hawke’s staging seems to lack the benefit of an outsider perspective.

Brecht and the distinct style of theatre he pioneered are definitely not for everyone—i.e. if you prefer your theatre served straight-up, complete with empathetic characters and storylines and a slice-of-life for dessert, you'll likely want to fill up elsewhere. Otherwise you might ask your neighbor to nudge you awake three quarters in, so at least you can say you saw Ethan Hawke topless in a 199 seat theatre.

Clive continues performances Off Broadway at the Acron Theatre through March 9th.

'Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll, And More Sex'


I would dearly have loved to like The New Group’s production Clive. It’s an original show, written by Jonathan Marc Sherman, based on Brecht’s Baal. The direction by Ethan Hawke is tight and imaginative; Hawke also plays the title role with panache. Other members of the cast include the winsome Zoe Kazan, and towering Vincent D’Onofrio. The setting is appropriately the 1990’s, a time of profligate spending and over indulgence. This also explains Hawke’s spiky bleached Billy Idol hairdo.
The problem is that the action centers around the hedonistic journey of a totally despicable character named Clive; his better qualities include sadism, total narcissism, and misogyny. At his worst, Clive is also a rapist and a murderer. The plot, such as it is, follows Clive’s downward spiral, beginning with a coke party at the home of a music industry bigwig, whom Clive insults into tearing up his contract. The fact that Hawke himself is an accomplished singer and musician adds to the sense of wantonness of this stupid move.
In fact, Hawke’s personal charisma and obvious talent are the only things that keep Clive from being so unsympathetic that the audience immediately ceases to care about him completely. Nothing else explains why women are so drawn to him. In his leather outfit, often bare-chested, and with his guitar always nearby, Hawke does indeed exude the bad boy sex appeal that many misguided women find appealing. Like a moth to the flame, the virginal girlfriend of a buddy (Kazan) falls into the sack with Clive; the record producer’s wife finds him irresistible; every woman he meets is beddable, and if she’s unwilling, no matter.
Just when you think Clive couldn’t be more loathsome, he tops himself. It’s not enough that he proclaims that “Love is like a coconut, to be spit out when the juice is gone;” or that he shows his true colors in his declaration “Women and trees are both dirty.” When his girlfriend, who proclaims her great love for him, no matter what, turns up pregnant, he calls her a “fat tub of lard,” and insists that she should drown the baby. The show becomes ever more confusing as Clive seems to be sexually involved with his friend, Doc (D’Onofrio); jealousy comes into the picture. We finally see Clive dying alone, after having been urinated on by a fellow flop house resident. As he crawls through the door to his final demise, there’s not a wet eye in the house.
For those who haven’t experienced Brecht’s Theatre of Alienation, be advised that there are techniques involved which are specifically calculated to eliminate the fourth wall. The audience is at no time supposed to forget that they’re watching a play, and that this isn’t real life. Accordingly, a character will intone “I burst into tears,” reading the stage direction along with the action. There’s also a Marat/Sade type scene set in an asylum, with everyone shouting.
It’s somehow strangely fitting that this production begins as Once does, with musicians onstage playing together. Clive is the very antithesis of that gentle, loving show; the only similarity is that they both continue to feature music and singing throughout.
Why choose something so unappealing for this group of gifted actors? The production has a twisted sort of Mickey-and-Judy “Hey kids, let’s fix up the barn and put on a show” about it.
There’s something fun for everyone in the group to do, and you know these are parts they’d never get to play otherwise. I can see it being effective as Black Box Theater, with no sets or costumes. It would be a swell second stage production at a drama school, something to occupy the students who didn’t make it onto the Main Stage. As it is, it just feels like an exercise to occupy name actors between higher paying jobs.
But recommend Clive? Oh, hell no. I came out of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof feeling that I needed a drink. I came out of Clive feeling like I needed a shower.
Photo Credit: Monique Carboni
Acorn Theatre
Theatre Row
410 West 42nd Street
Thru March 9, 2013
Michall Jeffers is an accomplished Cultural Journalist. She writes extensively, both in print and online. Her eponymous cable TV show is syndicated throughout the tri-state area, and features celebrity interviews, reviews, and commentary. She is a voting member of Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, American Theatre Critics Association, and International Association of Theatre Critics.

PHOTOS: Vincent D'Oonofrio at 'Clive' After Party

'Hawke’s Mad Rocker Salvages ‘Clive’'

By Jeremy Gerard February 07, 2013 10:00 PM EST

              Ethan Hawke and Zoe Kazan in "Clive" at the Acorn Theatre near Times Square. Playwright Jonathan Marc Sherman adapted Bertolt Brecht's "Baal" for the new drama. Photographer: Monique Carbone/Seven17 P.R. via Bloomberg 
            From his electric blonde hair to the boots he wields as weapons, Ethan Hawke fully embraces the role of a rampaging monomaniac in the New Group’s headache-inducing “Clive.”

The opening scene finds the nascent rock star snorting powder off the breast of his manager’s wife, at a dinner party celebrating his recording contract. Before dessert is served, the contract will itself be so much dust.
Offered fame, Clive instead chooses drugs, debauchery and dissolution, which come all too easily from the whorl of sycophants abetting his descent into self-annihilation.
Based on Bertolt Brecht’s first play, “Baal,” a youthfully messy X-ray of Weimar Germany, Jonathan Marc Sherman’s adaptation, aggressively staged by Hawke, takes plenty of risks. They never pay off.
Brecht’s anti-hero was a poet based on Rimbaud (Peter O’Toole played Baal in a famous London production in the early 1960s). Here, Clive, on the road to excess, croaks awful songs and strums a black guitar covered with words in white. Zoe Kazan repeats herself as a naif eager to shed her innocence, and the fine Vincent D’Onofrio, a refrigerator of a man, plays Lucifer, beckoning his prey like the M.C. of “Cabaret”:
“Clive! Let everything go and come with me. To all the other dive bars. To the churches. To the zoos and the barns and the stables. God has forgotten you. Dancing. Music. Booze. Soaking rain. Burning sun. Darkness. Light. Women. Dogs.”
Strutting and preening, Hawke is never less than fascinating to watch. Still, one very long act of just under two hours feels more like the morning after than the night before.
Through March 9 at the Acorn Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St. Information: +1-212-239-6200; http://www.telecharge.com. Rating: *