The Roundabout has struck gold with Terence Rattigan’s 1946 play, “The Winslow Boy.” It returns Roger Rees to Broadway after a long hiatus, perfectly cast as a man determined to defend family honor against extraordinary odds.
Set exclusively in the living room of an upper-middle-class London family just before World War I, this is a courtroom drama without the courtroom.
Young Ronnie Winslow has been expelled from military school for cashing a five-shilling postal order, a crime he swears to his father that he didn’t commit.
Denied a hearing by the school authorities, Arthur Winslow takes his son’s case to the courts, urged on by Sir Robert Morton, the extravagantly expensive lawyer who may have his own publicity agenda.
Rees ideally captures the almost sickly Arthur’s invigoration at the challenge and his slow, subsequent diminishment as he is sapped of health, wealth and stamina by the prolonged battle. Alessandro Nivola is thoroughly engaging as the cunning, cutting Morton.
Lindsay Posner’s elegant staging heightens the spring-wound tension Rattigan skillfully builds. The supporting cast is uniformly first rate, especially Michael Cumpsty as the Winslow’s hangdog retainer and Charlotte Parry as the object of his unrequited affection.
Through Dec. 1 at the American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St. Information: +1-212-719-1300; http://www.roundabouttheatre.org. Rating: ****
In Donald Margulies’s riveting “The Model Apartment,” an elderly couple (Mark Blum and the luminous Kathryn Grody), both survivors of the Holocaust, arrive in dark of night at the Florida condo complex where they have come to escape their feral, mentally ill grown daughter (Diane Davis, bravely terrifying).
The couple settles for the evening in a model apartment where everything is fake, including the fridge and TV. Then the daughter shows up, followed by her crude boyfriend (Hubert Point-du Jour).
Over the course of its one explosive act, Margulies explores with unnerving clarity how personal experience shapes (not to say distorts) not only ourselves but those we profess to love. Evan Cabnet’s staging, on a superb realistic set by Lauren Helpern, is gripping from start to finish.
Through Nov. 1 at Primary Stages, 59 E. 59th St. Information: +1-212-279-4200; http://www.primarystages.org. Rating: ****
There are two big-deal productions of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” this fall, one on Broadway and, now, another downtown at the Classic Stage Company with Julian Cihi and starlet Elizabeth Olsen (currently in the film “Kill Your Darlings”). At least they look age-appropriate for the soon-to-be teen angels, which is not the case uptown.
But Tea Alagic’s sort-of modern production, on a sleek, uncluttered set, is a similar mishmash of gimmicks and silliness: For the Capulet ball, Romeo dons a Winnie the Pooh mask. Juliet lacks a balcony.
The wonderful Daphne Rubin-Vega is reduced to a stereotype Latina firecracker as the Nurse. Spike-heeled Kathryn Meisle’s Lady Capulet is competitive with her daughter and, in the best performance, T.R. Knight snaps everything to life as Mercutio.
Through Nov. 110 at Classic Stage Co., 136 E. 13th St. Information: +1-212-352-3101; http://www.classicstage.org. Rating: **1/2
Thomas Kilroy’s adaptation of Chekhov’s “The Seagull” moves the setting from pre-Revolutionary Russia to 19th-century Ireland. It works well, especially given Kilroy’s lucid, colloquial translation.
Trudie Styler (in her other life Mrs. Sting) is too stagey as Madame Arkadina, here called Isobel. Directed by Max Stafford-Clark, the other roles are exquisitely cast in this bare-bones production. (Through Nov. 3 at the Lynn Redgrave Theatre, 45 Bleecker St. Information: +1-866-811-4111; http://www.cultureproject.org. Rating: ***)
For the real Irish thing, don’t miss Judy Collins, returning to the Cafe Carlyle for two weeks. Age has only mellowed that gorgeous voice as she takes us on a tour of music from her father’s Celtic ballads through familiar tunes from Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and the Broadway pantheon.
The stories are funny; the music’s sublime. (Through Oct. 26 at the Cafe Carlyle, 35 E. 76th St. Information: +1-212-744-1600; http://www.thecarlyle.com. Rating: *****)
What the Stars Mean: ***** Fantastic **** Excellent *** Good ** So-So * Poor (No stars) Avoid
(Jeremy Gerard is the chief U.S. drama critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
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