Broadway Features and Reviews
Did Critics Like "A Man For All Seasons"?
By Broadway Magazine Staff
The drama of Sir Thomas More and Henry VIII unfolds in Robert Bolt's 1960 play "A Man For All Seasons." The play is currently being revived by Roundabout Theater with Broadway star Frank Langella in the lead role and Doug Hughes directing. The Broadway opening night critics have begun to weigh in on the production, and the reviews are mixed. All critics spend time praising the career of Frank Langella and his work in this production as well. Several critics loved this production, considering it a perfect play for our times. However, an equal number of critics expressed the opinion that production as a whole was less than engaging. The common observation from critics who knew the text referenced the decision to remove the "Common Man" character from the production. The critics who noted that character's marked absence all suggested that it may have been a mistake to exclude that character. A sample of excerpts from the critics are below:
• "Yet with all this unevenness, this is still a play that is both literate and theatrical, and able to hold our interest. There remains an arresting clash of ideas, as well as More's gripping attempt to make his rigorous silence, as opposed to voiced disapproval, protect him within the law, a law his enemies manage to twist to their purpose."
John Simon, Bloomberg
• "Gone from this revival is the role of the Common Man, played on Broadway in 1961 by the incomparable George Rose. His everyman persona, not to mention his talking directly to the audience almost like a chatty narrator, might have helped remove some of the stodginess from the production. "
-Michael Kuchwara, AP
• "But to be frank, Doug Hughes' straightforward production is as dull and lifeless as it is altogether unnecessary."
-Matt Windman, am New York
• "Is it heresy to whisper that the sainted Thomas More is a bit of a bore? Even Frank Langella, an actor who can be counted on to put the pepper in mashed-potato parts, doesn't find much variety in the monolithic goodness of the title character of "A Man for All Seasons,"
-Ben Brantley, New York Times
• "Luckily, this production - like the screen adaptation, which starred Paul Scofield - is anchored by an indelible, irresistible performance. As More, Frank Langella, who earned a Tony Award last year for his nuanced portrait of Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon, tackles a very different historical figure with similar grace and depth."
-Elysa Gardner, USA Today
• "...But the production that surrounds Langella is not up to the star's charismatic performance."
-Alexis Greene, Hollywood Reporter
• "Initially depicting More as an urbane intellectual, Langella believably reveals the man's essential grace under increasing pressure and degradation."
-Michael Sommers, Star-Ledger
• "But Langella takes his artistry to new heights -- and could easily earn his fourth Tony - - with his consummate portrayal of Sir Thomas More in Doug Hughes' sturdy revival of Robert Bolt's Tony-winning 1961 play A Man for All Seasons, now at the Roundabout's American Airlines Theatre."
-Brian Scott Lipton, Theatermania.com
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