PJ and I saw three Broadway plays and one off-Broadway play while we were in New York this past week. I’ll briefly review each of them here. On the whole, I’d say that we enjoyed our theatrical experiences, but I was surprised by which one I enjoyed the most and which I enjoyed the least.

While this is my first experience with Broadway and off-Broadway theater, I have seen several excellent productions in London. In 2004, for example, PJ and I saw productions of Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, Suddenly Last Summer starring the incomparable Diana Rigg, and the Globe Theatre’s production of Measure for Measure, starring Mark Rylance. This past summer we saw Juliet Stephenson in The Seagull at the National Theatre, an outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the wonderful musical Billy Elliot, all of which were quite good. (We also saw a laughably bad production of The Merchant of Venice in Oxford this summer, but I think it’s best not to reflect too much on it!) So, I was excited to finally have the chance to compare English theatre with what New York has to offer. Ultimately, I’d have to say that England comes out better in the comparison.


The Vertical Hour

One of the first things PJ and I did in NYC was see David Hare’s new play, The Vertical Hour, starring Julianne Moore, Bill Nighy, and Andrew Scott. It is currently at the Music Box Theater. Here’s the “official” summary of the play:

Nadia Blye (Julianne Moore) is a young American war correspondent turned academic who now teaches Political Studies at Yale. A brief holiday with her boyfriend in the Welsh borders brings her into contact with a kind of Englishman whose culture and beliefs are a surprise and a challenge, both to her and to her relationship. David Hare’s new play, about the interconnection between our secret motives and our public politics, seeks to illustrate how life has subtly changed for so many people in the West in the new century.

What this summary doesn’t say is that the play is also about the Bush Administration’s war in Iraq, an exploration of the ethics of invading a country in order to “spread democracy” or to end a dictator’s violent oppression of his people.