Though Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of “A Touch of the Poet” marks the only drama to premiere on Broadway during the fall, this straightforward revival of the neglected Eugene O’Neill classic is more of a cause for appreciation rather than celebration.
Originally intended by O’Neill to be part one of an elaborate series of plays to chronicle American history, the play takes place in New England of 1828. A once prosperous Irish immigrant, now a tavern owner, refuses to accept his bleak realities, especially as his daughter falls in love with a wealthy American.
One year ago, Liam Neeson and Kaitlin Hopkins were expected to star in the show, to be directed by Edward Hall at the American Airlines Theater. Instead, the revival stars Gabriel Byrne and Dearbhla Molloy, directed by Doug Hughes, at Studio 54.
After having led “Doubt” and “Frozen” to Tony Award glory, Doug Hughes has become the hottest director on Broadway. However, he was unable to save Richard Greenberg’s less than amiable comedy “A Naked Girl…” earlier this fall. And though he conjures several striking visual images in this production, he again fails to bring originality or develop a sense of urgency.
Still, Gabriel Byrne gives an arresting, intriguing performance as Cornelius Melody, the play’s tragic-comic protagonist. Clad in his Lieutenant uniform from the olden, golden days, he emits a burning, glowing confidence that is sadly lacking from the rest of this satisfactory yet simultaneously somewhat disappointing production.
Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street, 212-719-1300, $36.25-86.25. Tues 7pm, Wed 2 & 7pm, Thurs-Fri 7pm, Sat 2 & 7pm, Sun 2pm.
According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.