Oscar E Moore

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THE ICEMAN COMETH – Eugene O’Neill, Denzel Washington & George C. Wolfe

May 3rd, 2018 by Oscar E Moore

How wise was director Mr. George C. Wolfe in this long night’s journey into a bar – to cut it down somewhat, quicken its pace, mine it for its humor and to cast terrific supporting barflies, alcoholics, and tarts – drunk and delusional losers one and all – in this revival starring Denzel Washington.

The set design by Santo Loquasto helps a lot by varying the perspective of the bar with each act.  The subtle lighting design by Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer heightens the eerie reality of their universe.   Costumes by Ann Roth are appropriately seedy.

Even so, Eugene O’Neill’s classic play first produced on Broadway in 1946 that is set in 1912, clocks in at over four hours.  And spending four hours with this group of losers with their “pipe dreams” might even make a teetotaler desperate for a drink.

Admittedly Mr. Washington is a star that can fill the seats at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre where THE ICEMAN COMETH is running with his devoted fan base who always support him whenever he steps out on a Broadway stage.

But it is all those special character actors, with their eye on the spotlight, that keep this sad and tragic story moving swiftly along until Theodore Hickman, salesman extraordinaire (known as Hickey) makes his star entrance about an hour into this too long, repetitive and verbose script to celebrate the birthday of Harry Hope (Colm Meaney) owner of the bar with its upstairs rooms to let.

Hickey comes on like gangbusters, like Harold Hill of The Music Man.  He has given up the booze and it is now his mission to reform his friends and help them to see the light.  Is it for real or is it just another pipe dream?

The wonderfully seedy supporting ensemble includes David Morse as Larry Slade (a former anarchist), Austin Butler (making an exceptional Broadway debut as Don Parritt), Bill Irwin (sneaking a drink whenever he can), Reg Rogers (Jimmy Tomorrow), Neal Huff (shaking off his DT’s), hooker Cora (Tammy Blanchard) and her soon to marry pimp Chuck (Danny Mastrogiorgio) and porter Joe Mott – an excellent Michael Potts whose character is referred to repeatedly with the N word.  This is extremely jarring.  Considering.

They are mostly happy drunks – all with a story or two to tell, dreaming of realizing their dreams that will never happen.

Hickey has a final confessional monologue that he relates directly to the audience as if we are the patrons of Harry’s Bar that is the best part of Mr. Washington’s performance.

But it’s a sorry lot to spend four hours with.

Limited run through July 1st only.


Photos:  Julieta Cervantes

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