by Margaret Croyden


Photo of Margaret Croyden
Margaret Croyden is a theater reviewer and essayist for the New York Theatre Wire.

Reviews of the Season: 2013-2014

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The Suit
King Lear
Richard III
Twelfth Night
Waiting for Godot
No Man’s Land
The Glass Menagerie
A Raisin in the Sun


"A Midsummer Night’s Dream"
Theater for a new Audience

The most important event of the last season was the opening of Theater for a new Audience own theater. Finally they got their own stage in Brooklyn. It is a beautiful building to house Shakespeare, but the show that they opened with was a big disappointment, a vulgar imitation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and what had very little to do with Shakespeare. Julie Taymor known for The Lion King threw everything on the stage that didn’t belong there. A million lights, a million tricks, but very little Shakespeare.

"The Suit"
Brooklyn Academy of Music

However in their former theater they did produce a wonderful play, The Suit directed by Peter Brook that was noted for simplicity and marvelous acting.

Theater for a new Audience

In addition, The Theater for a new Audience did a wonderful revival, a production of Fragments – the short Beckett plays also directed by Peter Brook and performed by Kathryn Hunter and her former Complicité colleagues Jos Houben and Marcello Magni – a trio that respond to each other magnificently.

Shubert Theatre

Broadway produced what they thought would be a smash hit: the musical Matilda, which was about kids and the kids in the audience enjoyed it, but I found it hideous. Matilda remains on Broadway and still makes a lot of money for the producers and actors, and they keep people happy and annoy those who look to the theater for something deeper (like me). I went with someone to see this production who loved it all while I hated every bit of it. So it goes.

"King Lear"
BAM Harvey Theater

The season brought a lot of Shakespeare, In fact Shakespeare dominated the theater season. It was too early in his career for Frank Langella to play this part even though he is not a kid, but he could not bring the complexity of one of the greatest plays that has ever been written. But I give him and Lincoln Center credit for trying, at least people can see the play, though it is nothing like the King Lear I saw years ago with Paul Scofield produced by Peter Brook.

"Richard III"
The Belasco Theatre

The talk of the town is Mark Rylance, the lead in two Shakespeare plays. Richard III was my favorite although it was hard to follow if you don’t know English history.

"Twelfth Night"
The Belasco Theatre

Most people loved Twelfth Night because of Mark Rylance and his gang – an all male company who tried to pretend they lived in Shakespeare’s time and demonstrated before the play started how they dressed as women (because women weren’t allowed on stage at that time). So when I went to the theater the actors were already on stage, pretending they were in Elizabethan England and dressing in women clothes. But I didn’t go to see Twelfth Night played by men who played women, I wanted to see Twelfth Night. The gimmick worked because the play is still going and doing well, but I am not interested in that kind of gimmicks.

"Waiting for Godot"
Cort Theatre

The British actors, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, took over Broadway, and played Waiting for Godot and No Man’s Land in repertory.

"No Man’s Land"
Cort Theatre

Both of these plays were terrifically staged and was indeed a pleasure to see, really professional actors doing successfully interesting work. Two elderly writers, having met in a London pub, continue drinking and talking into the night. Their relationships are exposed, with menace and hilarity, in one of Pinter's most entertaining plays.
It’s still running, and if you haven’t seen it, run to the theater and get some tickets.

Ethel Barrymore Theatre

Betrayal by Harold Pinter directed by Mike Nichols was a big sellout before it opened, so much that the company never advertised in the theater listings in The New York Times. Maybe it was also because Ben Brantley, the leading theater critic of The New York Times, gave Betryal a very mean review; in fact he never even mentioned that it was directed by Mike Nichols. His name never showed up in the review -- a real slap in the face and I have to agree with Ben Brantley. I wrote the review for the first production for The New York Times and interviewed Harold Pinter when it opened on Broadway years ago. Mike Nichols interpretation of this play was far from Harold Pinter. Mike Nichols made it a comedy which was far from what Harold Pinter intended. Mike Nichols ought to stick to what he does best, comedy.

"The Glass Menagerie"
Booth Theatre

Broadway seems to love revivals. However I have really had it with The Glass Menagerie, I have already seen three productions, not only on Broadway, but out of town as well. It’s a great play by a great playwright and actors always enjoy trying to outshine the original cast, but as far as I am concerned I prefer to remember the original and I see no reason for the revival. Cherry Jones is a wonderful actress and does a great job as Amanda. However these revivals are really for the young people who obviously have no way to compare productions. Perhaps it’s worthy after all since young people need to have the experience of seeing a great play.

"A Raisin in the Sun"
Ethel Barrymore Theatre

Denzel Washington loves to play on Broadway and has chosen a wonderful play, A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry. The play is about a middle class black family’s experiences in the Washington Park Subdivision of Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood. Unfortunately Lorraine Hansberry died just before the opening, which is a pity as she was so gifted.

Margaret Croyden's new book is "The Years In Between – A Reporters Journey: World War II-The Cold War."


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