Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

2013 Tony Awards Predictions: Best Play Revival

Note: My personal rankings are listed in order from best to worst, with #1 being my favorite, while predictions for the actual winners will be in orange.

BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY

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1. THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL

2. WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?

3. ORPHANS

GOLDEN BOY

With all of the love it’s gotten — both from the critics and the Tony Awards nominating committee — how is Golden Boy not winning this award? No, I’m seriously asking, because I don’t get it. With a total of eight nominations — including Director, Featured Actor (x2), Set, Costume, Lighting and Sound — it the most-nomianted play of the year.

And if Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was so beloved, why didn’t it make a better showing in the nominations? With only five — Director, Lead Actor and Actress, Featured Actress — it’s not actually predicted that the Edward Albee revival will win any except this, the biggest one. Under Pam Mackinnon‘s direction, Woolf became an unbalanced game in which power roles were swapped with an scarily aggressive George (Tracy Letts) dominating a more vulnerable Martha (Amy Morton). For her gender reconception, MacKinnon won great praise (though not from me), so perhaps the pundits are correct that the voters will want to award the show in some way, and this is really the only spot to do it.

Boasting two sparkling performances — the astonishing Cicely Tyson and sweetly subtle Condola Rashad — and beautifully realistic design (with standout original sound by John Gromada), The Trip to Bountiful is a revival chock full of charm, even if the Horton Foote play about a woman longing to return to her hometown is slight. But it’s telling that helmer Michael Wilson, whose production worked too hard for laughs, wasn’t nominated. The show may have received great reviews, but it can largely thank Ms. Tyson for that. With only four other nominations, its chances here are very slim.

But not as slim as Lyle Kessler’s Orphans, a revival that never actually premiered on Broadway. It’s the show that self-combusted before it even made it to the stage when its original star, Shia LaBeouf, exited the production due to “creative differences,” and then took to Twitter to feed the flames. Replaced by Ben Foster, the show never recovered — or maybe it was never going to be that good to begin with. Considering the source material — two hoodlum orphans living in a decrepit Philly row house kidnap a Chicago gangster — it’s likely the latter. But Alec Baldwin’s lazy, playing-for-laughs performance as said gangster — and never to be outdone by upstart LaBeouf, Baldwin stirs up his own bit of off-stage drama by taking on Times critic Ben Brantley — and Daniel Sullivan’s decidedly un-edgy staging are all by far out-shone by Tom Sturridge‘s physically agile and emotionally affecting performance as the mentally challenged brother. With only one other nomination for Sturridge and lackluster reviews, Orphans does not deserve this award, or even the nomination.

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