The Starry Messenger

Matthew BroderickImage via Wikipedia

I am trying to keep in mind a few things about the Starry Messenger which I saw with my friend last night at the Acorn Theater the last production from The New Group. 

First, I was really looking forward to this play.  The cast line-up was terrific.  Matthew Broderick who has spent a fair amount of his career on and off Broadway, a seasoned actor.  Catalina Moreno who was in Maria Full of Grace in which she was nominated for an Oscar for her performance, also Kieran Culkin who I saw a few years ago in subUrbia and he was fantastic.  Those are a few of the highlights from the cast although there are certainly others.

When we got to the theater, they couldn't find our tickets.  Good thing my friend brought along our receipt because she signed us up to do the series of plays through the New Group together this year.  That has yet to happen to me in all the years that I have gone to the theater that the tickets were not there.  Once we sat down, somebody else had tickets for the same exact seats.  It ended up that ours were issued for the wrong date which was clearly the mistake of the theater because ours said that they were for the Friday after Thanksgiving which in no way would have been a date that we had picked.  Someone entered November instead of October.  Whatever, we got a different set of seats.  Both of us had tried to figure out the length of the play.  For some reason, not sure why, it is always difficult to figure out how long a performance is going to last.  Serious searching on the Internet does not always work.  As far as I am concerned, the length of the play should be the first thing highlighted before the name of the production and the cast.  So, we both thought the play was 1 1/2 hours. 

The play begins with an addendum from the director.  They are still working with the lines so some of the actors are still learning them.  One actor is brand new since he was replaced a few days ago and he will be playing his part with a script in hand.  Granted the production had not had the premier yet but I have seen many plays prior to the premier and all of this was a new experience for me.  There were a handful of times that Broderick would stop and say "line" and then the director would feed it to him. 

The play began.  Certainly a work in progress.  I found the writing to be like talking to a boring acquaintance at a party.  The lines were just not that interesting, a few laughs here and there.  I guess the whole premise is about a variety of different people living as small parts of the entire solar system all connected to the teacher of Astronomy ( Broderick ).  I could be so off here so keep that in mind too. 

After an hour and half, the play ended but it really didn't end, it was just an intermission so we had it wrong.  We had dinner reservations at Esca in 15 minutes, which by the way was absolutely fantastic last night, so we both decided to leave since the play was basically bad.  We asked the usher on the way out, how long does the play last to and she said, they are trying to get it down but it is basically a 3 hour play?  3 hours!  Plays of 3 hours are Pulitzer Prize winners and productions of the past that have been continued to be produced through decades continually making an impact and are always praised.  Not this play.

Bottom line, hope the next production is better than this one.  Not sure I am interested in sitting through a play while a playwright attempts to make life bigger than need be.  Oh, and btw, I didn't link to the New Group site because when I did it said it contained malicious software that could fuck up my computer.  So, if you really want to see Starry Messenger, you will have to find it yourself. 

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Comments (Archived):

  1. JPersch

    I don’t ever see myself watching a play in the near future, but I wanted to say that I enjoyes your review and will not see this one if given a break from my stay at home dad duties and travel down from New Hampshire.Thanks for the read!

  2. Monteberto

    I really like your blog and read it often. I think you usually get things right. I have not seen “Starry Messenger” but I do want to correct you on a few things as someone who works in the theater in NYC. You saw a show “in previews”- a preview is, in fact a time when a show is preparing to open and is working out kinks in front of an audience. Just because you have seen many other shows in previews and never experienced lines being called for, scripts in hand, or re-writes on the fly, does not mean that it doesn’t happen. The company has every right to use previews as it sees fit. Unfortunately, reviewers see previews (and smart bloggers too)- and so that time is really blurred now. It also used to be that previews were less expensive tickets… not so now. So, I could see being miffed at that. Also, you commented that 3 hour plays are really for Pulitzer Prize winning plays- well, they only become such after having a run for a while. But I am sure you know all that… and besides, having a great dinner reservation is a hard thing to give up even if a play was FANTASTIC.

    1. Gotham Gal

      It appears that the press when wild on this one too. I really didn’t havemuch problem with the script reading but it was obvious that Broderick wastruly unprepared. It happens. If anything, a very memorable experience.