The Present – Barrymore Theatre – New York

We went to see The Present at the Barrymore theatre on our recent trip. You can read the – not so enthusiastic review – by the NYT below – or in part…. I have to say the night was wonderful, not for the play which did get bogged down but the going to the theatre in New York is different, the audience are involved in a way I have never felt in Australia. They wait around to show their appreciation, in the street, in the freezing cold at the stage door….but the star of the night for me was the theatre itself, beautiful.

“As is so often the case, the party doesn’t really get going until everybody is good and drunk. Then, after much wine, vodka and awkward conversation, comes a fabulous eruption of runaway hedonism. Maybe, you think, coming to this shindig wasn’t such a bad idea, after all.

You’ve known such moments, surely, when the spectacle of people going stark raving wild carries its own irresistible, anarchic logic. A feeling of vital connection saturates the room like the fizz from an exploded bottle of Champagne.

Alas, the thrill is short-lived, a lonely cascade of fireworks in a night of damp squibs. And the briefly, beautifully animated revelers go back to being their soggy, miserable selves.

That’s what happens — in terms of both plot and performance — toward the end of the first half of “The Present,” the Sydney Theater Company’s sprawling and confused adaptation of a sprawling and confused play written by a young Anton Chekhov. This fitful Australian import, which opened on Sunday night at the Barrymore Theater, chronicles the bad behavior at one ill-fated birthday celebration.

The mistress of these revels, I am happy to report, is the extraordinary screen star Cate Blanchett, making a long-awaited Broadway debut. Ms. Blanchett is portraying the hostess and birthday girl, Anna, a ravishing widow who is unhappily turning 40.”


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