ROBIN’S SHOW REVIEW: GRACE
Broadway Premiere of Grace, the acclaimed American play written by Award-winning writer Craig Wright (Mistakes Were Made, “Six Feet Under”) and directed by Dexter Bullard (Tracy Letts’ BUG) stars Paul Rudd and Academy Award® nominee Michael Shannon, with Kate Arrington and seven-time Emmy Award®-winner Ed Asner.
This dark comedy asks: are we in control of our lives or is there something else at work? With scenes that careen from the serene to the suspenseful, Grace follows a wide-eyed young couple (Rudd & Arrington) as they start a new life in sunny, promise-filled Florida, with big plans to open a chain of Gospel themed motels. A reclusive neighbor, former NASA scientist recovering from a car accident that killed his fiancé and severely scarred his face (Shannon) and a caustic German exterminator with his own demons (Asner), complete the eclectic foursome as destinies tragically collide.
Ed Asner is a treat! Shannon is understated and delivers a gripping performance. Arrington tears at your heartstrings. Rudd is a strong, appealing presence. Together, the cast packs a punch, as does the material. Unsettling and thought-provoking, the show leaves much to ponder… including the millionaire dollar question, what is the power of faith? And, if we can’t count on it, then who is our savior? Rudd’s character finds out the hard way that even Jesus doesn’t always deliver the way you might hope. Bad things happen to good people. People fall in and out of love. Business deals unravel. Mysterious rashes wreak havoc. Death can come to those who initially escape it.
Staged in an edgy manner, scenes stop abruptly. Some stop and go into rewind mode. At 100 minutes…. with no intermission…..at times, it’s not easy to get through, yet at the end, you can’t help but admire the theatricality of it all, and the unsettling nature that can have you easily questioning the value of spirituality.
Grace first premiered to critical acclaim at The Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, DC in 2004, and was subsequently seen in a celebrated production at Northlight Theater in Chicago, and at the Pasadena Playhouse in Los Angeles (where it received 3 LA Drama Critics Circle Awards including Best Play). This production of Grace marks its New York Premiere (in an updated script) and the Broadway debuts of playwright Craig Wright, director Dexter Bullard, and Michael Shannon.
The design team of Grace includes Beowulf Boritt (Scenic Design), David Weiner (Lighting Design), Tif Bullard (Costume Design) and recent Tony Award®-winner Darron L West (Sound Design).
Paul Rudd made his Broadway debut in Tony Award-winning The Last Night of Ballyhoo in 1997 and has since starred in Twelfth Night (1998), Three Days of Rain (2006) and Off Broadway in The Shape of Things (2001), among many other stage productions. Academy Award® nominee Michael Shannon’s many NYC stage productions include Mistakes Were Made, Lady and Bug (all directed by Dexter Bullard), Our Town (Barrow Street Theatre), The Metal Children (Vineyard Theatre), The Little Flower of East Orange (Public Theatre), and many more. Kate Arrington, who was critically praised for her recent performance at the Goodman Theatre in Iceman Cometh opposite Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy, is a Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member, whose productions there include The Hot L Baltimore, The Well-Appointed Room, The Pain and the Itch and The Violet Hour. Ed Asner last appeared on Broadway in 1989, opposite Madeline Kahn in Born Yesterday.
Grace is playing at the Cort Theatre (138 West 48th Street in NYC), and tickets may be purchased at www.telecharge.com.