Tuesday, March 10, 2009

33 Variations

"33 Variations" at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, February 12, 2009

(photo: Joan Marcus)

Moises Kaufman's latest outing on Broadway brings Jane Fonda back to the Rialto for the first time since the 1960s.

Let's get to the important stuff:
  • She looks GREAT. (whoever has done her work earned every penny!)
  • She's pretty darn good in the role.
  • Colin Hanks is adorable.
  • LOVED Derek McLane's set.
Ms. Fonda's character, Dr. Katherine Brandt, is a musicologist on a quest to find out why Beethoven spent so many years writing the 33 Variations on a Waltz by Anton Diabelli. Oh, and she has Lou Gehrig's disease, so it's a life quest. Interpolate this with flashbacks to Beethoven writing the piece along with a dysfunctional relationship with her daughter. It works most of the time. Mr Kaufman has a somewhat dubious achievement during one scene when three separate moments are intertwined into an oral fugue. Dubious in that during this fugue, it is made clear that Beethoven was not very adept in this musical form. Mr. Kaufman, who also directed, seemed to be floundering in it himself.

Nonetheless, it's a compelling evening. For some reason, I kept thinking back to last season's "Farnsworth Invention," but I'm not sure why. Maybe it was the documentarian feel that both plays seem to possess.

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