“We ain’t going to no picnic” is how the first act of Picnic, the William Inge classic concludes. It is the best line of the play, but unfortunately, you have to wait through some dead spots to get to it.
This Roundabout Production sort of stagnates throughout a good portion of the play, which is about unbridled desire between two really attractive people, wistful glimpses of the possibility of what that might feel like for middle aged women stuck in a 1950’s society, and older men who settle.
It’s small town Oklahoma and everyone is fixing to go to the annual end of summer Picnic.
When a stunning man appears on the scene to do day work at the spinster neighbor’s house, everyone is in a tizzy. Gorgeous Hal is shirtless most of the time, since his bare chest is his crowning glory. The older ladies ogle his perfect multi-pack wonder, and so does the attractive older sister Madge, who is spoken for by her boyfriend, and the younger sister, Millie, looking for a new play mate.
When pretty Madge and sexy Hal see each other, we know trouble will surely be a brewin’.
After they get to know each other for a spell, and family and neighbors have left for the big event, Hal and Madge are supposed to meet everyone at the Picnic. But those two, well they never made it. And so we have the great ending line of the first act, spoken by Hal as he sweeps Madge up in a passionate embrace.
Second act moves along better, but still, this play could benefit from an energy infusion. Overall the pace needs to be picked up, and scenes taking place inside the house are fine for a brief moment or two, but not repeatedly because the dialogue that is spoken is largely muffled.
Ellen Burstyn, Sebastian Stan, Maggie Grace, Elizabeth Marvel, Reed Birney and Mare Winningham star in Picnic playing at the American Airlines Theatre. The limited engagement is set to run through February 24.
Although a solid production, with some fine character acting, what seemed to be lacking was the heat and intensity which the Inge dialogue evokes.
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, the classic Tennessee Williams play, is a contemporary piece of Picnic’s. Again, set in the 1950’s, in the south (of course) with the strong female characters Williams is known for conjuring, as well as a man with homosexual tendencies.
Unfortunately, most of the stars in this productions were mis-cast. The last time I saw Ms. Johansson on Broadway in A View From the Bridge, she dazzled me. This time, not so much.
The accent was off, and there was a lot of stomping around. Debra Monk is certainly a great actress, but in this role, her accent drifted from Deep South to South Brooklyn, and included lots of high pitched shouting. It is a classic play, but it was oh so very tiresome to watch.
This Cat on a Hot Tin Roof also stars Ciaran Hinds as Big Daddy and Benjamin Walker as Brick. Directed by Rob Ashford, this revival just felt a bit messy overall.
If you want to see a movie star on Broadway, that might be the only reason to see this production. Running through March 30.
In Picnic and Cat, simmering sexuality and passion, secrets and desires bubble under. I just wish we could have experienced all of that heat on stage in both productions