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*The Parisian Woman,* 11/26/17


I saw *The Parisian Woman* on Broadway on 11/26/17. It's a play by Beau Willimon (the creator of *House of Cards*) directed by Pam MacKinnon (who also did the brilliant *A Delicate Balance* I saw in 2014). I was interested in seeing it because it was starring Uma Thurman, who I've loved since *Dangerous Liaisons* back in 1988. She started her career as your standard issue gorgeous ingenue but has matured into a performer of great power and depth. I was curious to see her onstage. This show is her Broadway debut, and only the second time she's done a play (she did *The Misanthrope* in Los Angeles and off Broadway in 1999).

I'm sorry to say that the play was not very good and Thurman was not very good. The play started off very promising - - the first scene was clever and genuinely surprising. But the rest of the play was clunky and wooden. Thurman had a monologue at the midpoint, the one moment in the show that rang true and drew me in. That moment made the surrounding hour and fifteen minutes seem even more earthbound in comparison. It didn't help that the rest of that scene tasted like a pale imitation of the scene between Eve and Karen in the ladies' room in *All About Eve.* And the next scene played like a pale imitation of the scene between the Marschallin and Octavian at the end of the first act of *Der Rosenkavalier.* If you're gonna steal, steal from the best, right?

Thurman, sadly, was just as stiff as the script. Her performance went from line to line, from gesture to gesture, from pose to pose. She's shown herself to be a real actor onscreen, with extraordinary performances in the *Kill Bill* movies and especially in *Nymphomaniac Vol 1* (she stole that movie in her brief scene). I'm curious to see if she comes back to New York in another play. I'll probably see it if she does!

There were just four other actors in the cast - - the men were Josh Lucas and Marton Czokas, who were both just fine. Clearly Willimon is most inspired by female characters, because the women had all of the best material. The other two women were Blair Brown and Phillipa Soo, both of whom turned in first rate performances and rose above the material, they acted with presence, sincerity, and drive. It was a treat to see Soo in a play - - her previous Broadway shows were both musicals, *Hamilton* (she played Hamilton's wife in the original cast) and *Amélie* (she was the title character). And it was a special treat to see Brown in a juicy part, she's a real pro.

I didn't think the show was very good, but I saw it for cheap (just over $40) and it's good to see something not very good now and then. It makes the good things shine brighter.


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