Sam Yates production of The Starry Messenger starring Matthew Broderick (The Producers, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey) has opened at the Wyndham’s Theatre in London.
In his West End debut, Tony winner Broderick is noted for his understated performance as Mark Williams, an astronomer at New York City’s Planetarium who never quite lived up to his own expectations. Written with Broderick in mind by his friend Academy Award winner Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By The Sea) the melancholy piece has received mixed reviews.
Described as a bittersweet, comic drama The Starry Messenger is the story of Mark Williams, who feels a closer connection to the infinite, starry sky than to his job or his wife, Anne. Though he doesn’t believe in fate, a chance meeting with a single mother forces him to reevaluate his life, his faith, and his place in the universe itself.
The cast also features Jim Norton, Jenny Galloway, Rosalind Eleazar, Joplin Sibtain, Sinead Matthews and Sid Sagar.
The Starry Messenger runs until 10 August 2019 at the Wyndham’s Theatre, London
Read reviews for The Starry Messenger below:
“Sam Yates’s production is equal parts intriguing and irritating, and Broderick’s singular theatrical deadpan may alienate as many people as it attracts.”
“It may not help this play’s cause that Lonergan has been represented in successive Broadway seasons with revivals of three earlier works of his, all of them superior to this and each one served up in deeply empathic productions that ensured the plays’ longevity. The Starry Messenger, to be sure, has its moments, and you certainly clock the Chekhovian pulse beating beneath a play that contains specific echoes of both Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters. But too much of it simply isn’t credible on a plot level alone, and Broderick and a highly variable company (Elizabeth McGovern included) don’t entirely skate over the fissures in the writing, charming though the players at times are.”
Matt Wolf, The Arts Desk
Evening Standard ★★★
“Broderick brings a mix of quizzical humour and gentle despair” But it’s hard to be sure what the play is really about, and the languid approach makes for three hours of nebulous theatre.”
Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard
The Times ★★★★
“Star quality shows in this entertaining life lesson”
Ann Treneman, The Times
Broadway World ★★★★
“The play takes its name from Galileo’s 1610 treatise, in which he described startling observations made through a telescope that challenged the Church’s established order. The upheavals in Lonergan’s version are far more intimate, but still seismic, thanks to his compassionate portrait of lost souls grasping for love, meaning, or perhaps just a moment of belonging in a fleeting existence.”
Time Out ★★★
“Dramas don’t come more midlife crisis-y than ‘The Starry Messenger’. There is a smart, poignant existential drama somewhere inside The Starry Messenger that struggles to escape the black hole of Lonergan’s indulgent impulses.”
Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out
“Kenneth Lonergan’s tale of astronomy and midlife misery makes fine use of an A-list cast but never truly explodes into life. Sam Yates directs with due care but, for all its perceptiveness, I felt Lonergan’s play would work even better on the screen.”
Michael Billington, The Guardian
The Independent ★★★★
“Some theatregoers may be disappointed, given the momentousness of what’s at issue here, that the dialogue doesn’t vocalise that. So the play, and Sam Yates’s deftly modulated direction of the British premiere, runs the risk of being underrated. But decisively outweighing the drawbacks is Lonergan’s quirkily profound script, which refuses to settle for the tidy-minded redemption that bad dramatic art goes in for.”
Paul Taylor, The Independent
The Stage ★★★
“Broderick and Eleazar are both brilliant, as is the always excellent Jim Norton, as a straight-talking old man on his deathbed. It’s a shame that Elizabeth McGovern, as Mark’s wife, Anne, gets pretty short shrift.”
Tim Bano, The Stage
The Telegraph ★★★
“A play that wistfully acknowledges the passage of time and onset of middle-age.”
Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
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