Monday, January 26, 2009

Exit the King on Broadway!

I have to say, I never thought I'd see the day that Ionesco's Exit the King would be on Broadway. But apparent it's happening soon, with an all star cast: Geoffrey Rush, Susan Sarandon, Lauren Ambrose, and Andrea Martin. Wow. That's amazing.

The production is an import from Australia, in a version translated by Neil Armfield and Rush and directed by Armfield. Armfield, for those here who are unfamiliar with him, is considered the premiere director in Australia.

I have seen a surprising number of productions of Exit the King (five , I believe). Well, surprising only in that I'm often surprised it is produced. I'm a big fan of Ionesco, of course - I produced the Ionesco Festival in 2001 (follow the link to my terrible retrospect I very much wish I had had a decent web designer - I didn't myself with not much knowledge/capability). I enjoy the play, but I wouldn't put it in my top tier of Ionesco plays, despite the fact that it very much inspired my play The Living Methuselah. In fact, I didn't even realize how much Ionesco's play had inspired mine until I looked at it in retrospect Hopefully still a very different script, but the similarities of a symbolically dying character, a doctor, and some of his relationships with the women around him...well, I'll call it a homage. Philosophically, Methuselah was sort of post-existentialist, so that's not too inaccurate, actually.

Looking at some of the reviews from Australia, it looks as if it's a good production. I have high hopes. And I am very fond of the actors. Can it match the last surprising appearance of Ionesco on Broadway - the Simon McBurney production of The Chairs? It would be difficult. That may qualify as the most satisfying production I've ever seen of Ionesco. And I have never yet seen a satisfying production of Exit the King. But, as I say, I have high hopes.


Esther said...

I'm looking forward to this, too. I was a big fan of Theatre of the Absurd when I was in high school and college although in those pre-VCR days I don't think I actually saw any of the plays. I just read them, read about them. I also met Ionesco once. He spoke in Boston when I was in college. I went to hear him and got his autograph.

Theater of Ideas said...

I'm envious. He had passed away by the time I did the festival, so I never had a chance to meet him. His daughter was very supportive, however, and she still lives in their old apartment, so I had a chance to see that.

Beebee Rabozzo said...

I had the misfortune to have seen the production this weekend. Although Rush and Ambrose had glimpses of greatness, the production labored on. The last eleven minutes were excrutiating. It was worse then sitting on a hard pew at a Baptist church listening to an ninety year old minister give a three hour sermon.

Theater of Ideas said...

I have to strongly disagree with you there. I saw the production last Wednesday - my reactions will be up once it is officially open. But I can tell you that I thought Rush and the cast as a whole was excellent. The ending is what it is, according to your taste. To me, it was beautiful and sad, with a touch of the profound. True, there are times the play felt overly long, and I have always felt that way about the play as a whole. But if there is anything that remains with me most strongly, it is the end speech.