This Beautiful City, Our Town, and Winter's Tale

Plays about place oddly displaced

The main reason to see The Winter's Tale (BAM Harvey) is Ethan Hawke's Autolycus, a character perfectly if un-Shakespeareanly "placed," by Hawke and composer Mark Bennett: a guitar-strumming flimflam artist out of a revisionist '60s Western by way of a North Beach coffeehouse. Hawke's sly, appealing performance both energizes and solidifies Sam Mendes's production, which otherwise tends to slide vaguely from Sicilia's sullen petty-clerk earnestness (mostly British) to Bohemia's wishy-washy hokiness (not exactly American). Casting Simon Russell Beale and Josh Hamilton, visibly a generation apart, as kings who were boyhood friends reduces fairytale to nonsense, although Russell Beale builds to a reasonable tragicomic crispness, while Hamilton rises, when Polixenes unmasks, to a moment of fierce, unexpected power. Otherwise, Mendes catches the play's shape tidily, but the passion it demands is mostly lacking.

A curious haven: This Beautiful City
Carol Rosegg
A curious haven: This Beautiful City

Details

This Beautiful City
By the Civilians, songs by Michael Friedman
Vineyard Theatre
108 East 15th Street, 866-811-4111

Our Town
By Thornton Wilder
Barrow Street Theatre
27 Barrow Street, 212-868-4444

The Winter's Tale
By William Shakespeare
BAM Harvey Theater
651 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, 718-636-4100

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