EG: The Bacchae, of course, and Coraline. And Superior Donuts, which is the worst play Tracy Letts is capable of writing, though still effective. He's such a good writer that even the worst thing he could write is probably still worth seeing. But very disappointing.

TS: I didn't go because I thought August: Osage County had such a wonderful cast working with such weak writing, heaping dysfunction on until a sentimental conclusion about Native Americans. I gave up then.

AS: I went about for days calling it Serviceable Donuts. I'm not sure Michael McKean counts, but it's been a big year for big stars. What do we make of that?

Did Willem Dafoe undermine Idiot Savant?
Joan Marcus
Did Willem Dafoe undermine Idiot Savant?

EG: Who have we had this year? Hugh Jackman, Daniel Craig, Jude Law.

AS: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Cate Blanchett.

EG: Al Pacino is doing Shakespeare in the Park. Denzel Washington is coming to do Fences.

AS: Is that a good or a bad thing?

TS: I can think of two Off-Broadway shows this season that were undermined by star presence. One would be Idiot Savant. I'm really not sure Willem Dafoe was the right choice for that project—there was a very strange sort of self-conscious energy emanating from him. And The Bacchae—Jonathan Groff was at the heart of why the tragedy never coalesced.

AS: I'm quite ambivalent. On the one hand, I think there's something wonderful about sharing a room with people you've only witnessed on the movie screen. If that brings audiences into the theater, I'm delighted. And I'm susceptible, too. The presence of Isabelle Huppert or Daniel Craig makes me that much more excited to attend. Yet, at the same time, I realize many of these film actors are ill-suited to the work.

EG: When you see a film actor struggling, it was like when Michael Jordan decided to play baseball. When you saw this amazing athlete striking out, you gained a new appreciation for how hard professional baseball must be. Maybe it somehow accrues to theater's benefit when you see Sienna Miller struggling up there, and you think, "Playing Miss Julie must be a really challenging thing."

AS: You're like the most macho theater critic ever. I can't believe you just used a sports metaphor.

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