The Playgoer: Journey's End

Custom Search

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Journey's End

You may have seen the ads for a new Broadway revival of that old WWI play Journey's End. Go.

I saw the play at the Shaw Festival two years ago--and raved about it here--and though this is a different production in a much bigger theatre, it's basically a remount of the very well-received London revival from a few seasons ago. Plus, looks like a good cast (Boyd Gaines, Jefferson Mays, e.g.)

Don't let the new Broadway tag line "Inspired by a true story of friendship and survival." Unless they ruined it, this bleak and relatively unsentimental trench-drama (written by a veteran) is a close-up of the toll of endless battle on human beings, even on the "winning" side--where "survival," as you'll see is a relative term.

Don't worry about tickets prices. There should be plenty of disounts for this one. (There's already a $36.25 balcony price.) If a depressing anti-war drama with no stars can even run more than a week on today's Broadway. Then again, the English accents may save it!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Playgoer
Thought you might be interested is this bit of theatrical ephemera about Journey's End.
“In the 1920's [in London] there were several long run hits culminating with R.C. Sheriff's highly charged war drama Journey's End in 1929. The story of this show could occupy a book by itself. It had originally been scheduled for a two-performance trial run at the Apollo Theatre. A struggling young actor by the name of Laurence Olivier took on the role of Capt. Dennis Stanhope for the princely sum of five pounds. The short run was impressive enough for the producers to book the Savoy Theatre and try a regular run. Olivier, however; had another offer to play a leading role in a production of Beau Geste at a guaranteed thirty pounds a week and dropped out of the cast. The role was recast with an actor named Colin Clive. Needless to say, Journey's End opened to acclaim, ran for over 600 performances, and made a momentary star of the young man who took Olivier's place. Beau Geste ran only four weeks and Sir Laurence would have to wait a bit longer for fame and fortune.” (Jim De Young,London Theatre Walks p. 68

There have been a number of revivals since then, but the current one has had considerable staying power managing to run off and on at four different London venues between January of 2004 and January of 2006. The powerful ending image, if it is used in the the NY production, is worth the price of admission all by itself as we continue the count of young American lives lost each day in Iraq.
Keep up the good work.