The Front Page
Written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur Directed by Jack O’Brien
January 4, 2017
💉💉💉 out of 5.
I think that I could just leave the theatre right now and nobody would know that I have gone. This is the feeling I had for the first hour or two of Front Page. After seeing so many shows that worked to bridge the distance between the actor and the audience, it was a shock to see a good ol’ fashioned realistic play where that fourth wall was truly being respected. To be honest it felt like I was watching really good TV.
. The set was so beautifully realistic and the stage was full of wonderful men, fresh off of the best TV shows – Mad Men being one of the most notable. The men looked perfect in the roles. The time period and dialect was perfect. But I just got a bit bored. I thought that the first two acts would make really good TV – – but why did they need a stage? Why did they need a live audience? How were we going to be included?
But the game changed dramatically with the arrival of Robert Morse in a rather small role and, of course, Nathan Lane in the principal roll who, unfortunately, is only on stage for 1/3 of the time. These two men have spent their entire lives on the stage and it showed! They invited the audience into the story. They wanted us and worked with us. They were theatre men. The contrast between the Mad Men and these two stage actors was so clear. When the show was placed in their hands it rocked!
The play is over 50 years old and it feels like it. It is a a period piece. It is fun to set the clock back and see how good ol’ fashioned dramaturgy looks – – – but please give me actors from the stage and not from NYPD and Mad Men.