Broadway Roundup: Cicely Tyson, Alan Cumming....

Categories: Theater

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Start shining the Tony award for Cicely Tyson, who's just plain wonderful in The Trip To Bountiful, Horton Foote's play about an older lady who wants to return to the Texas town of her youth, remembering it as a place of fertility and goodness.

The 1985 movie had a heartbreaking Geraldine Page performance as the lady, full of emotion and crying jags. Tyson has some misty scenes but doesn't play the part quite as weepily. She's a tough, feisty, funny woman who knows what she wants and goes for it, fully engaged every step of the way.

Vanessa Williams is also excellent as Carrie's shrew of a daughter-in-law, and Cuba Gooding Jr and Condola Rashad fill things in as Carrie's son and a passenger on the bus. The design elements are beautifully done and the whole Michael Wilson-directed piece respects the talky play (which is slow to get going, but starts moving with the bus--which, by the way, is way more effectively designed than the car in the last Driving Miss Daisy revival). The overabundance of someone's cheap perfume near where I was sitting put me in a haze at times, but I was still able to marvel at Tyson's achievement.

Meanwhile, Tony winner Alan Cumming is doing an unusual Macbeth, far from the reverent versions often produced. His is set in a mental institution which is pale green and chillingly austere. Watched over by two medical workers who occasionally peer through an observation window, he proceeds to act out the entire play for his own amusement, as a sort of distraction from panic, though it tends to plunge him even farther into the madness of Shakespeare's power-mad character. This John Tiffany and Andrew Goldberg-directed production is way avant-garde, with its eerie music, video projections, and a creepy doll that Cumming clings to. I generally don't care for this type of exercise and it's a hard sit, but Cumming's accent is certainly Scottish enough, and there are moments--like his dramatic eruption in one of the season's many bathtubs--that will surely hypnotize you.


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