Ben Brantley called J.T. Rogers’ drama about the 1993 accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization “crackling theater” when he reviewed it over the summer. Since transferring from Lincoln Center Theater’s Mitzi Newhouse to the Vivian Beaumont, it sold a healthy $297,000 in its first four previews, buoyed by LCT members with access to discounted tickets.
In the past three weeks, Brantley effectively nixed two past picks of Charles Isherwood, who left the paper in February. Both were potential Oslo competitors for awards. Sweat, the first Broadway drama by Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Lynn Nottage, had ridden a wave of publicity for its prescient portrayal of unemployed Pennsylvania factory workers who ultimately became part of Donald Trump’s base. Brantley called it “bracingly topical” and worthy of “serious applause,” but cited “a point-counterpoint presentation in which every disaffected voice is allowed its how-I-got-this-way monologue.” Not the review it needed after grossing a third of capacity last week.
Significant Other, the comic quasi-romantic drama that also got a mixed notice from Brantley, sold just $153,000 last week, or 20 percent of its capacity.
Three other new plays are to open this season: The Play That Goes Wrong, Indecent and A Doll’s House, Part Two. Should Oslo prevail at the Tony Awards, it would be LCT’s sixth Tony for a play or musical since 2011.
Perhaps the best news for plays today is that Isherwood is returning to the aisle. Broadway News, a new website started by Matt Britten’s Broadway Briefing, will be posting his reviews beginning next month.