|THE PARISIAN WOMAN|
A virulent anti-Trump tirade wrapped inside a melodrama worthy of Bette Davis (or is it the other way around), Beau Willimon’s “The Parisian Woman,” now at the Hudson Theatre, proves to be eminently watchable -- in large part due to the star power of Uma Thurman, making a long-overdue Broadway debut.
Since Willimon is the creator of “House of Cards,” it should come as no surprise that our nation’s capital provides the milieu for this twisty (if not altogether believable) drama about the lengths Washingtonians will go to achieve their personal and professional ambitions. Chief among them turns out to be Chloe (Thurman), the seemingly vacuous by razor-sharp wife of Tom (Josh Lucas), a very successful and rather morally questionable tax attorney who is desperate for a Federal judgeship. (And that’s all I’m saying, since the less you know about the play’s plotlines, the more likely you’ll enjoy it!)
Sadly, director Pam MacKinnon often seems on less firm ground here than she has in such triumphs as “Clybourne Park” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” Still, she deserves much credit for both casting Thurman -- who swans around chicly dressed (by Jane Greenwood) in a gorgeously decorated townhouse (beautifully designed by Derek McLane) – and guiding her star to such a committed performance.
Chloe is full of contradictions: she’s a woman who claims one second to live only for beauty and pleasure, and the next second, one who acts with forethought (and occasionally malice), guided firmly by her own moral compass. (Hint: the needle is always pointed to the left.) The turns are dizzying, but Thurman never loses her balance.
She also never flinches while acting opposite her unfortunately chosen leading men, notably the thoroughly miscast Lucas, whose Tom clearly spends more time in the gym than he does in a law library. (The actor’s only qualification for the role appears to be that he seems like he might have grown up on a farm in Nebraska.) Meanwhile, Marton Csokas transforms the possibly sympathetic role of Peter, Chloe’s obsessive and clearly misguided lover, into one of the most annoying men ever to cross the footlights.
Fortunately, things perk up considerably when Thurman is paired with the invaluable Blair Brown, who brings just the right verbal dexterity and poise to the slightly acerbic, essentially earthy Jeanette Simpson, a staunch Republican whom Trump is nominating to head the Federal Reserve. Their scenes are definitely the show’s strongest. And Thurman also connects well with the lovely Philippa Soo as Jeanette’s feisty and fiercely Democratic daughter Rebecca.
In fact, let’s just say that the girl-on-girl action in “The Parisian Woman” is perhaps the most electric part of the play, no matter your gender or sexual persuasion. Ooh la la!
By Brian Scott Lipton
Visit the Site
Uma Thurman, Josh Lucas, Blair Brown, Marton Csokas, Phillipa Soo
Preview Open/ Preview Close Dates
Preview Opening 11/9/2017
139-141 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036