Thursday, February 22, 2007

Talk Radio!

There is a revival of Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio on Broadway starring Liev Schreiber. It is a very good production directed by Robert Falls. It seems interesting that someone would choose to bring back this little poisoned jewel from the eighties, which has not been updated for our times. At the beginning the references to Iran-Contra and Bush Sr. as Veep seem dated, but as the play goes on, it has the terrific effect that it makes you pine for the days of Reagan and Ollie North. Those were the days! How innocent and enraged we were then! As opposed to how jaded and callously indifferent to much worse events we are now. So that works. If you saw the Oliver Stone movie of the play, the character of Barry Champlain was played by Eric Bogosian himself, who is a fantastic, charismatic performer. As Champlain, Schreiber is excellent, just as he was excellent as Richard Roma in Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, (a similar kind of character somehow) and very excellent as Iago in an otherwise forgettable Public Theater production. Yet I kind of missed the heat and passion of someone like Bogosian. Liev Schreiber is a technically commanding actor. He uses his voice beautifully in this production. He is intense and extraordinarily effective, but he is cold. When you saw Bogosian, you saw a true manic guy, someone who had been losing it since childhood, someone truly on edge. Schreiber brings something different to the role, more of a seething, controlled rage, more of a calculated, reptilian intelligence, rather than just passionate outrage.
The actors who play the callers are extraordinary. They presumably stand backstage and interact with Schreiber over the phone. They are the best part of the show.

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