I was going to skip reviewing GOD LOOKED AWAY, the dreadful new show about the last Opening Night in Tennessee Williams’ career, but since there is fresh talk of transferring it to Broadway, I must speak up.


It is painfully dull and frivolous. It is written by Dotson Rader, one of Tennessee’s real-life lovers, whose greatest writing achievement to date is in Parade Magazine. And that is the level of verbal finesse you get in this weak, soggy play. Scenes have little shape and the dialogue just wanders. A crucial moment is thrown away in a phone call. Too much time is spent on a rivalry between two “himbos.” You never get to see the acid wit or lyric soul or creative brilliance of Tennessee Williams, just his lasciviousness.

Al Pacino wrestles with a southern accent and loses. He doesn’t even try to get Tennessee’s mannerisms. The usually exquisite Judith Light doesn’t enter till the second Act and then she is woefully underused. Please, let’s not waste any more time with this dreck.

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Anytime you get the chance to see Al Pacino on stage, you should go. Even if he is just reading his Christmas cards, he is mesmerizing.  Even if he is just yelling at people on a telephone for almost the entire length of a two-hour 10 minute play.  Really.

Usually Mamet and Pacino are a good fit, though not particularly in the most recent revival of GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS.  In CHINA DOLL, a farfetched tale of greed and politics, you get the feeling that David Mamet has watched too many episodes of HOUSE OF CARDS. But where HOUSE OF CARDS breaks the fourth wall to create a heightened reality, CHINA DOLL remains incredulously unrealistic while mired in our everyday existence.

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