(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 4/28.)
I first came across Cat Jones's 60-minute play when it was submitted for one of the playwrights' bursaries annually awarded by Pearson. I'm happy to say that this story of a soldier trying to adjust to civilian life after serving in Afghanistan and Iraq proves every bit as gripping on the stage, where it's won prizes on the Edinburgh and Adelaide fringe, as it did on the page.
Given that Jones's play derives from discussions with ex-servicemen doing time in Doncaster, you might expect it to go easy on its screwed-up hero. If anything, it does the reverse, since the returning Ray is seen as a misogynist, racist bully. He hammers on the door of a backstreet pub demanding to be let in just as fiercely as he once battered his ex-wife Carla who is lurking inside. Having gained admission, the blood-spattered Ray not only proves to be on the run: he also locks the doors, and proceeds to intimidate the teenage barmaid and timorous publican, and forcibly try to get Carla to flee to Brighton with him and their two children.
(Patrick Healy’s article appeared in the New York Times, 4/30.)
Traditional song-and-dance shows about scrappy underdogs dominated the Tony Award nominations on Tuesday, with four — “Kinky Boots,” “Matilda,” “Bring It On” and “A Christmas Story” — taking every slot in the race for best Broadway musical. Serious fare suffered, with the gritty “Hands on a Hardbody” edged out for best musical and “The Testament of Mary” — a monologue by the mother of Jesus — quickly announcing a closing date after its lead actress, Fiona Shaw, did not receive a Tony nomination.
Hollywood stars faced disappointment too. Bette Midler, in her first Broadway role since “Fiddler on the Roof” in the late 1960s, was passed over for a best actress nomination for the play “I’ll Eat You Last,” despite rave reviews. Alec Baldwin, Jessica Chastain, Scarlett Johansson, Jim Parsons and Sigourney Weaver also lost out; the producers of “Orphans,” Alec Baldwin’s first project since the television show “30 Rock,” may have erred by not moving him to the featured actor category, where the competition was slimmer. But others did well: Tom Hanks received a best actor nomination for “Lucky Guy,” his Broadway debut.