W's arts and culture director's must-sees for October.
We’re in for a war of the words this month when revivals of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing and Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance hit Broadway, fueled by star-powered casts. The Real Thing, about a playwright in a faltering marriage, features Ewan McGregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal in their Broadway debuts, along with Cynthia Nixon and Josh Hamilton. The Tony Award–winning drama first seduced New York audiences 30 years ago (with Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close in the leading roles) and is widely considered the verbally dexterous British playwright’s most moving and personal play. Close, meanwhile, makes her much anticipated return to the stage in A Delicate Balance, Albee’s Pulitzer Prize–winning 1966 drama about a long-married well-to-do couple (Close and John Lithgow) trying to maintain their sangfroid amid the comings and goings of untethered family and friends. While in Albee’s corrosive work, language acts as a kind of armature meant to hold emotions at bay, in The Real Thing it is the vehicle for letting them rip. “I tend to take on plays where the characters are much less articulate than they are in the world of a 1980s Tom Stoppard play,” Sam Gold, the director of The Real Thing, told me. “Contemporary American culture is all about communicating in between the lines.” McGregor, he says, sprung immediately to mind for the part of the intellectual powerhouse Henry, who can parry with the best of them but can’t get his head around love. “He’ll bring youth and energy to the role,” said Gold. “Ewan can make being a 1980s playwright sexy again.”