Go to Homepage   The Blue Room: Cartwheels Interruptus


I admit it. I bought into the hype. I had to see for myself what "pure theatrical Viagra" was all about. The Blue Room did not disappoint, even though my experience turned out differently than expected.  

David Hare's The Blue Room reworks La Ronde, Arthur Schnitzler's turn of the century erotic play about five different couples. The 10 characters in La Ronde are usually played by 10 actors. Not so with The Blue Room and viva la difference! Australian-born actress Nicole Kidman and English stage actor Iain Glen perform all the roles. Sensationally. 

As directed by Sam Mendes, most recently of Cabaret, love and true commitment have nothing to do with events in The Blue Room. The subject and construction of the play -- a series of coital vignettes -- preclude intimacy and emotional growth. However, all of the play's characters are searching for something -- companionship, sexual fulfillment. The play also demonstrates the exact time needed to obtain this fulfillment. Sometimes the sex satisfies. Sometimes it does not.  

The acting and bravura performances, however, never falter. 

Kidman displays great emotional range and dexterity in roles ranging from naïve hooker to Continental au pair to skittish married woman to teen-age American model and, finally, world weary actress. She laughs, cries, pouts believably and quickly in a variety of accents. Her timing, especially her comedic timing, is dead on. The Blue Room may be her Broadway debut, but she is no novice.

Iain Glen matches Kidman step for step. His timing sustains him in role after role: from cab driver to student to politician to playwright to aristocrat. You believe him whatever he plays. 

And what about what everyone wants to know -- what about the nude scene? We only see Kidman's backside. You notice her height -- she's all legs -- and how beautiful she really is.  

Glen is another story. We see him from all angles. The "Viagra quote" from London's Daily Telegraph referred to Kidman, but they could and should have been talking about Glen. He turns cartwheels into performance art. Although known for his stage work, Glen's masculine beauty could light up a movie screen if he wished. 

But the real surprise for me wasn't the play, but what happened afterwards. What that says about me, I'm not sure.  

As the theater emptied, I noticed a crowd gathering outside. I decided to linger and discovered the crowd was waiting for Kidman to exit the theater. Evidently she signs autographs and poses for photos after every performance.  

Considering New York's reputation, the friendliness and enthusiasm of the mostly native crowd surprised me. So much for the myth of the jaded New Yorker.  

Glen emerged first and signed every playbill put in front of him before heading to his limo. Kidman followed, less glamorous than she was in performance, but beautiful, nonetheless. She signed autographs for a good fifteen minutes and joked with the crowd the whole time. To say she was a good sport is an understatement. She obviously enjoys her newfound success and fame, and deserves it all.  

And yours truly? I guess I'm no different than anyone else. I shoved my playbill in front of her and got an autograph, too.

Joan Fuchsman