This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

23Dec/17

THE PARISIAN WOMAN

(photo by Matthew Murphy)

Uma Thurman, Josh Lucas, and Marton Csokas discuss sex and politics in Beau Willimon’s The Parisian Woman (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Hudson Theatre
139-141 West 44th St. between Sixth & Seventh Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through March 11, $59.50 - $260
www.thehudsonbroadway.com

Oscar and Emmy nominee Uma Thurman makes her Broadway debut in The Parisian Woman by Beau Willimon, the creator of the American version of House of Cards. The ninety-minute play, set in contemporary Washington, DC, could be an alternate episode of the popular Netflix hit. Thurman is Chloe, the socialite wife of tax lawyer Tom (Josh Lucas), who is being considered for a federal judgeship. Unsurprisingly, sex, lies, and power will determine whether he succeeds or not. Chloe is having an affair with the obsessively jealous Peter Lafont (Marton Csokas), a wealthy banker who just might have the ear of President Trump. When Chloe and Tom are invited to a party at the home of high-powered Republican Jeannette Simpson (Tony winner Blair Brown), Chloe sees it as an opportunity to manipulate Jeannette, who has been nominated to become the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, in order to find out Tom’s chances. At the party, Chloe also speaks with Bob and Jeannette’s daughter, rising political star — and liberal Democrat — Rebecca (Tony nominee Phillipa Soo). Bedroom intrigue and political maneuverings lead to a surprising conclusion that would probably make House of Cards’ Frank and Claire Underwood proud.

(photo by Matthew Murphy)

Chloe (Uma Thurman) and Jeannette Simpson (Blair Brown) make a deal in The Parisian Woman (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Running through March 11 at the Hudson Theatre, The Parisian Woman, which was inspired by Henri Becque’s scandalous 1885 play, La Parisienne, is slight though enjoyable, but it seldom achieves the intimacy it strives for. Thurman (Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction), who was last onstage in Classic Stage’s 1999 revival of Molière’s The Misanthrope, is elegant but too languid — she may look great in Jane Greenwood’s fab costumes, but her character is so vapid it is difficult to understand why everyone is in love with her. Csokas (The Lord of the Rings, LovingHamilton, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812) underwhelming, while Lucas (Corpus Christi, The Glass Menagerie) is plenty smarmy, but it’s Brown (Arcadia, Copenhagen) who saves the day with a stellar performance as Jeannette, the most fascinating and likable character in the play, which shines whenever she is onstage. Tony winner Pam MacKinnon (Clybourne Park, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) directs with a sure hand on Derek McLane’s stylish sets, but the play suffers from Willimon’s repeated references to Trump and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, making it feel more like liberal propaganda at times; in fact, Willimon (Farragut North, Lower Ninth), who worked on campaigns for Charles Schumer, Hillary Clinton, Bill Bradley, and Howard Dean, has significantly revised the play several times since its 2013 premiere at South Coast Repertory, where the cast included Dana Delany and Steven Weber. The Parisian Woman is not without its merits, but it ends up being akin to a good episode of House of Cards, which will not be enough for more discerning theatergoers.

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