You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Clive

Stars just wanna have fun. And who dares deny them their sport, when we're talking about high-profile thesps like Ethan Hawke and Vincent D'Onofrio, currently frolicking with the New Group in "Clive"?

With:
Clive - Ethan Hawke
Doc - Vincent D'Onofrio

Stars just wanna have fun. And who dares deny them their sport, when we’re talking about high-profile thesps like Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio, currently frolicking with the New Group in “Clive”? Jonathan Marc Sherman’s baggy adaptation of “Baal” transforms the dissolute 1920s poet of Bertolt Brecht’s first play into a dissolute 1990s songwriter, and Hawke’s loose helming prompts the cast to unleash its collective id and revel in the play’s strenuous debauchery. Finding itself ignored, the audience might feel like tiptoeing out and leaving the players to enjoy their private party.

Just when we thought we’d finally seen the last of it, punk lives again. Despite the shame of having to answer to the absurd name of Clive, Hawke does a pretty good impression of a better-nourished Sid Vicious — although the bogus musicians backing him up are but a pale imitation of the Sex Pistols. Sexy/scary in spiked bleached-blond hair and black leather trousers so tight they look like they were stitched onto his bare butt by costumer Catherine Zuber, the strutting Hawke tackles with gusto his Brechtian role of the punk antichrist who corrupts everyone he meets and spoils everything he touches.

In updating the material, Sherman makes a point of preserving the pivotal character of Baal/Clive as the amoral artist who shows his contempt for bourgeois society by taking its money, screwing its women and mocking its values through his subversive art.

The broad liberties the scribe has taken with the original story are practical without being especially imaginative. The pompous burgher whose wife Baal seduces is reborn here as a self-important music producer who practically hands his woman to Clive. Baal’s drinking companions are recast in Clive’s world as cokeheads and smack junkies.

Loose as it is, the script does preserve all the essential plot details about deflowering virgins, betraying comrades, driving women to suicide, and killing his best friend — all dynamic activities that Hawke pursues with an impish grin. It’s the kind of performance that simply mows down anyone in its crosshairs.

Not that the supporting players offer much resistance. Only Zoe Kazan, playing a waiflike virgin and looking positively edible in her little white dress and Madonna-inspired gloves, manages to portray something that resembles a character.

The only one who keeps Hawke from swallowing the show whole is D’Onofrio as Doc, a mysterious figure who seems to have originated with Baal’s friend, Ekart. This slippery character first appears as a satanic presence, but mutates into Clive’s friend and eventually his victim. Untroubled by the fact that he’s playing a character that makes no sense, D’Onofrio taps into the unpredictable persona of that crazy cop he plays on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and just goes with the erratic flow.

Will Doc revert to his satanic self? Will he save Clive from himself or leave him to his fate? Who knows. The character shifts direction like a weather vane, and D’Onofrio gleefully goes along for the ride.

In one scene that looks completely improvisational, Doc and Clive are sitting on the floor of a cabin hideaway, having a close encounter, so close that Doc looks as if he will either kiss Clive’s lips or bite them off. With D’Onofrio, it could go either way — an unpredictable quality that Brecht himself might consider to be the essence of a scary performance.

Clive

Acorn Theater; 199 seats; $60 top

Production: A presentation by the New Group of a play in one act by Jonathan Marc Sherman. Directed by Ethan Hawke.

Creative: Set, Derek McLane; costumes, Catherine Zuber; lighting, Jeff Croiter; sound, Shane Rettig; production stage manager, Valerie A. Peterson. Opened Feb. 7, 2013. Reviewed Feb. 1. Running time: ONE HOUR, 40 MIN.

Cast: Clive - Ethan Hawke
Doc - Vincent D'OnofrioWith: Brooks Ashmanskas, Stephanie Janssen, Mahira Kakkar, Zoe Kazan, Aaron Krohn, Dana Lyn, Jonathan Marc Sherman

More Legit

  • Hello, Dolly! Bette Midler

    Bette Midler to Return to Broadway's 'Hello, Dolly!'

    Stars just wanna have fun. And who dares deny them their sport, when we’re talking about high-profile thesps like Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio, currently frolicking with the New Group in “Clive”? Jonathan Marc Sherman’s baggy adaptation of “Baal” transforms the dissolute 1920s poet of Bertolt Brecht’s first play into a dissolute 1990s songwriter, and […]

  • My Fair Lady review

    Broadway Review: 'My Fair Lady'

    Stars just wanna have fun. And who dares deny them their sport, when we’re talking about high-profile thesps like Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio, currently frolicking with the New Group in “Clive”? Jonathan Marc Sherman’s baggy adaptation of “Baal” transforms the dissolute 1920s poet of Bertolt Brecht’s first play into a dissolute 1990s songwriter, and […]

  • Tony Awards: Sara Bareilles, Josh Groban

    Sara Bareilles, Josh Groban to Host 2018 Tony Awards

    Stars just wanna have fun. And who dares deny them their sport, when we’re talking about high-profile thesps like Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio, currently frolicking with the New Group in “Clive”? Jonathan Marc Sherman’s baggy adaptation of “Baal” transforms the dissolute 1920s poet of Bertolt Brecht’s first play into a dissolute 1990s songwriter, and […]

  • New York Mayor's Office women

    New York Mayor's Office Details New $5 Million Women's Fund for Film, Theater

    Stars just wanna have fun. And who dares deny them their sport, when we’re talking about high-profile thesps like Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio, currently frolicking with the New Group in “Clive”? Jonathan Marc Sherman’s baggy adaptation of “Baal” transforms the dissolute 1920s poet of Bertolt Brecht’s first play into a dissolute 1990s songwriter, and […]

  • Tina review

    West End Review: Tina Turner Musical 'Tina'

    Stars just wanna have fun. And who dares deny them their sport, when we’re talking about high-profile thesps like Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio, currently frolicking with the New Group in “Clive”? Jonathan Marc Sherman’s baggy adaptation of “Baal” transforms the dissolute 1920s poet of Bertolt Brecht’s first play into a dissolute 1990s songwriter, and […]

  • Jamie Parker Harry Potter

    Stagecraft Podcast: 'Cursed Child's' Jamie Parker on Joining the 'Harry Potter' Universe

    Stars just wanna have fun. And who dares deny them their sport, when we’re talking about high-profile thesps like Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio, currently frolicking with the New Group in “Clive”? Jonathan Marc Sherman’s baggy adaptation of “Baal” transforms the dissolute 1920s poet of Bertolt Brecht’s first play into a dissolute 1990s songwriter, and […]

  • 2018 National Playwrights Conference

    Beth Henley, J.T. Rogers and Sarah DeLappe Set for 2018 O'Neill Playwrights Conference

    Stars just wanna have fun. And who dares deny them their sport, when we’re talking about high-profile thesps like Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio, currently frolicking with the New Group in “Clive”? Jonathan Marc Sherman’s baggy adaptation of “Baal” transforms the dissolute 1920s poet of Bertolt Brecht’s first play into a dissolute 1990s songwriter, and […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content