×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mud, River, Stone

Playwright Lynn Nottage draws a tight web in the first act of her new "Mud, River, Stone." The characters are clearly defined, the landscape picturesque, the dialogue laced with humor. But despite tight exposition, the cumbersome second act blurs with melodramatic repetition and a wandering focus.

With:
Cast: Paula Newsome (Sarah Bradley), Michael Potts (David Bradley), Maduka Steady (Joaquim), Brian Murray (Mr. Blake), Oni Faida Lampley (Ama Cyllah), John McAdams (Neibert), Mirjana Jokovic (Simone Frick).

Playwright Lynn Nottage draws a tight web in the first act of her new “Mud, River, Stone.” The characters are clearly defined, the landscape picturesque, the dialogue laced with humor. But despite tight exposition, the cumbersome second act blurs with melodramatic repetition and a wandering focus.

A black couple from Manhattan, who have fond memories of Caribbean vacations, journey to South East Africa in search of the mud and stone ruins of their ancestors. Investment banker Sarah Bradley (Paula Newsome) and her music-journalist husband, David (Michael Potts), take a wrong turn in their rented car, running out of gas, trudging for three days in the bush and even crossing an unidentified minefield. They wind up in the lobby of a tacky, once luxurious hotel.

An elusive businessman, Mr. Blake (Brian Murray), tells the weary travelers, “Twenty years of civil war have made this place a festival of despair.” There is no telephone, no running water, not even a road. Just “perfect martinis,” Blake adds. They are joined by a chain-smoking Belgian intellectual (John McAdams), a forest dweller who lives among the tribes in search of mythic culture.

The play’s antagonist is an inept bellhop and former soldier (Maduka Steady) who takes everyone hostage in a bullying demand for grain to feed the starving survivors of the revolution. The arrival of a U.N. arbitrator (Mirjana Jokovic), who also is taken hostage, adds little to the melee as Nottage’s flavorful writing gives way to a shouting match of political rhetoric. The gunman’s cruel, bellowing tactics and the shrillness of his incessant commands dominate the play’s jarring second half.

Actor Roger Rees has staged the play with strong atmosphere, despite the drawn-out and unsettling hostage crisis. Neil Patel’s wonderfully decadent hotel lobby would be right at home in a Graham Greene novel.

Mud, River, Stone

Production: NEW YORK A Playwrights Horizons presentation of a play in two acts by Lynn Nottage. Directed by Roger Rees.

Crew: Set, Neil Patel; costumes, Kaye Voyce; lighting , Frances Aronson; sound, Red Ramona; stage manager, Laurie Goldfeder. Opened Dec. 14, 1997, at Playwrights Horizons. Reviewed Dec. 11; 141 seats; $ 37.50 top. Running time: 2 HOURS, 15 MIN.

With: Cast: Paula Newsome (Sarah Bradley), Michael Potts (David Bradley), Maduka Steady (Joaquim), Brian Murray (Mr. Blake), Oni Faida Lampley (Ama Cyllah), John McAdams (Neibert), Mirjana Jokovic (Simone Frick).

More Film

  • Actress Shirley MacLaine poses at the

    Shirley MacLaine Selected for AARP Career Achievement Award

    Shirley MacLaine has been selected as the recipient of the AARP’s 2018 Movies for Grownups Career Achievement Award. MacLaine will be honored at the 18th annual Movies for Grownups Awards ceremony on Feb. 4 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. MacLaine has credits on more than 50 feature films, won a best [...]

  • 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette' Trailer: Cate

    Cate Blanchett Disappears in 'Where’d You Go, Bernadette' First Trailer

    Cate Blanchett goes missing in the first trailer for Richard Linklater’s latest film, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette.” Based on Maria Semple’s 2012 novel, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” follows agoraphobic architect Bernadette Fox (Blanchett), who disappears just before a family trip to Antarctica. “Something unexpected has come up,” Blanchett’s character says on the phone. “It has much [...]

  • Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in

    'The Favourite' Leads London Critics' Circle Nominations

    Yorgos Lanthimos’ dark historical comedy “The Favourite” lived up to its title with the London Film Critics’ Circle on Tuesday, nabbing 10 awards nominations from the group – twice as many as its nearest rivals. Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma,” Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here,” Rupert Everett’s “The Happy Prince” and Pawel Pawlikowski’s European Film [...]

  • Picture Tree Intl. Rolls Out Pre-Sales

    Berlin: Picture Tree Intl. Rolls Out Pre-Sales on B.O. Hit ‘100 Things’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    MADRID — In the long run-up to February’s Berlin Festival, Picture Tree Intl. has rolled out multiple pre-sales on “100 Things,” which Warner Bros. Pictures bowed in Germany on Dec. 6 to a robust first eight-day €2.7 million ($3.07 million). “100 Things” will receive a market screening at the Berlinale’s European Film Market. The third [...]

  • Mid 90s

    Jonah Hill's 'mid90s,' Pauline Kael Documentary to Screen in Berlin's Panorama Section

    Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, “mid90s,” about a 13-year-old skateboarder’s coming of age, and a documentary on influential film critic Pauline Kael are among the works that will screen in the Panorama section of the upcoming Berlin Film Festival. Films starring Tilda Swinton and Jamie Bell and titles from countries including Israel, Brazil and Japan were [...]

  • 'Your Name' Director Makoto Shinkai Readies

    ‘Your Name' Director Makoto Shinkai Readies 'Weathering'

    Three years after the animation “Your Name” began its long triumphant reign over the Japanese and international box office, its director Makoto Shinkai has announced his next animated feature. Titled “Weathering With You,” the film will arrive in theaters in Japan on July 19 of next year, with Toho distributing. Set in a world where [...]

  • Berlin: The Match Factory Boards New

    Berlin: The Match Factory Boards Competition Titles From Fatih Akin, Emin Alper (EXCLUSIVE)

    German indie powerhouse The Match Factory will handle world sales on two Berlin Film Festival competition titles: German director Fatih Akin’s serial-killer chiller “The Golden Glove” and Turkish director Emin Alper’s family drama “A Tale of Three Sisters.”  Akin, a Hamburg native whose “Head-On” won the Golden Bear in 2004, is returning to the Berlinale [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content