×
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.

Popular on Variety

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

  • Fernando Meirelles The Two Popes

    AFI Fest Adds 'The Two Popes,' 'Aeronauts,' Alan Pakula Tribute

    The American Film Institute has added “The Two Popes” and “The Aeronauts” as galas during the upcoming AFI Fest along with a tribute to the late director Alan Pakula. AFI had previously announced that the romantic drama “Queen & Slim” would launch the 33rd annual festival on Nov. 14 and close with the world premiere [...]

  • Julie Andrews

    Julie Andrews Recalls Husband Blake Edwards' Battle With Depression

    The line to see Julie Andrews at the 92Y wrapped around the square of a sprawling New York City block. Seventy years since the start of her career, 60 since she asked “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” as Lerner and Loewe’s first Eliza and 50 since she sang “The Sound of Music” before the Eastern Alps [...]

  • Bloodshot (Vin Diesel) in Columbia Pictures'

    Vin Diesel Comes Back to Life in 'Bloodshot' Trailer

    Vin Diesel is coming back again and again in Sony Pictures’ first trailer for “Bloodshot.” In the forthcoming superhero adventure, Diesel portrays Ray Garrison a.k.a. Bloodshot, a soldier who gets rebuilt by a corporation following his death. The clip, released Monday and scored to Johnny Cash’s rendition of the ballad “Memories are Made of This,” [...]

  • Bouli Lanners Teams With 'Peaky Blinders'

    Bouli Lanners Teams With 'Peaky Blinders' Director Tim Mielants on 'Wise Blood'

    Bouli Lanners, the Belgian actor-director of “The Giants” and “Eldorado,” is teaming with “Peaky Blinders” helmer Tim Mielants to direct “Wise Blood,” an English-language film that will star “Game of Thrones” actor Michelle Fairley and Julian Glover. “Wise Blood” is a Belgian-Scottish-French co-production between Versus Production, Barry Crerar, and Playtime, which will handle international sales [...]

  • Bombshell Charlize Theron Megyn Kelly

    'Bombshell': Why Charlize Theron Was Terrified of Playing Megyn Kelly

    Charlize Theron is getting some of the best buzz of her career for channeling Megyn Kelly in “Bombshell,” but the Oscar-winning actress admits she almost turned down the role. “I was shit scared,” Theron said during a question-and-answer session following a Manhattan screening of “Bombshell” on Sunday. Partly, she was worried about portraying someone who [...]

  • Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner's Hazy

    Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner's Hazy Mills to Co-Produce SAG Awards

    Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner’s Hazy Mills Productions have joined the SAG Awards producing team. The guild announced this morning that Kathy Connell will once again serve as the show’s producer along with Hayes and Milliner in partnership with Avalon Harbor. “Attending the SAG Awards has always been a pleasure and a privilege for me,” [...]

  • Maleficent Mistress of Evil

    Box Office: Why 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Fizzled

    Despite nabbing first place at the domestic box office, Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” debuted significantly below expectations and demonstrated that even the most powerful studio in Hollywood is susceptible to missteps. The follow-up to 2014’s “Maleficent” kicked off in North America with a lackluster $36 million bow, an underwhelming result for a film that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content