Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Prizefighter Drama a Loser in a Decision

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Prizefighter Drama a Loser in a Decision

Article excerpt

GOLDEN BOY

Broadway play revival, presented by Lincoln Center Theater at the Belasco Theatre, 111 W. 44th St.

Written by Clifford Odets. Directed by Bartlett Sher.

With Tony Shalhoub, Seth Numrich, Danny Mastrogiorgio and Yvonne Strahovski.

Schedule: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets: $37 to $127. Telecharge: 212-239-6200 or telecharge.com.

The reputation of Clifford Odets, who achieved his great success as a leftist playwright during the Great Depression, has not prospered over the years.

But I suspect that the 1937 "Golden Boy," his biggest box-office hit, is better than it seems in the mediocre production - the first Broadway revival in 60 years - that opened Thursday night at the Belasco Theatre.

The play, best-known for the 1939 film adaptation that made a star of William Holden (it was also turned into a 1964 Broadway- musical vehicle for Sammy Davis Jr.) is about a young Italian- American man, Joe Bonaparte, who must decide whether to pursue a promising career as a violinist or become a prizefighter.

For Odets, it was a dilemma that grew out of a deeply flawed society: The pursuit of art would probably mean a life of poverty, while beating another man into insensibility could make Joe rich.

The play is dated and melodramatic, with slang-filled dialogue that can sound tinny. But it has decent theatrical bones, and if well-acted and offered on a humbly human level, might work well on both personal and political levels.

But director Bartlett Sher, it seems to me, goes at it in exactly the wrong way, presenting "Golden Boy" as a loud, brassy, tough- talking period piece. Add in unimpressive performances, and the result is a long evening that, for all its slam-bang moments, is tedious and uninvolving.

In outline, "Golden Boy" is the prototypical prizefighting saga. …

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