We round up the reviews for the stage adaptation based on Elizabeth Strout’s novel, which played at the Bridge Theatre in London in 2018.

(c)Manuel Harlan.

Variety: “Mother and daughter relationships are always complicated, to say the least. But they don’t necessarily have to be vicious and destructive, either. That’s not Strout’s style, and it’s not what director Richard Eyre is going for, in his viscerally penetrating but emotionally restrained directorial approach.”

Vulture.com: “It’s this sameness that’s the show-killer. Dramatic mechanics are made to be tampered with — have at it! — but you must have at least one of the following engines to drive an engaging solo performance: surprise, persuasion, revelation, humor, action, change, seduction, or suspense. Munro and Eyre and Linney are reverential about keeping to the letter of Strout’s book, which, in the paradoxical way of failed adaptations, means that they miss the point.”

Observer.com: “For visuals, lighting shifts and subtler video projections are all director Richard Eyre employs to signify action. Ms. Linney does the rest—deceptively sunny as the writer who tries to cope and her cold, bloodless and self-absorbed mother who slams the door on every attempt at redemption—with only slight changes of posture and vocal tone to delineate one from the other. She has authority, beauty, strength, versatility and for a change you can understand every single word she says.”

NY Times: “Ideally cast as a plain-spoken woman made of quiet steel, she acts the way Elizabeth Strout writes in this compelling adaptation of the 2016 novel.”

Time Out: *** “Linney comes most alive when she’s inhabiting Lucy’s mother, pushing her voice into a nasal Midwestern bark and delivering juicy storytelling monologues. It’s when she is narrating as Lucy that the play runs into trouble. Writing and reading are solitary events; public performance is not, and the literary qualities of the text, though often lovely, prove an obstacle: The very fine Linney works hard to suggest an interior struggle behind the smooth, polished reticence of the words—at several points, she verges on tears—yet it is hard to shake the sense that Lucy is writing for us, not speaking to us.”

Hollywood Reporter: “Linney’s emotional transparency is wondrous as she relates the different ways in which mother and daughter reach out to one another for forgiveness without ever saying the words, each of them revealing a difficult admiration for the other that’s almost like love.”

NY Post: ** 1/2 “It’s a skilled performance that employs the actress’s signature move: commanding the stage while remaining genteel and dignified.”

Entertainment Weekly: “The adaptation is by playwright and screenwriter Rona Munro (known also for TV’s Doctor Who), who wisely retains much of the novel’s language. The director, Richard Eyre, who first staged the production in London in 2018, has a similarly light touch with what amounts to two stars: Linney and Strout’s story.”

Talkin’ Broadway: “as it stands, the production seems like a staged book-on-tape. Coincidentally, it has just been announced that the play has been recorded as an audiobook for one of the producers, Penguin Random House Audio.”

Broadway World: “But there’s little in the way of a dramatic arc, nor much tension, as it’s pretty apparent from the start that, as a whole, Lucy turned out okay.”

My Name is Lucy Barton continues to play until the 1st March.


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