REVIEW ROUNDUP: “Farinelli and the King” Opened with a ShowScore of 80

Show-Score | Dec 18, 2017
“Farinelli and the King,” written by Claire  van Kampen and directed by John Dove, opened on December 17, 2017 in New York City. “Farinelli and the King,” written by Claire van Kampen and directed by John Dove, opened on December 17, 2017 in New York City.


19 critics reviewed the show, resulting in a weighted average of 71.

Ben Brantley
The New York Times
ShowScore: 85
"Strangely enchanting...The language of the script doesn’t always flow melodically. But van Kampen has an illuminating appreciation not only for period music but also for the gap between artists and their art...Watching Rylance’s Philippe experience Farinelli’s voice, we hear what he hears. And an actor and a singer temporarily turn a night at the theater in an anxious city into an Eden beyond worldly care, all the more precious for its evanescence."
Zachary Stewart
ShowScore: 70
"Van Kampen's middling historical fiction...Van Kampen eschews the typical portrayal of Isabella as Lady Macbeth, opting instead for the even staler trope of the giving tree...A baffling attempt to insert conflict into the second act risks dramaturgical disaster, and is saved only by Davies's achingly beautiful interpretation of Handel's 'Cara sposa.'...Davies makes the most exhilarating Broadway debut of the year as the voice of Farinelli...Dove's production is a total delight to the senses."
Marilyn Stasio
ShowScore: 65
"There’s not much to Claire van Kampen’s simplistic script...But with a lead performance by Oscar and Tony winner Mark Rylance in full sail, it’s enough...In the context of the period setting, the anachronistic language is barbarically contemporary...That’s a pity, since director John Dove has taken such pains to re-create the heavily gilded style of the formal Baroque setting of this production."

“Farinelli and the King” was also reviewed by Barbara Schuler of Newsday, Sara Holdren of New York Magazine / Vulture, Michael Bracken of Theater Pizzazz, Tim Teeman of Daily Beast, Adam Feldman of Time Out New York, David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter, Elizabeth Bradley of Broadway News, Howard Miller of Talkin' Broadway, Robert Hofler of The Wrap, Elyse Sommer of CurtainUp, Joe Dziemianowicz of New York Daily News, Jeremy Gerard of Deadline, Matt Windman of AM New York, Chris Jones of Chicago Tribune, Jonathan Mandell of DC Theatre Scene, and Steven Suskin of The Huffington Post.


The show was also reviewed by 81 Show-Score members, whose collective ShowScore is a weighted average of 82.

Top five adjectives describing the show:
Great acting, Great singing, Great staging, Absorbing, Enchanting

Beau G, ShowScore: 78 
See it if…"You're a Rylance fan (though if you find him mannered, this will not change your mind); you love baroque opera (you'll leave wanting more)."
Don't see it if…"You're expecting a nuanced or politically astute play; you don't like Rylance; you don't like the Globe Theatre aesthetic."
Bml59, ShowScore: 80 
See it if…"You want to see another superior performance by Mark Rylance in a interesting beautifully realized period drama."
Don't see it if…"You don’t like period pieces or need pizzazz and wow factors to keep you entertained. This is an interesting drama that requires attention.
Member 730246, ShowScore: 84 
See it if…"You love historical period pieces. The singing was superb, although I felt the story really took off once Farinelli meets the king."
Don't see it if…"You don’t like period pieces. If you require constant singing and dancing, this is not for you."
See the Show Page with all critic and member reviews.

Note: The ShowScore displayed above is current as of right now, and may be different from the ShowScore when the article was published.