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"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." Full Review
"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." Full Review
"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." Full Review
"Davies’s singing provides most of the high notes in this otherwise workmanlike play. The nature of the central musical therapy is barely explored; instead, we get contrived court intrigue, low comedy, a rushed quasiromance, and an equally hasty coda, delivered in a steady march of flat-footed exposition...The pleasures of Dove’s production—the music, Rylance’s halting propulsion, the sumptuous sets and costumes—gleam to no purpose, real jewels glued to a trinket crown." Full Review
"What we have on stage is Sir Mark acting up a storm, a comically frenzied storm at that. Give an accomplished ham a dramatic role which allows him an occasional mad scene, and you are sure to have a memorable evening that is more or less unmissable. This is plenty enough to put 'Farinelli and the King' on the highly recommended list. But the drama, I’m afraid, doesn’t match the rest of the evening. The plot is intriguingly promising, yes; but the execution is merely functional." Full Review
"If Van Kampen’s script unsurprisingly falls far short of Shakespeare, 'Farinelli and the King' also features what should count as a secret weapon — the singing of Iestyn Davies...Too often, the license van Kampen takes is more prosaic than poetic...'Farinelli and the King' may not offer any eye-opening insights into the power of music to heal, but the show itself feels restorative – the music just part of its sumptuousness." Full Review
"If the play is structurally shaky and thematically a tad thin, Dove's exquisite staging yields compensatory rewards...This is a potentially fascinating story...But the drama becomes borderline inert...Once van Kampen has put Philippe and Farinelli together she doesn't really know what to do with them...The deteriorating mental health of a monarch here doesn't constitute a sustaining narrative arc, even if Rylance's commanding performance remains the center of attention." Full Review
"It may contain arias from obscure Baroque operas and candlelit chandeliers, but the play is, at heart, a straightforward and sentimental 'bromance'...It is also a celebration of the power of music to overcome emotional and mental instability. Rylance, who excels at playing sad and strange characters, gives a full-bodied and endearing performance that combines volatile behavior and over-the-top comedy with gentle contemplation." Full Review
"Rylance dives deep inside wacky Philippe in a performance as empathetic as it is seemingly spontaneous...A strange and slow-burning theatrical experience in many ways and seemingly focused on just one relationship, actually turns out to be a remarkably complicated exploration of the most important question in the arts of the last 500 years, i.e., who gets to go? And, of course, you get the incomparably immersed Rylance, that most live of performers." Full Review
"It’s the best play and the best production of the season so far...Yes, it has a beginner’s nicks – unnecessary use of anachronism, a sometimes heavy-handed symmetry. But in the end, it’s wildly entertaining in the moment, and resonant in the aftermath. It’s not only fun, it’s really about something...And then there’s Rylance...Meticulously off-handed, it’s funny and sad, a performance to be savored in a totally engaging little triumph of a show." Full Review
"Claire van Kampen’s fact-based but liberally embroidered drama isn’t so sensational...Still, the drama at the Belasco is a richly theatrical reminder of what art can do...Rylance is riveting as the bedeviled ruler, but his star turn still raised mixed feelings. At times he is deliciously daft and spontaneous, but he's also occasionally too stagy and calculating to ring true...The play’s poky first half meanders, but it gains momentum after the intermission." Full Review
"It's clear that Van Kampen has taken enough liberties with historic facts to allow her play to champion the healing effect of music...The playwright's vision for having two Farinellis heightens the dramatic point/counterpoint of Farinelli and Phillippe's divided selves. Fortunately the shared casting fits the mirroring of the characters' psyches very well...More an enjoyable, fanciful entertainment than a play likely to join the canon of Shakespeare's memorable king plays." Full Review
"The wonderful thing about 'Farinelli' is the chance to hear a great countertenor in a theater of 900 seats...Davies’s tone, range, and coloratura can be heard to their full dazzling effect...This story is the stuff of grand opera! Van Kampen’s disjointed storytelling and John Dove’s pedestrian direction, however, turn it into something nearer soap opera...Fortunately, Rylance puts his full arsenal of mannerisms on display to prevent this king from being the royal bore of Madrid." Full Review
"A feast for the eye and ear...Crane, in particular, is the perfect foil for Rylance. Against the star's edgy, rambunctious performance, Crane's Farinelli is calm, centered, and quite content to be at a remove from the limelight. Van Kampen does her best work in contrasting these opposites...While Mr. Rylance clearly dominates the stage, 'Farinelli and the King' would not work nearly so well without the collaborative dance of Mr. Crane and Mr. Davies that brings Farinelli richly to life." Full Review
"There are a number of points of magic...These bewitching pivots help to carry you past the play’s thin and mostly wanly eventless plot, and the frustrating mysteries of some of the characters...Davies’ singing is peerless, yet dramatically it never feels as if we get at the heart of Farinelli. Farinelli’s relationship with the King, which the title implies is the impetus of the piece, is also a puzzle...If the story palls, look around you...your eyes and ears will leave 'Farinelli' happy ind... Full Review
"'Farinelli' starts slowly but finds its footing a few scenes in...Even after it’s up and running, it slips into a mild torpor here and there. As good as Rylance is, Philippe’s madness can be just a little too cute, peppered with wit that doesn’t feel organic...Dove hasn’t determined how to even out the bumps in Van Kampen’s script...If 'Farinelli and the King' gets bogged down now and then–and it does–it also has its memorable elements, including its impeccable sense of time and place." Full Review
"It actually feels like there’s a much more interesting play hiding inside this one...Crane is uniformly fretful throughout. Rylance doesn’t really get much of an arc either...When Rylance isn’t onstage or Davies isn’t singing, it’s serious looking-at-your-watch o’clock...Honestly, even Rylance doesn’t save all his scenes...We in the audience are being asked to have the same experience as the king: Just listen and let it wash over you as a sensory experience." Full Review
"Wonderfully intriguing...Rylance masterfully commands the mood swings of a manic-depressive, going from an introverted man hesitating over every word to a violent aggressor...Really, though, this is a play about the curative qualities of music. While it would be satisfying enough to simply embrace Rylance’s mastery and the glorious works of (mostly) Handel, there is a more significant message...Music can make you feel better." Full Review
"Watching Rylance convey the pain, fear and vulnerability of that striving is heart-rending and unforgettable...Farinelli is played by an actor and a famous countertenor...The device works beautifully, thanks to director John Dove, who demonstrates a dab hand throughout...Overall, there is a fairytale-like lightness to the simplicity of the storytelling. This quality charms in places but can seem predictable or overly 'on the money' in others." Full Review
See it if Mark Rylance is a must see for you, or if you are curious about castrati and Baroque music. Beautifully done by our British cousins.
Don't see it if You need strong drama to keep your attention, or if you've already overdosed on madness in the monarchy. (I fell asleep.)
See it if you want to see perhaps the greatest theater actor of his time. Rylance exquisite in a gorgeous production of a beautiful play about art.
Don't see it if you only like musicals. Otherwise, there is no reason not to see the greatest actor on the planet.
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
See it if You like period pieces and enjoy historically based shows. If you like stories about royalty or mental desorders.
Don't see it if You prefer modern stories, do not oarticukarly care about riyal history or are offended by the presentatikn of mental disorders.
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.
See it if You value the intricacies of polished acting and appreciate the beauty of fine storytelling.
Don't see it if If you hate opera or are expecting a musical. This is not a musical. This is a fun show about a king who went mad and how music saved him.
See it if you love a good show and great singing..I'm a big fan of Farinelli and was not disappointed. I must go back for more!! BRAVO I SAY!
Don't see it if you're not a fan of opera and period shows then this is definitely not for you.
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 it if You enjoy Rylance's work, and enjoy historical dramas. The use of music is lovely. The visuals of the set, lighting, and costumes are great!
Don't see it if You don't enjoy slow pieces, or if you are looking for exceptionally strong characters. The whole thing felt one-note and slightly snobby.
See it if you like Mark Rylance, opera, plays about royalty suffering from mental illness, and comic bits coexisting alongside dramatic themes.
Don't see it if you don't like opera (there's plenty in Act II), Mark Rylance's idiosyncratic mannerisms, & plays about kings grappling with mental illness.
See it if Unique, true story of mad King Philippe V & the power of music to heal. Beautiful staging & music, unexpected touches of humor & silliness.
Don't see it if 2nd act felt disjointed & ending was abrupt, ambiguous & therefore unsatisfying. I wish Farinelli character was as fleshed out as the King.
See it if Amazing blend of 18th century history & ethereal Handel countertenor singing on a candlelit stage. First act is fantastic, second drags a...
Don't see it if bit & there are some small things to carp about but you've come to see Rylance & hear Davies & in the moment they will transport you.
See it if Rylance fans and fans of Baroque music will love it. It’s staged beautifully, sung w/o amplification, and candlelit. Unusual and lovely
Don't see it if Don’t expect a well-written play, despite a great premise. Avoid if you can’t enjoy Baroque countertenor singing.
See it if You love Handel arias done by an ethereal countertenor , staging that is period perfect , and a love of music in general
Don't see it if You are looking for farce or Shakespeare , this is neither
See it if Chamber music, candles & Mark Rylance makes this a perfect evening at the theater. In addition, Melody Grove as the queen is nice discovery.
Don't see it if This production will take you back in time from top to bottom. Rylance is such a natural actor. His acting feels effortless and seamless.
See it if Opera singer befriends ailing king and queen, enriching all their lives. Ethereal singing and candlelit staging. Mark Rylance was great.
Don't see it if You would not enjoy 1730’s operatic arias. You want more intense drama or a flashy musical. You can’t watch struggles with mental illness.