Previews start Dec 05

Farinelli and the King

10 reviews
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Oscar and three-time Tony winner Mark Rylance returns to Broadway in this new drama Spain's King Phillippe V's bond with a legendary castrato. 

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'Farinelli and the King' is inspired by the fascinating true story of Philippe V (Rylance), a Spanish monarch on the brink of madness who finds unexpected solace in the voice of world-renowned castrato, Farinelli. Soon, Farinelli and the King forge a powerful connection, and the celebrated singer must make a difficult choice: return to throngs of adoring fans or perform forever for an audience of one. Like Broadway’s 'Twelfth Night' and 'Richard III,' this contemporary work is presented in the signature style of Shakespeare’s Globe – traditional baroque instruments are performed live in a gallery above the stage; the audience enjoys intimate seating with several rows onstage; and the story is told by candlelight. 'Farinelli and the King' comes to Broadway following sold-out runs at Shakespeare’s Globe and on London’s West End.

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Cast & Creatives (16)

Reviews (10)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

The Guardian (UK)

for a previous production “A fascinating study…Van Kampen’s script is sometimes a bit knowing, but it interweaves story and song excellently…The role of Philippe gives Rylance the chance to display the king’s whimsical strangeness, sudden mood changes and inner shrewdness...For my money, Rylance’s attempt to suggest that every line he speaks is plucked out of thin air, lapses into mannerism. There is, however, unflinchingly good support from Melody Grove, Edward Peel and Colin Hurley.” Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

for a previous production “A beguiling gem of a play...Some of the political scenes are pretty stiff-legged and the characters sketchy. But when Farinelli meets the king it really takes off — and is beautifully delivered. Rylance is superb as Philippe…He is perfectly counterpointed by Sam Crane’s sad, grave Farinelli. But the masterstroke of the staging is to split Farinelli’s role in two...Countertenor Iestyn Davies steps up to sing…We are all held in thrall to that pure, ethereal voice.” Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

for a previous production “Playwright van Kampen has seized on this fascinating historical nugget with thoughtful relish...Noted counter-tenor Iestyn Davies gives us a full-throated inkling of the sublime sounds to which Philippe was treated… Rylance doesn’t disappoint – precisely by courting anti-climax…The evening, potently directed by John Dove, feels more like a richly embellished footnote than a fully-fledged drama. Yet its slender quality sits well with its otherworldly subject and ethereal star-player.” Full Review

The Independent (UK)

for a previous production "A profoundly funny and haunting mediation on melancholy and the therapeutic powers of music…The achievement of this revival – the transporting and pitch-perfect production is by John Dove – is to recapture the spirit and intimacy of that venue in a West End theatre. And it allows Rylance to complicate and deepen his earlier brilliant incarnation...Celestial beauty pours forth from counter-tenor Iestyn Davies in some of the most gorgeous arias of the 18th century.” Full Review

The London Evening Standard

for a previous production “Rylance is, without doubt, a magnificent performer at the height of his powers and this new play offers him an easy chance to shine once more…Unashamedly, a Rylance star vehicle and it’s hard to imagine another actor providing a similar focal point for a drama that slightly loses its bearings in the second half…We witness those virtuoso Rylance touches: that priceless look of bewildered innocence, as well as comic lines rendered even funnier by his character’s seeming obliviousness.” Full Review

What's On Stage (UK)

for a previous production “A fragile and beguiling play…Rylance doesn't so much act as exhale his performance, which is lit from within by the joy he takes in the baroque operatic arias sung by the castrato Farinelli. And, as before, these items sung in Italian by the great counter-tenor Iestyn Davies define both the Italianate commedia dell'arte style of John Dove's exquisite production, and the emotional swings of the king between turbulence and serenity.” Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

for a previous production “There is an irresistible geniality at the heart of Claire van Kampen’s new play…John Dove’s production makes the idea of healing by harmony entirely credible. The play has blotches: too much exposition to the audience; too much nudging and winking in its Shakespearean quotes and anachronisms. But it is truly theatrical: it becomes what it talks about…When Davies comes forward to let loose his songs, it is as if the music has taken tangible form.” Full Review

Daily Mail (UK)

for a previous production “The real star – whose talent makes you tingle – is counter-tenor Iestyn Davies, with help from Georg Frideric Handel…It was his extraordinary singing that stole the show…It is all rather understated and sad and ends, devastatingly, superbly, in one of the scenes of the season…All the sadness of the tale comes home but so does the play’s noble theme that art eclipses worldly power. This show is not innocent of slightly precious moments." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

for a previous production “Van Kampen’s play is beautifully assured, and constructed with almost as much precision as the natty green and gold set…Even if the well-flagged themes and well-made structure can flicker just a candle-gutter towards the schematic, ‘Farinelli and the King’ is still an extremely impressive first play…Under Dove’s direction, the story is allowed to spread its wings with softly surreal scenes of madness; it’s a hoot…All in all, the show rarely hits a bum note, even if it isn’t quite a miracle c... Full Review

The Arts Desk

for a previous production “I’m not sure that Claire van Kampen’s liberties always hit the mark…The proposition of music’s healing powers here is a bit glib...There could have been a more complex probing of music’s elusive role in singing truth to power…The supporting cast is good at best…Rylance effortlessly throws his book of engagement, his seemingly improvised hesitations and his charm at us from the start…But I doubt if the material will really carve a place in your soul.” Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

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