Closed 2h 30m
Farinelli and the King
Midtown W
82

Farinelli and the King NYC Reviews and Tickets

82%
(537 Reviews)
Positive
89%
Mixed
8%
Negative
3%
Members say
Great acting, Great singing, Absorbing, Great staging, Entertaining

About the Show

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

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Member Reviews (537)

87
Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You are interested in a very unique and entertaining play. The plot is based on historical figures.The incomparable Rylance and cast shine!

Don't see it if This type of play,with "Globe Theater" like staging,candlelit scenes,baroque music and operatic singing are not for you.

79
Great singing, Great acting, Informative, historical

See it if you are fascinated about the historical events showing how song soothes & cures a bipolar Spanish king in the 1700's starring Mark Rylance.

Don't see it if you are not a fan of historical plays that take liberty in presenting the facts of an actual event.

Critic Reviews (56)

December 17th, 2017

"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."
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December 17th, 2017

"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."
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December 17th, 2017

"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."
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December 17th, 2017

"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."
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December 18th, 2017

"The elements of 'Farinelli and the King' taken in isolation are fascinating...And yet, somehow 'Farinelli and the King' unfolds as lethargic and two-dimensional, too enamored with its own cleverness and obvious metaphors to provide anything of real emotional weight...Any time Rylance is available on stage to a New York audience, it’s impossible not to recommend you see him. But 'Farinelli and the King' is all dazzle and no depth."
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December 17th, 2017

"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."
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December 21st, 2017

"By all rights it ought not to work at all—yet 'Farinelli' still contrives to cast an odd spell on the viewer, and its best moments have a delicate beauty that will stay with you...Van Kampen’s Farinelli is an inscrutable stick figure, while her Philippe is a walking thesaurus of stage-madness clichés. Nor does her plot have any tension...Thanks to Davies’s singing and Dove’s staging, 'Farinelli' manages to circumvent its dramatic deficiencies and hold your attention—if you love music."
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December 17th, 2017

"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."
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December 17th, 2017

"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."
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December 17th, 2017

"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."
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December 17th, 2017

"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."
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December 18th, 2017

"The play, written by Rylance's wife Claire van Kampen, is most entertaining but principally as a vehicle for her husband, tapping into his bravura skills as both a comedian and tragedian...Directed by John Dove, it's graced with a dream production, expertly acted, and designed with exquisite authenticity by Jonathan Fensom. But while 'Farinelli and the King' has the look and feel of a classic work, dramatically it falls short."
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December 17th, 2017

"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."
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December 18th, 2017

"Despite its many attractions, 'Farinelli and the King' is a crudely constructed affair that barely rises to the level of anecdote...For all of his lovingly rendered comic business, Philippe remains a distant figure, elusively skipping from one eccentric fancy to another...One wishes Rylance would strive harder to find roles commensurate with his abilities...For all of Crane's fine work, Farinelli is little more than a pawn with a gorgeous voice, his interior largely left unexplored."
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December 17th, 2017

"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."
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December 17th, 2017

"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."
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December 23rd, 2017

“While the play entertains and the performances hold one's interest, there are holes in the script. We learn nothing of the causes or beginnings of Philippe's illness. Although we know that he is the grandson of the French King Louis XIV, we learn nothing about his history or his first marriage. The only thing we learn about Farinelli is that he is Italian and that his composer brother arranged for his castration when he was ten to preserve his angelic voice on the death of their father.”
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December 17th, 2017

"'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."
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December 17th, 2017

"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."
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December 19th, 2017

“This play is more a series of incidences than a story unfolding...Everything that could be done to bring this tale to life has been done...A great production of a play with little substance, however, does not a great play make. But for the performance of Rylance, who is as always remarkable, and Davies, who is a delicious surprise and deserving of the two final bows that Rylance engineers, ‘Farinelli and The King’ remains a tedious bit of business.”
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December 17th, 2017

"Structurally, the plays leaves much to be desired, as it’s unsure of what it wants to accomplish. It shifts in tone...but it poses questions that make it feel like a much more well rounded project than it is...Crane does more than turn Farinelli into either a tortured artist or a complete hedonist, unlike the play he’s in, the actor understands nobody should exist in extremes...It’s a performance full of soul in a play that favors surface."
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December 21st, 2017

"The show is well directed by John Dove and designed by Jonathan Fensom...Rylance mutters and babbles gently and then goes in for a jab like a verbal fencer...Although Rylance is worth the price of admission alone, Farinelli is the focal character...Farinelli feels disconnected from his singer-persona and having two people emphasizes the separation. Davies’ counter-tenor voice is incredible; his singing is haunting and it transports the audience."
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December 22nd, 2017

“Everything about this production feels old fashioned, and I mean that in the best of possible ways...The story is simple and charming, and even though it’s not captivating, it does truly engage. It has a glow and a quiet intimacy that is unquestionable and stunningly beautiful...The complexities and depth Rylance, and the company bring is equal to the beauty that engulfs us, leaving us feeling quenched and delighted by the exquisiteness of an evening of beautiful theatre making."
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March 9th, 2018

"Dove’s staging gives the breadth and depth of Ms. Van Kampen’s script the 'space' it needs to unfold and embrace the audience with its pathos and ethos. The scenes between Farinelli and the King brim with effusive energy...Crane brings an authentic vulnerability to his role as Farinelli that counterpoints brilliantly with the tempered desperation of Rylance’s Philippe...It is clear to the audience how Farinelli and the King walked together in distinction and in imprisonment."
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December 20th, 2017

“Visually plump but dramatically slim…Elegantly directed…and effectively acted and sung, this fact-based play's subject matter is inherently fascinating…But…'Farinelli and the King' doesn't contribute greatly to the advance of modern playwriting…Once the premise is established,…the plot itself is rather uninteresting and its suspense quite limited; the playwright has to depend on various distractions…to keep the action moving… Mark Rylance…is quite good…but he offers few surprises.”
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December 17th, 2017

"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."
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December 18th, 2017

"Rylance turns in an exquisite portrayal of a King gone mad...Though the play by his wife is witty, it fails to capture Farinelli’s soul or the reason behind King Philip V of Spain’s madness...In each of the nine Handel aria’s we are transported to nirvana...However, Crane's Farinelli is so low key, weak, and non passionate, despite some of the text...Dove’s direction makes this piece so watchable and so entrancing...What Ms. van Kampen’s does is integrate music seamlessly into the piece."
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December 17th, 2017

"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."
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December 17th, 2017

"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."
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December 19th, 2017

“The music of Handel gives the play bursts of beauty via the splendid voice of Davies and his accompanying musicians...The playwright excels in giving Rylance lines that can be poetic, humorous, and also indicative of his strange, wandering mind...Rylance is expert at casting revealing glances, visually indicating vapidity, or exhibiting fascination with Farinelli...The entire production is a visual and aural triumph, with Rylance reigning as the central attraction.”
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December 22nd, 2017

“Rylance, arguably the best actor in theater today, is once again lighting up the Broadway stage aided and abetted by a skilled company…It’s engaging, surprising, thoughtful, and humorous…The play’s ending reflects but doesn’t depict reality. Here, however, it makes perfect dramatic sense. An extraordinary journey has been shared. Rylance is masterful…Director John Dove gives us a voyeur experience. Every character has presence.”
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December 26th, 2017

“An overly familiar, underwritten play...'Farinelli' has an intriguing concept, but the execution is wanting...Van Kampen fails to develop her premise beyond some keen acting opportunities for her husband Rylance and staging possibilities for director Dove...There are no real stakes here...Fortunately, Rylance delivers his usual magnificent work...An entertaining historical curio, but not a full dramatic experience.”
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January 6th, 2018

"This time out, Rylance relies too heavily on his bag of established tics and on the tolerant affection of his audience...I ended up not caring what happened to the king he was supposed to be bringing to life. Part of the blame has to rest with the play itself...Van Kampen's version of their story lacks tension or even heart...The show is all tell and too little show...Instead, van Kampen, a trained musician, focuses on creating opportunities for songs...The result is kind of a high-class jukebox musical."
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December 17th, 2017

“Rylance is simply captivating...The play itself, though, is nothing special, the plot thin and its execution serviceable...Luckily, the sum of this sumptuous, music-infused production is greater than its parts...The bond between Philippe and Farinelli is not explored as deeply as it could be...Faults aside, a delightful present of a show...Rylance’s performance, alone, is worth the price of admission, and what ‘Farinelli' might lack in depth it more than makes up for in spirited delight.”
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December 17th, 2017

"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."
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December 22nd, 2017

“History, drama and music are blended in a winningly eclectic style resembling opera buffa...’Farinelli ‘ starts to run out of ideas after the interval...The comic energy of the first hour duly dissipates while van Kampen’s dialogue loses much of its piquancy. The central theme of music’s therapeutic influence is also left underdeveloped. Farinelli might have made Philippe feel better. But did it make him a better king? We never really find out here.”
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December 19th, 2017

“Well played all around, the production is blessed with the preternaturally naturalistic Rylance...The play moves from a tightly woven first act to a looser second...Rylance constructs his portrayals with astounding subtlety...Dove guides the cast with a steady hand such that the more broadly comical and stylized characters fit in with remarkable ease...Enchanting and funny...a wonderful opportunity to see one of our century’s finest actors in a role custom-crafted for his talents.”
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December 26th, 2017

“A stage-worthy tale that is tailor-made for van Kampen's husband, Mark Rylance...Filling out the character of the Queen is one of the gaps in the Van Kampen play...Dove presents an ornate and undeniably sentimental transplant from London...Although the play lacks depth, it is a visual tour de force and scores with Rylance's performance and Farinelli's glorious arias. Theatergoers can't help but acknowledge the curative power of music.”
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December 22nd, 2017

“Visually the production could not be more exemplary...The staging is vivid and inventive...It’s not for those looking for more conventional structure or more contemporary problems...But for those who enjoy boarding a flying carpet to take them to a time and place with which we may have little connection, other than fellow human beings seeking a peaceful passage through the one lifetime they have at their disposal, I’m certain they will be happy to sign on for the ride.”
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February 11th, 2018

"I don't believe in kings - or in gods, for that matter - but [Mark Rylance] may be the closest we have to either."
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December 28th, 2017

“Dove’s production itself is an eyeful, the cast working the stage before showtime...The royal décor is gilt-edged and gorgeous...Rylance’s King is dotty, hilarious...Two men play Farinelli: Crane when he’s speaking and Davies when he’s singing, the latter reaching precise and beautiful sounds on a variety of Handel arias...Rylance is the main attraction, commanding the show with his supple wit, weirdness, and edge of danger as he tries to hold onto his elusive mind."
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December 17th, 2017

"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."
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December 18th, 2017

"The story itself is very compelling but, as a play, it leaves one empty and unfulfilled. It’s like cotton candy, lovely on the outside but quickly dissolves to nothing. There are three redeeming entities: Iestyn Davies as the castrato is superb...Sam Crane is very good as the talking/acting Farinelli but is dwarfed once his alter ego the singer comes on. The dynamic Mark Rylance lends his usual expertise as King Philippe, but doesn’t have much of a role here."
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January 5th, 2018

"The fact that the play has made it to Broadway owes much to the casting...The extraordinary Mark Rylance, whose cynical sanity brings the king to life...The play gets some steam...but seems to lose momentum whenever Rylance is offstage. The intrigues of the court are just not that intriguing. After the king exits for good, only the superb music can keep the audience awake...'Farinelli and the King' is mostly a treatise on the curative power of music."
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December 18th, 2017

"The performances in the three major roles are almost enough to compensate for the uneven nature of the play...The always brilliant Rylance is working very hard to keep this not-quite-filled balloon afloat. The flaws in the structure make it hard, but his talents are vast, and he almost pulls it off...But the story lets him, and us, down. The music comes straight from heaven, the design and lighting are superb. But that not-quite-filled balloon eventually, inevitably, unfortunately, sinks."
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January 1st, 2018

“As the king, Rylance gives yet another brilliant performance...Rylance keeps you guessing what the hell is going through that addle-brained head of his...Davies beautifully handles the Handel...Theater at its purest...The simple values that were evident in the Rylance-enhanced productions of ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘Richard III’ four seasons ago are once again in evidence for all to see and hear. If you missed those two, at least capture this third jewel of the triple crown.”
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December 28th, 2017

“Essentially a vehicle for two of the world’s greatest talents, actor Mark Rylance and operatic countertenor Iestyn Davies...Rylance is unsurprisingly magnificent...Davies singing, however, is the soul of this love letter to the power of music, and he is every bit as terrific...Dove’s marvelous staging, set among Jonathan Fensom’s sumptuous set and costumes, rises to the level of his collaborators...I have a minor quibble with the script itself, which falters toward the end.”
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December 21st, 2017

“An enjoyable piece of magic for theatergoers during this holiday season. It is a delightfully charming play...The Belasco is transformed into a dazzling setting in the Kingdom of Spain... Davies doppelganger to actor Crane’s tender Farnelli spoiled the audience for any other countertenor they will ever hear. Rylance’s guileless interpretation of King Phillipe proves to serve the suffering King by eliciting compassion and patience.”
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December 20th, 2017

"This is what they mean by theater magic: the spellbinding performance of a great actor in a fairytale setting, leaving the audience besotted with melancholy and joy...And, besides all this to munch on, 'Farinelli and the King' is enchanting to look at...The last scene is achingly beautiful, one of those rare theater experiences in which you feel yourself to be in the presence of so much truth and beauty that you want to see it all over again."
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December 17th, 2017

"Entertaining albeit lighthearted...The second act, unfortunately, adds very little to the storyline which cries out for some complex embroilments between the lead characters...And what is a severe letdown is when we hear of Philippe’s demise rather than dramatizing it which could have been a wonderfully conclusive moment. While van Kampen’s quasihistorical drama is enjoyable, the play ultimately leaves you unfilled."
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December 17th, 2017

"Phillippe's madness could be more strongly drawn by the playwright. It is hard to feel his dilemma in the play's more muted mode. The parallel between suffering mental pain and the physical pain of castration inflicted on Farinelli is often referred to. Yet neither man is given a chance to fully express these pains...Davies brings down the house...A testament to the power of music to trump all else. It is wonderful theatrical entertainment.”
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January 9th, 2018

“‘Farinelli and The King’ is a not work of power, but of peace...This is exactly the kind of theatre we need...The governing idea here is that the magic of the theatre can offer sanctuary and solace...Van Kampen skimps on the details of Farinelli’s harrowing childhood and his complex relationship with his brother. It hardly matters. One goes to ‘Farinelli and the King’ to have the weight of the twenty-first century taken off the shoulders for a couple of hours and to find solace in beauty.”
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March 4th, 2018

"Come for Rylance. He's more than good. Stay to the end for Davies. He was magnificent."
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December 23rd, 2017

"The play becomes more of an advertisement for music therapy, which is all fair and good, but doesn’t do much for drama. To be fair, 'Farinelli and the King' is more comedy than drama and Rylance shines with his comedic timing...Aside from Rylance, Crane, and Davies, though, the rest of the cast is unfortunately detached in their performances and appears disinterested...'Farinelli and the King' has some shining moments, particularly in Rylance and Crane’s performance."
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December 19th, 2017

“Filled with many marvelous performances, and the production values are impressive...The play suffers from an abundance of provocative themes...The acting is just short of perfect...Nothing on stage matches the haunting beauty of the nine arias sung by countertenor Davies...Wonderful performances that provoke and tantalize the mind. But, ultimately it is the haunting music that connects you to the idea that the human search for spirituality can only be achieved through an act of art.”
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December 17th, 2017

"Not only does van Kampen’s gentle exploration of identity, responsibility, sanity and perception turn out to be one of the more profound historical plays of recent years, it also gives audiences a chance to bask for two-and-a-half hours in the dramatic talents of Mr. van Kampen (aka actor Mark Rylance) and the vocal beauties of Iestyn Davies...If at times 'Farinelli and the King' seems so full of ideas it must burst, the final scenes pulls matters together skilfully."
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