Max McGuinness

Max McGuinness is a critic with Financial Times (UK). This account has been auto-generated, and does not indicate that this person is an active member of Show-Score.com. That said, if you "follow" this member, you will automatically be updated whenever s/he writes a new review.

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Reviews (145)
Financial Times (UK)

“Stripped-down musical adaptation of Kidd’s novel...That tale should flow naturally, as it does in Monk’s limpidly written novel. And yet the exposition is often unclear here...The balance between Sheik’s numbers and Nottage’s book skews too heavily towards the latter...And Sheik’s score is muddled. Gold’s directorial interventions also misfire...In an otherwise lacklustre show, the main saving grace is Teeter...Notwithstanding its title, this musical has no great secrets to tell. Full Review

Happy Talk
Midtown W
Financial Times (UK)

“Eisenberg duly serves up a generous helping of misery and narcissism in this new play...For starters, the characters are rather broadly drawn here...Those over-the-top twists would be better suited to a more expressionistic theatrical style. As it is, Eisenberg’s dialogue and exposition remain pedestrianly literal while Elliott’s staging sticks to humdrum kitchen-sink convention...Ireland and Sarandon nonetheless display lively chemistry here.” Full Review

Tootsie (NYC)
Midtown W
Financial Times (UK)

“Fontana’s performance is so magnetically assured that we can just about believe in Dorothy’s improbable success...Yazbek’s numbers have a chatty, cabaret-like feel to them that accommodates a range of vocal styles and blends well with Robert Horn’s book, which is full of salty one-liners. Horn’s efforts to add a topical feminist spin to the story are less compelling...’Tootsie’, which is set in the present day, might have dug deeper into current debates about gender identity.” Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"There is an eerie sense of emptiness here that evokes the invisible abstraction of money itself. Filling that void are magnetic and remarkably versatile performances by Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles, who morph from the original brothers into their descendants and countless other characters...Mirroring the increasingly frenetic pace of deregulated finance, the action veers in a surreal and playful direction." Full Review

Superhero
Midtown W
Financial Times (UK)

"Kitt’s pedestrian lyrics, which often hinge on anaemically weak rhymes and are backed by a repetitive, humdrum score. And while both Baldwin and Pinkham do their best with such material, McArthur seems to have trouble hitting the higher notes. Another problem is Logan’s dialogue, which strives for edginess with an occasional burst of profanity but mostly sounds as if it belongs in a dated sitcom. The absence of a proper villain further exacerbates 'Superhero’s' lack of bite." Full Review

Sea Wall/A Life
East Village
Financial Times (UK)

"'Sea Wall: Sturridge brings subtle emotional texture to the role, even if he sometimes talks too quickly...Rather soapy. Accidents do happen of course, but building an entire play around one tends to emphasise the artifice of the medium...'A Life' tugs at our heartstrings more gently. Jake Gyllenhaal here gives an engaging performance...Those overlapping tales unfold predictably without lurching into sentimentality...Cracknell directs both monologues with a sure touch." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

for a previous production “The Atticus on stage here is more Sorkin’s creature than Lee’s...Sorkin’s efforts at adding complexity feel so strenuous that he might have been better off writing an original play...Sher’s staging also suffers from conventional dramatic weaknesses...Though Daniels does his best to get to grips with Sorkin’s muddled Atticus, he doesn’t show enough charisma in the courtroom...Those flaws and Sorkin’s hubris conspire to suck the life out of this ‘Mockingbird.'” Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

“’Fabulation’ never lurches into miserabilism and remains consistently hilarious...But there’s no mistaking its central point about how easy it is to fall through the cracks of a society with a threadbare safety net. As Undine, Boothe anchors the play with uncommon wit and charisma while other actors playing two dozen supporting roles help spin a satisfyingly picaresque yarn. At once mordant and cheerful, ‘Fabulation’ is melodrama with a method to it.” Full Review

The Hard Problem
Upper W Side
Financial Times (UK)

“The play fails to explore its titular problem in any depth, let alone suggest a solution...Arguments about the existence of God further contribute to the muddle here, as does a sub-plot about the 2007-8 financial crisis...’The Hard Problem’'s thin characterization becomes all too apparent...In Jack O’Brien’s flimsy staging, framed by cartoonish backdrops of London and Venice, these brainiacs all end up seeming like mindless ciphers.” Full Review

King Kong (NYC)
Midtown W
Financial Times (UK)

"What’s missing is the dark heart of the film, which blended a perverse, multi-sided love story with a racially charged allegory of colonial exploitation. Thorne has stripped away that complexity...Even Kong ultimately disappoints. Despite a surfeit of technical ingenuity, the beast seems lumbering and lacking in vigour...McOnie’s staging at least keeps things chugging along at a reasonably brisk tempo." Full Review

Fire in Dreamland
East Village
Financial Times (UK)

"For starters, the conceit of writing a play about someone making a film is under-developed here. The story of the fire itself, which led to the deaths of dozens of circus animals, sounds fascinating. But, as recounted through a series of monologues, it feels tacked on to the action...Compared to the epic chaos of the Dreamland fire, 'Fire in Dreamland' fizzles out in run-of-the-mill romantic intrigue." Full Review

Mary Page Marlowe
Midtown W
Financial Times (UK)

“Neugebauer’s staging has a cool, unhurried rhythm that avoids overwrought displays of emotion...Tone remains remarkably consistent throughout the uniformly excellent portrayals of the heroine...The problem is that Letts ultimately reveals too much about his heroine, offering overly reductive explanations for her neuroses. And by the end of the play, which concludes on a mawkish note, there is little mystery left.” Full Review

Girls & Boys
West Village
Financial Times (UK)

“The material becomes repetitive. But a gritty performance from Carey Mulligan, rich in self-deprecating charm, along with a script full of sharply observed detail about the way we live now, makes the first hour or so of 'Girls & Boys' into a cheerfully jaundiced portrait of modern romance under Lyndsey Turner’s mostly well-paced direction. However, the play then lurches towards a horrific denouement that, while entirely believable, seems too abrupt and under-prepared." Full Review

Skintight
Midtown W
Financial Times (UK)

"That set-up sounds like a soap opera. But the characters here are all plausible archetypes. And Harmon skewers the vacuous cult of beauty sustaining Elliot’s world with caustic precision...Harmon offers no competing idealistic vision, and his material starts to wear thin after the interval. But 'Skintight,' nimbly directed by Daniel Aukin, is still a bracingly cynical well-made play." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"The veneer of merriment evaporates when the birthday boy Harold finally shows up an hour late...Michael duly escalates the nastiness by forcing everyone to play a humiliating party game. He and Harold emerge as the only truly rounded characters because of the mutual intelligence underlying their antipathy...Their hopeless psychodrama lies at the heart of Joe Mantello’s tightly wound staging. And by the end, no one seems to be laughing much." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"The loosely connected scenes mostly serve as vehicles for Guirgis’s bawdy, rapid-fire repartee and colourfully sketched characters...Phylicia Rashad’s staging keeps the comic tempo humming along nicely. But Guirgis’s text has a narrow, overly boisterous emotional range. Only Doman, whose character lost both legs in the Korean war, unearths a moment of real pathos when he confesses his own moral failings and crisis of faith." Full Review

Mlima's Tale
East Village
Financial Times (UK)

"Lynn Nottage’s new play still packs a revelatory punch that opens up a clandestine world of poaching, smuggling, hustling and master craftsmanship...Kevin Mambo, Jojo Gonzalez and Ito Aghayere juggle their countless parts with remarkable dexterity and macabre wit...Whereas 'Sweat' seemed too predictable and formally schematic, 'Mlima’s Tale' is well served by a looser dramatic structure adapted from 'La Ronde.'" Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"This new musical adaptation updates that Tina Fey-scripted story of high-school bitchiness for our Age of Shame...Sticks closely to the original plot...Benjamin and Richmond's numbers similarly sound a bit innocuous and tend to lean too heavily on a single lyric. The underlying story is strong enough to make 'Mean Girls' a broadly entertaining two and a half hours under Nicholaw's brisk direction. But, as the Girls would put it, this adaptation just isn't 'fetch'." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"Lane adds Falstaffian wit and vulnerability. What we see here is a monster who is also a victim. That spirit of ambiguity animates Marianne Elliott’s staging, which uses expressionistic design to blur the division between fantasy and verisimilitude...Amid innumerable costume changes, the eight speaking cast members, who all play multiple roles, seem inspired by divine theatrical energy." Full Review

The Low Road
East Village
Financial Times (UK)

"Story unfolds in picaresque style reminiscent of Thackeray and Voltaire...A dexterous multitasking ensemble of 15 plus a musician, whom director Michael Greif marshals with a sure comic touch...Bawdy escapades are underlain with clear satirical intent...After the interval, the action abruptly shifts to a present-day panel discussion...The play's final third then loses a bit of focus. But its apocalyptic-yet-cheerful conclusion strikes a delightfully bizarre note." Full Review

An Ordinary Muslim
East Village
Financial Times (UK)

"Contradictions make Azeem an unusually rich and complex protagonist. And Sanjit De Silva plays the role with a sympathetic blend of pride and intelligence overlain with mounting frustration...Under Bonney's fluid direction, their domestic and professional conflicts unfold in an intense-yet-understated naturalistic style reminiscent of Arthur Miller...Underlying that formal achievement is Chaudry’s dialogue, which has a spontaneous, improvised feel that sounds consistently authentic." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"Albee’s writing is so lean and nuanced that there are no lurches between madness and civilisation. Monstrousness here blends seamlessly into the fabric of normality...The expanded version broadens that psychodrama into a universal parable of man’s struggle to restrain his animal nature. Lila Neugebauer’s stripped-down staging suggests how fragile such bonds can be. And her 'Zoo' injects an electrifying dose of terror into the ersatz wilderness at the heart of New York." Full Review

Hangmen
Chelsea
Financial Times (UK)

"Under Dunster’s restrained direction, the rest of the cast keep the comic fires smouldering for nearly two and a half hours...Unlike McDonagh’s Oscar-nominated 'Three Billboards' whose plot struck me as scattershot and its dialogue as overly broad, theatre’s formal constraints here serve to rein in the author’s excesses, creating a gruesome sense of confinement. And while 'Hangmen' lacks the metaphorical richness of McDonagh’s greatest work, it’s still good nasty fun." Full Review

Fire and Air
East Village
Financial Times (UK)

"Doyle leaves the stage empty except for two mirrors and a few chairs. That minimalist approach may not capture the more colorful and eclectic aspects of Diaghilev's style, but it does evoke his ambition to wipe the slate clean and revolutionize the art form...Though well-acted, the supporting roles all seem incidental...Another problem is the absence of dance...'Fire and Air' thus feels less than fully satisfying." Full Review

Miles for Mary
Midtown W
Financial Times (UK)

"A rich seam of deadpan humour...'Miles for Mary' ends up running in circles around a single thought: meetings are hell. The cast invests plenty of madcap energy into those relentlessly trivial discussions, but their characters ultimately seem rather interchangeable and oddly devoid of skepticism or cynicism. Teachers usually have a well-developed nose for bullshit. Here they all jump into a large bucket of the stuff. And then they barely even notice that it stinks." Full Review

Octet
Midtown W
Financial Times (UK)

“’Octet’'s technosceptic theme is echoed by the musical simplicity of Malloy’s quirky gospel-cum-folk numbers...'Octet' might have benefited from a slightly stronger narrative arc. Tippe’s staging nonetheless builds steadily in intensity...as the numbers become progressively stranger, more anguished and more boisterous...Rather than mimicking the tumult of modern life, Malloy and Tippe have crafted an austere-yet-joyful sanctuary from all the distractions beyond the theatre door.” Full Review

Ink
Midtown W
Financial Times (UK)

“Graham’s play about how Lamb and Murdoch transformed the British press...’Ink’ evokes the demise of a deferential, collectivist social order and the emergence of a brash, individualistic culture epitomised by the rise of Margaret Thatcher...Graham’s mesmerisingly accomplished play, whose 18-strong cast is directed by Rupert Goold with characteristic razzmatazz that cleverly evokes The Sun’s own brand of infotainment." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

“It’s a familiar take on the Clintons that acquires a defamiliarising aspect in Metcalf and Lithgow’s performances...The principals play versions of themselves that nonetheless echo the real-life couple...Hnath’s inventions here...is taking place in a parallel universe, where the foibles of presidents and potential presidents seem tolerable rather than appalling..It’s hard to escape the conclusion that Hnath has missed the real story here." Full Review

White Noise
East Village
Financial Times (UK)

"'White Noise' is neither particularly funny nor incisive as Parks delivers her critique of empty 'woke' platitudes and cultural appropriation with all the subtlety of a blunderbuss...Parks and Eustis seem to have abandoned nuance and dramatic ambiguity for strident theatrical agitprop. But it’s not even clear what the political moral is in this noisy, muddled play." Full Review

Alice By Heart
Midtown W
Financial Times (UK)

“’Alice by Heart’'s twists and turns often seem rather chaotic. But that effect is in keeping with the rambunctious spirit of Carroll’s stories. Sater and Nelson shed the books’ dark and faintly menacing undertones. But they add an original vein of understated pathos to their version. And, in contrast to the habitual melodramatic arc of musical theatre, they resist the temptation to put a bow on the story at the end.” Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

“A startling play...’Choir Boy’ is packed with short, punchy scenes that often seem rather hurried in Trip Cullman’s interval-less 105-minute staging...Lively renditions of gospel songs between scenes are also slightly marred by some platitudinous choreography, as the students repeatedly stomp about the stage. 'Choir Boy' is nonetheless an often startling and provocative work, which features a remarkably assured and charismatic central performance by Jeremy Pope as Pharus.” Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

“Heckerling has tinkered around the edges of her screenplay...The actors themselves seem to be mimicking their on-screen counterparts. Even many of the musical numbers, come straight from the film’s soundtrack...‘Clueless’ is just as enjoyable as the film. Cameron lights up the stage as Cher...But the lack of new musical or dramatic material makes that achievement seem like an exercise in painting by numbers." Full Review

Network (NYC)
Midtown W
Financial Times (UK)

"The exposition gets slightly muddled towards the end as Hall trims a pivotal sub-plot...But the real story here is the overwhelming sense of spectacle crafted by van Hove and Cranston’s barnstorming performance. Reality may have outstripped Lumet and Chayefsky’s most pessimistic prophecies. But this 'Network' is still a compulsively watchable freak show." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"At just over an hour, 'Thom Pain' goes on a bit too long. But the play remains mostly entertaining thanks to Eno’s deadpan humour and some playful audience interaction, which leavens its knowing solipsism...Hall blends the devilish charisma he brought to Showtime’s ‘Dexter’ with the forlorn mien of Fisher in HBO’s ‘Six Feet Under’. He seems at once pitiable yet faintly intimidating. And by the end, we still only have a hazy idea of who he really is.” Full Review

Eve's Song
East Village
Financial Times (UK)

"The burden of racism here seems so heavy that no amount of debate, activism or 'meticulousness' can possibly alleviate it. But surely we can grasp that point without seeing Deborah’s house start to literally fall apart. That laboured visual metaphor is typical of Lloyd and director Jo Bonney’s occasional tendency to strain for effect...The characters are all well drawn here, but ‘Eve’s Song’ lacks dramatic balance.” Full Review

Trainspotting Live
Midtown W
Financial Times (UK)

“The book’s scatological humour explodes all over the place...In the confines of this graffiti-strewn, strobe-lit black-box space, there is no escape. And the squalor and misery of Welsh’s overlapping stories seem viscerally real...For all its excremental antics and foul language, the play...ends up being an old-fashioned story of sin and redemption. That might not be a total delusion, but it does seem a little sentimental. Then again, even the best trip has its downside.” Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"While linking 'Antigone' to movements such as Black Lives Matter might seem slightly tenuous, those echoes of current controversies about police brutality turn the play into a passionate cry for justice...Less successful are a series of Afropunk-style dance interludes that replace the traditional tragic chorus. These numbers are themselves finely choreographed but feel incidental...But Cofield and his cast get the main thing right by making classical tragedy seem fresh and eternal." Full Review

Cyprus Avenue
East Village
Financial Times (UK)

"Veers from macabre comedy to all-out horror...'Cyprus Avenue' has much to say about Eric’s obsession with stereotypes but itself offers a mostly stereotypical, though not entirely unfounded view of Northern Irish Protestantism...For all its dramatic accomplishment, Ireland’s play lacks a bit of political nuance." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"All this antic cleverness becomes slightly dizzying, but Collins’s staging remains consistently hilarious throughout a brisk 75 minutes. And the cast navigates Scelsa’s zany text with deadpan flair, particularly McNamara whose Martha combines the brains of Diane Keaton with the brawn of Glenda Jackson…The famously controlling Albee is probably spinning in his grave. But Collins insists in the programs that there’s a lot of love for him here." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"With a jaunty, unchallengingly agreeable score by John Kander, this 'Beast' is a raunchy, melodramatic spectacle that owes more to Barbara Cartland and Jilly Cooper than it does to James...Such chutzpah is oddly charming. And while it’s a bit too long at nearly two hours, Susan Stroman’s staging does conjure an appealing albeit slightly shallow sense of romance. Yazbeck and Dvorovenko display real chemistry when dancing, less so when talking." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"Chavkin’s staging unearths plenty of close-to-home parallels in this story of betrayed revolutionary hopes...Even the climactic scene recreating the 1647 Putney debates, where Cromwell thwarted Leveller proposals for universal male suffrage, seems to echo current controversies about voter disenfranchisement and gerrymandering in the US...Chavkin and her multitasking troupe of six should still be applauded for turning revolutionary ghosts into (mostly) gripping radical theatre." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"A lack of theatrical oomph is a general problem with Jack O'Brien's staging, which plays it safe and makes no attempt to update the story. Both Jessie Mueller's high-spirited Julie and Joshua Henry's Bigelow perform their numbers with aplomb, even if Henry struggles to transcend his character's oafishness in the spoken passages. And Justin Peck's choreography is a lively and graceful visual feast. But the overall dramatic approach seems too literal and predictable." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"Jackson is as fierce as they come...Jackson again brings awesome toughness to a story of physical decline in this revival...The play becomes an ironic riff on the wish that you could give advice to your younger self...It all adds up to an unflinchingly mordant portrait of ageing. But, under Mantello's well paced albeit overly literal direction, 'Three Tall Women' reveals too much of its hand and lacks enigmatic power...A woman like A would take more secrets to her grave." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"Both sisters belt out their numbers with gloriously tuneful brio. Those performances help make up for the limitations of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez’s songs...Lyrics such as 'love is an open door' sound a bit trite the second time around. And the synth-heavy music has a boisterous, schmaltzy air that often seems to strain for effect...Grandage’s staging adds plenty of flair and energy to the story...It all adds up to a conventional but slickly produced adaptation." Full Review

Good for Otto
Midtown W
Financial Times (UK)

"Delivers a scathing critique of US health-insurance bureaucracy...As drama, 'Otto' is less successful. For while therapy might be good for you, watching half-a-dozen motley patients talk to their shrinks eventually becomes rather maddening...Despite generally excellent performances, Elliott struggles to maintain a sense of momentum and cohesion over the course of three hours...Some of the disconnected stories are genuinely moving." Full Review

Relevance
West Village
Financial Times (UK)

"When the two women clash at an academic conference, high-minded discussion quickly gives way to a vicious, racially charged turf war. Lee’s script is most effective when dealing with the back-biting minutiae of that feud...The play becomes clunky when it moves on to ideological terrain...The positions adopted by both Theresa and Msemaji seem caricatured, banal, or simply confusing...Neither offers an original thought or comes across as a plausible intellectual leader." Full Review

Kings
East Village
Financial Times (UK)

"The conflict between power and principle in 'Kings' follows a formulaic arc...A more fundamental problem is Burgess's treatment of US political economy...'Kings' otherwise seems to be taking place in a parallel universe, where reasonable liberals hold power and have caustic-yet-sincere arguments about tackling the opioid crisis and raising taxes on the rich...'Kings' purports to show us the murky depths of Capitol Hill. The reality seems much swampier." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"The obscure mindscape occasionally yields poignant details of everyday racial division...Yionoulis struggles to create a coherent dramatic structure to tie together Kennedy's disjointed flights of bleak poetry...Canfield somehow rises above those limitations in a performance that displays a remarkable blend of self-assurance and vulnerability. Pecinka's Chris is less engaging...But the pair nonetheless conjure a heart-rending sense of romance blighted by irredeemable hatred." Full Review

Cardinal
Midtown W
Financial Times (UK)

"Telling a story about urban decay from such a detached and materially comfortable perspective creates an unbalanced work...Pierce’s script also awkwardly plays up stereotypes of Chinese and Jewish acquisitiveness. Another weakness here is characterisation...Under Whoriskey’s brisk direction, their on-the-nose exchanges sound as if they belong in a passable TV sitcom...Political theatre needs to create a language of its own." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"Lithgow first takes on the role of a gossipy Midwestern barber in Lardner’s 'Haircut'...Lithgow’s uncharacteristically subdued delivery, which befits Lardner’s dismal tone, further taxes our powers of concentration. What results is a scrupulous rendition that nonetheless seems to lack an extra theatrical dimension. No such quibbles pertain to Lithgow’s take on ‘Uncle Fred Flits By’...Wodehouse’s vaudevillian characters and winningly bizarre turns of phrase become ideal theatrical fodder." Full Review