See it if you want to know a tiny bit about these historical figures. Great performance by Hodge who is the show and has 85% of all lines.
Don't see it if You want to understand more about the characters. The staging is confusing and the narrative truncated. Read more
See it if You like very wordy plays with minimal sets and few transitions between scenes to help you understand the plot development. Beautiful words.
Don't see it if You don’t want to work very hard to keep up with what’s going on, character motives and reasoning. With the minimal set it’s extra hard.
See it if Listless, dull & chronologically confusing, bio-drama captures nothing of the exciting creative ferment of the time Contived McNally prose
Don't see it if Hodge huffs & puffs as Diaghilev but to no avail; other excellent actors wasted Doyle's minimal staging a huge misfire with little dancing!!
See it if see more
Don't see it if see more Read more
See it if you enjoy “serious theatre,” terrific performances (give Douglas Hodge all the awards now), or stories about dance and passion.
Don't see it if you like lighter fare and more “consumable” narratives. This one can be tough to follow if your attention lapses (which it very well may).
See it if evocative Les Ballets Russes drama with a central destructive relationship in the dance world is of particular interest.
Don't see it if you want to avoid the John Doyle treatment. Or if you want to see the nadir of Nijinsky.
See it if you've already decided you like John Doyle's style.
Don't see it if you don't have to. Douglas Hodge is a fascinating performer but that one positive element isn't enough to justify this whole show.
See it if enjoy a treatise on Diaghalev by a a playwrite that clearly enjoys talking about art and art-marking
Don't see it if want more than a then-this-is-what-happened story
"Hodge blusters, whines, and suffers wonderfully, coloring in the character all the way to the outlines, and a little beyond...But if Diaghilev is dramatic, he doesn’t much lend himself to drama...Starved of dramatic propulsion, the play devolves into a symposium on aesthetics...There may yet be a moving work to be mined from McNally’s research and sympathy for Diaghilev. It would need more characters actually doing things...Aside from a few golden moments, 'Fire and Air' is inert."
"Under normal circumstances, McNally’s boneless assemblage of scenes would be merely dull, but we’ve all spent the last four months thinking about another bullying producer who demanded sexual thralldom from his stars. Harvey Weinstein’s stink makes McNally’s already disappointing drama seem even worse...Miscast and misguided by director Doyle, Hodge spends a lot of time sitting on a chair as the others look on. The play is airless and soporific: 'Afternoon of a Yawn.'"
"Why is McNally’s 'Fire and Air' such leaden drama?...The play almost never achieves the loft and ferocity implied by its titular elements...You can cast a beautiful, talented actor, but after two hours of hearing about his character’s genius without getting to witness a performance of it, that faith is going to wear thin...Not only does Doyle shy away from evoking the marvels inherent in the play’s material, he also fails to add drive and punctuation to McNally’s meandering text."
"You'll want to learn more about the legendary dance company Ballets Russes...Not because 'Fire and Air' is so good, but rather because the play is so lifeless that the real story must certainly be more interesting...There are plenty of problems besides the writing...Doyle's propensity for minimalism for its own sake has long since worn out its welcome...Judging by the lack of heat and airlessness in 'Fire and Air,' it's clear that more rehearsal, and several rewrites, were desperately needed."
"Heartbreaking is an apt word for McNally's obvious love for these complicated characters whose ferocious self-regard is of a piece with their compulsion to produce art. It's what links the artist and the impresario. It's ultimately anti-romantic and perhaps lacking in conventionally dramatic narrative, because so much is hidden in the heart (not to mention the bedroom). Yet in McNally's compassionate vision and Doyle's exquisite evocation, it's terribly human."
"An intense and interesting drama on the subject, albeit underdeveloped and patchy...Doyle provides the kind of minimalist production that he has become his trademark, using an empty space that evokes a ballet studio. This serves the play well by keeping the focus on Hodge’s flamboyant and forceful performance as Diaghilev...Perhaps 'Fire and Air' ought to be further distilled into a two-man drama, just Diaghilev and Nijinsky, telling their stories and squaring off."
"Ambitious if disappointing new play...His free-flowing dramaturgy ignores the physics of time and space to stab at the heart of some hidden universal truth. Unfortunately, he often misses and pokes the gallbladder of reductive cliché...Doyle's unencumbered staging meshes nicely with McNally's style...McNally's propensity to recycle ideas highlights the unifying themes of his universe...It may not be transcendent, but it is unmistakably human."
"McNally is in icon-painting mode, and 'Fire and Air' is a largely static affair...As played by Douglas Hodge, Diaghilev is a tangle of mannerisms, a series of grand gestures without an organizing principle...Doyle's direction gives these often-aimless proceedings the fluidity of a dream, and he has assembled a notably overqualified supporting cast...The playwright's famous wit seems to have gone on holiday, and he seems to be struggling to say something profound about the making of art."