Renée Fleming ("Carousel") and Ben Whishaw ("Skyfall," The Crucible") star in a dramatic work by Anne Carson exploring the lives and myths of Marilyn Monroe and Helen of Troy—iconic beauties who lived millennia apart. More…
"Norma Jeane Baker of Troy" is a partly spoken, partly sung performance piece by poet, essayist, and scholar Anne Carson, staged by Katie Mitchell in The Shed’s 500-seat Theater.
"This decidedly unconventional work is not without its rewards and compensations...Occasionally hypnotic, distinctly unconventional, and primarily less-than-comprehensible...Whishaw shows off an incredible commitment to the work...I admit that sitting through 'Norma Jean Baker of Troy' may feel hellish for those seeking a traditional theatrical experience, but, if you’re willing to go along for the ride, this is one trip that you may find quite worthwhile." Full Review
“There are undeniable pleasures in ‘Norma Jeane Baker of Troy’ – Fleming’s lovely singing, Wishaw’s meticulous and sexy morphing from male to female; I even get the conceptual brilliance of this transformation, its underscoring of Carson’s themes — the reversal of gender roles show how unfair the traditional assumptions about women have been. But there are ample examples of the creative team being more interested in experimenting than in communicating.” Full Review
"A piece that is luxurious and glossy, and that radiates intellect and pedigree...But ‘Norma Jeane' never manages to be more than...its superparts. It is stifling in its self-conscious gorgeousness...Although everyone involved is at the top of their games, ‘Norma Jeane Baker of Troy’ is not affecting...The match between Mitchell and Carson feels wrong...The claustrophobia of the production and the lightness of the text wage war against each other. Neither wins.” Full Review
“Despite Whishaw’s vocal and physical flexibility, the production eventually starts to feel like a pretentious, rambling bore. Followers of experimental theater may be able to make sense of the piece, however, and fans of Whishaw and Fleming may also find it somewhat interesting." Full Review
“’Norma Jeane Baker Of Troy’ is The Shed’s first commissioned work and all the parts are in place to make for a stunning theatrical experience. Like the entire Hudson Yards project, tremendous resources and top-notch talents have been poured into this project, and yet it somehow comes out as less than the sum of its parts. The Shed, maybe the one feature which could potentially redeem Hudson Yards, has room to grow. As a construct, it’s still a work-in-progress." Full Review
“This is a play that could conservatively be called experimental. Judging from the audience’s tepid reaction...it was a type of experimentation that was definitely not for everyone. It’s a show that uses a classical paradigm to address issues of misogyny that are both age-old and depressingly current...There are a few moments of clarity where Whishaw manages to deliver the message forcefully. In other instances, though, his transition from a suit to a dress feels more arbitrary.” Full Review
“Whishaw and Fleming star in this absurdist mashup that doesn't quite manage to connect the lives of two legendary beauties who lived centuries apart...Fleming is somewhat wasted as she performs the music portion of the story, singing Clark’s vaguely operatic score...What actually happens in this piece of performance art, directed with obvious devotion to difficult material by Mitchell, is not easy to describe...It's almost impossible to follow.” Full Review
See it if you want to see Ben, clearly a great actor. Unique mood experience. Not traditional at all. I almost liked it. Glad I went.
Don't see it if non-traditional theater is not appealing to you as you will hate this intensely. Don't go to see Renee Fleming-supporting, little singing.
See it if What the ever loving fuck was that? Ben Whishaw and Renée Fleming were fully committed, so that's something.
Don't see it if This is not theatre. It is something approximating performance art. I guess.
Get alerts about your favorite artists and theater companies