The Broadway revival of The Miracle Worker that’s set to open next week would be a good night out if the show hadn’t been staged so poorly.
The cast is good and occasionally achieves greatness. Abigail Breslin gives a controlled performance as Helen Keller that could have gone way off the rails. I felt a genuine thrill in the climatic scene where she discovers language. Initially, I thought that Alison Pill was too young to play Annie Sullivan but she was fine, as were Matthew Modine and Jennifer Morrison.
But the staging is a mess. It’s at Circle in the Square and the seating is in the round. This is a play that begs for a traditional theater. The blocking is so poor that I found myself starring at the actor’s backs about 60% of the time. I’ve seen plays at Circle in the Square before, including the 6-hour Norman Conquests, which was masterful, so I know it can be done.
The set changes are accomplished by raising and lowering furniture pieces from the ceiling. Part of the set design includes door frames (with closed doors) that block the view for many patrons. The actors were rooted on their marks, so if you happen to be staring at the sides of their heads during a scene, too bad for you.
It pains me to see actors work so hard only to have their efforts undermined by the production itself.
Ah, well. That’s show biz. NEXT!