is a very good new play but not a great one. There is a poignancy about this
work, written by the late Nora Ephron, who was known for her romantic wit and
emotional wisdom in films like “When Harry Met Sally,” “Sleepless in Seattle”
and “Silkwood.” It is this wonderful writer's
first Broadway play and she is not here to see it. Sadly, she died from leukemia
this past year at the age of 71. It stars beloved, award-winning film star, Tom
Hanks, who at 56 is courageously making his Broadway debut. He plays the
well-known Pulitzer-prize-winning New York journalist, Mike McAlary, who died too
young at the age of 41 from cancer in 1998. Hanks' portrayal reflects a
combination of his own genuinely pleasant personality and McAlary's competitive
spirit. In the second act as this once-joyous
journalist pursues the horrendous Abner Louima case while suffering from a
deteriorating illness, he brings us to tears.
Despite Director George C. Wolfe's superb job with the
material given and a cast filled with spit, vinegar and testosterone, there is
more docudrama than drama, telling rather than acting out the story. The pace is staccato fast; the language
Mametesque, punctuated by expletives, especially in the first act. Tom Hanks is charming as the drinker and
writer, who wrote articles and columns for Newsday, The Post and the Daily
News, jumping between them, when the opportunity arose, with great agility.
McAlary married Alice, sympathetically played by Maura
Tierney and they had three children. With the help of his lawyer and close
friend, Eddie Hayes, he moved them to a fine house in Bellport, L.I. However,
he was rarely there; his home was the smoke-filled newsroom and the bar. Moving
from the police beat, to sports to news and then a column, his goal was to get
the “Wood:” a slang term for the front page of a tabloid newspaper. I originally learned that fact from a play
written by Dan Flores about McAlary called “The Wood,” which was performed Off Broadway in 2011.
Eddie Hayes is played by one of my favorite actors,
Christopher McDonald, who recently finished a run in a fine TV show, “Harry's
Law.” (I hardly recognized him, because his head was shaved so close!) The rest of the cast is dotted with character
actors: Peter Scolari, Hanks' partner in “Bosom Buddies,” Peter Gerety, Richard
Masur, Danny Mastrogiorgio, whom we just saw in “Golden Boy,” and the excellent Courtney Vance.
Scenery: David Rockwell; Lighting: Jules Fischer and Peggy
Eisenhauer; Costume: Toni-Leslie James; Projections: Batwin-Robin Productions,
“Lucky Guy” at
the Broadhurst Theatre IN A LIMITED RUN THROUGH JUNE 16.