Cynthia Nixon, Laura Linney. Photo by Joan Marcus.
The reviews are in for MTC’s new production of Lillian Hellman’s classic play, starring Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon in alternating roles.
Presented by Manhattan Theatre Club
By Lillian Hellman
Directed by Daniel Sullivan
Laura Linney, Cynthia Nixon, Darren Goldstein, Michael McKean, Richard Thomas, David Alford, Michael Benz, Caroline Stefanie Clay, Lyla Porter-Follows, Charles Turner
Playing through July 2, 2017
Alexis Soloski – New York Times
Regina Giddens is a flower of Southern womanhood. That flower is a Venus flytrap. In “The Little Foxes,” Manhattan Theater Club’s nimble, exhilarating revival of Lillian Hellman’s 1939 drama, Regina coerces, deceives, manipulates and maybe even murders. How graceful she is, how charming. And how carnivorous.
Marilyn Stasio – Variety
It wasn’t trick casting on the part of director Daniel Sullivan to have Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon alternate lead roles in “The Little Foxes,” Lillian Hellman’s brilliant, blistering indictment of a rapacious southern family in post-Civil War America. Each actress, in her own way, finds drama in the life-and-death conflict between the declining aristocracy and the rise of the decadent merchant classes at the turn of the 20th century.
Jeremy Gerard – Deadline
The Manhattan Theatre Club production, staged with a rock solid hand by Daniel Sullivan at the Friedman Theatre, is flawless. Which is to say tastefully mean-spirited without any need to overemphasize what is emminently self-evident. Visually, it’s sumptuous, with a realistic set by Scott Pask, lovely costumes by Jane Greenwood and clear, unobtrusive lighting by Justin Townsend.
David Rooney – The Hollywood Reporter
Lillian Hellman’s best-known play is set in 1900 and was first produced in 1939, yet few will fail to perceive its currency in the 21st-century America of Donald Trump, with his $14 billion Cabinet. The notion of that unprecedented concentration of wealth being swept into the country’s highest office on the winds of a populist movement would surely have elicited a bitter laugh from the socially conscious Hellman, whose portrait of gender inequality also has contemporary teeth. Daniel Sullivan’s impeccable production for Manhattan Theatre Club never overstates that modern-day relevance; he simply lets the play’s rock-solid construction and lucid themes speak for themselves via a first-rate cast and exemplary design team.
Isabella Biedenharn – Entertainment Weekly
An interesting thing is happening at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre: all-stars Laura Linney (The Big C) and Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City) are alternating the roles of headstrong, conniving Regina Giddens and meek, abused Birdie Hubbard in the Manhattan Theater Club’s revival of Lillian Hellman’s 1939 play The Little Foxes. In theory, it’s a fascinating experiment—especially for theatergoers who have the resources to see both versions of the show, as I was able to. But in practice, one pairing has just a bit more magic in it than the other.
Matthew Murray – Talkin’ Broadway
Certain distances may seem large, but can in fact be very small: between wealth and poverty, for example, or between importance and meaninglessness, or between being somebody and being nobody. This notion, as difficult to argue as it is to define, is the guiding force behind Daniel Sullivan’s new Manhattan Theatre Club production of The Little Foxes, which just opened at the Samuel J. Friedman. In this version of Lillian Hellman’s 1939 potboiler more than most, you are acutely aware—in more ways than is probably ideal, to be honest—of the towering changes that tiny adjustments can bring.
Joe Dziemianowicz – NY Daily News
Under Daniel Sullivan’s sure-handed direction, the show satisfies no matter who’s playing Regina — more or less. The production’s good-looking — costumes, lighting and the set, which underscores this prickly family. Notice there’s no comfy couch that invites getting close, just chairs and a chaise. Supporting actors more than ably step up, including Richard Thomas as Regina’s ill husband, Michael McKean and Darren Goldstein as her greedy brothers, Francesca Carpanini as her dutiful daughter, and Michael Benz as her creepy nephew.
Tim Teeman – The Daily Beast
If you have the money and time, Broadway is hosting a fascinating performative parlor game. Linney and Nixon—the latter most famous for playing Miranda in Sex and The City—are playing, in different performances, both Regina Hubbard Giddens and Birdie Hubbard, the sisters-in-law and lead characters in Lillian Hellman’s 1939 play (probably her most famous, and supposedly her favorite play), now a handsomely mounted Manhattan Theatre Club revival.
Christopher Kelly – NJ.com
So while I can report from the performance I attended that Linney makes for a splendidly seething Regina, and Nixon is especially strong as the defeated but still desperately hopeful Birdie, I should also add that nothing about this effective, but straight-over-the-plate production (directed by Daniel Sullivan) compelled me to want to return again to watch the actresses in the opposite parts. One pretty good version of one pretty good play seems like more than enough.
Jesse Green – Vulture
One of the things that the Manhattan Theater Club’s good-enough revival, directed by Daniel Sullivan, gets right is the stock-ticker rhythm of the siblings’ machinations. At first the three are presumed equals in a deal that will make them millions by bringing the operations of a northern cotton mill to their fields. But Ben and Oscar, being sons, can draw on inherited savings to buy their one-third shares in the $225,000 investment. Regina, having received the customary nothing from their father, must get her third from her husband, Horace, who’s wealthy enough but unwell and unwilling. That unfairness does not make Regina a very sympathetic character as she plots her way around every obstacle, including Horace’s inconvenient existence, to get what she wants. In the end it is far more than 33 percent.
Robert Hofler – The Wrap
It would be a real event if this Daniel Sullivan-directed staging offered two different, revelatory interpretations. The problem is, “The Little Foxes” is no “Romeo and Juliet,” not by a long shot, and one viewing every other decade of the Hellman play is about all it will bear. Seeing it twice in a week or even a month is not an event; it’s kind of a chore, especially when the non-opening-night cast is so much weaker.