Published on theMusic.com.au, Jan 2016
broadhurst theatre, new york
If Bruce Willis was looking for a way to showcase his severe lack of acting skills, he’s found it on Broadway.
It’s been a quarter of a century since James Caan and Kathy Bates took Stephen King’s epic 1987 thriller Misery to the big screen, and its revival comes in the form of a Broadway production, featuring none other than Hollywood action star Willis and US favourite Laurie Metcalf.
A stunning piece of literature reworked for Broadway and two big-name Hollywood actors leading the charge – what could go wrong?
The curtains lift to reveal a dark room where acclaimed writer Paul Sheldon (Willis), who penned the Misery book series, is lying in bed, with a shadowed figure pottering around him for several minutes. It’s his biggest fan, Annie Wilkes (Metcalf), and she’s “rescued” him from a near-fatal crash.
The lights fade in as the sun rises and we get our first real look of Willis, all mangled in bed, with no producer, director or editor to iron out the creases of what would follow.
The 60-year-old’s wearing an in-ear monitor, which rumour has it is to feed him his lines. There’s really no other purpose for it as neither actor has a microphone. Despite this, he fumbles his lines from time to time and gives an unconvincing performance, the production’s only saving grace being a captivating Metcalf, whose take on the demented stalker leaves chills down your spine, as she becomes infinitely more psychotic in dealing with her hostage.
King’s solid story and Metcalf’s amazing performance, accompanied by a brilliant set design from David Korins, keep the ship afloat as an actor quickly washing up desperately grasps for one more ego stroke. Yippee-ki-nay.