Don’t get me wrong– I really like Beau Willimon’s writing. “Ides of March” is a terrific movie. The first few seasons of “House of Cards” are excellent.
But now Willimon has brought “The Parisian Woman” to Broadway and it’s — eh, sort of like a “House of Cards” re-tread that doesn’t work. But the good news is — and I will fight anyone on this– Uma Thurman has a real stage presence. Even though this play doesn’t work, Uma will be back. She has stature, the voice, and she is funny.
In “The Parisian Woman”– the title remains inexplicable, she’s basically playing scheming Clairet Underwood, Robin Wright’s character on “Cards.” She’s a kind of Lady MacBeth, scheming to get her husband (Josh Lucas, very engaging) a position in the Trump administration. To do this, Uma’s Chloe is having affairs (hetero and lesbian) to gain leverage over various people. This includes Peter, played by Martin Csokas, who bears a close resemblance to Kevin Spacey (Claire’s husband, Francis).
You can’t blame Willimon. “House of Cards” is on his mind. It’s hard to separate from your great creation. Unfortunately, “The Parisian Woman” lives in the shadow of the TV series. It’s also poorly directed or not directed at all by Pam McKinnon. It feels as though she just handed out the script, put out some chairs and said to the cast, “Say these lines.” A little direction and work might have helped.
Anyway, Uma does fine. And she’s only going to get better and better after this debut. Shout out to Blair Brown, who’s damn good in everything. Phillippa Soo, Tony winner from “Hamilton” and late of “Amelie,” is lovely as always but she should be in a musical. Why deny us that voice?
In the audience: Brian D’Arcy James, Gretchen Mol and director husband Todd Williams, 94 year old legendary Lincoln Center producer Bernie Gersten, Debra Messing, Michael Kelly.