ANTINOUS STEALS EVERY SCENE
FROM HADRIAN IN NYC STAGE DEBUT
ANTINOUS steals every scene from Hadrian, according to reviews of the emperor's Off-Broadway stage debut in New York City.
OPEN UP, HADRIAN closes tonight at Brooklyn's Magic Futurebox after a two-week run.
A generally positive critic for THE NEW YORK TIMES wrote that, while the play is focused on Hadrian (played by David Skeist), it is Marcos Toledo's portrayal of Antinous which steals the show.
"Antinous (Marcos Toledo) has more shrugs and scowls than lines — he’s more pet than confidant — but manages to hold our attention better than the leader of the unfree world," reviewer Catherine Rampell wrote.
He is also the most interesting character, she pointed out.
"Sure, the food is rich, the booze flows freely and those sex parties are to die for. But the distrust from fellow slaves, the resentment from the emperor’s humiliated wife and the emperor’s unwavering, adoring, smothering gaze can make life unbearable," said Rampell.
"Likewise, Hadrian’s adoptive mother, Plotina (a hunched, slinking, bloodshot, chain-smoking Doris Mirescu), hijacks much of the story for herself," the critic added.
Written byJavierantonio González and directed by Meiyin Wang, Open up, Hadrian is an immersive promenade production that jumps more than 2,000 years and 20,000 square feet, transforming the enormous Sunset Park warehouse into Ancient Rome by way of an excavated film set not so long abandoned.
The ambitious new play with lavish sets traces Hadrian's life with elements of Greek drama and dark comedy—his anguished love, lofty ideals, and his big, famous wall.
It presents an overweaningly positive view of Hadrian as Rome’s most philosophical emperor, caught in the midst of two bloody wars of expansion. He loved poetry, theatre, and all things Greek. He was also gay.
Open up, Hadrian was advertised as "an irreverent and contemporary play that looks back to a world 2,000 years younger and reads it variously as the nadir of imperial exploitation, a hotbed of radical political thought, a renaissance of engineering, and a raunchily naïve adolescent sex party."
As "downtown theatre" comes more and more to mean "outer borough theatre," this production celebrates an anarchic artistic "empire" throughout New York, voracious as ancient Rome itself, according to a report in BROADWAYWORLD.COM.
The report quotes Kevin Laibson, Co-Artistic Director of Magic Futurebox, as saying: "We were thrilled when Caborca came to us with Open up, Hadrian. To work with artists of such integrity and humor on a piece as high-flying as this is exactly why we started making theater in the first place."