New York – David Mamet’s China Doll premiered on December 4th in Broadway’s Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. The play, starring the famous Hollywood actor and filmmaker Al Pacino, has been scrutinized by most critics so far.
China Doll follows the story of Mickey Ross — Pacino’s role —, a millionaire businessman ready to give up everything to start a new life with his fiancée, and Ross’ personal assistant, Carson.
The play was directed by Tony Award winner Pam MacKinnon, who stated that working with Al Pacino has been a “tremendous” experience for her while praising the actor’s work ethic, which she says to value.
And while MacKinnon says the experience has been positive and she has learned a lot about acting during the process, the critics and general audiences don’t seem to value the play as much.
One of the harshest reviews came from Variety writer Marilyn Stasio, who urged Mamet to “get a grip” and stop writing “non-plays” like China Doll.
“There’s material for maybe a one-act in this overblown character study of a power broker whose sins are about to catch up with him. But even with Al Pacino putting him through his emotional paces, this tarnished titan is going through hell in a vacuum, with no one to play off but unheard voices on the other end of the telephone,” she said.
There were some missteps during the performance and on the general production that weren’t forgiven by theater goers. For starters, according to attendees at the November 19th preview of the play, Pacino seemed to struggle with his lines and needed the aid of teleprompters.
The date of the play’s premiere was also delayed from its original opening on November to December 4th. The producers claim the measure was taken because the play required more work than they had anticipated.
Some people from the audience also asked for refunds.
Despite all the issues and negative reviews, the presence of Al Pacino has driven enough audiences to sell all the seats and make for strong numbers on the box office.
There have been some positive reviews, though. Michale Dale, a critic from Broadway World, described Pacino’s performance as “detailed, committed and always interesting to watch,” despite the actor needing to have his lines whispered.
The Anarchist, previous Mamet’s play, failed on Broadway three years ago when it closed after only 17 performances. His former 2009 play “Race,” while it had better reception, still received harsh reviews.
China Doll will be open until January 31st, next year.
Source: New York Post