Nearly every critic praised Christopher Walken’s performance in â€œA Behanding in Spokane,â€ the fifth play by Anglo-Irish playwright Martin McDonagh brought to Broadway, the first written for the Great White Way and set in America, a four-character black comedy about a man who has been searching for his hand ever since it was severed 47 years ago by a group of nasty hillbillies.
Reactions to the play itself, 90 minutes without an intermission, vary from Ben Brantley of The New York Times — “the rest of the erratically enjoyable ‘Behanding'” â€¦never matches the strange genius of its starâ€ â€“ to Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal — “A Behanding in Spokane” is the funniest new play to open in New York since I started writing this columnâ€¦take a tip from me and buy a ticket to “A Behanding in Spokane” today. They’re going to be scarce.â€
Jonathan Mandell of TheFasterTimes: â€œIn â€œA Behandingâ€ as in his previous plays, there is violence or the threat of violence, mordant humor, a series of twists and teases that play with the audience’s expectations. And there are body parts (in this case, severed hands.)
This first play that he has written specifically for the Broadway stage, however, is missing two usual McDonagh ingredients: a setting in Ireland, and the sense that a larger point is being madeâ€¦McDonagh is turning up the laughs and toning down the shock but also the awe. Still, from the first moment we see Christopher Walken on the stage, it is clear we are in the hands â€“ or anyway the hand â€” of a pro. â€œ
“A Behanding in Spokane” by Martin McDonagh starring Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Anthony Mackie, Zoe Kazan is playing at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater (236 West 45th Street) through June 6, 2010.
Twitterers: Follow Jonathan Mandell at New York Theater