Grace Broadway Show Review

Grace

Though Craig Wright’s Grace has already been seen in a few theaters around the country, it is just now making its Broadway debut at the Cort Theatre.  The play has a small but impressive cast, headed by film star Paul Rudd and TV legend Ed Asner (who makes a big impression with a relatively small role), along with indie film and TV actor Michael Shannon and Kate Arrington.  The quartet are uniformly excellent as they explore the relationships of Wright’s complex characters.

The actual plot of Grace may sound a bit off-beat (and it is).  It concerns a couple from Minnesota who leave their evangelical church community in St. Paul and move to Florida with the hopes of establishing a Gospel-themed hotel there.  Their lives become entwined with that of their neighbor, a reclusive astrophysicist who is recovering from a car accident that has disfigured him and left his fiancee dead.  Ed Asner plays a German-born exterminator who periodically comes to spray their homes for pests.

From the opening scene–which, intriguingly, plays out backwards–we see that Grace has serious undertones.  It addresses themes of redemption, predetermination, faith, loyalty, love, and what our place is in this world.  But it’s also very funny and well-observed, and seeing the culture clash between the well-meaning Christian Minnesotans and their new Florida friends is enjoyable.

Each of the four characters seem pretty set in their view of life at the beginning of the play, none more so than Rudd’s, whose initially certain faith sends him into a tailspin as soon as it is challenged by major setbacks in his marriage and work.  But the other characters too have emotional and spiritual experiences–subtly and convincingly rendered by the playwright–that leave them changed before the play’s dramatic conclusion.

Grace is a thought-provoking if brief (the running time is only 90 minutes) evening at the theater, and well worth seeing during its limited engagement, scheduled through January 6.

Special Events Scheduled To Promote New Broadway Play Grace

New Broadway plays, which rarely get the exposure of more splashy, tourist-friendly musicals, can use all the promotional opportunities that they can get.  To get some extra notice, the brand new Broadway play Grace has scheduled notable events for the month of October.

Right on the heels of the extremely high-profile release of the iPhone 5, the cast of Grace will make an appearance at the Apple Store in SoHo on Monday, October 8 from 7-8pm.  Appropriately, the Apple Store has its own small theater, where cast members Paul Rudd, Ed Asner, Michael Shannon, and Kate Arrington will discuss the show with CNN’s Shanon Cook, who will serve as moderator.  Members of the public are welcome to attend the free event, and there will also be a Q&A segment.  (For those who can’t make it, the discussion will be recorded for a future podcast.)

Grace is also launching a talkback series to be held following Wednesday evening performances of the play, beginning with the October 10 performance.  For that talkback, theater journalist Patrick Pacheco will moderate a discussion with the entire cast of the show.  The following talkback, on October 17, will feature Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert and Reverend Stephen Phelps (of NYC’s Riverside Church) in a discussion about the play’s themes of faith and religion.  The October 24 post-show discussion will also focus on issues of faith, as Marble Collegiate Church’s Dr. Michael Brown, who served as a consultant on Grace during rehearsals, will participate in the talkback.