Monday, March 20, 2023
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Hughie revival flops with Forest Whitaker

Oscar E. Moore “from the rear mezzanine” for Talk

It’s phenomenal – no - not the play, not the performances, not the direction but that HUGHIE – a minor one act play by Eugene O’Neill has gotten yet another revival – all 60 minutes of it - at regular top Broadway prices starring Forest Whitaker making his Broadway debut.


Why did a slew of producers think this could possibly work? Why did Mr. Whitaker take on the challenge? Why is it so boring?

On an elaborate set of a fleabag hotel lobby (Christopher Oram) circa 1928 with spooky lighting by Neil Austin with equally eerie music by Adam Cork a supposedly coming off of a five day drunken spree Erie Smith (Forest Whitaker) enters his old stomping ground to lament the loss of his friend and sap Hughie – the previous Night Clerk now portrayed with stoic immobility by Frank Wood.

Michael Grandage has directed with a nod towards The Twilight Zone. It’s a haunted house with haunted memories. Mr. Whitaker gives a rather surface performance – no nuances here. He’s a gambler in search of another sap to tell his tall tales to. It’s as though he can’t wait to get it over with.

Well, HUGHIE has posted an early closing notice. Initially slated to run through June 12 it is now closing on March 27. RIP. At the Booth Theatre.

Photo: Marc Brenner