Today I got rush tickets on Broadway to see a matinée of “Pictures From Home” starring Nathan Lane, Zoë Wanamaker and Danny Burstein. This is my very first Broadway play, and here is my Review of Pictures From Home.
This is a challenging play, and I think it would not be easy to pull off without these three excellent actors. While Nathan Lane might get most of the credit as the headliner, in my opinion, the son’s part is the most challenging. I love Nathan Lane, and I’ve seen him in many performances on TV and in movies and was excited too. I see him perform live. I was a little concerned that since most of the parts I’ve seen him in, he has been a bit flashy that he might be a little campy on stage. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
This concern arose because I had the good fortune to see Maggie Smith several times at the Stratford Theatre when she spent summer there in the 70s. She was magnificent. However, I don’t know if it was the director deferring to her or that she is so powerful, but I found she was a bit campy in the comedies. She comes close to that line in Downton Abbey but maintains a sublime balance thanks partly to Penelope Wilton, who often plays opposite Smith.
But I digress, back Broadway and the Review of Pictures From Home.
It started to get sluggish around the halfway mark at about an hour.
This is a dramedy, and while some lines are played for laughs, the seriousness outweighs it. The father losing his temper towards the end was quite disturbing because it reminded me a bit, although different from my father’s outbursts.
The mother’s role is perhaps the easiest of the three, but Zoë Wanamaker takes it and makes it her own. Neither of the two actors ever overshadows her. If you aren’t familiar with Wanamaker, here is a bit of her amazing background from her website:
Zoë Wanamaker was born on May 13th 1949 in New York, USA. At the age of three, Zoë had to move to London with her family, because her father, the actor/director Sam Wanamaker, was blacklisted during the McCarthy witch-hunts. Her mother, Charlotte Holland, was an actress and radio star; when they came to London she left work so she could take care of her family. Zoe also has two sisters – Abby, the eldest, and Jessica, who is the youngest. Zoë comes from a Russian-Jewish background.
Sam Wanamaker is most well known for the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on the South Bank in London. He was passionate about building a faithful replica of The Globe, and spent nearly thirty years trying to get his project finished. Sam was awarded a CBE in early 1993, and sadly died later that year of cancer. Queen Elizabeth II opened the Globe in June 1997, and Zoë was the first person to speak on stage when she read a passage from Henry V.
Unlike some dramas, I’m not left pondering any of the questions raised. I just enjoyed the play thanks to these three actors. I tend to agree with all the reviews that I read. These two summarize it well.
From: The New York Times | By: Jesse Green | Date: 02/09/2023
The play by Sharr White that opened on Thursday at Studio 54, in a production directed by Bartlett Sher, has not made it all the way from two dimensions to three. Though honorable, thoughtful and wonderful to look at, with crafty performances by Danny Burstein, Zoë Wanamaker and especially Nathan Lane, it caulks so many of the book’s expressive cracks that the best thing about it — its mystery — is sealed out.From: New York Stage Review | By: Frank Scheck | Date: 02/09/2023
Pictures from Home proves less artful than the photo book that inspired it, but the universality of its themes and the power of its performances make it pack an emotional punch nonetheless. It would make even more of an impact if it had been housed in a more suitable theater. (Memo to Broadway producers: Studio 54 is not an appropriate venue for small-scale, intimate dramas.)