Hugh Jackman Back on Broadway

November 17, 2014 3:23 AM

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In the second scene of Jez Butterworth's The River (enjoying over-packed houses at Circle in the Square), a character called "The Man"--played by Hugh Jackman, mind you--takes a three-pound silvery wild sea trout; slices it open; reaches in and viscerally pull out the guts, which he drops in a slop pail; washes it at a running faucet, up against the front row of seats; expertly chops a fistful of shallots and another of onions; cuts pockets in his trout, to stuff with onion wedges; and places the thing in the (make-believe) stage oven. Minutes later, out comes Mr. Fish; Mr. Jackman and actress Cush Jumbo stick in their forks, take two bites, pronounce it delicious, and forget about it. That pretty much describes the evening, which is so thoroughly sold out that nothing any of us drama critics say will matter in the least. All that busy work, and Hugh does look impressive in the kitchen; but Butterworth's eighty-five minute play doesn't make for a tasty meal.

The Man is at the family cabin on the cliffs, above the river, presumably in England. (The script has been at least slightly Americanized; one of the characters uses a yellow gummy bear for fish bait, instead of a pickled-onion Monster Munch. Which is some sort of a corn snack, methinks.) He has bro...

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