By Sandi Durell
In the Washington, D.C. scene there seems to be no end to surprises. Our day-to-day lives are replete with the can-you-top-this kind of politics that have conquered and divided until we’re numb. So why should it be a surprise that the willowy, lithe Uma Thurman, playing the role of the scheming Chloe in Beau Willimon’s (Netflix series House of Cards) Parisian Woman, is of a new ilk? What woman doesn’t want to help her husband reach the top! The unfortunate part, however, is that Thurman’s debut disappoints. Despite her beauty and glamour, Uma Thurman doesn’t reach the heights of grandeur or expectations but her star name certainly holds allure.
Maybe the banality of the hackneyed Trump bashing (although his name is never spoken), that has become ever present on the theatrical stage, has run its course. (Expect references to Kelly, Mattis, fake news and more.)
Chloe’s younger days spent in Paris post college with an artist, the love of her life, references her as The Parisian Woman.
When her somewhat non-descript husband Tom (Josh Lucas) a successful, well connected tax attorney decides to climb the political stairs to a hopeful nomination as a judge, she’ll do whatever is needed in their seemingly open marriage, as she appeals for help – with measured sensual/sexual prowess – to long time wealthy banker friend, the jealous Peter (an amusing Marton Csokas), with a direct pipeline to the White House, who is madly, madly in love with her and willing to share her – even with her husband if need be.
Chloe heads straight to the top at a booze-filled dinner party with newly befriended Jeanette (a strong Blair Brown) getting her tentacles securely wrapped around this woman who is closest to the President, and eventually slated to head the Federal Reserve. Jeanette’s beautiful (recently graduated socialist leaning Harvard lawyer) daughter Rebecca (Phillipa Soo), set to change the world, becomes an easy pawn in the hands of the calculating Chloe.
As Chloe scorns Peter, he about faces making sure that Tom does not get the nomination. That’s when Chloe is full steam ahead using her extraordinary manipulative skills doing whatever it takes to make sure the tables are turned in Tom’s and her favor.
Uma Thurman plays the tough, taut and unemotional liberal in a role that doesn’t demand much other than looking beguilingly lovely in the various poses and movements given her by director Pam MacKinnon. Blair Brown is a firecracker as the Republican notable who knows who she is, and Phillipa Soo manages to show both her resilience and vulnerabilities.
The beautiful, upscale yet comfy townhouse, with set design by Derek McLane, makes you want to move right in. Lighting is by Peter Kaczorowski.
The play never really gets going. Unfortunate, considering the extraordinary wealth of talent involved.
Photos: Matthew Murphy
Hudson Theater, 145 West 44 Street, runs 90 minutes thru March 11, 2018