The Big Knife – Slices with Abandon

Marin Ireland and Bobby Cannavale
Marin Ireland and Bobby Cannavale
Credits:
Joan Marcus

This Roundabout Theatre Company revival pits them both against each other when Marcus presents a 14-year contract worth some $3.5 Million to Charlie. Charlie’s wife Marion, played by Marin Ireland, (a grieving anchor in love with her husband), doesn’t mince words and is now separated and living at their beach house with their son. She desperately wants to leave the evils of Hollywood and return to NYC. Although Charlie tries to resist, he is trapped into signing the contract because Marcus holds an accidental death over his head when he killed a boy while driving drunk and his friend Buddy (Joey Slotnick) took the rap spending time in jail.

Charlie’s agent Nat (a truthful Chip Zien who excels in the role) tries to keep things at an even keel, to no avail. Hank Teagle (C.J. Wilson), a screenwriter, is a friend of Charlie’s and in love with Marion, asking her to marry him on the chance that she permanently leaves Charlie. He presents as one of the most honest characters in this production. And there’s Buddy’s wife Connie, the sexpot who’s after Charlie, convincingly played by Ana Reeder.

There’s lots of anguish and emotional surges in this play that make up for the pitfalls in the often times stilted dialogue. The rambling 40s house, with peek-a-boo to the outside, is classy in its design by John Lee Beatty, as are the glamorous dresses of the era and glossy suits by Catherine Zuber. Director Doug Hughes surely had an A+ cast to work with. Billy Eugene Jones plays Russell, the butler and there’s a short presence of Brenda Wehle as Patty Benedict, gossip columnist.

At the American Airlines Theater, 227 West 42nd Street, Manhattan;

(212) 719-1300, roundabouttheatre.org. Through June 2. Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes.

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