Stage Review

Clive (2013)

CLIVE Mahira Kakkar, Stephanie Janssen and Ethan Hawke
Image credit: Monique Carboni
CLIVE Mahira Kakkar, Stephanie Janssen and Ethan Hawke

Details Opening Date: Feb 07, 2013; Lead Performances: Brooks Ashmanskas, Vincent D'Onofrio, Ethan Hawke and Zoe Kazan; Writer: Jonathan Marc Sherman; Director: Ethan Hawke; Genre: Drama

It's easy to see what drew Ethan Hawke to Clive, actor-playwright Jonathan Marc Sherman's updated version of the early Bertolt Brecht play Baal, about a young poet who rejects bourgeois convention and engages in a series of passionate love affairs and even a murder or two. The New Group production, running through March 9 at Off Broadway's Acorn Theatre, has all the elements that would appeal to an artist of Hawke's downtown-leaning temperament. In this modern-day update, the antihero (played by Hawke) is a rock star with spiky silver hair, skinny jeans, and a serious drug addiction. He seduces his producer's wife (Stephanie Janssen) as well as a teenage fan (Zoe Kazan). And he generally wallows in self-absorption, heedless of the increasingly negative effect he has on others.

There are Brechtian touches throughout: songs, noise-making props, actors reciting their own stage directions between snatches of dialogue, and Vincent D'Onfrio committing to a bizarro accent and climbing a ladder with angel's wings on his shoulders. Under Hawke's direction, though, Clive is a rather tedious slog through nihilistic narcissism. C–

(Tickets: or 800-432-7250)

Originally posted Feb 07, 2013

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