Tony Awards: Read the Original Reviews for All the Best Play Nominees

1:00 PM 6/2/2018

by THR Staff

With the Tonys only one week away, get the rundown on each of the best play nominees with The Hollywood Reporter's original reviews of all five plays.

'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child'
'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child'
Courtesy of Manuel Harlan

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two is up for best play at the 2018 Tony Awards alongside The Children, Farinelli and the King, Junk and Latin History for Morons.

Look back at all the original reviews of the plays before the winner is announced during a June 10 ceremony at 8 p.m. ET, airing live on CBS (tape-delayed on the West Coast) from New York City's Radio City Music Hall. Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban are set to host.

  • The Children

    Joan Marcus
    A cozy cottage near the coast in rural England provides the setting for the new drama by Lucy Kirkwood, and all you have to do is take one look to know that things are not quite right. Miriam Buether's set design is askew, tilted just slightly enough to suggest there's something seriously off about the lives of its inhabitants. As we eventually learn, there's something seriously off about the play as well.
     
    The Children — which Manhattan Theatre Club has transferred intact to Broadway after the acclaimed run of James Macdonald's production at London's Royal Court Theatre — depicts the tense interaction among three characters. They are married sixty-somethings Hazel (Deborah Findlay) and Robin (Ron Cook), and their friend and former colleague Rose (Francesca Annis), who drops in unexpectedly one day after not having seen them for 38 years.
     
     
  • Farinelli and The King

    Joan Marcus
    While movie audiences have lately caught on to the mercurial brilliance of Mark Rylance in films like Bridge of Spies and Dunkirk, Broadway has been in on the secret for close to a decade, making every one of this extraordinary stage actor's appearances a bona fide theatrical event. He played the clueless patsy in the slapstick farce Boeing-Boeing; an obnoxious theatrical windbag in the mock-Moliere verse comedy La Bete; a brawling modern-day dragon-slayer in the epic eulogy for Englishness, Jerusalem; and in an unforgettable double-bill from Shakespeare's Globe, he delivered a fluttering, ineffably human Olivia in Twelfth Night alongside a Richard III whose toying duplicity quivered with blackest resentment.
     
    His return to New York comes courtesy of another production that originated at the Globe in London (where Rylance served as artistic director for 10 years), in a play written by his wife, the composer and historical music scholar Claire van Kampen. A thrilling hint of madness matched with insouciant wit has been a signature characteristic of Rylance's stage work, which makes the ailing monarch in Farinelli and the King a tailor-made fit.
     
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two

    Courtesy of Manuel Harlan
    Back when it was first announced, plenty of observers rolled their eyes in skepticism at the idea of a play that would continue J.K. Rowling's globally popular wizardry saga, a series of books that singlehandedly turned entire generations on to the joys of reading imaginative fiction. But anyone still ready to dismiss Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as a cynical brand extension, or a theme-park ride on stage, clearly hasn't experienced the thrilling theatricality, the pulse-pounding storytelling vitality and the unexpected emotional richness of this unmissable two-part production. The ecstatic hype that accompanies the smash London import to Broadway is amply justified, and then some.
     
    Playwright Jack Thorne, director John Tiffany and his indispensable movement collaborator Steven Hoggett achieve the near impossible: They mount a persuasive case that this story we all know from novels and/or movies only now has found its nonpareil medium. The two plays have a combined running time of almost five-and-a-half suspenseful hours. And when you get a load of the illusions pulled off right before your eyes — mostly with old-fashioned sleight-of-hand and crafty lighting; only occasionally with more elaborate techno-trickery — it's not hyperbole to call the show sheer magic.
     
  • Junk

    Courtesy of T. Charles Erickson
    I confess that what little I know about corporate raiders I learned mostly from Pretty Woman. In that 1990 film, Richard Gere played a finance vulture, swooping in on a vulnerable family-owned shipbuilding company with the intention of buying it, stripping it down and breaking it up to sell off the parts for a massive profit. As we all recall, he's humanized when a Hollywood Boulevard prostitute with a moral compass and a radiant smile, played by Julia Roberts, shows him the beauty of compassionate intervention, magically transforming his impeccably tailored suits into shining armor.
     
    Ayad Akhtar tells a more detailed version of that story and its long-range reverberations, minus the ethical hooker and the fairy-tale ending, in his modern-day Shakespearean history play, Junk. To stick with the movie references, the drama evokes Wall Street and Other People's Money (the latter based on a play) while surveying the climate that paved the way for Margin Call and The Big Short. Which is to say it's not terribly new, even if it remains relevant. We're back in "greed is good" territory, though the central character played by Steven Pasquale, a fictionalized, disclaimer-protected version of Michael Milken named Robert Merkin, has more complex shadings than Gordon Gekko.
     
  • Latin History for Morons

    Joan Marcus
    The John Leguizamo on stage these days is not quite the one to whom we’ve been accustomed. The actor-monologist — whose previous one-man shows include such provocative efforts as Spic-O-Rama, Freak, Sexaholixa Love Story and Ghetto Klown — is now a husband and father. He's adopted a distinctly professorial mien for his latest effort, even wearing a tie, vest and jacket. What hasn't changed is his choice in footwear, sneakers, or his brand of irreverent, profane humor, which is on full display in Latin History for Morons, a comedic lecture for which the audience assumes the role specified in the title.
     
    The ostensible reason the performer is delving into the history of his people is that his eighth-grade son has been bullied at school because of his ethnicity. Determined to teach his boy to be proud of his heritage, Leguizamo attempts to fill the significant gap in most people's knowledge of Latin history, roughly stretching from the Mayans to Pitbull. And this being Leguizamo, you can rest assured that a frenzied imitation of the singer is part of the show.