Time Out Theater Review: "Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown"
The film to stage transfer of "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" opened Thursday night on Broadway. NY1 contributing critic David Cote of Time Out New York Magazine filed the following review.
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There’s a 20-foot-high recipe for gazpacho printed on the curtain that rises on Lincoln Center Theater’s "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown." If only a giant recipe for making a decent musical had been available to the makers of this major Broadway letdown, which squanders so much stage talent.
Sherie Rene Scott, Laura Benanti, and Patti LuPone -- three of the greatest divas on Broadway today -- seem lost in this adaptation of the 1988 Spanish film by Pedro Almodovar. Women on the Verge simply doesn’t know how to tell its story, or what story it wants to tell.
We begin with the lovable Danny Burstein as a cheerful cabbie singing about Madrid, then veer off to follow voiceover artist, Pepa, that’s Sherie Rene Scott, who has been dumped by Brian Stokes Mitchell’s womanizer Ivan. The golden-voiced philanderer also broke the heart of his long-estranged ex-wife Lucia, played by LuPone, who wants revenge. Benanti offers comic relief as the ditsy model Candela, who learns that she’s dating a terrorist. All these women, their nerves frayed, find their private lives crazily intertwined, with a blender full of Valium-laced gazpacho playing a key role. But what was funny and stylish in the movie is a frantic, unfocused mess here. Jeffrey Lane hews far too closely to Almodovar’s screenplay, when he should have restructured the narrative for more fluid storytelling. Scenes which have visual impact in the movie -- Pepa setting her bed on fire, Candela jumping from a terrace -- come across as cheap stage effects.
Director Bartlett Sher, who has done infinitely better work in a more conventional vein with "The Light in the Piazza" and "South Pacific," tries to simulate the energy and bustle of Madrid with a headache-inducing wash of video and CGI, but it all starts to resemble a cheesy screensaver.
David Yazbek’s score is his best yet, a clever mélange of Spanish and gypsy syncopations with bouncy pop hooks. If only the creators had stepped back to let their leading ladies have their way with Yazbek’s songs.
Women on the Verge is stranded between commercial flash and not-for-profit class. Neither sensible nor wildly hysterical, it just stays on the verge, not going anywhere.