Celebrated veteran performers James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson star in a new Broadway production of the Pulitzer Prize winning play "The Gin Game." NY1’s Roma Torre filed the following review.
It is hard to believe that “The Gin Game” won a Pulitzer Prize. It’s not exactly a great play but author D.L. Coburn did pen a couple of great roles. And for anyone who remembers Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy’s iconic performances nearly 40 years ago, I'm happy to report the revival has yet another pair of aces up its sleeve.
It's deceptively simple. Two residents of a rundown nursing home develop a friendship over repeated games of gin rummy. But of course the cards are just a metaphor. As Weller and Fonsia get more invested in the games and each other - their lives seem to turn more desperate, combative and unpredictable.
Despite the initial good-natured exchanges, this is far from the feel-good sentimental story you might expect. He turns into an arrogant bully regarding himself as something of a card shark. She emerges his match - prudish but feisty and unbelievably lucky playing gin.
And that's about it as far as the plot goes. What makes "...Gin Game" such a treat is watching these two consummate veterans deliver incredibly calibrated performances in what must be a very difficult play for actors of any age. However, considering that he is 84 and she is 90, the achievement is just that much more remarkable. Imagine trying to keep track of dialogue while playing multiple card games when the lines and the cards don't match. I understand they do have cheat sheets but it is still quite a feat.
The set, dominated by discarded furniture on one side does not offer director Leonard Foglia many blocking options but he has certainly drawn a winning hand from his stars. And for this show, that's about all that really matters.
I cannot say enough about Jones and Tyson. Despite their advanced age, on the big stage, they are eternally young!