M. Butterfly is playing at the Cort Theatre located at 138 West 48th Street. The play runs two hours and twenty minutes with one intermission. The play closes on February 26, 2018.
The play premiered at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre on March 20, 1988 and closed after 777 performances on January 29, 1990. It was nominated for seven Tony Awards and won three for Best Play, Best Feature Actor (B D Wong) and Best Direction by a Play (John Dexter). John Lithglow played Rene Gallimard. David Dukes, Anthony Hopkins, Tony Randall and John Rubenstein played Gallimard at various times during the original production.
David Henry Hwang is the playwright. The play was a finalist in 1989 for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Julie Taymor is the director. She is the first women to win a Tony Award for direction, in addition for original costume design in 1998 for the Lion Ling.
Enid Graham was nominated for a Tony Award in 1998 for Honour.
The setting is a prison cell 1986.
Rene Gallimard (Clive Owen) is in jail. We learn why he is in jail.
Rene said his parents took him to see the opera Madame Butterfly when he was ten years old. He fell in love with it.
He tells us his friend Marc (Murray Bartlett) how in school he was always never invited to parties until he got older. Marc is trying to encourage him to date and have sex.
Rene becomes a French diplomat in China. Agnes (Enid Graham) is his wife does not go embassy events with him. She is older than him. At one embassy event there are entertain by a woman that sings the song to Madame Buttery. Renee waits to talk to him. He invites him to a place he will be performing. When he goes to his apartment he is in a dress. Song Liling (Jin Ha) claims he is a girl. Her parents raised her as a boy since they already had a girl. She said women cannot be actresses. Over time Rene becomes fascinated with her and she becomes his mistress.
Rene is promoted at the embassy. At one point his boss Tolon (Michael Country) tells him he is being demoted because of the incorrect information he gave them on the United States involvement in the Viet Nam War. Finally he is sent home. He is worried about Song Liling and their son.
Once home his life falls apart. He gets divorced. It comes out about his affair with Song Liling and the private information he told her from the embassy. He is arrested for espionage. The final blow is when he finds out Song Liling is a man.
There is more to the story I am not telling you.
This is an interesting story and intriguing play.
There were times when I could not hear the main characters being in the next to the last row in the theatre. That may be why I had no compassion for the characters. The story was good.
It is a play worth seeing if you haven’t already.
Review by Rozanna Radakovich
Photos by Annazor.
To read a candid interview with the cast, scroll down to photos. Click on photos for this and other shows.