Beau Willimon wrote “The Parisian Woman, now playing on Broadway in NYC. He is also the creator of Netflix’s “House of Cards” and the upcoming series “The First” on Hulu. From what I understand, he is constantly making changes to his new play, which takes place in contemporary Washington, D.C. and revolves around an uncannily familiar President who we don’t learn is called Trump near the end of the play. But believe me, it is completely obvious that this play was written to reflect the tumultuous, turbulent, twisted times we are living in.
I actually knew very little about The Parisian Woman beforehand, and I wondered about its name for a the first half of the play until the lead character, Chloe, played by Uma Thurman, explained its origins. The play borrows its title and plot from La Parisienne, an 1885 French play by Henry Becque about a married woman and her two lovers. In that case, they scandalized Paris; in this case, her affairs are scandalizing DC. The main characters are not completely innocent, as much as we would like to believe they are. They are actually complicit in securing a judicial nomination in the Trump administration through unnatural and unethical means (sound familiar yet?). We watch as a bit of bribery takes place to secure that seat and the way it happens is beyond your wildest imagination. It’s very clever, and fortunately it involves all the main female character.
Thurman makes her Broadway debut in “The Parisian Woman”. Her character is beautiful, bored, conniving, and rather scrupulous, and I think that Thurman plays her skillfully. It’s not an easy character, to be sure.
The show is directed by Pam MacKinnon of “Clybourne Park” fame and also stars Josh Lucas (“Sweet Home Alabama,” “American Psycho,” “The Mysteries of Laura”), Tony Award winner Blair Brown (“Orange Is The New Black,” “Fringe,” “Copenhagen,” “Nikolai” and “The Others”), Marton Csokas (“Loving,” “The Lord of the Rings”) and Tony Award nominee Phillipa Soo (“Hamilton,” “Amélie”). The cast has an electric chemistry that helps bring a tale that hits far too close to home in 2017 to life.
I will admit that the play picks up half way through but once it does, you’ll be at the edge of your seat. I’m not sure if that’s because the actors find their stride at a certain point, but when it turned, the play brought my frustration about the times we are living in to life.
Tickets are now available through www.thehudsonbroadway.com or (855) 801-5876. This is a spectacular theater that re-opened only very recently.
Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary tickets to facilitate this review and other pieces on the play. Stay tuned for interviews with the director and several cast members over on Women & Hollywood.