Three years ago, husband and wife Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz costarred in a Broadway revival of Harold Pinter’s “Betrayal” directed by the late Mike Nichols. It wasn’t a good production by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a hot ticket, thanks to the appeal of seeing a pair of married movie stars.
This fall, Craig and Weisz are each starring in a different Off-Broadway show in the East Village. Beginning in November, Craig will play the villainous Iago in “Othello” at New York Theatre Workshop, and Weisz is now headlining a revival of David Hare’s 1978 drama “Plenty” at the Public Theater.
“Plenty,” which received its New York premiere at the Public Theater in 1982, and was subsequently made into a film starring Meryl Streep, follows Susan Traherne, an English woman who worked as a spy with the French Resistance during World War II and then has trouble adjusting to far less exciting domestic life. Hare intended Susan to mirror the struggles and disappointment of postwar England in general.
It’s not hard to see what attracts great actresses to the part of Susan, who loses her youthful idealism and becomes increasingly selfish and unstable, while her quirky friend (Emily Bergl) and polite husband (Corey Stoll) look on helplessly, and Weisz gives a poised and assertive performance.
That said, the play is slow, depressing and jumbled, leaving little reason to bring it back other than to serve as a star vehicle. The grim-looking set design, built around thick, brick-like walls, adds to the feeling of oppression.