REVIEW: Tom Sawyer at the New Victory March 2-11

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at the New Victory Theatre Mar 2-11.  Photo by Charles Erickson.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at the New Victory Theatre Mar 2-11. Photo by Charles Erickson.

I saw The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at the New Victory yesterday.  While it’s not a clown or circus show (although, surprisingly, there was juggling, some acrobatics, and even a rope swing in the show) I thought it would be worthwhile mentioning here.

The story is so well known that in some ways it is like watching Shakespeare or… a classic clown routine. The story is well-tested, the material is not the issue– in a play like this it’s all about the execution that makes the play.

Michael Nichols as Injun Joe.Photo courtesy of Kansas City Rep.

This play mostly delivers. The acting is all very good, the set and lighting are all superior, and the actors are all first rate. The main characters (Tom, Huck, Becky Thatcher) are all played by actors in their 20s/30s, and there is a little of “I am going to play that I am 12 by being energetic and goofy.” It’s a little unavoidable, and I am biased against that. All of the actors pull it off, and especially Tom and Huck (Tim McKiernan and Robbie Tann), who are especially charming actors.

The guy who played Injun Joe (Michael Nichols) was superb. He could have been a one-dimensional villain, but he really captured the feeling of “wronged” that spurs on Injun Joe’s crime rampage and revenge murders.

The first act sagged a little, and the reveal of the dead boys return from the island across the way seemed a little anti-climactic. The second act, however, was THRILLING, and getting lost in the caves was really beautifully done (including the bats, and nearly getting caught by Injun Joe)

[amazon_link id=”1441404228″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Adventures of Tom Sawyer[/amazon_link]Watching the show, I was amazed at how much I remembered viscerally about reading the book, and how my imaginative pictures of reading the book were really ingrained in my mind, starting with the first words of the book “You Tom!”) And there are so many great little images from the book that get captured in the play– including the white washing of the fence, sure, but the trial, and the whipping of Thomas Sawyer (“that’s just the name they beat me by, my friends call me Tom”) It’s really a wonderful book.

Overall, I recommend this production.  It will play in NY for 2 weekends only March 2-11, so if you have a love of Twain and an interest in being entertained, I’m highly suggesting that you put down your laptop and trade everything you have in your pockets for the chance to whitewash a fence.

And if you miss it, at least [amazon_link id=”1441404228″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]read the book again[/amazon_link]!




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.