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Photo: Joan Marcus

BROADWAY REVIEW: John Lithgow: Stories By Heart

Check, check,” goes the razor. “Scha, scha, scha,” goes the strop.

But there is no razor; there is no strop.

The only thing making noise onstage during John Lithgow’s “Stories by Heart,” which opened Thursday evening at the American Airlines Theater, is Mr. Lithgow himself. Reciting Ring Lardner’s 1925 short story “Haircut,” set in a small-town barbershop in the Midwest, he brings an anthropologist’s specificity (and a Foley artist’s ingenuity) to every swoop of the apron and slap of the pomade that accompanies the main character’s monologue.

So, to begin with, give Mr. Lithgow a sound effects award.

And then give him one for spiritual effects, because “Stories by Heart” is delightful: illuminating the stories, uplifting us.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: Farinelli and the King

December 17, 2017:

His Majesty is not himself today. His most unserene highness, the King of Spain, does not know who or what he is, except that he’s not where he belongs. Approach him with caution: He bites. And allow me, if you will, to advise you never to take your eyes off him.

Not that you’ll want to.

As was observed of another stark raving royal (named Hamlet), “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.” This is especially true when a great one is portrayed by one of the greatest actors on the planet.

Uncork the Champagne and unfurl the straitjacket. Mark Rylance is once again ruling audiences at the Belasco Theater, where the strangely enchanting “Farinelli and the King,” Claire van Kampen’s shimmering fairy tale for grown-ups, opened on Sunday night.

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OTHER REVIEW: The Twilight Zone

December 14, 2017:

LONDON — If ever it felt appropriate to revisit “The Twilight Zone,” that moment is now. We live in strange, disorienting times, but without a Rod Serling, the debonair mastermind behind the CBS television series, to set the scene for us as he did so trenchantly more than 50 years ago.

So you can practically hear a collective purr of delight when those famous four opening notes of the series’s theme song are heard at the very end of the American writer Anne Washburn’s stage adaptation of “The Twilight Zone,” which opened Tuesday at the Almeida Theater in north London (through Jan. 27).

What an audience will make of the preceding two and a half hours may depend on its willingness to let a sermon invade the spook house. There was nearly always a civilizing message of sorts underpinning each episode in the TV series, which referenced other realms to say something about the troublesome one inhabited by humans.

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