Fish in the Dark BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Joan Marcus
  • NY TIMES

  • TIME OUT

  • HR

  • NBC

  • AMNY

Opening Night:
March 5, 2015
Closing:
August 1, 2015

Theater: Cort Theatre / 138 West 48th Street, New York, NY, 10036

Synopsis: 

Seinfeld co-creator Larry David's comedy focuses on 15 characters as they deal with a death in the family.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Fish in the Dark

    'Fish in the Dark,’ Larry David’s Antic Broadway Debut

    Ben Brantley

    March 5, 2015: The fish itself — the one that figures in ads for the new play “Fish in the Dark” and can be seen on the drop curtain at the Cort Theater — is pretty great, a charming and maddening creature destined to capture your heart. O.K., if you insist: It is pret-ty, pret-ty, pret-ty great. The show for which this fish stands? Not so much. If you don’t recognize what all those “prettys” signify, do not feel obliged to read further. (But if you do, I promise to return to the enchanting fish later.) The use of “pretty” as a repeated modifier, with a protracted first syllable and palate-tapping t’s, is a signature catch phrase of Larry David, the beloved comic television writer and actor. And, yes, Mr. David does make pretty (if not pret-ty, pret-ty) good use of said catchphrase in the second act of “Fish in the Dark,” his Broadway debut as an actor and playwright, which opened on Thursday night. When he pulls out the prettys — as his character describes how it felt to touch a certain part of a certain woman’s anatomy — he lands the biggest laugh of the night. It’s not the sexual content that elicits the roar. It’s the pleasure of hearing words made familiar on a hit television show, Mr. David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” by the man who first spoke them. Those “prettys” are a bone with a bow tossed to an audience of expectant fans, rather in the manner of the Rolling Stones’ singing “Satisfaction” toward the end of a live concert.

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  • TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW OF Fish in the Dark

    'Fish in the Dark' Theater review by David Cote

    David Cote

    March 5, 2015: Checking out Larry David’s debut as a Broadway playwright and performer, I did not expect to be thinking of ancient Greek tragedy. Comedy, sure, but I figured past influences would stretch back to Allen, not Aeschylus. And yet here’s kvetchy urinal salesman Norman Drexel (David), bolting onstage after seeing his mother unconscious and naked in her bedroom, performing mute spasms of Oedipal horror—face a gaping mask of shock, arms sawing the air in crazy, rigid patterns. Such ritual gestures would fit Athens circa 403 BCE, although I don’t think any Attic bard ever penned the plangent cry “You fucked my mother?!?” "Fish in the Dark" may be new, but its comic ingredients are classically aged: horny, old ladies, greedy relatives, philandering dads, luscious blonds and preposterous deceptions. The DNA has been passed down from Aristophanes to Plautus, Wycherley and sex farces popular on Broadway in the ’60s. David’s contribution is mainly to be himself, the Everyputz he played on "Curb Your Enthusiasm": cheerfully cynical, blithely petty and amazed that anyone should be offended by his honesty.

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  • HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW OF Fish in the Dark

    The uninitiated may sniff, but Larry lovers will plotz

    David Rooney

    March 5, 2015: No Neil Simon character ever exclaimed, "You f***ed my mother?!" But in countless other ways, Larry David's first venture into Broadway playwriting, "Fish in the Dark," is a spirited throwback to that once hugely popular gagmeister's patented specialty: classic boulevard comedy molded to fit the American Jewish family. It's also pure sitcom, energized by David's customary serrated edges and willfully abrasive characters. While the writer-star is playing a minor variation on the persona he honed over eight seasons of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" —and before that, via his alter ego George Costanza on nine seasons of "Seinfeld" — that seems to be exactly what the fans are craving. The play started previews Feb. 2 with a massive $13.5 million advance and has regularly since been grossing north of $1 million a week, smashing the house record at the Cort Theatre. It's a stretch to imagine it having much of a life without David in the self-styled central role of Norman Drexel. But given the stellar business on Broadway, where it runs in a limited engagement through June 7, it would be no surprise if David decided to take the play to Los Angeles. Either way, it already looks like a bona fide hit, no matter where the reviews land.

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  • NBC NEW YORK REVIEW OF Fish in the Dark

    Larry David's "Fish" Leaves an Aftertaste

    Robert Kahn

    March 5, 2015: "Curb Your Enthusiasm" followers paying north of $300 a pop to see Larry David's Broadway debut will get what they're expecting with the absurd and erratic "Fish in the Dark,” which has just opened at the Cort Theatre, bringing with it record-breaking ticket sales. Translation: It’s a pret-tay, pre-tay good time for some, but too much of nothing for others. What plays well on the small screen occasionally generates honest laughs on stage, though “Fish” becomes ponderous and ultimately feels like a sitcom episode tenuously stretched over two-plus hours. Here, David plays Norman Drexel, who along with his too-slick brother (Ben Shenkman, of TV’s “Royal Pains”) is trying to accept the death of his father. Both a first-time Broadway actor and writer, the “Seinfeld” co-creator and HBO star came to the plot after attending the real-life funeral of a friend’s dad. Directed by Anna D. Shapiro, who most recently led the cast of “This Is Our Youth,” the large ensemble also includes Rita Wilson, Rosie Perez and Jerry Adler.

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  • AM NEW YORK REVIEW OF Fish in the Dark

    'Fish in the Dark' is prett-ay, prett-ay, prett-ay good

    Matt Windman

    March 5, 2015: “Fish in the Dark,” the new Broadway comedy written by and starring Larry David, might as well be called “Curb Your Enthusiasm: Live” or “Larry David and Friends.” Whereas David plays himself (or at least a semi-fictional version of himself) on the HBO television series, here he portrays a guy named Norman Drexel. Even so, the bespectacled, balding David is playing the same sort of socially awkward, extremely inappropriate, befuddled, self-centered smartass. Hardly a great work of dramatic literature, “Fish in the Dark” hearkens back to the silly and insubstantial Broadway comedies of the 1960s, full of one-dimensional characters and nonsensical farce. Following the death of his father, Norman concocts an elaborate scheme with his housekeeper (an underutilized Rosie Perez) to convince his overbearing mother (a comically sublime Jayne Houdyshell) to move in with his brother instead of him.

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