The Substance of Fire OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

  • The Substance of Fire
  • NY TIMES

  • DAILY NEWS

  • NY POST

  • TM

  • TALKIN' BWAY

Opening Night:
April 27, 2014
Closing:
July 14, 2014

Theater: Second Stage Theatre / 305 West 43rd Street, New York, NY, 10036

Synopsis: 

Isaac Geldhart, the volatile and brilliant patriarch of his family publishing house, is stubbornly holding on to his place at the head of the company while his three children try to convince him to publish a desperately needed best-seller. Confronted with a changing literary landscape and potential takeover of the company, the Geldhart children must either come to terms with their father and band together or break apart and forfeit the legacy he risked everything to build.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF The Substance of Fire

    All Books Not Equal to Squabbling Family
    ‘Substance of Fire’ Opens at Second Stage Theater

    Charles Isherwood

    April 27, 2014: Although it’s roughly the age of a recent college graduate, Jon Robin Baitz’s play The Substance of Fire at times seems to have grown some gray whiskers. Watching the sure-footed new revival of the play that opened at the Second Stage Theater on Sunday night, featuring standout performances by the Australian actor John Noble and the ever-vibrant Charlayne Woodard, I kept thinking of dramas about family, money and morality written way back in the early years of the 20th century by Harley Granville Barker. This is not to suggest that Mr. Baitz’s play has withered into obsolescence: family, money and morality are every bit as potent subjects today as they were in 1991, when the play was first produced, or for that matter 1901. It’s just that the tug of war at the center of the play, over the future of a high-toned publishing firm on the verge of eclipse, already seems remote from our Kindle-lit era, like a debate over a horse-and-buggy rental business.

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  • NEW YORK DAILY NEWS REVIEW OF The Substance of Fire

    'The Substance of Fire,’ theater review

    Joe Dziemianowicz

    April 27, 2014: Publish or perish assumes unexpected meaning in The Substance of Fire, an intriguing but frustrating drama. Jon Robin Baitz's 1989 play in revival at Second Stage revolves around the imperious Isaac Geldhart (an impressive John Noble, of Fringe), head of a family-owned, financially shaky publishing house that specializes in scholarly tomes. Obsessed with Hitler, Holocaust survivor Isaac is hell-bent on putting out a multivolume series on Nazi medical atrocities — worthy and important, yes; sellable, no. His practical son Aaron (Carter Hudson), an MBA, lobbies to ditch that plan and instead put out a sexually frank contemporary novel to pull the company out of the red.

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  • NEW YORK POST REVIEW OF The Substance of Fire

    ‘Substance of Fire’ returns to stage

    Elisabeth Vincentelli

    June 27, 2014: The Substance of Fire is two plays for the price of one: Each act is almost self-contained. Too bad the first is much better than the second — at least in Trip Cullman’s lopsided revival of Jon Robin Baitz’s family drama. We’re in 1987 and Isaac Geldhart’s publishing house is on the brink of bankruptcy, thanks to his predilection for such doomed titles as "An Atlas of the Holocaust” or “Water on Fire, an Oral History of the Children of Hiroshima.” There’s a pattern: Isaac (John Noble, Fringe and Sleepy Hollow) was a child during the Holocaust and is wracked by survivor’s guilt.

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF The Substance of Fire

    The Substance of Fire

    Zachary Stewart

    April 27, 2014: Jon Robin Baitz's The Substance of Fire seems like an unlikely candidate for revival. At first glance, it's like any other family drama that you might have seen in the last 25 years at Playwrights Horizons (where the show made its New York City debut in 1991). Baitz (Other Desert Cities) has a keen eye for generational drama, and this excellent revival at Second Stage Theatre is a testament to that. It's impossible not to see echoes of the present in this timeless tale.

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  • TALKIN' BROADWAY REVIEW OF The Substance of Fire

    The Substance of Fire Theatre Review by Matthew Murray

    Matthew Murray

    April 27, 2014: Heat can come by way of strong bursts or a long, slow, steady smolder, and which you prefer for your theatrical consumption is what’s likely to determine your reaction to the new revival of The Substance of Fire at Second Stage. In director Trip Cullman’s take, Jon Robin Baitz’s 1991 play abandons any precepts of being a searing star vehicle, and examines instead the way different embers can feed upon and smolder themselves. In both the original production (which started at Playwrights Horizons and then moved to the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center) and the substantially different 1996 film, Ron Rifkin played to great acclaim the centering role of Isaac Geldhart. The Manhattan literary scion, who’s built his career on releasing eclectic, socially relevant volumes that capture the Europe eviscerated by World War II, escaped extermination, but at the expense of his family; four decades later, he seems unaccountably willing to sacrifice his own children for sake of his own history-minded ideals.

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The Substance of Fire Review REVIEWS

Opening Night:
Closing:
Open Ended

Theater:

Synopsis: 

Jon Robin Baitz's The Substance of Fire seems like an unlikely candidate for revival. At first glance, it's like any other family drama that you might have seen in the last 25 years at Playwrights Horizons (where the show made its New York City debut in 1991). Baitz (Other Desert Cities) has a keen eye for generational drama, and this excellent revival at Second Stage Theatre is a testament to that. It's impossible not to see echoes of the present in this timeless tale.

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