Deliverance OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Jason Woodruff
  • NY TIMES

  • TM

  • EW

  • S & C

  • L&S AMERICA

Opening Night:
October 10, 2014
Closing:
November 9, 2014

Theater: 59E59 Theaters / 59 East 59th St., New York, NY, 10022

Synopsis: 

Godlight Theatre Company (1984, A Clockwork Orange, Fahrenheit 451, Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five) celebrates its 20th Anniversary with the world premiere adaptation of James Dickey's novel Deliverance, directed by Godlight's Artistic Director Joe Tantalo. In this heart stopping tour-de-force, a mildly adventurous canoe trip explodes into a nightmare of horror and murder. Men stalk and are stalked by other men and the treacherous river becomes a graveyard for those without the strength or the luck to survive.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Deliverance

    When Male Bonding Along a River Goes Brutally Wrong

    Alexis Soloski

    October 23, 2014: Four urbanites plan a relaxing holiday on a Georgia river. They’ll drink beers, play guitar, shoot the occasional doe. Well, leave it to sniper fire and rape to spoil a country weekend. Godlight Theater Company, a troupe committed to bringing books to the stage, has given James Dickey’s 1970 novel, Deliverance, the theatrical treatment. (It differs from the better-known film in several respects. Don’t expect any pig squealing.) Performed by seven actors on an intimate stage just 12 feet by 12 feet, it’s the kind of backwoods saga that will make you lavishly thankful for the comforts of concrete and taxis and takeout Chinese. If this is a story of a really bad vacation (someone should post a strongly worded warning on TripAdvisor’s Georgia board), it is more broadly about a crisis in masculinity. It’s because the survivalist Lewis (Gregory Konow) fears that easy living will make him soft that he talks his pals into joining him on a canoe trip, a way to stave off “the long declining routine of our lives.”

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF Deliverance

    Big themes of life and death come to a small stage at 59E59 Theaters

    Pete Hempstead

    October 22, 2014: James Dickey's Deliverance, a brutal tale of survival, murder, and ethical dilemmas, takes place on a raging river in the vast landscape of the Georgia Appalachians. It's an enormous setting that the 1972 film version, starring Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds, was able to capture. Godlight Theatre Company has gone in a different direction with a smart, insightful production at 59E59 Theaters by channeling the book's vast natural backdrop and big themes onto a small stage and focusing on the interior journeys of its characters. That challenge might seem as daunting as braving the rapids, but director Joe Tantalo and his excellent cast and crew have succeeded in adapting the novel — not the movie — for the stage. Don't come expecting to hear "Dueling Banjos," but do come to see a theatrically inventive retelling that's true to the original story.

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  • ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY REVIEW OF Deliverance

    James Dickey's Deliverance

    Jason Clark

    October 21, 2014: How do you take one of pop culture's most site-specific nature narratives (where an actual river plays a role, no less) and transform it within a round black-box theater space? James Dickey's Deliverance, the latest foray into the unstageable-turned-credible for the award-winning Godlight Theatre Company, proves to further this Off Broadway troupe's knack for challenging the boundaries of adaptation, even if in the end it doesn't quite unsettle you as much as you'd expect. In a smart move, the creators base the play less on John Boorman's 1972 film, which made supreme manly men of Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight, than on Dickey's 1970 novel, right down to the title. (You get a much earthier, different ''Dueling Banjos'' here.) The story, though, is the same: A divergent quartet of men decide to take a Southern sojourn via canoes through some dangerous backwoods territory, and end up prey to the locals after the aborted capture of two of the quartet.

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  • STAGE AND CINEMA REVIEW OF Deliverance

    JAMES DICKEY’S DELIVERANCE, Godlight Theatre Company at 59E59

    Dmitry Zvonkov

    October 21, 2014: Imagine John Boorman’s film Deliverance staged, “panties” scene and all, as a piece of dinner theater, with all the performers looking very serious and projecting their voices, the way they believe real men should, as they mime handling things like paddles and bows, and describe scenes whose drama is supposed to be visual, like climbing up a cliff face or sneaking up on an enemy. Now subtract the dinner, put yourself before a fog-filled bare black-box stage with a reflective black floor, and you have imagined the unfortunate experiment that is Godlight Theatre Company’s presentation of James Dickey’s Deliverance, adapted by Sean Tyler, with Joe Tantalo directing. Though the show, with its title, appears to go out of its way to disassociate itself from the 1972 film, in the end it is, for all intents and purposes, the playing out of that movie, minus all those things that were so essential to the motion picture’s artistic success—recall the magical guitar-banjo duel, so virtuosic in the film, so pedestrian in Mr. Tantalo’s version.

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  • LIGHTING AND SOUND AMERICA REVIEW OF Deliverance

    Theatre in Review: James Dickey's Deliverance

    David Barbour

    October 21, 2014: Deliverance, the play: Sounds like a joke, right? If you've ever read James Dickey's harrowing 1970 novel or the stomach-churning 1972 film adaptation, you will rightfully wonder what the theatre can bring to this action-packed narrative about four suburban husbands whose canoeing expedition is wrecked by homosexual rape and a trio of murders. Long sections of the novel, especially those involving riding the rapids, would seem to be virtually unstageable -- nor should there be any feasible way of evoking the feeling of being lost in a hostile wilderness. But do not underestimate the talents of director Joe Tantalo and his colleagues at Godlight Theatre Company. The company specializes in adapting prose works to the stage -- past productions have included 1984, Slaughterhouse Five, and, of all things, In the Heat of the Night -- and all involved have found a plausible and highly imaginative way of stylizing Dickey's narrative. They prove that you don't need to spill a drop of stage blood to spread terror in the theatre.

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