Review Round-up: Critics Fail to Serenade Louie
Wilson’s four-hander paints a portrait of two suburban American couples. Friends since college, Carl and Alex, are struggling to deal with the harsh realities of adulthood as they enter their thirties. Disillusioned by work and fighting to keep their marriages alive, they’re desperately trying to make sense of it all.
The cast comprises American American Jason Butler Harner, making his UK stage debut as Alex, alongside Irishman Jason O'Mara as Carl, and Britons Charlotte Emmerson and Geraldine Somerville as their wives. The production is designed by Peter McKintosh and, following the Donmar, tours to Salford, Leicester and Truro.
While Serenading Louie found a firm fan in Whatsonstage.com’s Michael Coveney, who greeted it “a modern American classic” that is “a pleasure to discover”, other overnight critics sang a much different tune. Despite echoes of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and comparisons with Edward Albee, Alan Ayckbourn and Tennessee Williams, Lanford Wilson’s “deracinated”, “vague”, “dreary and desperate” work was widely viewed as a poor relation to those of other, greater playwrights. There was, however, high praise for the “truly heroic acting” of the company.