Tuesday, November 3, 2015

MISERY on Broadway

MISERY, adapted by William Goldman from Stephen King's bestseller begins with a simple, unassuming house. Snow is lightly falling. There is no grandiose opening of the curtain. The lights at the Broadhurst simply dim as the house rotates to reveal a sickly, exhausted Paul Sheldon (Bruce Willis). Annie Wilkes (Laurie Metcalf) is taking care of him like any friend or family member would, that is until we learn that she is the novelist's "Number One Fan" who also happened to rescue him from a near-fatal car accident. Annie shares her favorite memories of reading Paul's famous "Misery" series while helping him recover from his injuries, but soon he realizes that he is less of a patient and more of a hostage. When Annie finds Paul's latest work, a piece which Annie deems "vulgar," he realizes how truly demented she is. She forces him to burn the book. When Paul attempts to escape, Annie will stop at nothing to keep him there, taking measures that will turn your stomach, until he agrees to write the final installment of the Misery series. Annie even threatens to kill him if he does not complete the final Misery book with the necessary rewrites until it is to her liking. Using a typewriter without the letter "N," he is literally writing for his life.

In the penultimate scene, Annie and Paul reach their final confrontation and only one of them makes it out of the quiet Colorado house. Stephen King is known for his suspense, but this production lacks the energy of the source material. There is no "edge of your seat" quality that you would hope for from King, something that the film did so brilliantly. It's certainly exciting to see stars onstage, but with so many fantastic pieces on Broadway this season, this does not top my list.