You know I never see a production or read about a show I’m about to review before they open. This time, however, I fell prey to a friend who suggested that we should go see Misery the 1990 movie that starred Kathy Bates and James Caan before we see the show which was scheduled to open at the Broadhurst Theater on Broadway and star Laurie Metcalf and Bruce Willis. That was a big mistake on my part since the Oscar winning role played by Ms. Bates was so over the top that no one could come close (and believe me Laurie tried) to that performance.
So, forgetting that, I’m going to forget the movie and say this production, played out on a terrific revolving set by David Korins, is really quite good, that Bruce is almost perfect as the bedridden prisoner and that Laurie does her best as the woman who first saves his life and then tries to kill him.
In case you don’t remember the book by Stephen King, or that movie I’m not going to mention again, the action begins before the opening curtain when Paul Sheldon a famous writer of books with Misery in the titles (that’s Bruce) drives off the road into a snowdrift and is rescued, somewhat improbably, by Annie Wilkes (that’s Laurie). She apparently is a huge fan of Paul, nurtures him back to health abetted by some not so good blue pills, and as time goes by it becomes more evident that she has other plans for Paul. That’s enough about the plot but if you ever see this show or the movie or read the book, you will probably have a scary good time.
Misery is a Broadway show that you should see especially if you know absolutely nothing about the plot much less what happens. Mr. Willis, rolling around in a wheelchair through the house like he was driving a moped just has a good time throughout. You really believe he has two fractured legs and lots of other problems and he doesn’t, thank God, overplay the part like he does in some of his movies. Ms. Metcalf, as I said before, tries her best with a totally impossible part that really can’t be properly addressed on a Broadway stage.
Misery certainly is not miserable and it deserves to be seen.