The play was greeted enthusiastically when advance tickets sales went through the roof, largely on David’s reputation for comedy.
Beside creating and writing for “Seinfeld,” the most popular sit-com in television history, he starred in his own highly popular HBO show “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
But critics have failed to see the humor in the story about two sons who fight over their father’s personal possessions and must decide who will care for his widow, while he lies on his deathbed.
The play suffered its most telling blow from The New York Times, which has the power to make or break Broadway shows. In this case it may be break.
“Fish gives us archetypes as old as commedia dell’arte and one-liners as old as the Catskills. But credible, breathing, present-tense characters are nowhere to be found,” writes Times theater critic Ben Brantley.
“Strangely, for a man who has done as much as anyone to redefine the tone of television sitcoms during the past few decades, Mr. David has written a play that, four-letter language aside, feels like a throwback to the mid-1960s, when Neil Simon was king of the punch line,” he added.
Sometimes, when the Times zigs on a play, its two tabloid competitors, out of rivalry, perhaps, will zag.
In this case, The New York Daily News, seemed much more upbeat.
“The best thing about the humor is that it’s also unembellished and played without irony. These are just people, often very obnoxious people, lurching through life and oddball dilemmas,” wrote critic Joe Dziemianowicz.
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal called Fish in the Dark “more in the nature of a well-renumerated personal appearance than an actual play,” which may explain more than anything the success of the piece.
Theatergoers seem to be more than happy to see David do his shtick, live on stage, even if the play doesn’t quite live up to his comedic reputation.
In addition, the show booked $13.5 million in pre-sales, and the Corte Theater has been sold out every night. Tickets are selling from $133 to as much as $423 a seat.
That seems to say it all about the show. As for the critics… not so much.
In addition to David, the cast includes Hollywood actresses Rita Wilson and Rosie Perez.u’
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