33 Variations – Theater Review
A mother coming to terms with her daughter. A composer coming to terms with his genius. And, even though they’re separated by 200 years, these two people share an obsession that might, even just for a moment, make time stand still.
In the year where Broadway is just chock a block of new plays with big name casts and key names. “33 Variations” stands out as being well written, well acted, and really about something. This is Jane Fonda’s return to Broadway after 50 some years, and she looks terrific. The play is based on the fact that Beethoven wrote 33 variations on a seemingly mediocre waltz, and no one has ever figured out why. Jane Fonda is a woman with Lou Gehrig’s disease who goes to Bonn to go through Beethoven’s notes, and see if she could sort it out. On some level, this is a very scholarly work, but on another level is about redemption, curiosity, life, death, love, and probably anything else you can throw in, including pig’s knuckles. The cast is uniformly good, including Colin Hanks, who’s proud dad was in the audience the night I saw it. Her old Broadway cohort Robert Redford supported Jane. So this is a pretty glittering cast as well as the audience. I really enjoy this. I guess I’m healthy enough to think that it was very well written, very well acted, and had something meaningful to talk about in terms of life, death, moms and daughters, and as I said pig’s knuckles. Four stars.