‘Grace’ on Broadway: Faith, Doubt, Murder… and Redemption!

Former MN seminary student, Craig Wright, darkly explores a theology of grace, not in the pulpit, but on the stage. Four murder-suicide victims rise from the dead to explain the paradox of how a ‘Christian’ businessman with a vision for Gospel-based hotels sporting the slogan ‘Where would Jesus Stay,’ loses his faith while everybody around him is finding theirs.  Three reviews. (Spoiler alert: The Times review gives away more than the others.)

 

Faith explored with ‘Grace’ on Broadway

by Elysa Gardner, in USA TODAY

An expert cast illuminates Craig Wright’s darkly beautiful play.

Paul Rudd and Ed Asner in ‘Grace’

The word “faith” gets thrown around so loosely and cynically in public discourse — particularly at this stage in our election cycle — that it can be shocking when someone pauses to actually ask what it means, and why it has such power to inspire and incite.

These are questions at the pounding, probing heart of Grace (* * * 1/2 out of four), Craig Wright’s beautiful, vexing study of two very different but both profoundly damaged men and and a woman who is drawn to both of them.

In the play’s first Broadway production, which opened Thursday at the Cort Theatre, Paul Rudd is cast as Steve, who brings his wife to Florida on, literally, a prayer. The couple, who met in a Bible study group, have traveled from Minnesota to fulfill Steve’s vision of launching a chain of gospel hotels. Never mind that they’re flat broke, and their mysterious sole investor hasn’t paid them a cent in nearly a month.

“I’m not a knower, I’m a believer,” Steve tells Sam, their next-door neighbor, who has troubles of his own, having recently lost his fiancee in a car wreck that also left his face disfigured. A NASA scientist with an acerbic sense of humor, played by Michael Shannon, Steve appears to be Sam’s polar opposite; but they have a few things in common, including an affection for Sara, Steve’s sweet, sexy wife.

In fact, none of the characters in Grace — who also include a grizzled exterminator named Karl, drolly played by Ed Asner — are as different, or as simple, as they seem on paper. Wright, known to TV fans for his work on shows such as Six Feet Under and Lost, imbues them with a longing, both hilarious and tragic, to make sense of the world — that is, to know things that neither religion nor quantum physics can ever tell them conclusively…

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Craig Wright’s thoughtful ‘Grace’ makes an auspicious debut on Broadway

The Associated Press in The Washington Post

Michael Shannon with Kate Arrington, “we trust in his mistrust so deeply that it hurts.”

NEW YORK — The play “Grace” opens at the end, which is to say a final, terrible scene that leaves no loose ends. Someone is holding a gun. There are bodies on the stage.

How things ever got to this awful place is the subject of Craig Wright’s deeply thoughtful black comedy, which has a crackerjack cast under the impressive direction of Dexter Bullard. Somehow, as the cast builds back up to the already seen final scene during the course of the play’s life, the suspense builds.

Wright has bitten off quite a lot with just four actors and a script that runs a little over 90 minutes. What’s it about? Well, the nature of faith, forgiveness and human frailty. But it’s not nearly as preachy and heavy-handed as that sounds…

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‘Grace,’ With Paul Rudd and Michael Shannon, at Cort Theater

By  in The New York Times

Kate Arrington and Paul Rudd as wife and husband, and new Floridians, in Craig Wright’s “Grace.”

Even standing stock still, this guy vibrates with discomfort. It’s as if he’s paralyzed by cramps, not so much in his body but in his mind. Sam, who’s been scarred all over by life, has come to mistrust the world. And because Sam is played by Michael Shannon, we trust in his mistrust so deeply that it hurts. By the way, his instincts aren’t wrong.

Anyone doubting that Mr. Shannon is our reigning champion in embodying uneasy American manhood (well, him and Joaquin Phoenix) need only check out his portrait of the doomed Sam in Craig Wright’s “Grace,” which opened on Thursday night at the Cort Theater. This cool, strangulated little essay of a play, which also stars the very able Paul Rudd, deals with really big subjects seldom addressed onstage these days. (Its title refers not to a woman’s name but the theological concept…

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