Previewed 13 March 2014, Opened 24 March 2014, Closed 24 May 2014 at the Old Vic Theatre in London
The West End Premiere of Jon Robin Baitz's new play Other Desert Cities in London starring Sinead Cusack and Clare Higgins and presented 'in-the-round'.
Brooke Wyeth returns to the family home in Palm Springs in Christmas 2004 for the first time in six years with some incendiary news for her Republican parents Polly and Lyman, her brother Trip and her recovering alcoholic aunt Silda. She is about to publish a memoir about her family, exposing a pivotal moment in their painful and explosive past, her actions threatening to push fractured family relations to a point beyond repair. A fierce and funny drama deftly exploring family politics, love, loss and redemption the play was originally staged at the Lincoln Centre Theatre in New York before transferring to the Booth Theatre on Broadway for six month run in 2011.
The cast for Other Desert Cities in London features Sinead Cusack as 'Polly Wyeth', Peter Egan as 'Lyman Wyeth', Clare Higgins as 'Silda Grauman', Martha Plimpton as 'Brooke Wyeth' and Daniel Lapaine as 'Trip Wyeth'. Directed by Lindsay Posner with designs by Robert Innes Hopkins, lighting by Peter Mumford, sound by Christopher Shutt and music by Michael Bruce.
When this production opened the critic Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph said that "within minutes this outstanding play had me completely hooked. It is often laugh-out-loud funny, but it is also a bruising family drama and one that springs surprises to the very end," adding that "Lindsay Posner's impeccably judged production, staged in the round and sleekly designed by Robert Innes-Hopkins, finds all the drama's strengths with the help of a terrific cast." Michael Billington in the Guardian described how "Baitz's play adroitly meshes private and public affairs and is expertly performed," offering "a compelling portrait of both the nuclear family and a fissured nation." In the Independent, Paul Taylor hailed it as being an "superlatively well-acted production" while Dominic Maxwell writing in the Times thought that "despite a brilliant cast led by Sinéad Cusack and Martha Plimpton, it comes across as a moderate play fancying itself as a great one.... When the family's secret finally comes out, it's interesting but not devastating."
"The parents, Polly and Lyman, are old-guard Hollywood elite, and chums of Ron and Nancy Reagan. When their daughter Brooke discloses that she's written a memoir about the death of her older brother, emotional and political fissures open up in the family. There's some speechifying towards the end, but for the most part, the drama and Lindsay Posner's production are sharper than a vodka stinger. And Sinéad Cusack delivers more than Barbara Bush shtick: when Polly's granite composure finally gives, it's like watching Mount Rushmore crack." The Sunday Times
"The Wyeth family have everything going for them: they're witty, rich, and have a big pad in Palm Springs, California, where they've all got together for Christmas. Dad was once a film star, his wife Polly is a former screenwriter who knocked out MGM movies with her now alcoholic sister Silda. Set in 2004, all looks set fair for a nice seasonal reunion until a family ghost leaps out of the closet... It's a terrific cast. Sinéad Cusack is fabulous as the not-ahair-out-of-place tyrannosaurus of a mom. Clare Higgins is her alcoholic slob of a sister. Peter Egan is the weedy, one-time matinee idol father and Martha Plimpton the suicidal daughter with the menacing manuscript. If Jon Robin Baitz's play is not entirely plausible, this family drama does what few do: it keeps you on the edge of your seat." The Mail on Sunday
"Sinead Cusack and a bewigged Peter Egan happen to be very good at essaying the kind of poised, perma-tanned, dead-eyed couple that anyone who has ever visited a golf club in California will know only too well... If there is anyone who can't twig that this is a fullscale assault on the Reagans and everything they stood for, there is a big full-page picture of Ronnie and Nancy in the programme. The couple are attacked personally and the Republicans generally. Needless to say, there is no mention of anything that doesn't fit into the writer's world view, such as President Reagan's part in ending the Cold War. Lindsay Posner directs with a grim sense of determination, but the two and a half hours of agitprop passes excruciatingly slowly." The Sunday Telegraph
Other Desert Cities in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 13 March 2014, opened on 24 March 2014 and closed on 24 May 2014.