Based on the terrifying novel by Stephen King, Misery has hit the Broadway stage with none other than Bruce Willis in the role of the tortured author, and Laurie Metcalf playing his number one fan, Annie Wilkes. The stage version of King’s classic horror was adapted for the stage by William Goldman.
For those who don’t know the story, writer Paul Sheldon is badly injured in a car accident while driving in the snow and is “rescued” by Annie Wilkes and taken back to her farm. It turns out that Wilkes is, as said above, his number one fan, so initially Sheldon is grateful for the rescue.
— Playbill (@playbill) November 15, 2015
While Sheldon is convalescing in her home, his rescuer reads his latest novel and is horrified to find out the author has killed off her favorite character, Misery Chastain. Things turn bad as the story progresses and as pointed out by the New York Post, the worst torture scene of the whole novel is alive and well in the stage version.
Judging from the video below, the sets are extremely impressive and realistic, so it would have been quite the experience for the audience.
The show has opened on Broadway to mixed reviews, with many saying that Bruce Willis is embarrassing himself in the role. They say he appears a little stiff, but as pointed out by the New York Post, Willis in his role as Paul Sheldon spends most of the performance either in a wheelchair or in bed.
As for his co-star, Laurie Metcalf, she does a lot of heavy lifting throughout the play, and many reviews say her portrayal of the scary Annie Wilkes is very convincing. Together with the ominous lighting in the farmhouse, along with thunder and lightning flashing at the windows, the terror reportedly builds quite nicely.
Broadway World quotes critics as praising Metcalf for her role in Stephen King’s Misery and for the most part dissing Bruce Willis’ performance. Michael Dale calls the show a “marvelously entertaining production” and speaks of Metcalf’s “unbending commitment to honesty, even in the most heightened of melodramatic situations.”
Speaking of Bruce Willis, Linda Winer of Newsday said he is “totally convincing in his first play since his early off-Broadway days in the ’80s” while others, who have possibly not read the book or seen the movie, complain of his wooden performance.
Joe Dziemianowicz of the New York Daily News says the normally lovable, wise-cracking Willis, so well known for the Die Hard films and the television series, Moonlighting, comes off as deadly dull in the stage version of Stephen King’sMisery.
Misery review – Bruce Willis sighs hard in stage chiller based on Stephen King’s bestseller https://t.co/RQ2lnH7GuJ
— The Guardian (@guardian) November 16, 2015
Michael Giltz of the Huffington Post said Bruce Willis “struggles to project to the back of the theater” saying he delivers almost every line of the play in a “low-key, off-hand manner.”
Matt Windman of amNY compared the stage production to the film version, saying that while the movie was chilling, the Broadway production comes off “as a psycho version of “The Odd Couple,” with audience members laughing throughout at Annie’s apparent insanity.” He went on to say Bruce Willis “displays little energy or presence, which easily allows Metcalf to overtake the show.”
So while the New York Post describes the experience as “popcorn theater” and a “carnival ride that piles on the twists and thrills,” other critics were not so impressed.
If any readers have been to the Broadway production of Misery please let us know your reactions to the performances by both Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf in the comment section below.
[Image screen capture via YouTube]