The Parisian Woman – Behind the Scenes of Politics As Usual

The main reason to see this reworked 2013 play is, if curious, Uma Thurman. This is not to say the actress is brilliant, or that veterans Josh Lucas and Blair Brown don’t outshine her, but rather that she rises admirably to her first stage appearance and is, as always, a pleasure to look at. It can’t hurt that Chloe fits the succession of confident, calculating beauties with which Thurman established her reputation. This particular role might’ve been written for her; the character’s awareness of power and sexuality is pervasive.

Una Thurman, Blair Brown, Phillipa Soo

Chloe (Uma Thurman) is the Washington, D.C. leisure class wife of Tom (the always excellent Josh Lucas), a successful tax lawyer with seemingly sudden aspirations towards judgeship on the court of appeals. Though most of his clients are Republicans, Tom and Chloe remain quietly liberal. They have – spoiler alert – an open marriage.

Peter, a British banker friend of the couple is Chloe’s latest besotted lover. The completely credible Marton Csokas manages to make jealous apoplexy touching. We see Chloe’s boredom. Bristling at Peter’s increasing possessiveness, she’s withdrawing. Despite successive dalliances, it’s clear Chloe and Tom love and understand one another. His learning about Peter hardly ruffles conversation.

Uma Thurman, Blair Brown

A second affair is kept secret for several reasons, not the least of which is plot device. Later, it becomes instrumental in securing what the couple respectively desires most – mid life purpose, Chloe’s in her mate’s career, his, ostensibly in affecting social justice (one wonders about his commitment). To the author’s credit, there are several well placed surprises.

Also enmeshed in Tom and Chloe’s ambitions are Republican politico/hostess Jeanette (Blair Brown), incipient head of the Federal Reserve and her Harvard Law educated daughter Rebecca (a sympathetic Phillipa Soo), who has her own Democratic, governmental trajectory. Brown has a helluva time with her portrayal of the kind of old school conservative dame who’s under the delusion that our president will eventually tow party line. A two-handed dramatic scene towards the end of the play is a highpoint.

Phillipa Soo, Uma Thurman

Willimon has written a small piece featuring mechanisms of control in politics as usual. Derogatory jokes about our so-called government could be better integrated, but then this isn’t about Democrats vs Republicans.

Director Pam McKinnon keeps her characters naturally moving and Thurman seductive lolling around Derek McLane’s tasteful, upper crust Set. Actors listen; timing is good.

Jane Greenwood’s Costumes flatter the men more than Thurman, though everything looks character specific.

Photos by Matthew Murphy
Opening: Uma Thurman, Josh Lucas, Marton Csokas

The Parisian Woman by Beau Willimon
Directed by Pam McKinnon
Hudson Theatre 
141 West 44th Street

About Alix Cohen (789 Articles)
Alix Cohen is the recipient of eight New York Press Club Awards for work published on this venue. Her writing history began with poetry, segued into lyrics and took a commercial detour while holding executive positions in product development, merchandising, and design. A cultural sponge, she now turns her diverse personal and professional background to authoring pieces about culture/the arts with particular interest in artists/performers and entrepreneurs. Theater, music, art/design are lifelong areas of study and passion. She is a voting member of Drama Desk and Drama League. Alix’s professional experience in women’s fashion fuels writing in that area. Besides Woman Around Town, the journalist writes for Cabaret Scenes, Broadway World, and Theater Pizzazz. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine, Times Square Chronicles, and ifashionnetwork. She lives in Manhattan. Of course.