A fantastic revival of Suzan-Lori Parks’ award-winning two-hander, Topdog/Underdog just opened at the Golden Theater. Press are raving about the superb direction, phenomenal acting or their appreciation for how well this 20 year-old play has stood the test of time.
Variety Review of Topdog/Underdog
It is a testament to the acuity of Suzan-Lori Parks’ imagination and powers of perception that “Topdog/Underdog” feels as vital and electric today as it did 20 years ago. The first Broadway revival, which opened at the Golden Theatre tonight, crackles like a live wire — an American fable with its finger shoved in a socket. Throw in career-high performances from Corey Hawkins and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and it is a theatrical event in the most essential sense, in that it demands to be seen here and now. … On the page, Parks is known for her liberal, almost sculptural, use of blank space. Under the direction of Kenny Leon, this production fills them with swagger and heart.
Deadline Review of Topdog/Underdog
Twenty years after it first arrived to shake up a complacent Broadway and make a Pulitzer Prize winner of its author Suzan-Lori Parks, Topdog/Underdog has lost none of its vitality and power and cunning. Director Kenny Leon proves that in a vibrant new production opening tonight at the Golden Theatre. Stars Corey Hawkins (The Walking Dead, Tony nominee for Six Degrees of Separation) and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Watchmen) tear into this play with a force that captivates from start to finish. Like the Three-card Monte sharks they portray, the actors are in full control, pacing their game and teasing out buried histories, secrets and longings with all the grace of a master illusionist. … Give all credit to the playwright, the director and this cast that when fate comes calling in this fine revival of a 20-year-old play, it’ll still steal your breath away.
The New York Times Review of Topdog/Underdog
How wonderful to experience again, in the hilarious, harrowing and superbly acted Broadway revival that opened on Thursday at the Golden Theater, Parks’s fearlessness. … Leon stages these scenes for all they’re worth, setting them up like vaudeville turns and (with the help of Dede Ayite’s punchline costumes) building them to quick comic climaxes. … Even so, this “Topdog/Underdog” is never in danger of being dragged down. For the most part, Leon makes sure that the actors keep Parks’s armamentarium of ideas airborne. The ending loses none of its explosive shock even if we’ve understood from the start that the odds in a hustle are always with the house.
The New York Post Review of Topdog/Underdog
Director Kenny Leon has helmed a sharp, focused revival of the 2002 drama, with a pair of cracking performances that never let up. …
Abdul-Mateen, known by many as Cal Abar on “Watchmen,” is assured and easily charismatic in his hot-tempered Broadway debut. He has a mastery of what it means to be the younger sibling, the underdog, in how he bouncily claws away at his brother’s perceived superiority. … As Lincoln, Hawkins (from the “In The Heights” film, “BlacKkKlansman“) is weathered by the world — bruised, tired and punishing, but also grandfatherly for someone so young. (Maybe it’s the fake Abe beard.) When he furiously deals three-card monte, the actor drives the speeches with Nascar adrenaline. Hawkins is thrilling.