I don't know what's up with me, The New York Times, and plays at the American Airlines Theatre. I saw 2009 Tony non-nominee Hedda Gabler when it was at the theater and felt that it didn't deserve the harshness in Ben Brantley's review. I mean, it wasn't the greatest Hedda Gabler imaginable, but it was all right.
And now I have similar feelings about Sara Krulwich's review of 2009 non-nominee The Philanthropist Hedda Gabler's successor. If you read her review, you'll see that while she had understandable praise for the costuming and the performances of Jonathan Cake, Anna Madeley, and Steven Weber, she ultimately laid into the production for its "sheer dullness" and Matthew Broderick's turn in the title role.
My feelings about the production are similar to the ones I have about Hedda Gabler. I'd agree that Broderick's interpretation is problematic but I still enjoyed the play, including the performances of the aforementioned thespians as well as Jennifer Mudge and Tate Ellington, who round out the cast along with Samantha Soule, who does fine subtle work being reached over by Cake. (See it and you'll see what I mean.) I was intrigued by the play's quirky structure as it unfolded and I enjoyed the surprises and the humor, which includes some clever punning. There were some dull moments, but overall I found it worthwhile. I was also intrigued by similarities between characters in The Philanthropist and Hedda Gabler as well as similarities between The Philanthropist and the 2009 Tony-nominated production The Norman Conquests. Plus I love what the play has to say about...cigarettes!