“Patriots” the Broadway Play Review

Patriots the Broadway play is a mildly difficult, slightly conflicting show for American audiences.

On one hand, created by Peter Morgan of The Crown notoriety, it is an engaging, entertaining political thriller filled with tension, historical accuracy, and palace intrigue. And the acting is superb, world-class, and at times mesmerizing.

Michael Stuhlbarg, one of America’s best character actors, deserves the Tony nomination he picked up for Patriots. It was the only Tony nomination for this play, which some would see as a snub, considering it was more lauded last year in London. And that is where the problem comes into focus.

Does anyone in America right now want to watch the coming of age, origin story of Vladimir Putin? Sure, Will Keen’s acting is great but it’s not enough to overcome the mortal flaw of this play: Putin origin story = wrong time, wrong place. That is surely one reason the play is struggling on Broadway, with empty seats, and easy to win lottery availability. However, beyond that slight conflict, Patriots is still a winner.

Patriots the Play Review

Patriots follows the story of Boris Berezovsky (Stuhlberg), a Russian businessman and oligarch who rose to political power as an advisor to Boris Yeltsin. We see the rise of the billionaire oligarchs as Russian businessmen push post-Soviet Russia into a pro-Western business model of government. Berezovsky sees in Putin a puppet that will listen to the oligarchs, do their bidding.

Why does he see Putin as a puppet? We never quite get that answered adequately enough and it is the character’s mortal flaw. So Berezovsky uses his influence with Yeltsin to choose Putin as Prime Minister which eventually leads to his rise as president. And, as they say, the rest is history…

Patriots hits its theme

Patriots thematically successfully draws the parallels to power grabbing in any country. The political chess match that is politics is as Western as it is in the communist east. America or any country is closer to an authoritarian ruler than its ‘laws’ may assure its citizens.

And the story of Patriots is compelling and captivating enough to keep you glued to the seat.

Although the play has its flaws, we do recommend seeing it.

Patriots is playing at the Barrymore Theatre, 243 West 47th Street, NYC.

For more info and tickets click here.

side note — 

Netflix produced this play.

Netflix is producing plays on Broadway now? Who knew?

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J.J. Colagrande

Has written about Miami culture for twenty years, first with The Miami Herald, then Miami New Times and Huffington Post. He's the publisher of The Jitney and a full-time professor at Miami Dade College.