The Parisian Woman

Review: Uma Thurman Goes To Washington In “The Parisian Woman”

Timeliness and a talented cast can't rescue Beau Willimon's drama from heavy-handedness.

Uma Thurman makes her Broadway debut in The Parisian Woman as a Washington D.C. socialite named Chloe, the object of everyone’s affection as she twirls them around her precious fingers and keeps movin’ on up. Chloe’s husband Tom (Josh Lucas) is a tax lawyer aiming to be a judge, despite a distinct lack of experience, something we’re told is all too common in the Trump era. (The President is bashed throughout, to audience titters.)

The Parisian Woman

Chloe is a fascinating gal who pretends to only be interested in beauty and culture—she’s “the Parisian woman” because she once followed a hot guy to Paris, where they fought and had makeup sex a lot—but though she definitely has some heart and decency lurking inside, she’s not above using her wiles to advance hubby’s political position (so he can do good for society, of course). In the process, her appetites run across the boards—yes, there’s a lesbian kiss—and she ultimately tries to get the most out of her infidelities.

The play—directed by Pam MacKinnon—is by House of Cards showrunner Beau Willimon, who was inspired by Henri Becque’s 1885 play, La Parisienne. It’s been outfitted with up-to-date references (Twitter, Charlottesville) which will continually be updated as real-life news hits us, and it’s peppered with lots of talk, including gross-generalization jokes about how “Men are always like this” or “Bankers do such and such.” Heavy-handedness seeps in when Tom laments, “I’m a parasite… We own this townhouse and we wear nice clothes. So what? Doesn’t it feel empty?”

The Parisian Woman

Fortunately, there’s also occasional insight into human (and political) nature, as a wisecrack reveals more than a facile observation. As for whether a same-sex secret can potentially ruin a Democrat’s career in 2017, I’ll leave that up to discussion.

Tony winner Blair Brown adds verve as a powerful woman who becomes the object of some serious machinations, and the striking Thurman acts in a committed fashion as she carries the brunt of the play. But I think Pulp Fiction:The Musical would have been a better idea.

Michael Musto is the long running, award-winning entertainment journalist and TV commentator.
@mikeymusto