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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at the Music Box

By Matt Windman

  Jimmi Simpson and Bruce McKenzie/Ph:JT Macmillan

It probably wouldn't hurt to pick up an advanced degree in electrochemistry, patent law, business ethics or telecommunications prior to attending Aaron Sorkin's new play The Farnsworth Invention, which explores the politics surrounding the race to invent the television in 1929.

But have no fear. Just like Peter Morgan's Frost/Nixon, Sorkin's drama is a fast-paced, compelling, extraordinarily well-staged ensemble drama rooted in twentith century American history that will likely appeal to a large audience.

Whereas various characters in Frost/Nixon took turns playing narrator to the audience, Farnsworth Invention is narrated entirely by media mogul David Sarnoff, played by Hank Azaria, as he looks back on the race to invent an unthinkable new device called television. In particular, he recalls how a self-taught Idaho farm boy named Philo T. Farnsworth, played by Jimmi Simpson, nearly beat him to the finish line.

Tackling a plot that revolves around loopholes in the patent system and photoelectron theory must not have been easy. But Sorkin has endowed his characters with crackling dialogue, sympathetic emotions and risky character choices.

There is so much movement in Des McAnuff's(Jersey Boys, Tommy ) production that a choreographer is also credited. At a length of merely two hours, The Farnsworth Invention is a truly gripping, even somewhat inspiring, experience.



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