Brokeback Mountain Review

Brokeback Mountain Review: An Emotionally Charged Masterpiece

31st May, 2023 | By Isabel Williams

Brokeback Mountain review is out!

Soho Place’s starry new production of Brokeback Mountain is a story you likely already know - but that doesn’t make it any less devastating to watch. The adaptation, written by Ashley Robinson and featuring Hollywood darlings Lucas Hedges as Ennis Delmar and Mike Faist as Jack Twist, hews closely to the film (and before that, the New Yorker short story) of the same name. On a sheepherding job in the mountains, Ennis and Jack ignite a passionate love affair that will last them twenty years, but Ennis’s fear and self-denial ultimately bring Jack’s dreams of a shared future to a crashing halt. The show makes a crucial alteration to the story’s framing with the addition of Paul Hickey as an older, feebler Ennis, watching transfixed as his life crumbles before his eyes. Though a tad Scroogelike, the phantom Ennis lends Brokeback Mountain a chilling hue of regret, challenging any inclination to read the play as a straightforward love story.

Mike Faist, who recently earned rave reviews as Riff in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, delivers an electric turn as Jack Twist, with a hawklike gaze and unbridled energy that suits Jack’s love of dangerous rodeo events. Lucas Hedges is gruff and downcast as Ennis Delmar, but a locked jaw and haunted eyes convey a deeper struggle beneath the surface. The two make a more youthful pairing than their screen counterparts Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, and the opportunities for theatricality suit Faist’s Jack better than Hedges’s Ennis. Still, their chemistry onstage is undeniable, even with clever staging from director James Butterell that merely implies the film’s more explicit scenes.

Brokeback Mountain Review: Final Verdict ★★★★★

Dan Gillespie Sells, the composer behind the film’s sweetly sad score, devises a slew of country ballads that are performed live throughout the show; while not a musical, the production is well served by balladeer Eddi Reader’s soulful drawl and the accompaniment of a full band. Tom Pye’s weatherbeaten set and costume design - a tangle of flannels, canvas and dirty sheets - evokes the rough charm of the American West, and Soho Place’s theatre-in-the-round offers plenty of opportunity for a thrill when Hedges or Faist stalk through the aisles. Fans of the two stars will find as much to love in this sensitive, wistful production as fans of the original film, and certainly, all will shed more than a few tears by the end of its 90-minute runtime.

About the Author

Isabel Williams
I first fell in love with the theatre during a preschool production of Caps For Sale, in which I treasured my single lineSince then, I’ve discovered an even greater love: writing about the productions that challenge me, surprise me, and bring me the utmost joy, in the hopes that others will seek out theatre with the power to enrich their lives and inspire wonder.