The Oscar winner delivers a tour de force performance as King Philippe V of Spain, whose sanity hangs on the voice of the castrato Farinelli.
There’s not much to Claire van Kampen’s simplistic script for “Farinelli and the King,” the play now running on Broadway after premiering at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. But with a lead performance by Oscar and Tony winner Mark Rylance in full sail, it’s enough.
With his courtiers plotting to depose the mad king of Spain (Rylance), his cool and canny wife, Queen Isabella (the enchanting Melody Grove), comes to his rescue. The Queen has engaged the services of the famed Italian castrato, Farinelli (Sam Crane, the soul of refinement), to soothe the monarch’s fevered brain.
Left to his own inclinations, King Philippe would be happy chatting with his pet goldfish. (“Not all of us are equal,” he solemnly informs the fish. “We were not born equal; we shall never be equal.”) But Isabella is determined to cure the king of his aberrant moods, and to this end she engages the great singer to move into the palace and minister to the monarch’s fevered fantasies.
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