In a highly anticipated adaptation, the stage production of Brokeback Mountain has made its debut on the West End. Inspired by Annie Proulx’s bestselling short story and the Academy Award-winning film, the theatrical rendition brings to life the gripping tale of two sheepherders, Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar, who forge an intimate bond against the backdrop of 1960s Wyoming.
Starring Mike Faist and Lucas Hedges, known for their remarkable performances in West Side Story and Lady Bird respectively, the production garnered attention from eager theatergoers and critics alike. Directed by Jonathan Butterell, renowned for his work on Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, the stage adaptation had raised expectations sky-high.
However, the reviews are a mixed bag. The Independent, while praising the outstanding performances by Faist and Hedges, found fault with the overall execution of the production. Describing it as “frustrating,” the reviewer lamented the rushed and clunky feel of the 90-minute rendition. The inclusion of Americana songs by the band between scenes was seen as a hindrance to the actors’ performances, and the story itself was reduced to a “gay cowboy movie” cliché.
Another critic from City A.M. had a similar sentiment, acknowledging the serene atmosphere but questioning the chemistry between the lead actors. The absence of physical intimacy on-stage was labeled a “bizarre decision” that affected the authenticity of the story.
Despite these reservations, some reviews were more favorable. The Evening Standard hailed the production as “potent and subtle,” commending the actors for their impressive physicality, sexual chemistry, and emotional nuance. Broadway World went even further, awarding a glowing five-star review. The set was praised as “truly impressive,” and the script and the actors’ performances were hailed as brilliant, creating a deliciously tense atmosphere.
As Brokeback Mountain continues to captivate audiences in the West End, it remains a poignant reminder of the complexities of love and the burdens of secrecy. This stage adaptation invites viewers to delve into the intimate, authentic world of Jack and Ennis, where their hidden desires and suppressed emotions unfold against a backdrop of sweeping landscapes and societal expectations.