The reviews are in for ‘Other Desert Cities’ at the Guthrie

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Sally Wingert as Polly Wyeth in the Guthrie Theater’s production of “Other Desert Cities”

Photo by Michael Brosilow

Guthrie Theater presents Other Desert Cities by playwright Jon Robin Baitz on the McGuire Proscenium stage through March 24.

Directed by Peter Rothstein, the show revolves around a wealthy family, and the daughter’s decision to publish a memoir which recalls, among other things, her brother’s suicide.

Critics offer mixed reviews of the show, but agree that Sally Wingert shines in her role as the Republican mother Polly Wyeth.

From Graydon Royce at the Star Tribune:

Baitz’s great feat in the script is his refusal to take sides. Just when one combatant has triumphed, the foe rises like a Phoenix with a counter punch. Baitz finds resolution less interesting than a multiplicity of motivations, psychologies and ideas. This makes for delicious revelations, particularly in the second act when, after the sun goes down and the desert chill comes up, the Wyeths can release their inner vampires.

From Chris Hewitt at the Pioneer Press:

Too often, it’s clear that Baitz is less interested in these characters than in making an argument about parents, children and what they owe each other. Even he seems to give up at the end, which fast-forwards to the play’s abrupt and unsatisfying final scene. The good news is that Rothstein’s glittering production and the Wingert-led cast are more than enough to compensate. The destination of “Other Desert Cities” may be no great shakes, but the getting-there is still well worth the trip.

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Michelle Barber as Silda Grauman and Kelly McAndrew as Brooke Wyeth in “Other Desert Cities” by Jon Robin Baitz

Photo by Michael Brosilow

From Ed Huyck at City Pages:

Peter Rothstein directs with his typical solid hand, giving the actors plenty of space to delve into their characters. This has mixed results in the end, partially because Baitz’s script isn’t as insightful as the playwright thinks it is, and partially due to the uneven quality in performances between Wingert and McAndrew. The play’s final 20 minutes are focused on Wingert and Brinkley’s characters, and that is where the show finally sings in its full voice.

From John Olive at HowWasTheShow.Com:


Baitz violates a major tenet of playwriting. You can’t have a character telling another character something that character already knows. If you do, you risk making your play static, contrived and past-tensey, a trap which often ensnares Other Desert Cities. The play also suffers from New York-itis; characters are rich (Brooke claims to be impoverished, but she lives in toney Sag Harbor), successful and breathtakingly self-absorbed.

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Sally Wingert as Polly Wyeth and Christian Conn as Trip Wyeth in the Guthrie Theater’s production of “Other Desert Cities,” directed by Peter Rothstein

Photo by Michael Brosilow

Other Desert Cities runs through March 24 at the Guthrie Theater. Have you seen it? What’s your review?