Topdog/Underselling

I try to avoid shilling for individual pieces of art.

Too often, arts writing devolves into glorified (and, sometimes, literal) marketing; if you want basic recommendations, please seek out the endless avenues at your disposal providing just that.

And yet.

I feel obligated to inform you fuckos (meant with love) that, right now, based on Topdog/Underdog’s Broadway grosses, y’all are sleeping on a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

During my artistic awakening in the early 2000s, I looked upon a handful of bygone productions with equal parts hallowed reverence and unbearable envy for those lucky enough to have experienced them in the flesh.

None more so than 2000’s True West, with PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN (RIP to a GOAT) and JOHN C. REILLY (who should grab buddy ol’ pal Will Ferrell for the first Broadway revival of The Producers; make it happen, Mel).

From a 2022 perspective, you’re liable to guess that a ticket to the PSH/JCR show was the hottest — and most expensive — in town.

Not so…AND THAT’S WHY IT WAS SO SPECIAL.

If you look at their pre-2000 resumes, they hadn’t yet achieved the fame that imminently and deservedly awaited them.

So anyone blessed enough to have wandered into Circle in the Square (THE FREAKING INTIMACY!!!) between February 17 and June 18 during the first year of the new millennium can forever boast about witnessing two of the best to ever do it — in a play by one of the best to ever do it, at the top of his game — before they were universally hailed as such; it’s like claiming you caught Hamilton at The Public, you know?

WELL MOTHERFUCKERS — I’ve buried the lede here; it’s called building suspense — I predict the current Broadway revival of Topdog/Underdog will be remembered in the annals of theater history as this generation’s version of that True West, thanks to Corey Hawkins and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

I’m telling you people, these two will be stars one day soon(er than later; they already have impressive credits to their names, the reason I’m a proud stockholder in their rise). And you can pay well below top dollar to behold their nascent wonder, in a Suzan-Lori Parks brain-melter — one of the best to ever do it, at the top of her game! — that overlaps extensively with True West, but let me just focus on its hardest sell:

The New York Times called it THE play of the century…

…which might not be right, but it sure as shit ain’t wrong. 

The only wrong is if you miss the fleeting chance to be in the presence of future John C. Reilly and Philip Seymour Hoffman, live and in person, before it’s too late.

Just think about the lifetime bragging rights; you’ll always be able to say you saw them when…


P.S. Film it. 


P.P.S. The original off-Broadway premiere of Topdog/Underdog is no slouch in the bragging rights department — Jeffrey Wright and Don Cheadle! — but the fact that it ran only six weeks diminishes the wattage of its reputation.

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