Ralph Fiennes will star in the US premiere of David Hare’s Straight Line Crazy later this year. Straight Line Crazy begins preview performances at The Shed’s Griffin Theater on October 18, ahead of an opening night on October 26 and performances to December 18.
Straight Line Crazy
Ralph Fiennes will star as Robert Moses in David Hare's newest play, Straight Line Crazy, at The Shed. Straight Line Crazy tickets will be available on New York Theatre Guide soon.
Straight Line Crazy is a play about the career of Robert Moses, one of the most influential 20th-century public figures in New York City. His impact on the city's landscape is still visible today. In his career, he never held public office, but he led many city organizations and boards, holding up to 12 positions at once. He was chairman of the New York State Council of Parks and president of the Long Island State Park Commission for just under 40 years, the New York City Department of Parks commissioner for 26 years, and the president of the New York World's Fair for 6 years.
Moses's various positions allowed him to fund and oversee the creation of new infrastructure in the city, even without holding public office. In his career, he built 658 playgrounds, 11 pools, and 13 bridges. Moses also oversaw the construction of highways — which he championed over public transportation — that led to the creation of the Long Island suburbs. He was also influential in the passage of government reforms in the 1920s, as the public viewed him favorably during his decades-long career. He was seen as an efficient alternative to the then-corrupt government who actually got things done.
However, history hasn't been as kind to Moses. In 1974, Robert Caro published a biography called The Power Broker, which won the Pulitzer Prize. It painted Moses as power-hungry, ethically gray, and racist, as he razed multiple Black and Latino neighborhoods to make way for his projects. (One of the most famous examples is the Lincoln Center performing arts complex; the site was formerly an Afro-Latin neighborhood called San Juan Hill.)
Straight Line Crazy takes a middling approach, neither lauding or condeming Moses. It centers on him at his prime, showing the lasting effects his projects and decisions have on the city today, and how he used a mix of tactics — assertiveness, charm, deception, intimidation — to shape the city's landscape as we know it.
Straight Line Crazy premiered at the Bridge Theatre in spring 2022. Now, the New York-themed play plays in its city setting this fall. This production continues Hare's long and successful career as a playwright in both New York and abroad. A total of 11 of his plays have appeared on Broadway, and six off Broadway, since 1971; his most recent New York production was Plenty at The Public Theater in 2016. His other works include Skylight, The Year of Magical Thinking, The Vertical Hour, and The Blue Room, all of which have appeared on Broadway. Hare is also a two-time Oscar nominee for the screenplays for The Hours and The Reader.
In starring in Straight Line Crazy in New York, Fiennes reprises a role he originated to acclaim in London. Hare's play marks Fiennes's Off-Broadway debut and his first time performing on the New York stage since 2006 (in Faith Healer on Broadway). He is a regular fixture on the London stage, but Fiennes is best known to U.S. audiences for his onscreen roles in Schindler's List, The English Patient (earning Oscar nominations for both performances), The Grand Budapest Hotel, and the James Bond and Harry Potter film franchises. Having also appeared in The Reader, Straight Line Crazy off Broadway and in London have marked a reunion for Fiennes and Hare.
Tickets to Straight Line Crazy will be available soon.
For 40 uninterrupted years, Robert Moses was considered the most powerful man in New York as he envisioned and built public works whose aftereffects determine how New Yorkers experience the city to this day.