Sound Czech

By CAROLYN CLAY  |  November 13, 2007

After intermission, the actress returns as Max and Eleanor’s daughter Esme, a child of academics but also of the acid age, now winsomely adrift in midlife and still dreaming of her moment as inspiration for “Golden Hair.” Cusack brings a warm yet feisty vagueness to Esme that lets you know that, like her mom, she’s not dead yet. Her rescue, when it comes, may not be entirely earned (by the playwright), but you root for it anyway.

As Max, self-described “last white rhino” in the Communist Party of Great Britain, the great, growling Brian Cox (the eccentric psychiatrist in Running with Scissors) mixes bluster with keen conviction. There are sharp performances, too, by Alice Eve as the young Esme and later her brilliant daughter, who becomes the late-life Barrett’s protector, and by Nicole Ansari as Lenka, an exotic Czech grad student in hippie robes and bangles who grows into a philology don condemning her adopted England as an apathetic society engaged in “a contest of apology.” Trevor Nunn directs the dense and heady production, which is worth a trip to New York. Or you could wait for the movie. Reported to be in negotiation for the rights: Jagged Films’ Mick Jagger, the Pan who lived.

ROCK ’N’ ROLL | Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 West 45th St, New York | Through March 2 | Tuesday, Thursday, Friday at 8 pm; Wednesday, Saturday at 2 + 8 pm; Sunday at 5 pm | $76.50-$98.50 | 212.239.6200 orwww.telecharge.com.

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