March 27, 2009 / 5:44 PM / 10 years ago

Geoffrey Rush debuts on Broadway to rave reviews

Actor Geoffrey Rush poses on the red carpet at the world premiere of the film "Australia" in Sydney in this file photo from November 18, 2008. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush’s Broadway debut earned rave reviews on Friday for his role as a 400-year-old king facing death while his empire crumbles in the absurdist comedy “Exit The King.”

The New York Post said “a major injustice has finally been rectified” with the 57-year-old actor, a veteran of the stage in his native Australia, finally appearing on the Great White Way.

“Were he a Brit instead of an Aussie, New York theatergoers would rave over Rush instead of Simon Russell Beale or Ian McKellen,” wrote New York Post critic Elisabeth Vincentelli. “And we’d probably have seen him in something like ‘Macbeth’ or ‘Uncle Vanya’ by now.”

The New York Times said Rush gives a “knockout performance” bringing the character to life “like a fire-trailing comet.” The Daily News described Rush as an “ace on stage” who gives a “sensational and highly physical performance.”

Reviews for Rush’s co-star, Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon were less favorable. The 62-year-old Sarandon, returning to Broadway for the first time in nearly 40 years, plays one of the king’s two wives helping him face death.

The Daily News critic Joe Dziemianowicz said that compared to her vibrant film roles “she emerges far less colorful on stage, from her voice to her body language.”

The New York Post’s Vincentelli said Sarandon is “problematic” as she “barks out her lines as if unsure where she’s meant to be authoritative or just in a bad mood.”

The production, which opened on Thursday for a three-month run, was adapted by Rush and play director Neil Armfield from Eugene Ionesco’s 1962 play. It comes to Broadway after a run in Australia in 2007.

Rush who won an Academy Award in 1997 for “Shine.”

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Will Dunham

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