Forest Whitaker has finally made his Broadway debut in Michael Grandage's revival of Eugene O'Neill's 'Hughie'; a safe choice in some ways, given that there's little action involved and it stands at just an hour in length, but a risky endeavour in others because much more depth is expected from a play of such little substance.

Frank Wood and Forest Whitaker in HughieFrank Wood and Forest Whitaker star in 'Hughie'

Set in 1928 in a New York hotel lobby, 'Hughie' features just two characters. Whitaker plays a man named Erie Smith who spends the play delivering a number of anecdotes to the uninterested night clerk Charlie Hughes - played by Frank Wood - while grieving over the death of his friend, Hughies predecessor Hughie. Alas, critics have not been too kind about it. While praising his magificent talent as a big screen actor, having appeared in such epics as 'The Butler', 'Platoon' and his Oscar winning 'The Last King of Scotland', it seems Whitaker's acting style doesn't translate as well to the stage.

Deadline insists that the revival fails 'to lift this small work into the tragic realm to which it aspires', while The Stage similarly confessed that it 'contrives to be a non-event - and a bit of a non-starter, in every sense'. It was Whitaker's performance that garnered the most disappointment, however, with The Stage adding that he was 'out of his depth' in his choice to expand his career to Broadway, at least with this short play.

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'Whitaker's soft-toned take is laudable - without making much of an impression', said the New York Post. 'He brings no heft or insight to Erie Smith.' Other publications commented on his unusual take to the role with the Wall Street Journal complaining that 'his bright, bouncy performance is as devoid of depth as his piping tenor voice', and Variety thought that it lack believability: 'Whitaker's hangdog vulnerability makes it tough to believe in Erie's better days.'

Nonetheless, there were some supporters for Whitaker's latest venture. The New York Times called it a 'transfixing yet modest Broadway debut' and felt that the story 'keeps growing larger in your mind, the way a quietly told ghost story might'. Also, the Washington Post were impressed with his transition to live theatre, adding that he demonstrated a 'facility for transformation on a stage as cannily as is revealed in his many screen performances'.

'Hughie' opened at the Booth Theatre in New York on February 25th 2016.