The English, like the rest of the planet, love Hollywood movie stars. This is why both subsidized and commercial London theatres try to tempt the golden ones down from the silver screen and on to the stage.
Hayden Christensen is the latest in a long line of American movie stars to appear in the West End. Brendan Fraser has only just left Shaftesbury Avenue where he starred in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Glenn Close is eagerly awaited later this year at the National in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Christensen's two colleagues on the stage of the Garrick, where all three play spoiled rich kids, are also experienced movie makers. Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays the main character, has been in several films, as has co-star Anna Paquin, who won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for The Piano.
This Is Our Youth, which began previews March 2 for a March 15 opening, is a mainly comic play, with poignant touches that counterpoint the broader humor and witty one-liners. It is a timely reminder of the continued appeal of American drama. In many cases an American star is essential to the authenticity of a production; hence Macaulay Culkin in Madame Melville at the Vaudeville a year or so ago and Brendan Fraser recently at the Lyric. Hayden Christensen is ideal for This Is Our Youth; not only does he have the appropriately youthful good looks for the role, he is also the star of the next installment of Star Wars, due for release this year. Once it is released he is likely to be one of the biggest new leading men in Hollywood.
Judging by the line-up of autograph hunters outside the Garrick on the first evening performance of This Is Our Youth - even more than at the very starry press night of Lady Windemere's Fan on February 21 - the play is already attracting attention. So be amongst the first to be able to say you saw Hollywood's Next Big Thing live, onstage, in London.
—by Paul Webb Theatrenow