David Hare's 'Straight Line Crazy' With Ralph Fiennes To Have US Premiere

Photo: Manuel Harlan

The Shed announced today that David Hare’s new play, Straight Line Crazy, starring Ralph Fiennes as Robert Moses and directed by Nicholas Hytner and Jamie Armitage, will have its US premiere this Fall with a strictly limited, nine-week engagement. Following an acclaimed run this spring at The Bridge Theatre in London, Straight Line Crazy delves into the questionable legacy of Robert Moses and his enduring impact on New York. The play presents an imagined retelling of the arc of Moses’s controversial career in two decisive moments: his rise to power in the late 1920s and the public outcry against the corrosive effects of that power in the mid-1950s. Preview performances begin October 18, and the production opens on October 26 with performances through December 18, 2022, at The Shed’s intimate Griffin Theater as part of the fall 2022 season.

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. Hare’s play exposes Moses’s iron will, which exploited weaknesses in the state and city governments as he worked to remake public space. Though never elected to political office, he manipulated those who were through a mix of guile, charm, and intimidation. Motivated at first by a determination to improve the lives of New York City’s working class, he created new parks, new bridges, and 627 miles of expressway to connect the people to the great outdoors. However, Moses often achieved these public works at the expense of disempowered New Yorkers, particularly people of color, living in the way of and near his projects. In the 1950s, groups of citizens began to organize against his schemes and the prioritization of cars over public transportation, campaigning for a very different idea of what a city should be.

“When I first read Straight Line Crazy I was compelled by its provocation, humor, and of course by the portrayal of Robert Moses. It seemed its natural home was NYC and now—thanks to The Shed—the play can be seen there. I’m excited. It’s a New York play—that’s simply what it is,” said Ralph Fiennes.
“I am very excited to bring Robert Moses home. We had a great educational run in London at The Bridge Theatre where few of the audience had heard of him. But it will be fascinating to bring this controversial figure back to the city, and to the state, on which he left such a lasting mark,” said David Hare.
“Having premiered David Hare’s new play at The Bridge Theatre in London this spring, I’m so thrilled to now partner with The Shed to bring this New York story to New York with Ralph Fiennes leading the way alongside our brilliant cast and creative team,” said Nicholas Hytner.
“We’re honored to work with one of the world’s great playwrights, David Hare, and directors, Nicholas Hytner, alongside the brilliant Jamie Armitage, for this production. And we’re ​​thrilled to welcome Ralph Fiennes to The Shed for his first live theater performances in New York since 2006. This play captured the imagination of London audiences, and the impact of its story will only be magnified on the New York stage, in the city where Robert Moses lived and worked. In reminding us of the importance of who is invited to shape public space, the work of these artists reveals the positive and negative impacts that decisions around urban planning have on living communities,” said Madani Younis, The Shed’s Chief Executive Producer.
“This is a compelling production about Robert Moses’s controversial legacy, his rise and fall, and the lasting effects on our city. We’re so pleased partner with London Theatre Company to present the US premiere of David Hare's new play, Straight Line Crazy, at The Shed this fall,” said Alex Poots, Artistic Director and CEO of The Shed.

The cast of Straight Line Crazy includes: Ralph Fiennes (Robert Moses), David Bromley (Stamford Fergus), Alana Maria (Shirley Hayes), Guy Paul (Henry Vanderbilt), Judith Roddy (Finnuala Connell), Helen Schlesinger (Jane Jacobs), Mary Stillwaggon Stewart (Nicole Savage), and Danny Webb (Governor Al Smith) with additional casting to be announced.

The creative team includes Bob Crowley (Set and Costume Design), Jessica Hung Han Yun (Lighting Design), George Dennis (Sound Design), George Fenton (Music Composition), Jaimie Todd (Associate Designer), Robert Sterne (Casting), and Cynthia Cahill (Production Stage Manager).

Straight Line Crazy was originally produced by the London Theatre Company at The Bridge Theatre in March 2022.

As part of the presentation of Straight Line Crazy, The Shed will produce a series of conversations about the legacy of Robert Moses and his continued impact on our city. Details to be announced.

Ticketing and General Information

Tickets for Straight Line Crazy go on sale June 30 (Shed member presale begins June 28). For additional information, tickets, and Covid-19 safety guidelines, visit TheShed.org.

Cedric’s at The Shed, a bar from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11 am to 8 pm. McNally Jackson at The Shed, an arts-focused bookshop, is also open during normal operating hours.