After devoting a full page-and-half to the other big play that opened the same week — Tracy Letts’ "August: Osage County" — The New Yorker offers a whole two paragraph’s for Aaron Sorkin’s The Farnsworth Invention. Here’s one of them:
To enjoy the play’s historical elements, one must push past Sorkin’s shiny competence and search for his characters’ passions and demons. Sadly for Sorkin, he has been paired with the director Des McAnuff (of “Jersey Boys” and “Dracula: The Musical”). McAnuff is interested in slick projects, not in challenging writers. Together, he and Sorkin have built a toy train set for boys—prefabricated, no inspiration required. Of the two protagonists—who step out of the action from time to time, to speak to the audience—Simpson brings something to the role that Azaria doesn’t allow himself: complication and subtext. Whenever Simpson leaves the stage, Sorkin’s train leaves, too—and so does our attention.
Clearly, this reviewer thinks the production has problems that are far greater than the lack of "history" in this "historical drama." The real problem, as many other reviewers have suggested, is the lack of drama.