Closed 1h 20m
Blackbird
Midtown W
81

Blackbird NYC Reviews and Tickets

81%
(601 Reviews)
Positive
88%
Mixed
9%
Negative
3%
Members say
Great acting, Intense, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Edgy

About the Show

Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams star in 'Blackbird,' the story of an uneasy reunion between a woman and a middle-aged man 15 years after they had a sexual relationship when she was 12.

Read more Show less

Member Reviews (601)

60
Disappointing, Overrated, Intense, Inconsistent, Edgy

See it if you're a fan of Williams and Daniels, who get lots of stage time. Mostly yelling, thanks to the script and director.

Don't see it if you want a show that makes sense. The plotting is irrational. You learn nothing from this overheated play. I wanted to like it, but couldn't

94
Absorbing, Great acting, Edgy, Riveting, Intense

See it if You like hard hitting, in your face drama. Perfection! Tough to watch at times. The stuff that nightmares are made of. That's good theatre!

Don't see it if You can't handle real life ugly situations.

Critic Reviews (53)

March 10th, 2016

"An immensely powerful work that only occasionally maximizes its potential in the fitful production...Williams’ Una starts off both hopping mad and, it would seem, certifiably mad...This interpretation also begins the production at a fever pitch that can only sweat itself out...Mr. Daniels, as good as he is, is forced to emote up to Ms. Williams’ level. When the production reaches its climax, it’s anticlimactic; Daniels and Williams have already been there, done that, and so have we."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"'Blackbird' is a comfortless 80-minute reckoning of arrested time and soiled innocence...Plot and morals are beside the point; the slow drip of memory like acid on the present is what Harrower is after...Joe Mantello reimagines his exactingly sharp 2007 staging...Time has been shattered for these walking ghosts, and we are transfixed watching them cut their hands, sifting through the shards."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"So complicates the questions of consent and trauma and recovery—and even love—that it would be difficult to look at any of these subjects the same way again...It’s hard to think of another director besides Mantello who could so confidently package so much unprettied trauma within the big-box conventions of Broadway. He makes the experience of empathy both horrific and exhilarating...The theater at its best as in 'Blackbird' is one place where it is not only necessary but awesome to be awful."
Read more

March 21st, 2016

"Watching Williams work is like seeing a figure from a documentary perform a fictional reënactment of her own life. She shifts between the two realities—what’s true in the world and what’s true onstage—without ever losing sight of her partner...The director, Mantello has a weakness for emphasizing the issues in 'issue plays'...Fortunately for us, Williams’s performance goes beyond his rather limited purview, but Daniels’s doesn’t."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"Harrower's writing has its studied aspects, from the clipped, nervously evasive dialogue of the early exchanges to the tidy juxtaposition of the monologues that strip both characters bare. But Mantello and his remarkable actors give this slow-burning, real-time drama fluidity and searing emotional heat. Chipping away at our preconceptions while forcing Ray and Una into inescapable corners of darkest self-knowledge, the play packs a visceral punch."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"The play itself, for all its explicitness of language, is somewhat unadventurous in scope. The material is self-evidently dark but the presentation is unrelentingly glum and lifeless...The play feels too severe and clandestine for such a big house...The reason why audiences are drawn to the drama is because of the two plumb roles that offer a pair of performers the ultimate emotional tussle. Williams and Daniels are more than up to the challenge of going down the play’s very dark road."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"It was Mantello’s choice to go big with the emotions in this first scene, which heightens the drama but also pitches the passion so high that the actors can only take it up… and up… to the edge of hysteria...It’s still unnerving to watch. Too unnerving, actually, because by this time, both performances, fiercely committed and complicated as they are, have gone way over the top. But even at this high decibel level, the disturbing substance of the play makes it riveting."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"A pruriently manipulative tale of pedophilia...It’s a have-it-both-ways shocker that seeks to make us sympathize (but not really!) with a man who molested a 12-year-old girl, did time for it, put his life back together, and now finds himself facing the prospect of having his cover blown when the girl shows up at his office 15 years after the fact, locked and loaded. Great acting, great staging, but 'Blackbird' still leaves a nasty taste in the mouth."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"Their rapture is murderous. They want to annihilate each other. This is the electrifying production that this season’s revival of Sam Shepard’s 'Fool For Love' aspired to be, also about a couple reuniting as they inch toward a death’s grip of horrifying power and sadness. Daniels and Williams are so devastatingly into David Harrower’s stem-winding tale of an illicit conjugation, that by the time the lights came up I felt as spent as the actors themselves appeared to be."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"This drama—which I regard as one of the best pieces of writing of the last decade—offers the uncompromising actress Williams the rare opportunity to contort body and soul into a character...Not a moment feels inauthentic or not rooted in something deeply true...What's missing in [Daniels'] work is, in fact, the requisite superficial attractiveness of his guy...These two performances don't always fully jell as a single entity."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"Daniels has graduated to brilliant in the Broadway premiere at the Belasco. Here he shares the stage with the intensely captivating Michelle Williams, in a production by Mantello that perfectly calibrates the volatile sexual chemistry of the leads...They fight to a draw, leaving us even more disturbed by a play that unsettles us not by telling us what to think but by provoking within us feelings that are impossible to reconcile."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"What [Williams] pulls off in David Harrower’s 2005 drama is shattering...Their encounter takes unexpected turns and the language is disturbingly frank. By play’s end, 80 minutes later, both actors look drained. You’ll be shocked, yet strangely elated — the sign of powerful theater."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"The play itself isn’t quite as successful. It takes time to settle into believable rhythms. Initial staccato bursts of words still sound stage-y. Dimming lights during monologues adds a non-realistic texture the play doesn’t need. The litter-strewn room echoing messy lives feels a bit too heavy-handed. Still, 'Blackbird' is taut, twisty and provocative. There’s value in works that make your mind fly to uncomfortable places and send out cries you can’t unhear."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"It is a lean and muscular piece of drama, where two emotionally damaged characters with a terrible past are brought together for an uncomfortable reunion that is sure to end in further disaster and trauma. Mantello once again shows how he can draw out fully-developed performances from great actors that are both believable and richly detailed. The interplay between Daniels and Williams could not be rawer or more dramatically charged."
Read more

March 11th, 2016

"Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams leave it all on the floor in this wrenching two-hander…Director Joe Mantello and Jeff Daniels first tackled this play nine years ago, and they are back again alongside Michelle Williams, who matches their intensity with a performance that leaves you worried for her mental health...'Blackbird' is not exactly the kind of play you 'enjoy,' but with this production, it is theatre at its purest, as classic in its own way as those famous Greek tragedies."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"'Blackbird' is a difficult play to watch, one that provokes both tears and audible gasps as secrets are revealed and shocks dispatched. As much as Harrower lets us see the complexities of Ray and Una, it's Daniels and Williams who let us into the raw, emotional nakedness of their characters...By the time the play ends, Daniels and Williams look as though they've been run over by a bulldozer. As the audience files out, we realize we feel the same. This is one unforgettable night at the theater."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"It seems inappropriate, and perhaps disrespectful, to praise the play and director Joe Mantello's production with the usually enthusiastic accolades a reviewer would bestow upon such an expertly achieved eighty minutes of theatre...In varying degrees, Williams and Daniels, both excellent, effectively confront the audience to feel sympathy for their characters as it becomes increasingly clear what their emotions are for each other."
Read more

March 25th, 2016

"Nine years on from its New York premiere, Harrower's script has lost none of its provocative power, its ability to leave deep and lasting wounds...Nearly a decade older, Daniels is even more at home inside Ray's dispirited, shriveled soul than before...Williams is a nervy technician who builds her performance on a series of effects that a lesser actress might not be able to pull off...'Blackbird' seems to me a modern expression of tragedy."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"With the production of David Harrower's 'Blackbird,' both the victim and her victimizer would be doing everyone, and the cause, a favor by shutting up and flying away...This Joe Mantello mounting of the play remains one of the most painfully overwrought of anything I've ever seen...There's nothing inherently wrong with a premise this thin, but it can't stay thin, let alone be directed and acted that way...The entire thing comes across as a gigantic gag."
Read more

April 14th, 2016

"Now 'Blackbird' has arrived at Broadway’s Belasco Theatre again directed by Mantello with Daniels but partnered by Michelle Williams in this two hander. Unaccountably, Mantello has chosen to stage the play differently this time. The new rhythms of the play undermine it somewhat. What was once a steadily rising action is now a series of fits and starts."
Read more

March 11th, 2016

"Harrower and director Joe Mantello have crafted a gripping, tense drama unfolding in real time that doesn’t indulge any wasted moments. They let the actors and the dialogue do all the heavy lifting and they do so without judgment, leaving the audience to decide if they are sickened, moved, saddened or all of the above...'Blackbird' is a gripping portrait of a taboo love story done with unflinching honesty that is brutal and unforgettable."
Read more

March 18th, 2016

"There's nothing been there/done that about this revival...Michelle Williams is a worthy partner for Daniels. Her Una is a more immediately aggressive, still wounded victim of her preteen sexualization than I recall Pill to have been. This has also made Daniels make Ray come across a harder, tougher and yet more nervous opponent in this cat-and-mouse game...Even if you knew what that twisty ending was all about, you'd still leave pondering the whys and wherefores of Una and Ray's relationship."
Read more

March 22nd, 2016

"One of the most potent and fierce dramas of the season…This two-person drama wallops Broadway with brute force…No moment is wasted in getting to know these characters from start to finish…These actors never run into scene trouble in this tour de force of a play. They let the masterful language by playwright David Harrower take them where the play says they must go…I was glued by moment one...Run to see this play that is enormously brave and masterfully produced."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"'Blackbird,' directed with intense force by Joe Mantello, grabs hold of us and does not give us a chance to get out of this without some squirming in our seats...We would like to see the simplicity here, so we can be more comfortable, but thankfully, Harrower has no intention for comfort...This is not a play to go into lightly, but I applaud the bravery of all involved. It is upsetting, disturbing, and doesn’t allow us to make easy judgments."
Read more

March 18th, 2016

"It’s a disturbing set-up, but my shock is reserved for the free pass that so many have been giving to a revival that feels like little more than a star-driven exercise in showy acting and goosed-up dramatic tension...The revival of 'Blackbird' feels neither articulate nor authentic...Daniels and Williams have a long track record of impressive performances, and Mantello is one of our premiere theater directors. It’s safe to say that “Blackbird” doesn’t represent their best work."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"There are no weapons on display here – no knives, no guns, no stage blood – but this is the most lacerating play on Broadway this season. It leaves marks – on the audience, who may find some moments almost unbearably painful to watch, and on the actors too, who appeared drained and devastated at the curtain call. Despite the evocations of the title, in this 'Blackbird,' no one gets to be free."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"High-octane, provocative, brutally-lacerating drama is back on Broadway with David Harrower's 'Blackbird.' Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams give frenzied, uncompromising performances as a pair of irremediably-ruined souls frozen by a bubbling mix of guilt, retribution, revenge and what seem to be dangerous crosscurrents of desire... It is a dynamite play in a dynamite production with dynamite performances."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"Harrower carefully calibrates his 90-minute drama, which takes place in real time. About every 10 minutes, he shifts the ground under these two characters’ very unstable footing...Williams means to give a big, bravura performance that starts at a white-hot pitch and descends into near madness...Her performance as Una is mannered to the point of distraction. The result is an imbalance in performances that seriously undermines the drama between an unrepentant offender and his lost victim."
Read more

March 31st, 2016

"Jeff Daniels brings new comprehension and maturity to the role...In testament to David Harrower’s insightful writing, judgment about the immoral coupling doesn’t prevent one’s sympathy for the man. Daniels appears whole and credible. Michelle Williams, however, does not...Without equal push-pull, the piece cannot be successful...Director Joe Mantello, whose talents I have always appreciated, seems to have achieved only half of what he set out to do. "
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"Refreshing and instructive. It's also, mind you, as stinging and squirm-inducing as any presidential debate, while offering more intelligence, sophistication and compassion...Williams brings more of that slow-burning, nervous intensity to Una...Daniels' performance, which was superb nine years ago, is better here — at once more vital and more aching in its weariness, and still beautifully shaded...The play, which ends with a piercing twist, also seems to resonate with more force."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"Harrowing drama...Whatever doubts I had about Jeff Daniels’ return to a character he played Off-Broadway, this riveting, visceral, uncompromising revival makes misgivings irrelevant. Again directed by the peerless Joe Mantello and now co-starring the extraordinary Michelle Williams, the drama feels more psychologically profound than what had earlier seemed an admirably austere but stagy 80-minute answer to the voyeuristic question raised by such wildly unseemly couplings."
Read more

March 11th, 2016

"'Blackbird' presents a powerful story, one that is full of the sort of complicated questions that often remain unspoken to the point of being taboo...Daniels is in his element playing a flawed, middle-aged man at his moment of reckoning. He does so with impressive and believable sincerity...While Daniels disappears into his role, Williams’ performance feels fraught with effort. And maybe, that’s part of the point. If it seems as though these two are operating on different planes, they are."
Read more

March 11th, 2016

"It's a testament to the deep power of 'Blackbird' that, even with a miscalculated performance, the revival is extremely compelling...Vividly directed by Joe Mantello, [it] succeeds in dramatizing the characters' seesaw balance of emotions...Daniels is very effective, conveying with complete naturalness an insoluble puzzle of a man...Unfortunately, his performance isn't matched by Williams'...'Blackbird' is still a powerful theater event. I just wish this production were better."
Read more

March 11th, 2016

"Jeff Daniels invests the role with tormented charisma. Michelle Williams struggles at first to inject variety into Harrower’s staccato dialogue, but ultimately delivers a performance of raw physical intensity...'Blackbird' concludes with a twist that feels like a myxomatosis-ridden rabbit being yanked from a hat. The play is strong enough to withstand this gratuitous trick ending but it adds an artificial and manipulative touch to an otherwise subtle and patient psychological study."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

“'Blackbird' operates in shades of gray...Williams is venomous, fragile and, finally, stripped bare...Harrower isn’t saying what happened is justifiable, but he is arguing it was complicated...Joe Mantello’s direction is as taut as in 'The Humans'...I’m genuinely surprised a piece of this intense nature has made it to Broadway. 'Blackbird' is a small gem, here in the hands of two gifted actors."
Read more

March 18th, 2016

"The overwrought nature of this production makes it difficult to feel empathy for Ray and Una. Even the litter which overflows onto to the floor of Scott Pask’s otherwise sterile-looking set, seems overdone, even though we suspect it’s a metaphor for the messiness of their lives...'Blackbird' may well prove riveting for many in the audience. For others, it may simply be an uncomfortable night at the theater, observing two very talented actors tear away at both themselves as well as each other."
Read more

March 14th, 2016

"Joe Mantello has delivered a top-notch revival...Williams effectively comes off haunted and shattered, going to dark places in a sensational performance, especially in her climactic monologue, and Daniels is expectedly good as the offender who never expected this situation to come back in his face, let alone with this agenda. Throughout, I didn’t hear one cell phone ring—or even a cough—a testament to 'Blackbird’s' power."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"The play itself isn't quite such an unqualified success...'Blackbird' is an unrelenting, unapologetically grim vision...Then again, most folks lining up for 'Blackbird' will be doing so for its stars, and they both deliver...At times halting, and at other times speaking in a violent rush, using her lithe body to alternately intimidate and tantalize Daniels' Ray, [Williams] never loses her grip on a character who's entirely out of control. It's a performance for the ages."
Read more

March 18th, 2016

"Director Joe Mantello keeps the show uncomfortable. The power dynamic between Una and Ray constantly shifts, as they stalk through the small conference room like caged animals, their claws bared. These are two people who can only be understood by each other — their relationship is complex and sometimes horrifying. But Williams and Daniels help us believe that these two distressed individuals are real and that we should care about both of them."
Read more

March 13th, 2016

"Complex and intense, riveting but perplexing, damaged and flawed...Playwright David Harrower alters this perfectly balanced play to reach the nether regions and suddenly this emotional wallop disperses into the nebulous zone and there is no assistance from director Joe Mantello...Short as it is, it’s not an easy sit-through, but the rewards are great. To see Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams at the top of their game makes the evening that much more bearable and enriching."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"Harrowing — and absolutely brilliant — revival of 'Blackbird'...David Harrower's play is so intimate and emotional and charged that it makes 'Eclipsed' seem like a comedy. It's also impossible to stop watching because both characters are fully realized and equally sympathetic...While the play's topic might initially put some off, this cast makes the spare and human dialogue soar. These are two actors at the top of their game, holding back nothing."
Read more

April 24th, 2016

"Harrowing and uncompromising...Under Joe Mantello’s fast-paced direction, Daniels and Williams are on a violent collision course that explodes in a shocking conclusion. Ultimately, we’re left with an unanswerable question: Why do we relive past traumas, when they can never be exorcised?"
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"'Blackbird' is intense. David Harrower's two-hander packs a lot of history and angst into the knock-down, drag-out war that makes up the 90-minute play...It's not fun. It absolutely will make you uncomfortable—how could it not? (Director Joe Mantello is sensitive and careful not to sensationalize the action.) Yet it's unfortunately relevant today...It's sad. It's infuriating. It will leave you shaken."
Read more

March 28th, 2016

"David Harrower’s harrowing drama...Lest it all sound so talky, Harrower allows a couple of moments in which words aren’t used at all; they say quite a bit about what these two are feeling...Safe to say that audiences won’t be entertained by 'Blackbird' in the conventional sense of the word 'entertained.' But if being mesmerized and holding one’s breath for nearly an hour-and-a-half is something a theatergoer wants to experience, 'Blackbird' is here to provide it."
Read more

April 12th, 2016

"The play attempts to present Ray as less of a predator than the situation would typically call for, insinuating that their sexual encounters were more nuanced than most pedophile incidents. But that’s a tough pill to swallow. As much as playwright David Harrower tries to minimize the inherent ickiness that audience members no doubt feel at the start of the play, it barely relaxes throughout the show’s 90 minutes. Michelle Williams’s fragile performance won’t allow it."
Read more

March 21st, 2016

"A very excellent drama about one of today’s social themes that is only getting more press than maybe we’d like. This 80 minute, intermissionless play by David Harrower is brilliantly performed by Williams and Daniels and certainly will be in the running when the award season starts up...Serious theatergoers: Don’t miss this superb play and two over-the-top performances."
Read more

March 10th, 2016

"The tension between the two actors never grew to a place where it felt like emotions should manifest physically...The combat choreography was clunky and measured and didn’t feel real...Despite some questionable directorial and design choices, 'Blackbird' was good. The last 1/4 of the production was interesting, engaging and provided enough of a payoff that I left satisfied. The final image in the heart-wrenching and beautifully book-ended end scene was powerful and jarring."
Read more

April 11th, 2007

"Every detail in the staging of 'Blackbird' must be exactly right for an audience to stay with it. Not only is its subject uncomfortable, but also its intensity. The New York cast and creative team provide an unflinching immediacy and emotional commitment that suspends judgment...This is essential, since for it to work, you have to accept it as a love story — a tragic, horrible love story, but a love story. Mr. Daniels and Ms. Pill are extraordinary in guaranteeing this acceptance."
Read more

April 19th, 2007

"At first, 'Blackbird' resembles a drama-therapy fantasy of confrontation, but Joe Mantello’s production gains force as it goes along: Pill’s performance, at first amorphous, takes stronger shape, and Daniels’s chary blankness keeps you guessing about his guilt and contrition. The play’s many twists, and especially its final turn of the screw, raise provocative questions about where romance ends and abuse begins, and just how many crows it might take to make a murder."
Read more

April 13th, 2007

"The thorny performances of Jeff Daniels and Alison Pill in this two-hander fortify the playwright’s illustration of how guilt and innocence can resist clean attribution...As the writer’s staccato language eventually becomes secondary to character conflicts and tension, the play grows more bracingly charged and fluid. The actors negotiate their characters’ many shifts with subtlety, challenging standard definitions of victim and aggressor. "
Read more

April 11th, 2007

"Scottish playwright David Harrower's disturbing, well-acted new play, asks you to wrap your brain around that nasty setup... In a strange move, director Joe Mantello dims the lights during long monologues by Una and Ray. This spooky effect only undercuts the realism the play strives for. Despite its flaws, MTC's production of 'Blackbird' is provocative and worthwhile. And Harrower is definitely a name to watch."
Read more

April 6th, 2007

"The production drags, which is surprising, since Mantello usually runs such a tight ship. Moreover, the play too often comes across as rather heavy-handed... In one scene, Ray and Una start to throw garbage around the room, but the action seems forced. It's supposed to symbolically reflect the mess that the characters have made of their lives, but sometimes a mess is just a mess."
Read more

April 14th, 2007

"It's an intense psychodrama that won't let your mind wander even though there are times this story makes you wish you could switch channels... Joe Mantello's roller-coaster pacing keeps the exhausting confrontation unfailingly dramatic, even through the all too predictable moment when the messy food gets swept off the lunch room table and the unpredictable and ambiguous trick ending."
Read more

Watch This Next (15)

97
Must See!
10K+ Reviews
Opens Sep 14
NYC: Midtown W

This hip-hop infused tuner about America's founding fathers won 11 Tony Awards inc. Best Musical.

Buy
93
Must See!
20K+ Reviews
Opens Sep 14
NYC: Midtown W

In its 17th year, this all-ages musical spectacle tells the untold true story of the Witches of Oz.

Buy
92
Must See!
3K+ Reviews
Opens Sep 21
NYC: Midtown W

A charming true story of a tiny Canadian town that cared for 7000 grounded travelers post-9/11.

Buy