Members say: Great acting, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Intelligent, Slow

About the show

The Tony-winning drama about the romance between a sensitive but spirited deaf woman and a devoted (and hearing) teacher returns to Broadway with Joshua Jackson ('The Affair'), Lauren Ridloff, and Anthony Edwards ('ER').

... Read more

Sometimes, a fleeting glance or a subtle touch can speak volumes. In an age where texts and tweets make it seem like the whole world is talking at once, this timeless play about the art of communication explores what it's really like to not be heard or understood.

In addition to the winning the 1980 Tony Award for Best Play, 'Children of a Lesser God' was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film. Directed by Tony Award winner Kenny Leon ('A Raisin in the Sun'), this production marks the play's first ever Broadway revival.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Fordham Observer

"While Jackson gives a warm-hearted and doubtlessly dedicated performance, Ridloff brings to this production an honesty and ferocity that is refreshing, poignant, and profoundly stirring....Ridloff is a discovery who has blessed this revival with the power to stand as a worthy reincarnation of Medoff's work and who, through expressive, resounding silence delivers a performance among the most exceptional this season." Full Review

Diandra Reviews it All

"Both characters and actors, are electric together...Succeeds as a romantic play...Jackson gives the character such a noble, caring nature, and Lidloff's sparkling wit helps you understand why the two fall in love; they strengthen each other...I’d like to say that these lovebirds soar over social barriers and labels, but the reason 'Children of A Lesser God' succeeds as a romantic play is because it shows, sometimes, love is not enough." Full Review

Front Row Center

"Joshua Jackson has a difficult role as both actor and translator, and he is simply put, wonderful. He makes it all look so easy...Lauren Ridloff is a powerhouse of raw emotion and honesty. She is so incredibly strong and beautiful...The signing is so amazing that when the characters do simple mimes of opening windows and doors, those movements come across as awkward and jarring compared to the complex moves of ASL. Those mimes felt out of place." Full Review


"Though written in the ‘70s, the revival paints an accurate representation of deaf culture today...As a deaf person with a cochlear implant, Sarah’s isolation on stage resonated and left me with a few tears. The play used creative ways to subvert this traditional dynamic of who understood what...For once, my struggles with hearing weren't a hindrance, and I was given the privilege to do exactly what I had always hoped to do in a theater: to sit back...and actually enjoy the show." Full Review

Reflections in the Light

"McGinty and Edmond speak as well as sign their dialogue, bringing into focus how isolated Sarah is...Leon seamlessly fuses conversations taking place at different places to create an exquisite storytelling tableau. The story still is timely decades after the play's debut. 'Children of a Lesser God' makes us sit up and listen." Full Review

Theater Life

"What makes us more sympathetic to Sarah is James's lack of tact. Although he is filled with love and compassion, he simply cannot put himself in the shoes of the woman he so desperately wants to help...Jackson does yeoman's work delivering his lines and translating Sarah's sign language...As a result much of his performance seems more informative than emotional...It is Ridloff's luminescent performance that carries this production triumphantly to the finish line." Full Review

The Stage (UK)

"It still holds up very well...A moving and revealing insight into the world of the deaf...The supremely expressive Ridloff is able to convey a wealth of emotion in a performance that is full of passion and frustration while avoiding vulnerability and therefore sentimentality....Jackson's performance is dexterous and impressive...The production additionally makes unprecedented steps towards inclusivity...Leon's absorbing production is only undermined by an ugly abstract set." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Beyond the exquisite portrayals of the two complicated characters at its center, there is a great deal more to commend about the smartly reconceptualized revival...Leon has wisely avoided any lingering mustiness clinging to this nearly forty-year-old work by fully embracing the still-evolving changes in the ways we think about relationships...Lauren Ridloff gives a luminous and emotionally explosive performance as Sarah." Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"The strongest argument for seeing this revival is the powerful performance by Ms. Ridloff. It is easy to see why James would be so attracted to her. Mr. Jackson gives a creditable performance in a demanding role, although I would have liked a little more variety...The direction by Kenny Leon is assured, but I wish he had made a few cuts." Full Review

Epoch Times

"Medoff's play presents a love story between Sarah, a young woman deaf from birth, and her speaking teacher James...But more than that, the play takes on the conflict between the deaf who would prefer not being forced to accommodate to a hearing world...Although not a perfect production, it has an aura of sweetness and a gentle tension that smacks of a slightly different time. And performances, under Leon's direction, are uniformly excellent. Well worth seeing." Full Review


"Still a riveting show despite being slightly dated...What makes the story so engrossing is the manner in which James and Sarah interact...Mr. Jackson and Ms. Ridloff give outstanding performances...The supporting cast members are all first rate...Kenny Leon’s scattershot direction is often cumbersome...Mr. Leon could have improved the pacing of the material and brought more focus to the ending." Full Review


"Brings new life to a story that takes place in a cloistered environment yet has universal appeal...Ridloff’s passionate performance transcends spoken language. The weakness of the play may be the secondary characters who sometimes feel like superficial foils created to provide friction...The complex issues between the hearing and non-hearing world still exist and, as this revival vividly conveys, the need to be heard in one’s own voice remains powerful and relevant." Full Review


"Lives on now mostly as a well-constructed if somewhat dated relationship drama and as a showcase for its two primary, argument-siding characters...Sarah's stance, hardly the revelation it once was, becomes clear at the play’s emotional peak...It is entirely to the credit of Ridloff's powerhouse performance that the moment still hits as hard as it does...Jackson’s performance can seem broad, pitched too big, but the exaggeration makes as James' importance as translator comes into focus." Full Review

Entertainment Weekly

"Urges its audience to '#StartListening', but struggles at times to relay a clear message of its own...Jackson's performance loosens as it goes and is especially noteworthy in the second act. Ridloff, however, is downright powerful from the moment she signs her first sentence...'Children of a Lesser God' hopes theatergoers will go home and give some deeper thought to the way they communicate...but the most lasting impression of the show is its two standout performances instead." Full Review


"The world is a much different place than it was when the 1980 Tony-winning play first brought much needed attention to the complicated issues facing the hearing-impaired...But the drama's impact remains as it unfolds...Ridloff plays Sarah with a don't-mess-with-me vengeance, careful to not let vulnerabilities sneak through...Jackson is solid as James, speaking his own lines and interpreting for Sarah." Full Review

Showbiz 411

"Jackson definitely has the stage debut of the year, and Ridloff isn't far behind him. She makes the Sarah Norman character accessible if not understandable...making the play palatable in 2018. That’s because what seemed earthshaking in 1982 seems passe in 2018...The issues involved have changed. It’s hard to work up enthusiasm now for Sarah’s outrage and lawsuit. But credit the actors for keeping the debate alive." Full Review

The New York Times

"A knockout professional debut performance by Ridloff...A lovely performance by Jackson...Leon’s direction seems random...The play falters badly in its second act...Eventually you realize that Mr. Medoff simply did not have the wherewithal to dramatize the fundamental conflict any further because James is his hero but Sarah is right. The play, written when it was, can’t quite support that — not because of its deaf politics, but because of its sexual politics." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"There are two intense scenes...Both are performed with instinctive brilliance by acting rookie Ridloff, Broadway's most accessible show ever for the hearing-impaired is at times inaccessible or awkward for the hearing - which is maybe the most thematically resonant technical flaw ever to afflict a play...Leon’s direction leans into the play’s age as well as its loose plotting...Logistical concerns vanish in the play's best moments." Full Review

Theater Reviews from my Seat

"The pedigree of this story promised some acting fireworks...When the play centers its focus on the core relationship, 'Children of a Lesser God' is at its best...Chemistry between these two central characters is critical here and both actors deliver on that promise...However, I did not really get engaged so by the end, all of this fell a little flat for me. A very good clinical and analytical study with some great acting roles but not exceptional enough to be considered a top-tier play." Full Review


"Exciting performances infuse Medoff's musty script with new vitality...Between excellent acting and mediocre design, the former wins out, but just barely. I'm still not convinced that ‘Children of a Lesser God’ is durable enough to remain in the theatrical repertory: Medoff's language is too clunky and his drama too contrived. Still, that shouldn't prevent us from connecting with these very human performances for a fleeting moment." Full Review

New York Theater

"Stunning Broadway debut of Ridloff...Feels dated...As respectful as 'Children of a Lesser God' is towards the deaf point of view - James is shown as well-meaning but ignorant - the play is still presented entirely from his perspective...Jackson is a charming actor, but his halting efforts to use two languages at the same time feels awkward, and turns tedious...Near the end of the play, Ridloff insists on 'speaking' for herself, it is stirring. If only the play didn't seem to undermine her e... Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"The interactions between the characters are palpably torturous...Ridloff turns in an impassioned award-worthy performance...Supertitles in the theater contain a transcription of his spoken words, but not of her signing, until he reiterates it...As a result, there is a bit of an emotional disconnect and lack of chemistry between the two actors, and timing that often feels a beat behind...While 'Children of a Lesser God' has in some ways become a period piece, it’s one that is still important." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Ridloff, who communicates superbly on myriad levels is making a most distinguished Broadway debut in a role she has made entirely her own...While it remains easy to understand the how and the why of this play meaning so very much to so many people, it no longer is so easy to pull for the success of their relationship as you sit in the theater. And, frankly, that messes with the dynamic of the whole affair...These issues are exacerbated by a strange and chilly aesthetic structure." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"Does not seem to have the emotional impact as the original...Jackson gives a valid and notable performance...Lacks the impassioned tone that should complement Sarah's expressions when delivering her lines...Ridloff is a joy to watch...Sculpting words with fluid movements...accompanied by miens of anger, joy, passion, and concern...Both actors deftly execute their roles...but lack a certain chemistry...Leon has approached this production from too many angles." Full Review


"Medoff’s superior command of dramatic writing encompasses two substantial leading roles and several rich supporting parts...Director Leon imposes an odd production design on the presentation that is distracting...Jackson gets through the role with professionalism but with little impact. Others in the cast make up for this void but the vacuum of implausibility looms...The main thing is that it holds up as an affective stage piece but is considerably let down by this problematic production." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Thought-provoking, Excellent performances, Highly recommend, Relevant / resonant, Very touching

See it if you know AND like the movie. Slightly different book, but it works beautifully on stage. Strong performances. Didn't feel like 2 & 1/2 hrs.

Don't see it if you don't know the movie (or original play) and are expecting a sweet love-story. Do your homework. There is conflict from the word "GO".

Also It's all about the acting, & Joshua Jackson is SUPERB.... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if A good example of the dynamics of the hearing, deaf but speaking, and deaf non-speaking worlds. Gets into a lot of the politics not in movie

Don't see it if It is dated. There does not seem to be any chemistry between the two leads. The staging is spare for a Broadway production.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if The acting is incredible. The male actor was fantastic. A tour de force performance.

Don't see it if You like a splashy show. The set was completely bare. Kind of weird.

Absorbing, Resonant, Great writing

See it if You are intrigued by the lives of deaf people and you have never seen a production of this very good play (or the film)

Don't see it if You like a realistic set with your plays. You are deeply attached to the original or the film version.

Clever, Intelligent, Indulgent

See it if you want to see a Tony Award winning play the first time around. Clever use of signing and spoken word. Two strong performance by the leads

Don't see it if its hard to focus on action and words. Cold stage set is wrong. The play is a bit choppy. Male lead could have more depth.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Masterful, Entertaining

See it if Likr great communication, between those that cn hear, and those who can't hear, how deaf people can lead a normal life. Excellent.

Don't see it if If dont like, the use of sign language to convey a message.

Ambitious, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if two strong performances by lead actors. Intelligent play about being deaf.

Don't see it if the supertitles at times were not helpful and didn't keep up with dialogue.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Slow, Dated

See it if you are interested in seeing a show that explores what it's like to be deaf, from the perspectives of both the deaf and hearing communities.

Don't see it if you don't like plays with limited (& often pantomimed) sets, where much of the narrative unfolds through conversation rather than action.

Ambitious, Clever, Edgy, Great acting, Confusing

See it if you like shows that have deaf representation and deal with complicated relationships

Don't see it if you have trouble following confusing plots

Thought-provoking, Profound, Relevant, Great writing

See it if you enjoy this script, and want to see a refreshing authenticity in the casting and the acting of it.

Don't see it if you need direction and design that lives up to this still solid script, and supports the actors.

Lesser is greater

See it if You haven't seen or read it. Memory lane trip with Jackson. Ridloff is a revelation.

Don't see it if Zero production values. Lousy set. Only orchestra to avoid distracting super titles parade. Unnecessary unless deaf.

Also Great R&B music. Odd to to sit through entire Stevie Wonder song at ou... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Refreshing

See it if shows about deaf culture interest you. Features a cast of excellent actors communicating verbally and by signing.

Don't see it if you will be too distracted by super-titles (used to translate the ASL dialogue). This is not a musical.

Absorbing, Great acting

See it if You want to enjoy great acting and a story that will make you think. The 2 main actors are amazing!

Don't see it if The show is slow at times....and perhaps could have been shorter.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant, Dated

See it if you want to experience a well-acted, thoughtful production featuring a star-making turn by Lauren Ridloff.

Don't see it if you can't get past a significant hurdle: the play doesn't convince you why the two leads love each other, lessening the impact of the show.

Great acting, Indulgent, Overrated, Dated

See it if you're interested in storylines with deaf characters.

Don't see it if you want a relevant, well written drama.

Banal, Disappointing, Cliched, Overrated, Slow

See it if you want the minutes to go by like hours...watching uneven acting on a bad set.

Don't see it if you saw Tribes Off Broadway or don't need a nap.

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if you've never been exposed to nuanced conversations about deaf culture and deafness in a hearing world and would enjoy this as an entry point

Don't see it if you'd be bothered by a script where hearing characters basically repeat what the deaf characters sign, to "translate" for hearing audiences

Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Dated

See it if you are able to go in without expectations - I enjoyed it more that I thought I would based on reviews, you want to see two great leads.

Don't see it if you find it hard to sit through a regurgitation of everything that is signed, you can't sit through a clunky script for a few moving scenes.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if Exploring human connection and differences interests you. Simple set is made more powerful through music and lighting changes to evoke mood

Don't see it if You dislike dramatic plays primarily driven by dialogue. You're not curious about how a particular relationship might unfold

Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Confusing

See it if you're a fan of the movie, works about the deaf community/ASL, or like plays that deal with social justice issues!

Don't see it if you want a show that's easy to follow. You have to put in effort to watch this show

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if You like plays about complicated issues told in a different way.

Don't see it if You like happy endings or something light hearted and witty.

Slow, Dated, Uninspired, Generic, Drab

See it if you are a fan of one of the actors & have to see anything that actor performs in.

Don't see it if you are looking for something smart, inspired, innovative or alive.

Also The script for “Children of a Lesser God” never rises above the generi... Read more Read less

Dizzying, Entertaining

See it if you are curious about non-hearing people in a hearing world and our lack of communication skills.

Don't see it if you don't like captioned plays and quick paced dialogue.

Beautiful, Enlightening

See it if you are an empathetic person willing to broaden your horizons.

Don't see it if you are judgmental and unwilling to acknowledge another's plight.

Great acting, Relevant, Resonant, Slow, Dated

See it if Still important, still poignant drama about disabilities both physical & emotional Yet good work by leads can't quite overcome clumsy script

Don't see it if Leon's direction fails to ignite action or balance drama's flaws Inert set hurts also Play feels more about gender issues than disability

Cast & Creatives (17)