New York | 2h 35m | Already closed

Children of a Lesser God

From 46 critic and 769 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Intelligent, Dated

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'). 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.

2h 35m | Already closed | Studio 54 (Midtown W)

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

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

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

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

Journal Inquirer

"Ridloff is radiant and full of life and energy...Jackson does a great job of juggling the responsibility of portraying James...Requiring him to act in a way that has him reacting to Sarah's dialogue while translating her...Still a profound piece of theater...Leon has created a superb revival that reminds audiences to cast aside their assumptions about people and learn to listen not just with their ears and eyes, but also with their hearts and minds." 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

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

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

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

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


"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


"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


"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


"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

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

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

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

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

Melinda's Malarky

"Feels amiss despite the two outstanding leads...Too much weight is shouldered by the two which burdens the storytelling...The shortcomings with the play stem from a riddled script, flimsy sets and flawed audio. Too much of the dialogue gets lost in translation. However, the prescient messaging of the play resounds clearly. The multi-racial cast echoes the struggle to feel empathy versus pity and proffering help without browbeating." 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

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

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

Must see, Riveting, Intense, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you wanna see a really great Broadway play

Don't see it if you don’t like plays

Absorbing, Clever, Funny, Great acting, Romantic

See it if you love powerful love stories. So sad this show closed. It's a universal love story. Sometimes I watch the movie when I miss this play.

Don't see it if you don't want to leave a show with goosebumps.

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

See it if you love seeing diversity in ability on stage. If you have any connection to deaf culture DON'T miss it!

Don't see it if you don't appreciate deaf culture.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if you are a fan of ASL theater and want to support that community and if you want to see an intense relationship unfold

Don't see it if you want a big show with a lot going on with stage decor and aren't into american sign language.

Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Masterful, Relevant

See it if Extraordinary performance from Joshua Jackson. Kudos to the cast, director, scenic designer, and to the rest of the team.

Don't see it if If you are not interested in the subject matter

Also This play advances a solution in the words of Lauren Ridloff, telling ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Ambitious, Outstandingh

See it if You are intersted in the topic of deaf people.

Don't see it if It might be difficult for someone to understand the talking, the hand signals, the story if they aren't aware of the plot.

Absorbing, Indulgent, Riveting, Thought-provoking, Masterful

See it if Want to enjoy great acting. To completely understand the importance of acceptance of a person a little different than ourselves.

Don't see it if If you don't want to read words and follow along.

Absorbing, Delightful, Great acting, Ambitious, Clever

See it if if you love great acting, sign language, intense scenes and a wonderful experience

Don't see it if you don't like the theater

Great acting, Intelligent

See it if You enjoy good theater, know anyone who is deaf

Don't see it if Subtitles distract you, you're looking for musicals

Absorbing, Relevant, Must see, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if you like thought-provoking plays

Don't see it if you want a quick, easy comedy

Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if You appreciate good acting and charming actors

Don't see it if If you’re hung up on old themes being a problem

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful, Resonant

See it if You like excellent acting and character building. You're a fan of good staging and strong themes about disability, love, and relationships.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy shows about relationships or deep themes about communication between family and lovers.

Exquisite, Great acting, Edgy, Resonant

See it if you enjoy thoughtful drama, well acted, about the human condition

Don't see it if you are bothered by superficial human blemishes

Also You will laugh, and cry, and root for the lead character who has spent... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Must see, Masterful

See it if You enjoy one character playing an important part or even portraying the roles of others.

Don't see it if You prefer a plot where each person has their own lines and speaks them

Also Joshua Jackson's portrayal of the voice of the deaf child along with h... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Intelligent, Resonant, Thought-provoking, Exquisite

See it if If youve seen the original show or film versions, this is a refreshing and modern representation

Don't see it if If you aren’t supportive or compassionate about the life challenges of the deaf community

Great acting, Intelligent, Must see, Profound, Romantic

See it if you love stories with a realistic romance, warts and all, and are Deaf, or have a Deaf friend or relative, or are interested in Deaf issues.

Don't see it if you don't like not understanding when certain characters speak, or are not interested in the relationships between Deaf and Hearing persons.

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Profound

See it if you want your consciousness expanded. Don't judge, just listen.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy reading while watching a performance.

Absorbing, Great acting, Riveting, Must see, Funny

See it if You are looking for some really powerhouse acting and wonderfully simplistic staging that works so perfectly.

Don't see it if Aren't a fan of plays. If you don't like sign language.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You want to see an amazing production of an older but still EXTREMELY relevant story.

Don't see it if You don’t want to read subtitles when a character talks in sign language.

Dated, Intense, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if you like great acting both vocally and through sign language. Enjoy multiethnic casting, enjoy a dialogue heavy, intense storyline.

Don't see it if you don’t want to watch one lead character sign the whole show & the other interpret while speaking & signing his own.

Absorbing, Great acting, Profound

See it if This play offers a greater understanding of people whose differences many of us have not respected enough. The r

Don't see it if There is no reason unless you totally lack empathy and interest in learning about other ways of relating.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great staging, Must see

See it if you are a fan of Joshua Jackson and if you want to see great directing, acting, staging, conceptualization on a mind of one character.

Don't see it if you don’t want to see or watch sign language in a play. Don’t see it if your imagination, ideas and thinking is enclosed inside a box.

Also All casts did a great job in giving justice to their characters. Learn... Read more Read less

Great writing, Great acting, Intense, Absorbing, Profound

See it if You are open to trying to understand daily experience of people who are differently abled, appreciate great acting

Don't see it if You have difficulty understanding how some deaf people speak, need to hear all dialog, are not interested in interpersonal relationships

Excellent script, compelling, timely, expertly performed. deaf world meets hearing world; says, “i don’t need you to remake me in your image.”

See it if You’ve ever had your heart broken by someone who said back off, I need to be me. Or if you’re interested in sign language or the deaf.

Don't see it if You need excessive diversion or spectacle. It’s a simple set and the relationship demands attention.

Also As apt and performed with as much integrity and conviction as when Phy... Read more Read less

Great acting, Delightful, Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining

See it if This was a great play. I would recommend it to anyone who really likes a play that has a beautiful love story,with great acting. Very

Don't see it if There is no reason not to see this play. You will not be disappointed.

Also entertaining. Must see.

Cast & Creatives (17)