Members say: Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging, Intense, Absorbing

About the show

Bruce Willis makes his Broadway debut with Laurie Metcalf in this stage adaptation of Stephen King's best-selling horror novel.

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Successful romance novelist Paul Sheldon (Willis) is rescued from a car crash by his 'Number One Fan,' Annie Wilkes (Metcalf), and wakes up captive in her secluded home. While Paul is convalescing, Annie reads the manuscript to his newest novel and becomes enraged when she discovers the author has killed off her favorite character, Misery Chastain. Annie forces Paul to write a new novel, and he quickly realizes Annie has no intention of letting him go anywhere. The irate Annie has Paul writing as if his life depends on it, and if he does not make her deadline, it will.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"'Misery' the play is saturated in what feels like an amused, nostalgic distance from its source material. It’s as if Mr. Willis and Ms. Metcalf had shown up at the behest of a 'Misery' fan club to share memories of our enjoyment of the book and movie and to chuckle over how they once scared the wits out of us. Even the requisite dark-and-stormy atmospherics register as gentle, teasing reminders of guilty thrills past." Full Review


"Metcalf's performance is inscrutable, layered, and thrilling to behold. Willis feels much less present by comparison. He delivers most of his lines with the verve of a porn actor plodding through the exposition…Something about this change of medium has transformed 'Misery' from a thriller into a laugh-out-loud comedy...Suspense and dramatic tension are virtually nonexistent…'Misery' is a scream. I was never bored and didn't want it to end." Full Review


"Will Frears lets Willis get away with murder by maintaining his sophisticated-author cool well beyond the point of believability…Metcalf skillfully modulates her emotional transitions from adoring to obsessive to psychotic. Her eyelids flutter, her hand gestures quicken, and her vocal range reaches for the high notes. It’s a stunning performance, even if, in this oddly fear-free production, she provokes more pity than terror." Full Review


"From beginning to end, the night belongs to Metcalf's lonely, mentally unstable Annie Wilkes..Willis is fine, but not especially interesting...Familiar moments may invoke laughter and cheers, but the stage version works as more of a character study than a thriller…'Misery' on Broadway is a bit of tasty popcorn elevated to high art by an exceptional stage actor." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"What this production mostly demonstrates is the futility of digging up the dead…The movie, with its variety of shots and its focus on details, could disguise that endless tick-tock, but onstage the drama flattens out and separates...Willis has no stage chops…Metcalf knows exactly how to engage the audience...The genre [of suspense] has become so marginalized that it’s finally fallen off the page altogether, landing in a puddle of camp." Full Review

Time Out New York

"On a meta level, 'Misery' is about Willis playing film star Willis being terrorized by Metcalf’s superior acting talent…The pleasures of this production (perfunctorily staged by Will Frears) are mostly visual and all predictable…William Goldman’s stage adaptation of his own screenplay is lazily faithful to his own work…Still, if life imitates art, by the end of 'Misery’s' run, Willis may have learned something about acting from Metcalf. The rest of us just paid to watch the class." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"If you want to have the bejesus scared out of you, Laurie Metcalf is your woman. As Annie Wilkes in 'Misery,' she is an angel both of mercy and of death...Bruce Willis gives a performance that is largely uninflected and lacking in energy; one never feels the desperation associated with being held captive by a madwoman...A play like this is a kind of game; here, however, only one person on stage is playing for keeps." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"'The suspense is almost nil…Metcalf is far more engaged, yet outside of occasional moments, she and Willis don’t really seem to be inhabiting the same world…'Misery' is often funny, and most of this humor is intentional...It seems to know that it’s a genre piece rather than a serious drama and one wonders why the production didn’t embrace that genre more." Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

"It’s not as good as either King’s novel nor the movie, but it’s likely to appeal to those who don’t know either...Although he does manage some priceless blank stares, Willis' acting registers as something close to a non-performance…Metcalf’s performance, while certainly competent, pales beside the memory of Kathy Bates’…Director Will Frears is hobbled by the absence of the movie’s myriad close-ups...The best thing about 'Misery' is probably the set." Full Review

Front Row Center

"Well folks, this was a mighty hard slog…The other sad element that drags this production so far down that it barely has a pulse is the performance of Mr. Willis. Or lack thereof…Ms. Metcalf gives a performance that is strong enough to drag Mr. Willis and the entire set along with her. It is heavy lifting indeed…Time passes – could be weeks or months, but it feels to the audience like years." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"A bad idea poorly executed, a stage adaptation of the Oscar-winning film 'Misery' has been kicking around for years. It's hard to know why. What might seem creepy on film plays as silly and campy on stage…No one is in good form. " Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"This 'Misery' is an enjoyable enough rerun that recaptures some of its predecessor's B-movie pleasures...The play works surprisingly well in its more Hitchcockian scenes…As far as unhinged stalkers go, Metcalf's Annie is a hoot...It's just too bad nothing else in this rote retread comes close to the unpredictable energy of Annie's almighty insanity." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"'Misery' has nothing to offer save for the chance to get Mr. Willis’s autograph after the show…As scary as a lukewarm cup of Nesquik. Two big things are wrong with it: Mr. Willis never seems even slightly frightened, and Ms. Metcalf isn’t pitiful…As a result, you can’t feel sorry for her, which means that you don’t buy her…Will Frears, the director, fails to stage its gaspworthy moments with sufficient punch, though it’s not fair to blame him for the failure of a staging that is so ineptly c... Full Review

AM New York

"Whereas Rob Reiner's film was chilling, Broadway production (directed without focus by Will Frears), comes off as a psycho version of 'The Odd Couple,' with audience members laughing throughout at Annie's apparent insanity. Those who don't see the humor are likely to find it a pointless star vehicle. Metcalf is big, loud and over-the-top as Annie. On the other hand, the gruff-looking Willis displays little energy or presence, which easily allows Metcalf to overtake the show." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"You know that what you're watching is terrible, but because the realities surrounding the way you're watching it make it just too unbelievable to absorb, it simply doesn't work as theatre the way it should. It's not a bad time, but when you're a millisecond away from witnessing a brutal act and you and the people around you can barely stifle snickers, it's not exactly a good time, either." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"To say that Willis keeps this performance hidden under his bedclothes is a bit like saying that King sold a book or two. The character upon whom King projected his fear of some day being at the mercy of a totally wackadoodle fan is reduced mostly to various manifestations of the mumble...The lack of a zesty scene partner who is really going to challenge her and go for broke eventually seems to wear Metcalf down — it is like watching a two-hander with one of the hands shrouded in mist." Full Review

New York Daily News

"An actor’s job is to make a character, even one who can’t move, come alive. Except for an instant when Willis brashly flashes his nemesis the bird, he’s so bland it’s frightening. And unfortunately, nothing else is particularly scary about this dramatization of King’s novel about a writer terrorized by a demented devotee…As directed by Will Frears, Metcalf lacks a sense of danger. Instead she tilts toward goofy…'Misery' reminds how hard it is to make a thriller click on stage." Full Review


"If you can put aside the fact that the show offers about five seconds of actual, thriller-type suspense during its 90 intermissionless minutes, you can see glimpses of a younger and extremely likable Willis in 'Misery'...This script just smacks of laziness...What does surprise is that director Will Frears seems to have demanded so little not only of his stars but of most of the production team...What this is, is a summer stock production?" Full Review


"Laurie Metcalf turns out to be an inspired casting choice…Willis isn't as compelling as Metcalf…The resulting part thriller, part comic parody has just one or two really tense scenes but it's amusing to have you giggling at even Annie's most bizarre actions. The production values are good enough to overcome purist objections about the comedic angle being overdone…'Misery' is not high art. But then it never was." Full Review


"While the tempo might be lax, the production team has done a superb job...Another weakness of the play is that it takes place in 27 short scenes which include endless blackouts. While this is fine in a movie as film cuts, it draws attention to itself on the stage. 'Misery,' the play, will be remembered for Bruce Willis’ mild Broadway debut and Laurie Metcalf’s bravura performance. As a thriller for the theater, it counts heavily on the audience’s expectations as to where the story is going." Full Review

The Wrap

"Frankly, this 'Misery' doesn’t have enough over-the-top physical torture and mayhem to relieve its long spells of tedium. For the play’s first half, Metcalf makes a terrific Annie, but Goldman’s script doesn’t give her any new notes of dementia to hit in the second half...Willis gives a credible performance, but as a stage actor he doesn’t show much invention or variety." Full Review

The Associated Press

"In the end, 'Misery' isn't total misery. It's just weird...Nowhere this season on Broadway is there an acting gulf as wide between two leads than here...Metcalf plays a towering psychotic — girlish one minute and inhuman the next. She's so good that she starts making sense...It's hard to act when you're immobile but Willis doesn't try, merely groaning a lot…Everyone is doing their best here except one guy, the one drawing the high ticket prices." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Director Will Frears keeps the pacing relatively taut, though some of the early-going feels a bit more dragged out than necessary. Frears’ other secret weapon is Michael Friedman’s eerie original score, which does a fantastic job of adding to the mood of fear. 'Misery' won’t necessarily make you sad, or happy, but it does the job of thrilling and chilling quite well – in addition to providing yet another showcase for the titanic talent known as Laurie Metcalf." Full Review


"This adaptation of a classic Stephen King novel is really a showcase for talented theater veteran Laurie Metcalf...She is the highlight of a thriller that’s not very suspenseful…Although it’s only 90 minutes, his production often feels as immobile as Paul’s bruised and bandaged body. Not even Michael Friedman’s moody music can raise the tension. Sudden acts of violence were met with laughs from the audience rather than gasps." Full Review


"The challenge is to get someone who knows the story anxious all over again. And that they do. The box-office catnip is Willis, totally convincing in his first play since his early off-Broadway days…But the wow factor, the precision instrument that keeps propelling the story into psychologically unexpected corners, is Laurie Metcalf...The kind of expertly done, old-time theatrical thriller with little more in its psycho head than stylish, scary fun." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Indulgent, Banal, Disappointing, Overrated, Fluffy

See it if If you like Laura Metcalf, a good stage actor. If you liked the movie story line.

Don't see it if Bad directing, slow, Willis not effective at all. If you like a good movie in which the play resembled nothing like it.

Indulgent, Disappointing

See it if Laurie was the only reason to see it.

Don't see it if you won't, it closed.

Great acting, Disappointing, Great staging

See it if you are a Laurie Metcalf or Stephen King fan. Fantastic detail in the set design reinforced the instability of Metcalf's character.

Don't see it if you want to see Laurie go toe-to-toe with an actor of equal caliber -- Willis sleepwalks through his part.

Delightful, Great acting, Relevant, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you are familiar with the movie or book. Laurie Metcalf was amazing, and must see! . Bruce Willis was just iconic.

Don't see it if you are not a fan of seeing your childhood stars perform in play based on the great Stephen King.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Riveting, Overrated

See it if you are a fan of the actors and don't think that you have a better option for the time slot.

Don't see it if the somewhat sadistic pleasure of this short play will not surpass that which you would derive from other more typical shows.

Funny, Intense, Disappointing, Slow, Entertaining

See it if You like the cast and aren't a big fan of the movie.

Don't see it if If you want to see the movie on stage or want to be scared. It's neither of the above.

Funny, Ambitious, Edgy, Quirky, Fluffy

See it if you'd like to see an unintentionally funny stage adaptation of Misery featuring an edgy performance by Laurie Metcalf

Don't see it if you're a big fan of the movie and not open to any deviation from Kathy Bates' interpretation of Annie Wilkes

Cliched, Overrated

See it if A great female stage actress drag around a male movie star. Bruce just can't keep up with her. But her performance is always worth seeing

Don't see it if if you want to see a show that should be done is a small theater. Kathy Bates was great in the movie, Laurie Metcalf is amazing.

Excruciating, Insipid, Bruce willis the hole in the production, Laurie metcalf is always good but sad to see in this, No edge

See it if You like Laurie Metcalf, she saves the day.

Don't see it if If you read the book or loved the film, don't waste your time

Great acting, Disappointing, Slow

See it if You're a huge fan of Ste King, Laurie Metcalf (terrific) or Bruce Willis(understated, believable, charming). And you haven't seen the film.

Don't see it if You loved the movie. This added nothing to it.

Edgy, Intense, Disappointing, Overrated, Just okay

See it if You're a fan of Laurie Metcalfe, who is wonderful in just about everything she does.

Don't see it if you are expecting Bruce Willis to act.

It tried

See it if you have a taste for Stephen King.

Don't see it if you want to see the movie reproduced on the stage. The production is sluggish, but it tries. Not bad, but not great.


See it if you are a fan of Stephen King and like seeing different interpretations of his work.

Don't see it if you dislike suspense, or are looking for an exact copy of the book or movie.

Ambitious, Disappointing, Overrated, Poorly acted, Slow

See it if You're curious about making a stephen king book into a play.

Don't see it if You expect one of the two main stars to act. Oh yeah and to not use an ear piece 4 months into the show. But Metcalfe made it bearable.

Funny, Edgy, Intense, Banal, Entertaining

See it if You love Laurie Metcalf and would watch her act her way out of a paper bag.

Don't see it if You're looking for a play on equal par to the film.

Great acting, Intelligent, Must see, Cliched, Great staging

See it if You want to see mr Willis as helpless person. + Mrs Metcalf absolutely perfect.

Don't see it if You don't like Stephen King

Intense, Slow

See it if You are a fan of the Stephen King or movie... Laurie Metcalf as the #1 fan is sooo good while Bruce Willis should stick to action films

Don't see it if You are not into darker themed productions..

Clever, Great acting, Must see, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if If you want to see a great thriller! The scenery was really cool and Bruce Willis was excellent

Don't see it if I don't like plays, a great night out everyone should see it

Disappointing, Slow, Great staging

See it if you are fan of Laurie Metcalf

Don't see it if if you have better things to do with your money

Great acting, Intense, Entertaining

See it if You're a fan of the movie, but would appreciate seeing a different approach on the characters.

Don't see it if You're looking for a perfect adaptation or remake. This is more of different perspective or take of the film.

Intense, Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Cliched

See it if you like bruce willis and laurie met calf

Don't see it if you want to see a great play

Disappointing, Underwhelming, Campy

See it if you love Misery so much that you don't care whether it's done well or not.

Don't see it if you will be disappointed that the tension isn't here, the pacing is all wrong, and the show is played ineffectually for campy laughs.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You want to see something dark & suspenseful; If you don't know how it ends; if you are a fan of the actors.

Don't see it if You know the story very well & don't think you'll find the suspense element worth your while. I went in without having seen or read it.

Absorbing, Insipid, Hilarious, Great staging, Laurie metcalf

See it if you love misery, stephen king and LAURIE METCALF!

Don't see it if you want a musical. NO singing in this show lol

Great acting, Great set, Authentic

See it if You want to see Laurie Metcalf devour the city and blow Kathy Bates out of the water. You've been longing for some good on-stage violence

Don't see it if You already don't like the source material. You'll be offended by audiences laughing at suspenseful/grotesque content.

Cast & Creatives (7)