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The Great Society

From 278 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Ambitious, Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant

About the show

Emmy winner Brian Cox stars as Lyndon B. Johnson in this companion piece to the Tony-winning "All The Way," which depicts the tumultuous times that led to the conclusion of the Johnson presidency. More…

From the show:

From the producer, writer, and director of the Tony Award®-winning Broadway production, All The Way, comes a thrilling new play about the LBJ legacy: The Great Society. Presented at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center, this striking production features a brilliant cast portraying over fifty characters, including Emmy® and Olivier Award winner Brian Cox (“Succession,” King Lear with the Royal Shakespeare Company) as LBJ, Tony nominee Marc Kudisch (“Billions,” A Minister’s Wife at LCT) as Richard J. Daley, Grantham Coleman (Much Ado About Nothing at The Public) as Martin Luther King Jr., and Tony nominee Richard Thomas (The Little Foxes) as Hubert Humphrey.


Member Reviews (278)

MEMBERS SAY:

Great acting, Ambitious, Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant
74
Avg Score

80
Talky, Requires background history, Strong acting, Relevant, Intelligent

See it if you like history plays. TGS boasts a huge cast & clever staging. All the Way ends w a win; TGS w a loss. Focus on Vietnam, civil rts, power.

Don't see it if you want a perfect script. TGS is slow (long, talky) AND frenetic (short scs). Needs cuts, char devt. Cox is blustery. Great actors wasted.

81
Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if you like American history, want to know more about LBJ or follow up "All the Way," fan of Brian Cox, recall that period or lived through it

Don't see it if you don't like hectic history, characters not given chance to develop, too many events off stage, don't care about that time period

75
Skillfully brings to life the major political events of lbj's 1964-68 presidency; but lbj a "shakespearean" figure, monumental & tragic, still awaits his shakespeare

See it if teems w action; Brian Cox shows LBJ as arm-twisting force of nature

Don't see it if biopicish/uninspired; never shows us LBJ’s inner life, what drove LBJ 2 endorse Vietnam War expansion crippling his Great Society initiative

78
Epic, Confusing, Ambitious, Intelligent, Great acting

See it if you’re into political dramas, especially those reflecting the seminal events of the ‘60s.

Don't see it if you’re not interested in politics, or might get confused by several dozen characters portraying several events at once. This is a BIG piece.

73
Dense, Disappointing, Epic, Dated, Great acting

See it if You love talky plays about history and politics that give you an “inside baseball” look at an historical figure & political decision-making.

Don't see it if You feel like you’ve had your fill of plays/movies about Selma and Vietnam. There’s not much new to learn here.

76
Intelligent, Ambitious, Epic, Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if you're a history buff &/or a student of the Johnson years; good technical direction; you want a refresher course for the years 1964-1968.

Don't see it if overstuffed; actors wasted with little insight into their characters; where are Johnson's southern accent & mannerisms, what was he feeling?

Also I was interested through most of the play but my mind started to wande... Read more Read less

49
Boring

See it if You really like Johnson and just love the history around his presidency

Don't see it if You are expecting to learn anything new

Also I’m just not a big fan of history. In fact if I were going to score th... Read more Read less

81
Intelligent, Resonant, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if You are interested in LBJ, the events during the Vietnam War, and the beginning of the Civil Rights Era. As a Baby Boomer I enjoyed it.

Don't see it if You dislike political plays, and have no interest to learn about the U. S. struggles in the 1960’s to set the world straight.

Also The program included a separate card listing all of the political play... Read more Read less

80
Thought-provoking, Great staging, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if you lived through the LBJ years & want to understand some background.It's a terrific history lesson;I'm just not sure it's great theatre.

Don't see it if you want to be moved.Acting is uniformly brilliant,but there's very little heart here, very little story.I wanted more humanity,less lecture

79
Talky, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if Illuminates a time in history that many may not be aware of. Brian Cox was brilliant. Seeing these characters come to life is thrilling.

Don't see it if Very talky. You must pay attention or you'll lose the thread of what is happening.

80
Slow, Relevant, Great staging, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if to see some great acting. The characterizations are seamless. The juxtaposition of LBJ's brilliance and his downfall is heartrending.

Don't see it if You cant sit through lots of exposition and reorienting to time and action. You dont want to see the root of many social wrongs exposed.

Also Rush seats are available in good seats. it closes theis weekend. It is... Read more Read less

76
Overrated, Great acting, Great staging, Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if Enjoy a well acted historical piece

Don't see it if You loved its prequel and will hold it to those high standards

80
Disjointed, Disappointing, Great acting, Indulgent, Ambitious

See it if you’d enjoy seeing this stellar cast at work. Bryce Pinkham as RFK, Richard Thomas as Humbert Humphries, & David Garrison as Nixon impress.

Don't see it if you’d be bummed this isn’t as good as it should be. Scenes jump around to different issues in LBJ’s presidency so much no momentum happens.

Also I was excited for this and somewhat let down by the experience. A stro... Read more Read less

70
Historical, Absorbing, Great acting

See it if You want super acting by entire cast; staging and directing are outstanding. Those three things make it worthwhile.

Don't see it if You are not interested in Lyndon Johnson,s presidency. Lots of history. Almost like a documentary.

88
Relevant, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if you want to see a great performance by Brian Cox. It's fascinating to see the arc of the character during his time in office.

Don't see it if seeing the manipulation of a president will infuriate you. Incredibly heartbreaking and frustrating.

71
Relevant

See it if How politics plows through ideals and values. Rhymes with current politics of racism deeply dividing votes, which means political power.

Don't see it if Almost all historical plot, only tidbits of character / drama. 20+ characters confuses you. Victimizing Black people is triggering.

Also Diversity: handful of Civil Rights Era Black characters, but they're a... Read more Read less

75
Great writing, Intelligent, Great staging, Absorbing, History lesson, not a play

See it if you have not lived through this era and want a quick history lesson, or if you have lived through it and want to see it dramatized.

Don't see it if You don't care about history, especially this era. It's interesting to see, but it's not really a play, just a representation of the times.

68
Intelligent, Disappointing

See it if want to see Brian Cox on stage, else no reason.

Don't see it if want characters with any kind of depth - each was just a name and a way to tell the story. not much action onstage - it happens off.

80
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great staging, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if You like Shakespeare history plays, but with American protagonists . ..and no attempt at poetry

Don't see it if You have no affinity for history or have a limited attention span .

13
Unintersting, blah, and too got damn long, Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if and ONLY if you are a fan of actor Brian Cox.

Don't see it if you were expecting lighting to strike twice being that this is the playwright who wrote the hit play All The Way.

Also Playwright Robert Schenkkan, who wrote the two BRILLIANT plays, 1992's... Read more Read less

83
Relevant, Great acting, Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if You’re ready for a very big play featuring LBJ’s ambition for a Great Society & thwarted by the tragedy of the Vietnam Wat

Don't see it if Lots of characters, plots & sub plots exhaust you. Lots of loud voices

70
Unnecessary, Indulgent, Great acting, Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if You like historical theater, politics, or the huge theatrical experience that Lincoln center always provides. The large cast gives their all

Don't see it if You were expecting, or hoping for, All The Way. It’s unfair to compare them, except that’s how it’s being marketed. It was just boring.

70
Resonant, Slow, Disappointing

See it if You like reliving history during the LBJ era. With a big cast of characters good sets and don’t mind its superficial nature

Don't see it if You want a sensitive insightful exploration of the men and the times

80
Too long, Great staging, Resonant, Intense, Ambitious

See it if you enjoy historical dramas; you're a fan of Brian Cox

Don't see it if you expect it to be as good as "All the Way;" you prefer lighter plays; you like musicals

79
Thought-provoking, Profound, Great staging, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if Expert cast navigates multiple roles for a time of upheaval and less sexy than ALL THE WAY; political resonance mirrors current news

Don't see it if Minimal feel-good moments as the weight of actual events causes a similar drag in the work


October 1st, 2019
"In ‘The Great Society,’ Another Presidential Nightmare: Brian Cox plays Lyndon B. Johnson at the height of his powers, when history decided to bring him down."
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October 1st, 2019
3/5 Stars "Brian Cox plays a weakened LBJ in Robert Schenkkan's Broadway sequel to 'All the Way'"
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October 1st, 2019
"The Great-Man Theory of 'The Great Society'"
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October 1st, 2019
"Brian Cox stars as Lyndon Baines Johnson in the continuation of playwright Robert Schenkkan's sprawling account of the tumultuous 36th U.S. presidency that began with 'All the Way.'"
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