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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

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.

65
Full of sound and fury..., Very disappointing, Surprisingly unaffecting historical re-inactment of lbj's presidency

See it if You like historical re-enactments with actors trying out accents as they assume the characters of historical figures.

Don't see it if You like motivation and character in your historical characters, not bullet points and anecdotes.

Also This didn't work at all for me on any level. Everyone seemed to be sho... Read more Read less

68
Disappointing, Confusing, Slow, Relevant, Great acting

See it if you are very interested in the history of the Johnson administration. Its more of a history lesson than a play. the cast is excellent

Don't see it if you have no interest in the the 60's. Cast portrays many characters and if you are not familiar with the period it can be confusing

66
Slow, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Educational, Ambitious

See it if you can find a cheap ticket - I got a great seat at a very low price!

Don't see it if you're looking for something fully rounded.

Also The pacing was odd - I think it tried to cover too much. But I learned... Read more Read less

69
Thought-provoking, Slow, Intelligent, Great staging, Great acting

See it if Want good acting and comment.on history repeating itself. Interesting take on historical hindsight

Don't see it if Don't enjoy political history as the baseline for your plays. A bit slow paced so if you are easily bored.

65
Doesn't hold up to the audible version of caro's books, Ambitious

See it if You like American History and don't mind if the characters, as written, don't stand up to the real people

Don't see it if you have used audible.com to listen to Dallek's 1,200 page book on LBJ or Caro's 5 volume set

Also If you want to really know the story you must read or listen to Caro's... Read more Read less

62
A continuation of lbj's presidency that may be concise but not always dramatically compelling

See it if you're a history buff who enjoys seeing great actors perform a by the numbers pageant.

Don't see it if you already weren't bowled over by "All the Way." This isn't necessarily a step up.

Also I love political history and rather enjoyed "All the Way" a few years ... Read more Read less

67
Disappointing, Confusing, Indulgent, Dizzying, Ambitious

See it if You're intent on seeing anything involving LBJ and/or Brian Cox, even if the quality is mediocre.

Don't see it if You expect top quality staging, a well-edited and managed script, a carefully managed cast... Oh, I could go on and on. It is a chaotic mess

Also I was very disappointed with the play, having seen "All the Way" with ... Read more Read less

50
Disappointing, Not theatre, Good acting

See it if you need a compact history lesson and you love testosterone-filled (good) ensembles

Don't see it if you actually like plays.

Also this is the fourth show I see at Vivian Beaumont Theatre that has the ... Read more Read less

65
Important, Lackluster, Relevant, Intelligent, Disappointing

See it if you like political drama, even those that are more a pageant of events than real drama.

Don't see it if you are not interested in recent American history.

Also It feels more like a history lesson than a play. Although it covers so... Read more Read less

69
Like a high school history pageant, Disappointing

See it if If you are a devoted LBJ fan or history buff and don't care if the play is good or not.

Don't see it if you want a play to show you something, not just tell. It was like a Power Point acted out - didn't get behind events to reveal character.

Also I loved "All the Way" and lived through the events depicted, but this ... Read more Read less

57
Excruciating, Disappointing

See it if You like dry, instructive, historical drama with little characterization and less heart. Well acted and serviceably staged, but zzzzz.

Don't see it if You prefer plays that have a heartbeat.

69
Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if You would like an update on the history of the mid 1960s or want to see how so many wonderful actors can have their talents obfuscated

Don't see it if You are looking for insight into LBJ’s character

60
Miscast, Disappointing

See it if you want a high level overview of LBJ's presidency

Don't see it if you are expecting the cast to resemble ANY of the actual characters portrayed. The only decent casting is Lady Bird Johnson

60
Relevant, Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if You are curious to see the follow-up to “All the Way.” Brian Cox gives a full-punch performance and much of the writing is great,

Don't see it if Seeing a production which ultimately fails to illuminate LBJ would leave you dissatisfied.

50
Banal

See it if you are interested in recent US history and President Johnson in particular and /or want to see the sequel to "All the Way"

Don't see it if you are not prepared to sit through a rather dreary history lesson overstuffed with facts, figures and historical characters

59
Slow, Excruciating, Disappointing

See it if Don't see it.

Don't see it if You don't want be put to sleep.

68
Slow, Relevant, Intelligent, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy historical plays or are interested in LBJ.

Don't see it if you don't like historical pieces.

55
Great acting, Dated, Cliched

See it if you have a penchant for this time in history or Brian Cox.

Don't see it if you want to see work that advances the form. You don't enjoy dry and manipulative historical retelling.

Also It's a bit dated in it politics. Not quite woke as they say....... Read more Read less

65
Historical, Indulgent, Absorbing

See it if You’re a fan of LBJ and his doings. I find these subjects boring and banal. They gave it a good effort - relevant for today’s politics

Don't see it if You aren’t a fan of regurgitating old Problems reflected in new ones

67
Recycled, Boring, Overrated, Disappointing, Cliched

See it if You need a history lesson.

Don't see it if you dislike overproduced, amateurish, civics lessons.

55
Disappointing, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if You really like those biopic movies that are basically a big performance for one actor, and a structure of event and event.

Don't see it if You are hoping that they could take this period of history, all these resources, and a large and talented cast, and actually illuminate.

During previews
64
Plodding, Long, Slow, Overrated

See it if Despite solid performances, this was a heavy and uninteresting slow burn. Tough to stick with especially at 3 hours. A monotone play.

Don't see it if You don’t like heavy political works.

During previews
68
Tedious, Relevant, Disappointing, Ambitious, Intelligent

See it if you want a live Cliff Notes version of the mid ‘60s In the US with LBJ at center stage.

Don't see it if are expecting a worthy sequel to All the Way. The writing is weaker with little depth of characterization. Brian Cox is not well-cast.

Also While its intentions are noble, it comes across as a long slog.

During previews
65
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if you want to learn more about the politics of LBJ.

Don't see it if you saw "All the Way" and expect the same complex portrayal of LBJ - a flawed man trying to do the right thing. This LBJ just yelled a lot


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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