New York | 2h 15m | Already closed

The Waverly Gallery (Broadway)

From 62 critic and 556 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant

About the show

Kenneth Lonergan’s ('Lobby Hero,' 'Manchester By the Sea') acclaimed memory play makes its Broadway premiere. Starring Elaine May, Lucas Hedges, Joan Allen, and Michael Cera. More…

'The Waverly Gallery' is about the final  years of a generous, chatty, and feisty grandmother’s final battle against Alzheimer’s disease. Gladys is an old-school lefty and social activist and longtime owner of a small art gallery in Greenwich Village. The play explores her fight to retain her independence and the subsequent effect of her decline on her family, especially her grandson. More than a memory play, 'The Waverly Gallery' captures the humor and strength of a family in the face of crisis.

2h 15m | Already closed | The John Golden Theatre (Midtown W)


95
Broadway News

“Superlative...Feels even more delicately but unmistakably moving nearly 20 years on...The quality of the play is here immeasurably enhanced by the excellence of the staging...All of the actors give performances deeply attuned to the studied simplicity of Longergan’s writing, which stealthily but powerfully unearths the drama...There’s no question that May is first among equals here, giving a performance of remarkable acuity...It’s a flawless performance." Full Review

95
DC Metro Theater Arts

"One of those rare occurrences in art in which everything comes together perfectly and affects profoundly. It is brimming with real human experiences, emotions, and empathy, poignantly written, compellingly acted, seamlessly directed, and evocatively designed...In a brilliant return to the stage, Elaine May, under the superb direction of Lila Neugebauer, fully inhabits the role of Gladys...This is theater that not only observes life, but can also make a difference." Full Review

95
Stage Left

“May gives a searingly painful and simply heartbreaking performance as a woman descending into dementia in Lonergan’s quietly sad play...Marking the Broadway debuts of director Neugebauer and actor Hedges, this naturalistic memory play is a stunning achievement in dramatizing the indignity of aging and the emotional impact of long-term care on a family unit. Perhaps Mr. Lonergan’s best play, May’s performance alone is worth the price of admission.” Full Review

95
Melinda's Malarky

“The play is cleverly staged. The brick wall curtain serves as a screen between scenes showing how things have changed over the years in Greenwich Village from the 1960s to 1980s. Daniel speaking directly to the audience is very affecting. Allen & Hedges are excellent in their roles. May gives a powerhouse performance. Lonergan's brilliant play is a potent reminder to listen to each other...A masterpiece and May is a miraculous force of nature.” Full Review

95
Journal Inquirer

“There are no adequate accolades to describe May’s performance...Under the fantastic direction of Neugebauer, May plays Green, an elderly woman who...is suffering from dementia...May’s performance is so convincing...The supporting cast gives a great performance as well. Allen, in particular...’The Waverly Gallery’ is a fantastic, but sometimes tough to get through, piece of theater, especially for audience members who have experienced the tragedy that is dementia.” Full Review

93
JK's Theatre Scene

“Save for the occasional direct address to the audience, the work is harsh in its realistic naturalism...It feels like we are observing lives through a window...It is amazing that such a heartbreaking play can also be so entertaining...Though his metaphors are occasionally obvious, Lonergan's play is a brave mix of sentimentality and harsh reality...A thoroughly engrossing, emotional ride that will leave you spent but thrilled." Full Review

90
Lighting & Sound America

“Immaculate revival of Lonergan's memory play...May's work is incisively detailed, yet extraordinarily delicate; she renders her character's plight fearlessly and without a trace of sentimentality, while employing the pinpoint timing that made her the leading female comic of her generation...Neugebauer and company have an exquisitely delicate touch, treading lightly and flawlessly in a series of emotionally telling scenes." Full Review

90
Theatermania

“In what may be his best work, Lonergan sensitively shows how age diminishes even the most formidable of us...May gives the most heartbreaking performance currently on Broadway...Neugebauer once again proves to be the master of subtle group dynamics, drawing out the subtext in Lonergan's script...We fully feel and understand the complicated mixture of love, fear, and responsibility that governs this family's interactions with its matriarch.” Full Review

90
Times Square Chronicles

"May touches our hearts, holds us captive and slowly disintegrates before our eyes...As sad as this play is, it is also funny, for in deep pain comes humor. Laughter here is a shield...This play is a memory play in more ways than one. Dialogue, overlaps and at times it seems as if everyone is shattering like shards of glass. The whole cast is excellent, but it is Elaine May’s performance that is mesmerizing and deeply layered...She is the ghost of the future and it is chilling." Full Review

90
CurtainUp

"With Elaine May starring in the top-drawer production now at the Golden Theater, Lonergan's tender but touching play based on his own grandmother is fun and funny, as well as heart-rendingly moving...Elaine May's performance a sure-fire contender for Best Leading Actress. But 'The Waverly Gallery's' welcome return to Broadway is also strongly supported by the outstanding ensemble, Lonergan's natural and emotionally authentic dialogue and Lila Neugebauer's subtle direction." Full Review

90
The Wall Street Journal

“This revival is a close-to-ideal enactment of what might just be Lonergan’s most gripping stage play to date—which is saying something...May is not a stage actor but her lack of experience...doesn’t stop her from a performance that blends bewilderment with courage in a way that is beautifully, heartbreakingly right...Her four colleagues, Ms. Allen in particular, support her with the utmost sensitivity...Neugebauer has long since established herself as one of our best directors." Full Review

90
NY1

“Lonergan's shattering portrait of a woman's descent into senility is painful to watch, but its heartfelt honesty sets the stage for a very talented company to remind us to cherish the time we've got...Neugebauer's sensitive direction feels so natural, it's almost like eavesdropping. And while the entire cast is superlative, the show belongs almost entirely to May's beautifully measured performance...A play that delivers the hard truth about aging with eloquence and empathy.” Full Review

90
City Cabaret

"A touching memory play...It offers no happy ending, a trail of losses, anger, frustration, a picture of decline and dependency, eloquently honest and crushingly sad...Lonergan's dialogue, with characters often talking over each other, is always as natural as eavesdropping on a bus. The link between his characters rings true and above everything, Elaine May is poignant and authentic with on-target timing." Full Review

90
TheaterScene.net

"The brick wall that greets you when you arrive at Broadway's Golden Theatre feels foreboding and prohibitive, as if the play that's about to begin will not let you in. But nothing could be further from the truth with Kenneth Lonergan's 'The Waverly Gallery,' a marvelous and heartfelt drama, now receiving a perfect revival under the careful direction of Lila Neugebauer." Full Review

90
StageZine

"For a play of this nature, you have to start with an outstanding ensemble cast. I have to start by thanking Elaine May for bringing my late mother (who suffered from the same disease) to life and showing, with heartbreaking accuracy, what she went through those last few years of her life...What makes 'The Waverly Gallery' a must-see is that it is a life history lesson." Full Review

90
Theater Life

“Poignant and funny...This revival, under Neugebauer’s sensitive direction, has May...May painfully and perfectly captures the bewilderment and anxiety of no longer understanding what’s happening to the world you once knew. May’s Gladys is part clueless, part achingly aware her body and mind are failing her. Hedges is particularly fine not only in his scenes with his family but also as the narrator who breaks the fourth wall to let the audience know he is now older and wiser.” Full Review

90
Off Script with Dan Dwyer

"Rings truer than any play I’ve seen in memory because it reminds me of my mother rings truer than any play I’ve seen in memory because it reminds me of my mother...Lila Neugebauer‘s direction is as sensitive as Lonergan's writing: Her pacing suggests both the passage of time past, and lapses in the present. The God-gifted, impeccable comic timing of Elaine May, illuminates many funny, sometimes absurd, moments." Full Review

90
Deadline

“A vital comic drama that dares us to laugh before delivering the gut punch…The 'Waverly' characters talk over one another, with Neugebauer carefully charting the way, her instincts for each actor’s talents paying off tremendously...And as good as they all are, this production will be remembered for the stunning Elaine May...It feels a privilege to watch this legend transform Lonergan’s meditation on dignity, regret and ungraspable memory into something indelible and lasting." Full Review

85
The New York Times

“A group portrait, in which everyday life is distorted to the point of surrealism by the addled soul at its center. Neugebauer has assembled a dream cast to embody the collective madness that seems to descend on those closest to Gladys...As near perfect as the performances are, the physical production occasionally lets them down...Such objections dissolve as soon as Gladys and her clan reassemble into groupings that convey claustrophobic intimacy and tragic, unbridgeable distance.” Full Review

85
DC Theatre Scene

“Lonergan’s meticulously observed, funny and sad play about a woman’s decline and its effect on her family...May is one of five stellar cast members...They turn this 18-year-old play into…if not required, certainly well-rewarded viewing. So does Lila Neugebauer in her overdue Broadway directorial debut...The issue at center stage – the frustration of dealing with a deteriorating family member — is never less than timely.” Full Review

85
BroadwayWorld

"Lonergan's touching and humorous piece is a memory play...A warm and heart-tugging production, bringing out the parallels of living in beloved neighborhoods that aren't what they used to be and dealing with beloved people who aren't what they used to be. An outstanding ensemble is led by comedy icon Elaine May...In May's hands, the tragedy of Gladys' decline is that we can still see her energetic lust for life and for encouraging young artists." Full Review

85
Time Out New York

“Lonergan's family drama, starring the great Elaine May, is an indelible portrait of loss...’The Waverly Gallery’ forces us to deal with the walking memento mori that Gladys has become, but in a way that never seems cruel...She is funny and warm and she’s familiar, which helps fill in some of the play’s emotional blanks...May receives very fine support from the rest of the ensemble of Lila Neugebauer’s steady and unforced revival.” Full Review

85
Wolf Entertainment Guide

"May is triumphant in her dramatic venture, displaying remarkable acting talent at a new level...It is one of the season’s performances not to be missed...Impeccably directed by Neugebauer with mounting tension to match the increasing desperation...Lonergan has written a play that may be especially tough to take for those who have had to deal with family members with dementia. But he has succeeded in dramatizing the problem with admirable effectiveness." Full Review

85
Theater Life

"The new production, deftly directed by Lila Neugebauer, also offers a memorable lead turn. This time, it’s the incomparable Elaine May...May’s classic comic timing works perfectly for Gladys’ verbal ramblings and repetitions which drive her family nuts and send the audience into paroxysms of laughter...An astonishingly simple portrait of human frailty. But this 'Gallery' is also a heartbreaking ensemble piece." Full Review

85
Chicago Tribune

“That grinning visage, and that palpable zest for life, combine to make May’s performance...one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever see in a Broadway theater and one of the most profoundly sad...The power of this play...is that we observe with dread that some version of the fate that befalls May’s Green is most likely also waiting for us...What Hedges does capture, as do the excellent Allen and Cromer, is the frustration family members feel when one of their own starts to decline." Full Review


100
Absorbing, Intelligent, Resonant, Great acting, Must see

See it if Incredible acting (especially Elaine May). The theme of aging is handled with great sensitivity. A very emotional experience.

Don't see it if If you cannot deal with dementia issues. This play will make you cry.

100
Exquisite, Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Absorbing

See it if you want to see great acting by the masterful Elaine May. The rest of the cast was top notch as well.

Don't see it if you're looking for a lot of action or plot twists. It's a simple story about life and family and the realities of aging.

100
Absorbing, Great writing, Intense

See it if Incredibly well written show. Great acting very well directed. Realistic show Elaine May is still amazing at 86 years old.

Don't see it if A realistic drama about aging and dementia is painful to see

100
Exquisite, Absorbing, Intelligent, Resonant, Refreshing

See it if you love great writing, great acting, great dialogue, poignant story.

Don't see it if you want something light or want a blockbuster. Even then, you might unwittingly enjoy this accidentally because quality is quality.

Also I noticed some people say not to see this show if you have trouble wit... Read more Read less

100
Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if you like smart well written drama with comedy and real life situations

Don't see it if you are upset by dementia and growing old

100
Great acting, Masterful, Profound, Relevant, Riveting

See it if you want to see one of the greatest actresses of all time (Elaine May) deliver a brilliant performance; you appreciate great ensemble acting

Don't see it if if you are uncomfortable watching plays about aging and dementia

Also What a fantastic play, great writing, amazing acting - Elaine May's pe... Read more Read less

98
Wave waverly hello

See it if One Tony Award level performance among an all star cast. Playwright's success needs no introduction.

Don't see it if Zero negatives.

Also No weak performances. Elaine May gives a clinic. Lucas Hedges can act ... Read more Read less

98
Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if Powerful performances

Don't see it if If the subject of aging if difficoto see.

Also This play had me from the opening line! I was so emotionally entangled... Read more Read less

98
Absorbing, Great acting, Resonant, Intense

See it if brilliant, understated acting is your thing, you can handle challenging and harsh reality being portrayed.

Don't see it if your sensitive to issues of aging and/or dementia.

98
Absorbing, Relevant, Resonant, Great acting, Intense

See it if You want to see a great playwright at his best with superb acting and theme that touches the heart.

Don't see it if You don’t like family dramas or plays concerned with mental illness.

Also This play was totally moving and left me with the desire to live every... Read more Read less

98
Exquisite, Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Must see

See it if you want to laugh and cry. See it so when your parent needs you, you will have some clue about how to care for them.

Don't see it if you do not care about old people. Don't see it if great acting and ensemble pieces don't appeal to you.

Also The writing is marvelous. You will be touched by the performances and ... Read more Read less

97
Great acting, Great writing, Profound, Exquisite, Must see

See it if You want to see a beautiful, human story brought to life by an ensemble of phenomenal actors.

Don't see it if A story that deals with dementia will hit too close to home.

Also Elaine May gives one of the greatest performances that I have ever see... Read more Read less

96
Masterful, Great writing, Superb acting especially elaine may

See it if You love great acting and reality. Realistic process of again and dementia.

Don't see it if You cannot deal with the slow deterioration of a human being....Altzheimers is a terrible disease.

96
Absorbing, Funny, Great acting

See it if See Elaine may now! What a great cast...Cera, Allen and Hedges.

Don't see it if You don’t like dramas?

96
Absorbing, Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Must see

See it if you can handle a play about a very serious disease-alzheimers. This play shows the humor of the early stages and the devastation at the end

Don't see it if you don't want to be emotionally drained

96
Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if you are a fan of Elaine May, the rest of the cast is just as great. This show will tap a far range of emotions.

Don't see it if don't like tense moments about mental health issues.

96
Absorbing, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if The dialogue and acting were so on point for anyone who ever has experienced someone with memory decline. Lucas Hedges was incredible.

Don't see it if You want cheerful and upbeat themes.

96
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Must see, Resonant

See it if You enjoy acting and writing at its height on Broadway. Elaine May and the cast give you a masterclass and Kenneth Lonergan provides text

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with watching the very real effects of aging. all of us need to be aware of how our aging will impact others.

96
Absorbing, Great acting, Profound, Relevant, Riveting

See it if you want to see Elaine May at her best; you can deal with a play that explores the ravages of dementia for the whole family

Don't see it if you are looking for a comedy or a musical

96
Absorbing, Funny, Intense, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if you like family oriented stories and aren’t afraid of things getting very real and difficult.

Don't see it if you are very sensitive to the loss of a loved one (specifically parent/grandparent) or you don’t want to think about life and death

95
Absorbing, Great acting, Exquisite

See it if You enjoy watching amazing actors give a master class in understated performances.

Don't see it if Watching a story about dementia hits too close to home for you. It might be too hard to watch.

Also Elaine May, Lucas Hedges and Joan Allen are phenomenal, as is the supp... Read more Read less

95
Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Funny

See it if you want to laugh AND cry at the theatre. The writing is very funny and heartbreaking at the same time.

Don't see it if you don’t like to cry in public.

95
Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Profound, Relevant

See it if You love a great story about a family dealing with a loved one with alzheimers/dementia. You'll laugh, you'll cry. So well acted. A must see

Don't see it if you prefer light, airy stories

95
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Profound, Riveting

See it if You enjoy natural, nuanced acting. Hard to believe Elaine May has not been on stage her entire life. Her mental descent is slow & believable

Don't see it if You only enjoy light fare. We see a real family dealing with real issues.

95
Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Heartbreaking, Beautiful

See it if you are interested in a perfectly acted, quiet elegy that explores how dementia challenges and tests the familial unit. This is pure beauty.

Don't see it if you need a play with a lot of plot/action or loud, don't enjoy family dramas or enjoy tear-jerkers, or hate to see masterclasses in acting.


Cast & Creatives (12)