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

About the show

Roundabout Theatre Company presents Keira Knightley's Broadway debut in a new adaption of the Emile Zola novel, a tale of love, lust, betrayal and guilt.

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A quiet young woman with a restless spirit, Thérèse submits to a loveless life at the side of her weak and selfish husband…until she meets his childhood friend Laurent. Consumed by their desire for each other, Thérèse and Laurent dream of the day they can finally be together. When their overwhelming passion spins violently out of control, they realize that love can be a dangerous game, and sometimes there is no winner.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"For a play that is partly about the fear of being found out, 'Thérèse Raquin' is curiously lacking in tension of any kind. It is steeped, instead, in a single shade of morbid resignation…All of the cast members seem to belong to different theatrical universes...Like these characters’ lives, their erotic encounters are nasty, brutish and short. That’s a fair description of the play in which they appear, except for the short part." Full Review


"Director Evan Cabnet's brutal and earthy production certainly captures the heart of Zola's vision, furthered still by compellingly raw performances. This 'Thérèse Raquin' is as hot as it is terrifying…Knightly is a marvel as Thérèse…Edmundson authors one of the most faithful adaptations of a novel I've ever witnessed, while maintaining a zippy efficiency…This beautifully rendered adaptation of classic French literature turns out to be the surprise thriller of the season." Full Review


"Although Evan Cabnet’s hammy direction of the first act does elicit uncomfortable laughter, the physical production is exquisite, and by the end of the act the performers have found the raw passion to leave the audience gasping…Knightley and Ryan are ravishing — and articulate — as these fierce bourgeois Macbeths, undone by their own greed and passion...The play ends as it must, in tragedy. But how we do love their misery." Full Review


"Director Evan Cabnet's gorgeously understated mounting of Helen Edmundson's adaptation looks like a somewhat faded oil painting come to life…The evening offers many breathtakingly still moments worthy of framing...The first-rate cast has Keira Knightley's introverted Thérèse subtly expressing the acceptance of her sorrow, so that when unfamiliar urges take over it allows merely the slightest change of physicality to clearly state that she's overwhelmed.." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Evan Cabnet’s production, with its handsome set by Beowulf Boritt, does atmospheric justice to Thérèse’s desperation…Helen Edmundson’s cold-eyed thriller doesn’t shy from the lurid misanthropy of Emile Zola’s 1867 novel or its gothic denouement. But it does give a sharp sense of the limited options available to women. Thérèse may be a shark—but you pity her the way you might a shark in an aquarium." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"'Thérèse Raquin' suffers from a typical case of adaptation sickness, a digestive malady that almost always results when a playwright eats a Penguin classic. Even a relatively short novel like this one offers too large a meal. The set-ups are lovely, and then comes the hasty glut…The production gets just about everything right...But no skill anyone might apply can reverse the trajectory of a story that dries up just when it gets juicy." Full Review


"Despite its literary pedigree and painterly design, 'Thérèse Raquin' is a good old-fashioned melodrama, full of sex, murder and a dash of black humor, not to mention a passionate turn by Knightley. She’s a killer." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Edmundson structures the action in a series of shortish episodes that don't build dramatically and often feel arbitrarily cut off. Cabnet's staging has the measured pace of a funeral procession…Overall, this is a generally dispiriting evening…The most fatal thing about this murder tale is its lack of excitement. Edmundson, Cabnet, and company clearly understand Zola's importance, but they stumble badly in trying to communicate it." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"Perhaps a camera would lend emotional variety and substance to Knightley’s performance...The unremarkable Ryan does not bring her to blossom..It’s a story of sexual obsession – a horror story, a ghost story, curdled realism that gives way to melodrama. Or it might, if terror and desire were actually present here, if the working out of the plot felt inevitable rather than merely dutiful. 'I’m so tired,' Thérèse says at the play’s end. She spoke for so many of us." Full Review

Theater Life

"The first act of Helen Edmundson's stage adaptation really had me going. I was totally enraptured by Keira Knightley's nearly silent performance as the titular frustrated heroine, expressing her sexual and spiritual longing through body language and eloquent features... So far, so good, but in the second act Therese opens her mouth. Knightley and Matt Ryan as Laurent start overacting all over the place and Cabnet turns a tragic tale of passion into an episode of 'Dark Shadows.'" Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

"The director takes advantage of Knightley’s expressive face by fiddling around with cinematically inspired close-ups. But he also treats us to some awesome long shots. Beowulf Boritt’s sets are gorgeous...The sky and the water and the very walls feel like characters themselves, and contribute almost as much as Keira Knightley’s compelling performance to this magnetic story of a woman trapped in a loveless arrangement, who is set free, only to be trapped once more by guilt." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"No review could be more damning than the coughing and kvetching of the audience at the Roundabout from the first minute of this revival to the last…When things go wrong in a production (or a crime, for that matter), they often go terribly wrong, as if one bad turn on a journey means you can never reach your destination. Director Evan Cabnet sticks with a plodding, inevitable approach from start to end." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"This version has a strong cast, but the direction fails to do the tale justice. Oddly, it keeps the action, and the guilt-ridden madness, at a distance. The audience is not engaged in the fierce battle between conscience and desire. Restaging a classic in a new way is a great challenge. But the Roundabout's effort fails to hold the center." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"Keira Knightley brilliantly embodies this tormented monster…The show is beautifully awful, splendidly agonizing. It hurts, it shocks, and as you exit Studio 54, your eyes may spread as wide as Thérèse's at the river…Joining Knightley is an expert cast, including Tony winner Judith Light, who distinguishes herself as Madame Raquin…Gabriel Ebert plays Camille, and is perhaps the least effective of the group. He's certainly irritating, but he's also forgettable." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Although the actors are magnetic and the Grand Guignol-accented story deliciously juicy, the play veers into overblown histrionics as Therese's hallucinations assume the full-on haunted-house effect of fingernails screeching on a blackboard. A touch more restraint in the accelerating spiral of recrimination, disgust and fear might have kept the action anchored in reality rather than melodrama." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"'Thérèse Raquin' is a dreary hambone that once was shocking but is now quaint, and Helen Edmundson, whose sole previous Broadway credit was the inept 2007 stage version of “Coram Boy,” has done no better by Zola. The pacing is arthritic…As for Ms. Knightley, she gives the kind of flat, underprojected performance you’d expect from an untrained Broadway debutante with limited stage experience. Her deficiencies are underlined by the excellent acting of Gabriel Ebert and Matt Ryan.” Full Review

AM New York

"The show may be grim and overwrought, but 30-year-old film actress Keira Knightley deserves a lot of credit for making her Broadway debut in a new adaptation of Émile Zola's once incendiary, emotionally charged 1867 novel 'Thérèse Raquin'...Despite elaborate production values, an eerie tone and strong performances, this proves to be a slow-paced and dreary adaptation. The novel's close-up, ultra-naturalistic depictions of the characters gets lost onstage." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"Director Evan Cabnet believes the difference between comedy and tragedy is that the former is played fast and the latter is played slowly-and not just slowly-slowly but at the sluggish pace of a snail crossing the pavement on a hot summer's day. At least, that's how he unfolds Helen Edmundson's adaptation of Emile Zola's irresistible 'Therese Raquin.'" Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"We need to see why this woman forces her way out of one cage and into another, what she sees in herself that she's compelled to keep hidden. And that doesn't come through...Edmundson has done Zola proud in some ways...The broad strokes are here for a transporting portrait, but what supports them needs to plunge us into the depths and not water down all the essential heat." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"The overarching problem with this production is that neither Knightley nor Ryan evidences any joy in their initial coupling…Even their extramarital sex is perfunctory… Knightley is an expressive actress and her work here has integrity. But it doesn't feel like an entirely secure performance because, well, it is not fully connected to anything else on view…Edmundson's adaptation deserved better.” Full Review

New York Daily News

"Without high heat and funky musk, this wannabe erotic thriller starring Keira Knightley is bloodless and all wet…It makes for a dispiriting Broadway debut for Knightley…She’s recognized for injecting roles with emotional intensity, but she never finds traction in this choppy adaptation...Just in time for Halloween, 'Thérèse Raquin' and the A-list actress playing her have found themselves stranded in a corny spookhouse. Scary." Full Review


"There might have been some fun if there were a smidgen of electricity between Knightley and Ryan. That would have offset the pervading gloom of Beowulf Boritt’s uncharacteristically dispiriting sets and the fussiness of Edmundson’s script....There’s a detachment between the stars I can only describe as fatal, no pun intended…Without heat at its center 'Thérèse Raquin' is a sexless bore." Full Review


"The true to the novel approach does seem to cause the dialogue to prompt unintended laughs from the audience. Maybe to ease the unrelieved gloominess of the staging and narrative... I've always been a Zola fan, though this story of a seemingly emotionless young woman ready to burst into life has never been my favorite. Yet, the many variations of this old-fashioned morality tale do point to its durability. Therefore, if you've never seen it, you could do a lot worse than this handsome produc... Full Review


"While Edmundson’s adaptation is extremely faithful to the original Zola novel, that is part of the problem. In doing so, the new version requires a great many unnecessary set and scene changes which makes it much more like a television or film version than stageworthy...The Roundabout Theatre Company production feels literal but perfunctory. Film star Keira Knightley shows great stage presence but seems miscast in this role which swings from passivity to passion and back again." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"The best reason to see this Roundabout production, an uneven adaptation of Zola’s 1867 novel, is the spectacular set design...The pace picks up from late in the first act to midway through the second act. The subsequent descent into guilt and madness seemed anticlimactic...Director Evan Cabnet really should have picked up the pace a bit during the play’s early scenes. My interest lagged, but I really liked the sets." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Absorbing, Clever, Edgy, Masterful, Resonant

See it if you like an edgy, good acting piece. very good directing, show moves along nicely.

Don't see it if moves slow at one part, it does keep you interested, however, throughout.

Romantic, Disappointing, Great staging

See it if Judith Light, enough said.

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

Disappointing, Great staging

See it if You love Judith Light - she was drop-dead phenomenal in act 2. Fantastic set design. But Keira was a huge disappointment.

Don't see it if You have little patience for one-note performances.

Ambitious, Intense, Fascinating, Great production values, Director-issues

See it if I was an outlier as a TR fan. KK's perf was stiff, but I blame the director. Her perf undermined the affair's power, but TR's still haunting

Don't see it if And the sets, costumes, staging were exquisite (water scene, suspended bedroom). Judith L was outstanding. I found TR a satisfying evening.

Ambitious, Intense, Confusing, Disappointing, Slow

See it if you can get past a slightly-stilted adaptation and excruciatingly slow plot development in order to arrive at a climax with little payoff.

Don't see it if you prefer a piece in which dramatic development is more artfully paced and with which one feels that the entire first act isn't wasted time

Absorbing, Ambitious, Resonant, Slow, Great staging

See it if you'd like to see a subtle drama on love, murder, and guilt, with the best use of water on stage at a Broadway theater

Don't see it if you're easily bored. But try to stay for the second act

Cliched, Overrated, Slow

See it if You are a huge fan of Keira Knightley, enjoy cliched and over the top drama, or are interested in seeing beautiful and impressive sets

Don't see it if You want an absorbing and thought provoking well written play with great acting

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Serious, Good set design

See it if you like dramatic plays that explore human relationships.

Don't see it if you don't like themes of adultery, murder and betrayal.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Riveting

See it if you like intensity

Don't see it if you are at all impatient

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging

See it if You like mysterious period plays.

Don't see it if You want a contemporary take on life.

Intense, Slow, Great staging, Compelling

See it if Keira Knightley allowed to be weird in a way she and female characters rarely are. Sentiment still resonates. Loved the water on stage.

Don't see it if You don't like plays with unlikable characters that drag on to an inevitable conclusion. You like your classic plays sexless or comedic.

Intense, Confusing, Slow, Interesting

See it if you enjoy awesome sets and a roller-coaster of emotions.

Don't see it if you don't want to see something graphic.

Romantic, Slow

See it if you are a Judith Light superfan.

Don't see it if you dislike period dramas.

Clever, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if You love serious drama and you love the brilliant actors. The staging is unique and wonderful

Don't see it if You don't like heady drama

Ambitious, Intense, Romantic, Indulgent, Great staging

See it if You like Kiera, and are interested in dark, romantic tales. Judith Light had the strongest performance. Set was at opera level-spectacle.

Don't see it if Problematic show that I wanted to like much more. But the acting/writing was too uneven.

Epic, Romantic, Excruciating, Slow, Great staging

See it if You like classic melodrama and/or Judith Light.

Don't see it if You dislike heavy dramas.

Banal, Excruciating, Dated

See it if Turgid dialogue and deadly dull staging. Knightly cast against type as a dour non-smiling adultress.

Don't see it if You are a Keira Knightly fan expecting her to play to her strengths. That you are interested in fresh and vibrant storytelling.

Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Indulgent, Great staging

See it if You are craving an intense show with incredible acting. I was on the edge of my seat. Set designs are great as well.

Don't see it if You prefer something musical or light hearted.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Great staging

See it if you love great acting and an intense story.

Don't see it if you don't like thought provoking theatre.


See it if Plays about passion

Don't see it if Dislike the above

Absorbing, Enchanting, Great acting, Masterful, Great staging

See it if you are a big fan of the performers, they are truly spectacular in the show

Don't see it if you like lighter, and faster moving productions

Original, Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if you enjoy great writing, are intrigued by inventive staging & are in the mood for something darker.

Don't see it if you prefer spectacles or traditional story telling methods.

Absorbing, Exquisite, Entertaining

See it if Amazing acting

Don't see it if No reason not to see it

Great acting, Intelligent, Disappointing, Slow, Great staging

See it if you really love the details of the story

Don't see it if a slow thoughtful show puts you to sleep. needs a good edit

Great acting, Intelligent, Slow, Atmospheric, Moody

See it if you're looking for something a bit dark, moody, and well acted.

Don't see it if you're looking for something light and fluffy.

Cast & Creatives (18)