Bruce 6

New York City | 65+ | Male
About:  I seek theater that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up or makes me see something in a completely new way. I'll let you know when that happens.
Reviews (575)
74
Richard nelson, chronicler of the everyday, finishes his cycle of plays about the michaels family, following them on their relocation to france during the pandemic; not his best, but still good theater

See it if good depiction of how COVID affected everyday life for Americans; master actors Maryann Plunkett & Jay O Sanders shine

Don't see it if no compelling reason to relocate family to France; missing grace notes & quiet drama of earlier plays; cycle ends w a whimper

79
Selling Kabul
Midtown W
Brings to life as a family drama the tragic fate of those afghanis who helped the americans but then were abandoned to the taliban, with that fate extending to their family & friends

See it if gripping & unrelenting; explosive ending; shows compromises & duplicity req’d for survival; good ensemble esp Marjan Neshat as heroic sister

Don't see it if ending stuffs way too much into it; melodramatic & at times strains credulity; script functional not elevating

Also The title of the play - Selling Kabul (the capital of Afghanistan) - h... Read more Read less

89
Fine john doyle revival of sondheim's macabre musical masterpiece about those who have assassinated or attempted to assassinate our presidents & other celebrities

See it if nails the dark comedic possibilities of each scene/thin line between comedy and delusion; uniformly fine cast

Don't see it if stripped down production & several directorial decisions diminish show's power (see below)

Also These Doyle decisions were, to my thinking, inadvisable: (i) not emplo... Read more Read less

69
Musical imagines cary grant, aldous huxley & claire boothe luce take an lsd "flight" together in 1950's hollywood; but unclear where flight takes us

See it if pleasant score; rhythmic percussive dancing; good ensemble particularly Carmen Cusak as Luce; inventive sets, video backdrops

Don't see it if fails to provide compelling reason for these 3 to share LSD experience and doesn't tie together their tragic stories; too long/overstuffed

Also Three LSD trips, two too many: Rather than the artificial construct of... Read more Read less

78
The Alchemist
Midtown W
Some of the best comedic actors in ny perform a classic comedic farce by ben jonson on parting fools from their money

See it if hilariously shows all faces of greed; star turn by 1 amazing comedic actor after another; script updated w hilarious modern allusions

Don't see it if very broad comedy, hammy acting; missing keys to great farce: lightning timing & uproarious climactic scene where all hell breaks loose

64
Morning Sun
Midtown W
Story of ups/downs (mostly downs) of 3 gens of ordinary nyc women 1920s thru early 2000s; see it for edie falco, not much else

See it if captures emotional peaks & valleys that define an ordinary life; ambiguous Rashomon depiction of that life; 3 top actresses, Falco's superb

Don't see it if in rendering an ordinary life need to do so in extraordinary manner, this doesn't; static pacing and often dull

Also Morning Sun like the Lehman Trilogy uses a narrative approach in which... Read more Read less

91
Destined to become classic in black protest theater; shows why lachanze is queen

See it if fierce critique "Mammy"/"Tom" portrayal blacks; hilariously acerbic; cast-brilliant interplay, Chuck Cooper clever clowning, LaCh Tonyworthy

Don't see it if shift from spiky comedy to serious dramatic critique of racism is too abrupt; white characters stereotypes

Also The setting of the play is the rehearsal of a "race" play taking place... Read more Read less

72
Cullud Wattah
East Village
Dramatizes devastating effects of flint, mi water crisis thru story of multi-gen black family of women; partially successful

See it if searing story family whose health/well-being blighted by disgraceful govtal neglect; arresting images/sounds of family trying 2 survive

Don't see it if after creative, soulful 1st act, play runs out of steam in 2nd act; overlong, too many scenes do not advance narrative

Also Spoiler alert: play begins w arresting image of young woman in gleamin... Read more Read less

68
The Visitor
East Village
Musical that dramatizes need to treat the undocumented with dignity; but without spark and panache all good musicals have

See it if 1st rate creative team; laudatory social justice message; kinetic dancing; story moving at times

Don't see it if tho tries hard, book, music, lyrics, and performances are uninspired; evokes little applause

Also The musical is based on a charming movie. I suspect that the creators ... Read more Read less

66
During previews
Genial rom com, set in nollywood, nigeria's version of hollywood; does not rise far above typical tv sitcom

See it if feel good story: young woman becomes star, Nigerian film industry launched; gentle parody celebrity culture, soap operas, Oprah show

Don't see it if comedy is tepid; no keen insights; expected more of Jocelyn Bioh after her prior plays took NY by storm

Also Nollywood Dreams Unrealized: I am grading this show harshly since I kn... Read more Read less

88
During previews
Kimberly Akimbo
Chelsea
This is rare theatrical phenomenon - a bdway-quality musical in small off-bdway house; premise of a rare disease that leads to extreme aging of teen, kimberly - potentially a gimmick is used to create something that is entertaining & rich

See it if fine diverse Tesori score; zany-hilarious-poignant lyrics & book; excellent ensemble, Bonnie Milligan steals show, delightful young cast

Don't see it if creators can't figure out how to bring Kimberly/K's character to life as more than passive object; Vicky Clark as K doesn't surmount problem

Also The most acute and mordant lines in musical are those directed by K to... Read more Read less

81
During previews
Clyde's (Broadway)
Midtown W
Once again lynn nottage, master playwright, brings to life urgent social justice problem - plight of prisoners after release - by telling story of prisoner-run sandwich shop in a dramatic but hilarious manner

See it if mixes drama/can ex-prisoners survive w odds stacked vs them? w comedy/ workplace antics; fine ensemble, Kara Young emerges as star

Don't see it if characters in shop are racial stereotypes & 1-dimensional saints or Satan (see below); narrative at times predictable

Also Parable: Play is organized as resonant but not so subtle parable w Bud... Read more Read less

75
Anna d. smith documents rodney king beating by police & aftermath by having actors perform actual words of participants/observers; result: wonderful collage of insights but no driving narrative and play seems dated

See it if acutely captures differing group views on R King beating/riots esp Koreans caught in middle; fine ensemble each play multiple characters

Don't see it if script meanders; revelations of deep-seated black anger that led to riots no longer shocking after George Floyd & Black Lives Matter

Also Two plays about black experience were revived recently. Caroline, or C... Read more Read less

75
Hudson's moving love letter to the woman who brought him up in lackawanna, near buffalo; master class in story telling, but not very deep

See it if humorous bluesy stories of eccentric nonwhite Lackawanna residents in 1960s/70s; Hudson plays multiple roles meshing w bluesy guitar player

Don't see it if stories in this 1-man show are genial but not trenchant or challenging and repetitive to boot; production is 30 mins too long

82
One of the most electrifying performances in a musical in this century

See it if Adrienne Warren as Tina in this bio is amazing force of nature; first class production; concert at end brings audience 2 its feet

Don't see it if narrative loses its steam in 2nd act which is a hodgepodge of mostly torpid, uncompelling scenes; no satisfying denouement

Also The success of the musical rests on the shoulders of Warren who is on ... Read more Read less

93
Innovative sung-thru musical w brilliant cast re implicit racism in 1960s, revival even more resonant in light of black lives matter (blm) mvt

See it if witty diverse Tesori score; objects in Caroline/maid's life (washer-dryer etc) hilariously personified; SD Clarke riveting as lead

Don't see it if painful to watch, no catharsis: grim story, mirthless/unappealing lead: blk maid in despair

Also Set in 1963, title of musical has 2 meanings: (1) a domestic conundrum... Read more Read less

71
Letters Of Suresh
Midtown W
See how lives of 4 characters revolve around a packet of letters, poetic and profound ruminations but devoid of organizing plot

See it if 4 damaged characters use letters to express pain & existential concerns, poetic script, convincing acting, evocative use background screens

Don't see it if no plot that unifies stories of characters, vehicle might work better as a novel; characters declaim, never interact

82
Just a very cool concert by one of the legends of rock and roll

See it if you love David Byrne's cerebral music, Byrne in good form w fine percussion-heavy band; impressive choreography, lighting/sets

Don't see it if Byrne's message is full of Kumbaya cliches; needs more variety to sustain 90 minute concert

63
During previews
Even the most energetic acting doesn't transform a cliche-ridden sit com

See it if to see a cast that gives its all, particularly the inspired comedic stylings of Michael Urie and Aigner Mizzelle as outrageous teen

Don't see it if like all the episodes of The Jeffersons rolled into one; cliched amped up comedy gives way to cliched overwrought reconciliation

Also Comedy presented in hyped up binary terms: prim vs. outrageous; black ... Read more Read less

96
Stirring portrayal of rise and fall of capitalism thru the fortunes of the lehman brothers

See it if Beautiful poetic script; acting tour de force by 3 actors playing multiple roles; one of the best Bdway plays in years

Don't see it if 2nd & 3rd acts less compelling further away from origins of Lehman Bros; missed oppty not emphasizing moral failings of LB re slavery, etc.

Also Script has unusual feature: the characters often speak about themselve... Read more Read less

74
Sanctuary City
West Village
Majok, great chronicler of immigration woes, overthinks this one

See it if jumpy and intentionally disorienting; first act 2-hander, sets in motion searing plot that displays uncertainty of being Dreamers

Don't see it if second act disappoints: poses artificial choice 4 protagonist btwn love of fellow immigrant & LGBTQ love/dated w LGBTQ marriage limits gone

52
Two one person plays that don't give audience much to respond to

See it if Daniel J Watts in second of 2 plays shows why he's a versatile star

Don't see it if 2 disconnected plays too abstract, not theatrical

Also In first play a women reads a "kiss off" letter to an ex-lover but tha... Read more Read less

83
Best play to come out of blk lives matter movement

See it if Profound rumination on terror of black experience w police violence; hilarious byplay btwn 2 main characters - homage to Waiting for Godot

Don't see it if Play lost something in transfer to Bdway; new "happy" transcendent ending, passing over to Paradise, feels unearned

81
Six (Broadway)
Midtown W
Wonderful send up and exhilarating rush in portraying henry viii's six wives as pop-rock divas

See it if High powered vocals, very clever lyrics, hilarious satire Euro Vision Song Contest; subversively feminist; audience goes wild

Don't see it if More concert than musical; premise: Henry VIII wives are pop diva queens wears thin; perfect for teens, less so 4 matures

Also Six wives were apparently modeled on 6 different pop divas w different... Read more Read less

78
During previews
High spirited relocation of shake’s comedy to modern day harlem

See it if Great fun in the Park, spirited dancing and performances

Don't see it if Sitcom-ish, not Shakespeare’s best comedy

86
During previews
Company (Broadway)
Midtown W
Fine revival of one of sondheim's most memorable musicals; however making male "bobby" into female "bobbie" & reversing gender of other roles adds little

See it if sophisticated view of ambivalence of marriage; amazingly witty lyrics/book; marvelous sets, scenes inventively restaged; 1st class cast

Don't see it if show about pain of not being married by 35 is somewhat dated; Katrina Lenk as Bobbie/lead, singing/acting struggles in role

Also "Bobby" or "Bobbie" is a tough role 2 play. Some have described it as ... Read more Read less

88
During previews
Farce involving small town city counsel morphs into surreal indictment of brutal behavior of those in power; political equivalent of letts' "august osage mountain"

See it if scenes re crimes of establishment will rip your head off; those underscoring fatuousness of polit deliberation hilarious; strong script/cast

Don't see it if members of City Council are cartoonishly hapless; needs stronger link between 1st half farce & 2nd half indictment

Also I think there's a link between 1st half farce & 2nd half jeremiad. Man... Read more Read less

82
For a previous production
Coal Country
West Village
Through combo of actors acting out words of survivors & the music of steve earl, bears witness to the devastation of the 2010 west virginia upper big branch coal mine explosion

See it if punch to gut; captures ethos of mining community & sense of loss/anger after explosion; fine cast; Earl's folk tunes provide authenticity

Don't see it if never reaches potential as rallying cry vs corp greed; doesn't build 2 dramatic moments; music too unvaried 2 heighten emotional impact

76
The Hot Wing King
Midtown W
House full of unabashed gay black men intent on winning the memphis hot wing competition; tho entertaining, this doesn't push the envelope as katori hall usually does

See it if raucous sitcom, fine comedic ensemble; gourmet approach 2 wings; shows healthy community of gay men, 2 in loving relationship

Don't see it if unchallenging; never rises much above sitcom genre; conclusion: gay men are like the rest of us (but more fun) is not earth shattering

72
The Headlands
Upper W Side
In noirish mystery, son tries to solve "cold case" involving murder of his father; raymond chandler has little to worry about

See it if interesting aesthetic as story channels pulpy detective novels & video screens evoke film noir; humor leavens; solid cast

Don't see it if takes implausible left turn at end; ultimately w/o crisp plotting or deep insights into behavior of son/family, lets you down

Also Let's play the "name game". The title "The HEADLANDS" refers to (1) th... Read more Read less

73
During previews
Endlings
East Village
Super meta play about dying breed of korean female deep sea divers; kor-am playwright shows how she tries to shed "whiteness" of creative antecedents & current gatekeepers for plays by going back 2 her ancestral roots

See it if shows how Kor-Am playwright tries 2 find her creative identity; result-story of feisty/hilarious Korean divers that teems w life & loss

Don't see it if awkward 3-part structure moving from realism to meta-ism to absurdism; absurdist satire of white stage managers is blatantly obvious

Also My partner pointed out an arresting central metaphor in the play: the ... Read more Read less

86
Amazing combo of ‘70s cambodian rock music & tale of murderous cambodian prison commandant

See it if acutely shows banality of evil in Khmer Rouge mass killings; fine actor-musicians; Cambodian rock/Dylan fill scenes w emotion

Don't see it if broad & jokey; contrived plot; still works as entertaining vehicle 2 bring alive chilling historical chpt

Also Imitation is highest form of flattery. This vehicle is redolent of a n... Read more Read less

74
During previews
The Perplexed
Midtown W
Drawing room comedy shows how 2 warring jewish families whose kids are getting married reach rapprochement; if you’re a fan of richard greenberg’s hilariously cerebral one-liners, this is for you; otherwise it’s ... perplexing

See it if comedic whirl-a-gig; explores roots of political & artistic paralysis in Age of Trump; hilariously idiosyncratic characters esp Frank Wood

Don't see it if disjointed & rambling/too many irrelevant characters & subplots; ending that neatly wraps up things is unsatisfying

80
17 Minutes
Midtown W
Aftermath of public school shooting massacre; tells story of sheriff's deputy guarding school who froze for 17 minutes; shows kids not the only victims of these mass shootings

See it if community ripped apart by violence; perceptive study of how deputy scapegoated for society's ills; script surprises/gripping final scene

Don't see it if hollow response of deputy w PTSD strains credulity; static staging; no payoff or catharsis, only numbness, by end

82
Mack & Mabel
Midtown W
First class production of engaging musical about comedy silent film-maker mack sennet & his heart-breaking relationship w movie star mabel normand; jerry herman (great composer, clever lyricist) rest in peace

See it if wonderful score by Herman; fine choreo & dancing; w performance as Mabel, Alexandra Socha emerges as one of NY’s leading musical stars

Don't see it if weak book/show fades as relationship between M&M fades; never brings 2 life Mack making comedies or Zeitgeist of silent film era

Also Herman's great triumphs w Hello Dolly, Mame, La Cage were w shows wher... Read more Read less

78
During previews
We're Gonna Die
Midtown W
Not a traditional theatrical experience but a moving, if too short, combo of stories + songs that show journey of narrator/lead singer to come to embrace life by accepting death

See it if joyously embraces carpe diem 2 deal w life's inevitable disappointments; Janelle McDermoth dynamic narrator/lead singer w virtuoso rock band

Don't see it if not fully realized musical; rapturous ending feels unearned as too-short vehicle @ 55 minutes skims surface of narrator's life

58
During previews
Natalie p should sue for non-support in this tedious vehicle

See it if best thing about this study in poor black family dysfunctionality is bold performance by Kara Young as teen resisting implosion of her world

Don't see it if overlong & exhausting, ills of poverty accumulate, but 2 what end?; use of NP come-to-life as inspiration 4 Kara is a gimmick w/o payoff

77
During previews
Breakout lead performance by beth malone as the ”unsinkable” one in entertaining but hokey musical

See it if Kathleen Marshall provides charming choreo; Malone acts/sings/dances up a storm; pro-immigration message gives middle finger 2 Donald T

Don't see it if cornball; not enough great tunes; tho revamped as feminist, Molly remains cartoon saint; missing sizzle & polish of Bdway production

Also This musical by Meredith Willson/Music Man draws inspiration from a co... Read more Read less

78
During previews
Dana H.
Gramercy
See it for deidre o’connell’s remarkable lip syncing/acting out tapes of lucas hnath’s mother relating her harrowing 5-month period w skinhead kidnapper; hnath’s intent is interesting but muddled

See it if for O’Connell’s matter of fact but chilling performance; fascinating combo horror story & confession

Don't see it if what is pt of play? unreliability of memory; how victims of violence blame themselves/identify w perpetrator; how religion distorts vision?

Also I note the similarity between this and the play by Hnath I'd seen earl... Read more Read less

84
During previews
Dracula (CSC)
East Village
Kate hamill does it again! reimagines "dracula" as campy, feminist tale w women swashbuckling vampire hunters & men arrogant, sniveling fools

See it if a total hoot; clever send up & bracing feminist indictment of toxic masculinity; Matthew Amendt campy & terrifying as Dracula

Don't see it if hits u over head w feminist view; abrupt tonal shifts w combo serious-feminism/Darwinism/Dracula as quasi-religious "father" & camp

Also Matthew Amendt, playing Dracula, exemplifies difficulty in finding gro... Read more Read less

64
During previews
Frankenstein (CSC)
East Village
Stripped down version of frankenstein tale w two actors reframes story to focus on the dr. and his creation, the creator/creation duality, but loses immense narrative power of original

See it if interesting use of accompanying music; choreographs how the newly-created creature discovers the world like a newborn baby

Don't see it if thin production misses Gothic horror & rejection of "monster" by the community which underlines reaction of convention to the OTHER

86
During previews
One of the most interesting & ultimately moving shows of the season involving three generations of women (grandmother, mother & child) for whom inexorable depression is a family trait

See it if brilliant theatrical form: concurrent stories of 3 gens of women on stage together allow u 2 see inter-gen patterns; sharp Mametian dialog

Don't see it if confusing interplay of sep scenes; characters speak on top of each other; few answers provided re hereditary nature of mental illness

Also I suggest that you try to view the play in the same way you experience... Read more Read less

78
In one-person show, luminous laura linney (lll) masterful in bringing alive e. strout's novel about how a writer emerges from a stultifying childhood in rural illinois, but there are limits to how successful this type of vehicle can be

See it if to see LLL, at the height of her powers, playing both Lucy w her open-minded artistic imagination & her irascible closed-minded mother

Don't see it if Strout's incantatory, stream of consciousness, novel is not/probably can't be replicated on stage; still LLL is worth the ticket

70
During previews
The 1969 movie has become iconic in showing the sexual revolution as farce; this musical version 50 years later doesn’t measure up but it does have its charms

See it if clever pastiches of '60s music esp Bacharach; shows the problems with sex divorced from intimacy; hilarious abashed "orgy" scene

Don't see it if not fully realized musical/more a concept album; skims surface of '60s; unlike movie never get 2 know characters

Also This is what this show tries to add to the movie: By showing the chara... Read more Read less

82
Little shop is one of the better post ww ii musicals & this revival reminds us how good it is

See it if entertainingly absurdist tale of murderous plant; hear Menken's fine music, Ashman's witty lyrics; Chris Borle masterful in various roles

Don't see it if fatuous plot; 2 much Borsht Belt humor; uneasy marriage of silliness & darkness; some music dated; anti-racism message too obscure/see below

Also Little Shop may be viewed from a number of perspectives. On one level,... Read more Read less

61
During previews
Find out in this meh dramedy about indignities of working in small town superstore; better yet stream "superstore" tv series

See it if graphically shows how dehumanizing it is to work 4 min wage in big box store; actors work their a**es off 2 make funny

Don't see it if cartoonish & shallow; lethargic pace; characters 1-dimensional; pt-less mystery @ end

79
During previews
Timon of Athens
Brooklyn
This is not in 1st or even 2nd rank of shakespeare's plays, but this is 1st rate production of timon's tale of corrosiveness of greed

See it if creative set/choreo/music; commanding Kathryn Hunter/Timon; resonant allusions 2 today's income inequality; Shake's incomparable writing

Don't see it if little depth or subtlety; after high-spirited farce turns into unconvincing tragedy; secondary characters don't register

Also Tho there is sometimes an issue in having women actors play male roles... Read more Read less

76
The Thin Place
Midtown W
It’s about communicating w the dead but that’s only a pretext to deal w some heavy epistemological issues; interesting philosophy, inconsistent theater

See it if rich in ambiguity; Lucas Hnath raises interesting ?s about what is real/what's not, how manipulation is key 2 effective communication

Don't see it if haphazard; story starts out strong portraying relationship between medium & subject, loses its way w irrelevant characters/plot

78
Mac Beth
Upper E Side
Macbeth w female h.s. students playing all roles shows connection between the play's fated blood-soaked violence & the violence unleashed in the student-actors

See it if intriguing mash up of "Lord of the Flies" & the Scottish play shows how violence once unleashed can consume everything; shattering ending

Don't see it if energetic not great version of play; transition from childhood games to murderous actions much too abrupt

75
During previews
Grand Horizons
Midtown W
Fairly funny sitcom about ramifications of divorce threatened after 50 years of marriage; bares its teeth but never bites

See it if all hell breaks loose when wife expresses desire 2 divorce; Jane Alexander funny/moving as wife seeking to be noticed

Don't see it if tame "Neil Simon"-ish humor, never raises searching questions about marriage; children's reaction 2 divorce cartoonishly overwrought

Also One of the central comedic exchanges is between Jane Alexander and her... Read more Read less