Bruce 6

New York City | 65+ | Male
About:  We are living in a "Golden Age" of theater, with the most creative output to be seen off-Broadway. In my reviews I try to communicate my excitement, and, if merited, how a work falls short.
Reviews (416)
Preview tc4
68
Convents are supposed to be quiet; not this one where women on a retreat wail their deep feminist concerns; a little overwrought

See it if inventive set, some powerful acting, interesting feminist exploration of women's sex & relationship-based problems

Don't see it if cliche-ridden, 30 mins too long; rarely transcends level of frenetic group therapy session; too many strident declarations

Preview tw showscore 800x1200  1
78
Near hollywood sketchy brother convinces movie producer his vision of a western is superior to his conventional brother's; mock fight to death of brothers ensues; tho well-mounted, unconvinced this is great american play about the west

See it if hilarious portrayal toxic masculinity/sibling rivalry; satirizes Hollywood favoring movies about renegades; Ethan Hawke strong as sociopath

Don't see it if what play driving at is unclear; unoriginal commentary on West; brothers' role reversal in Act 1 vs. 2 is too pat; wasted scene w mother

Preview tpots poster
74
During previews
Presents stark dilemma of deeply religious man: whether to sell property to liberate his family from poverty but compromise his rigid beliefs since property will be used as a dance hall; ends much too abruptly

See it if dramatizes issue how 2 tell diff btwn deeply-held conviction & hurtful prejudice; finely evokes strictures early 1900s British patriarchy

Don't see it if dated, "Footloose" where religious fanatic wins; more "short story" than fully realized work, fails 2 explore conseqs of fanaticism

Preview tdod3
75
During previews
In "dance" strindberg puts a toxic marriage under the microscope & then as in "who's afraid of virginia woolf?" introduces an outsider to explore new alignments of power; searing but somewhat unfocused

See it if unsparing view of co-dependent marriage from hell as type of purgatory; sharp new translation by C McPherson underlines dark absurdist humor

Don't see it if in early preview, action lurches from scene-to-scene, lacks coherent way to present how characters deal w mortality (death dances)

Preview gatz
97
Hearing every word of "the great gatsby" narrated & acted must-see event for those who appreciate "so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past" and all the words before that

See it if magic; persuasive acting, fine set/lighting/sound effects bring 2 life book’s anguished love story & ribald satire where Am dream goes awry

Don't see it if you are not prepared for a two part marathon that lasts over 6 hours; but if you hang in, you’ll be taken on almost a spiritual journey

Also I have seen the 2 most recent Gatsby films but think Gatz much better ... Read more Read less

Preview choirboy
79
Dramatic confrontation in black boys' prep school of gay behavior vs. schoolboy prejudices & institutional rules; combined w joyful singing and dancing

See it if sociologically precise depiction of dynamics in school; extraordinary a cappella singing & rhythmic dancing; strong affecting cast

Don't see it if no special insight into issues w gay behavior w/i black culture; cliche ridden; by end play just peters out

Preview aa3
73
During previews
This 2-hander is trillin's love letter to his late wife, alice, result: charming but slight

See it if amusing as Trillin plays batty "Allen" to Alice's straight man "Burns;" good portrayal strength/integrity of Alice in dealing w cancer etc.

Don't see it if Trillin's laugh-out-loud writings are funnier; this is a hagiography of Alice, w/o drama, bite, surprise needed 4 memorable theater

Preview nassim
61
Nassim s, iranian immigrant, tells his childhood story in iran thru script w guest performer/lisa emery; outer tale of iranian censorship unfortunately told at "golden book" level, not for sophisticates

See it if unique format: 2-character script projected on screen w 1 part read by actor, other part (Nassim’s) being unspoken shows power of words

Don't see it if gimmicky/simplistic; teaching audience story in Farsi, actor telephoning story 2 N's mother in Iran is not a blow vs. Iranian censorship

Also Compare the score in this review given to "Nassim" (61) about an Irani... Read more Read less

Preview 181116 dh showscore bl
74
Act 1 - snappy modern gay relationship social comedy; act 2 - intense medical & courtroom drama centering on consequences of gay couple failing to formalize relationship w marriage

See it if Act 1 is sweet & funny; Act 2 features a fraught battle between gay partner vs. parent; persuasive acting

Don't see it if cliche-ish; fails to deal seriously w critique of gay marriage; Act 1 too jokey; shift of Act 1 to 2 too contrived; Act 2 too melodramatic

Preview tkam 06 07 show score 800x1200
91
During previews
Instead of an overly reverential imitation of the classic novel, the play crackles with its own life and vitality

See it if 2 hear Aaron Sorkin's soaring & humor-filled script, uniformly fine acting from big cast, Sher's skilled direction driving play 2 climax

Don't see it if beginning of play slow, laden w narrative; fear not, soon pulls you into vital action where forces of tolerance/intolerance do battle

Preview cih
71
During previews
Simpson's writer brings offbeat wit to musical telling story of how father rescues son from devil's clutches

See it if good satire of Christmas specials & religion; songs w clever lyrics; amusing over-the-top performances

Don't see it if has stereotypical cartoon characters; voices generally substandard; features un-melodic patter songs; saccharine ending: love conquers all

Preview pw1
73
How do you make a memorable musical out of an iconic movie w a career-defining performance by the lead? this doesn’t tho is reasonably entertaining

See it if you want a good facsimile of the movie including replicating most scenes & using dialog directly from the movie; strong singing by leads

Don't see it if w/o memorable music or lyrics and w/ good but not incandescent performances, this musical rarely has the magic of the fairy-tale movie

Preview fabulation
78
During previews
Satirical fable shows why aspiring black woman cannot escape her past; high spirited but uneven

See it if 4 zany sequence of scenes showing black woman as fish out of water returning home after fall from heights in white world

Don't see it if 1st act fall more manic than funny; 2nd act returning home culminates in cliche: love/authenticity eclipses trappings of success

Also Playwright Nottage poses a question rife w theatrical possibilities: W... Read more Read less

Preview acl1
96
One of the most thrilling musicals ever when it's right and this production gets it right

See it if extraordinary choreography, well danced; audience roared at iconic moments esp "one step" dance ensemble b4 mirrors at begin/end

Don't see it if 1975 dancers’ stories of abuse/alienation not as affecting today; still best evocation of heartbreak/thrill of Bdway dance audition

Also The NYTs reviews show as “dated.” I think otherwise as show’s signatur... Read more Read less

Preview es1
81
Shows various facets of black experience that make black population feel under attack, presented w sharp comedic observations

See it if every pose of rectitude exploded w comedic ripostes; lesbian 1st love tender/sexy; strong performances by all leads; fine direct'n

Don't see it if play bites off too much: can't figure out if comedy that features intergenerat'l conflicts, or broad history of abuse of queer black women

Preview poster images
77
Dramatizes steep political price to pay in allowing power-hungry thug to rise to lead govt; raul esparza turns in one of the most brilliantly campy performances of the year

See it if Esparza dramatizes, hilariously & chillingly, the steps in the development of a monstrous autocrat

Don't see it if you're not a fan of declamatory, heavily didactic Brechtian allegory/rise of Chicago mob = Nazis

Also It is key that the title to the play given by Brecht suggests that the... Read more Read less

Preview good grief 800x1200
59
Memory play centering on loss of dear childhood friend of nigerian-am girl never explains why her grief is good

See it if 4 good portrait Niger-Am family full of warmth/humor; winning cheeky performance by Ngozi Anyanwa growing up in PA; rich musical backdrop

Don't see it if pointless: tho see Ngozi's devastatn @ loss of friend, see no implications 4 her personal development, family dynamics, etc.

Also At the end of Good Grief, Ngozi's friend's death is portrayed in grand... Read more Read less

Preview pposd1
68
Poignant but slight play about gender confusion in relationship between 2 women

See it if in 1st part 2 fine female actors tell searing/sometimes hilarious individual stories about finding their sexual identities

Don't see it if 2nd part where the characters, one trans, the other confused, try to navigate their relationship is, well, confused; no new LGBTQ insights

Preview pain
61
During previews
Quirky surreal monologue by an "everyman" who wants to connect but keeps sabotaging himself

See it if 4 Michael C Hall's skilled standup performance, but less assured actor would better serve play

Don't see it if sure, life is arbitrary/hard to fathom but play that presents this thru purposeful lack of narrative loses much of audience

Also This is one of those odd plays that reads better than it performs. The... Read more Read less

Preview 3199 theprom showscore 112818 option1
74
During previews
Broadway stars go to small-minded indiana town to help that "lesbian girl" go to a prom/make a hash of things; empty as a balloon but hey balloons are fun at a party

See it if old pros B Leavel & B Ashmanskas show their comedic chops, muscular choreography/young ensemble dances up a storm, audience whoops it up

Don't see it if cartoonish; music mostly wooden anthems, plot completely predictable, little wit/subtlety; Head Over Heels much better

Preview ap showscore 800x1200
75
Hearing the formidable stockard channing, as pioneering feminist art historian, explain the genius of giotto is a high point; rest of play not at that level

See it if Channing dominates stage w monstrous self-absorption; witness devastating neglect faced by her children but also price she pd 4 her career

Don't see it if flabby 1st Act; irrelevant characters; failure 2 provide effective foil 2 Channing's raging humanism thru religious character missed oppty

Preview ipa
48
During previews
Indian-american girl channeling her pirate ancestry leaves home to open up a bar; returns after hate crime vs family; family pleads for all to live in harmony, handing out harmony-food, samosas: result? multicultural word salad

See it if the samosas the cast distributes to the audience are the high pt, beer would have been better to make you forget this fatuous vehicle

Don't see it if gives Pirates a bad name by making kitschy use of them; make the playwright walk the plank, me mateys?

Preview kong
80
During previews
When the 20 foot giant techno-puppet ape moves to the front of the stage and roars, the audience screams and then wildly applauds!

See it if 4 awesome depiction of Kong as force of nature/sensitive creature; dynamic dancing; Christiana Pitts superb as feisty beauty 2 Kong's beast

Don't see it if mostly a spectacle; tho musical most of the songs are uninspired; confused, the larger message within the Kong story is as murky as mud

Preview the true for website 1 orig
79
Give edie falco a meaty role like this - where she is an operatically profane political advisor to the mayor of albany at a time when women were seen but not heard - and the results are oh my!

See it if to see Falco's fierce/hilarious/poignant performance, as force in bygone world of Tammany politics; shows steep price pd by women

Don't see it if other characters pale beside Falco's profane, wisecracking cyclone; play needed but did not provide a dramatic foil for Falco; gaps in plot

Preview ferryman poster
95
During previews
Using the irish "troubles" as background, jez butterworth brilliantly shows how the mythology of violence and revenge haunt the present; should score numerous tony nominations

See it if features 1 riveting or hilarious scene after another w fine ensemble, thrum of menace roars to devastating end

Don't see it if Irish accents at times make brilliant dialogue hard 2 decipher; symbolism 2 obvious; young girl/baby scenes cute but could have been pruned

Also Play is not only endlessly fascinating with scenes effortlessly moving... Read more Read less

Preview cmm1
75
With merman “madam” was a smash; without her it’s entertaining but has lost some of its mojo

See it if charming Irving Berlin score w several classic tunes; normal Encores superb dancing and orchestra

Don't see it if thin silly plot; big hole in cast: Carmen Cusack tho engaging as lead does not have the voice or the “brass” to carry the show

Preview hd2
83
During previews
Reimagines euripedes' "bacchae": greek god dionysus, played as butch landscape gardener "diane," returns 2 seduce 4 modern nj women 2 install eco-friendly gardens/save planet; surprisingly hilarious as "eco-suburbanhousewife" comedy

See it if 1 of season's funniest social comedies, 4 women/Bacchae give side-splitting perfs, eloquently explains how modern civ wrecks environment

Don't see it if shift of tone/apocalyptic ending in final 15 mins misses the mark; actor playing Diane not commanding/irresistible enough

Preview capture
78
During previews
Adapts strindberg's classic "miss julie" to post apartheid south africa; explosive sexual clash of races, at times cluttered w obvious theatrical devices

See it if sharp script/acting captures brutal, sex-laden confrontation of white Boer daughter & black menial servant trapped in racially-defined roles

Don't see it if takes 2 long to get going; demonstrating how present haunted by ghost of apartheid past 2 obvious; tragedy 2 obviously foreshadowed

Also Warning: the rural Africaan accents, combined w the fact that actors, ... Read more Read less

Preview merrily
57
During previews
Merrily has legendary score but this meh revival by the fiasco theater company will not burnish the reputation of this show

See it if for great tunes/Old Friends, Not a Day Goes By, etc.; play's concept in moving backward in time 2 show optimistic beginnings still affecting

Don't see it if stripped down version does not enhance production; actors/ragged production at no more than good college level; Roundabout, what happened?

Preview poster
83
First 2/3rds absolutely riveting, last 1/3rd bites off too much; bryan cranston, in performance of great power and range, almost certain tony nominee

See it if brilliant portrayal how newsman driven 2 stir revolt vs mendacious TV, then exploited by forces he criticizes; amazing stagecraft/Cranston

Don't see it if overkill; attempt 2 show how deceitful '60s/'70s TV led 2 today's evils, infotainment/FoxNews/Trump/global corporate dominance, is too much

Also The set of the newsroom designed by designer extraordinaire, Jan Versw... Read more Read less

Preview eddie2
53
During previews
If you're really into van halen, david lee roth & the mtv scene, you can get into this show; if, like me, you're not, skip it!

See it if u want to go behind the scenes 4 these rock stars; enthusiastic performances; amusing having roles played by actors of opposite sex

Don't see it if dull; only playing snippets from hits, fails to demonstrate why group was so popular; devoid of irony, humor esp re narcissistic Roth

Also There are two basic ways to make a successful show about a rock and ro... Read more Read less

Preview minor character
68
Deconstructs chekhov's "uncle vanya" by having actors recite in succession different translations of same lines in play; arresting but not wholly successful

See it if almost a symphonic experience; makes u hear dialog in new ways & makes you pay attention 2 MINOR CHARACTERS otherwise overlooked

Don't see it if gimmicky; if u don't know play well, u may get lost; fundamental problem: straight play itself w/o deconstruction is more powerful

Preview nou carousel 1.png  960x480 q85 crop upscale
80
Riff on ibsen's doll house, presents many rich issues arising from iraqi immigrant (1) caught between iraqi past & american future & (2) trying to be a strong, independent woman in an oppressive patriarchal arab culture

See it if profound; beautiful, poetic script & striking set/staging show Noura's paradoxical struggle 2 both embrace & break free from Iraqi roots

Don't see it if overstuffed, poorly paced; last 20 minutes so densely packed w revelations of secrets & feminist outpourings, makes your head spin

Also If references to "A Doll's House" aren't obvious enough, Noura is name... Read more Read less

Preview blue ridge
66
During previews
Throw together a bunch of misfits including a destructive "queen bee" in an appalachian halfway house and see what happens; play, like characters, is an unguided missile

See it if effective acting by all principals; explosive climax; shows how 1 manipulative, egocentric individual can destabilize a community

Don't see it if can’t figure out point of play; various acting styles don't mesh including Marin Ireland as amazing, frenetic wrecking ball

Preview clueless
86
During previews
For me: tho inane, dynamic & technically well-done musical version of one of the iconic teen genre films of the past 25 yrs; but most critics disagree

See it if ready 4 Broadway NOW - hilarious new lyrics combined w '90s hit songs; uniformly strong cast; inventive, propulsive choreography/dancing

Don't see it if you hate teen HS/stoner movies; you have no affection 4 music of the'90s; like others u find musical 2 be charmless imitation of movie

Preview wgd2
76
Unusual and moving story of relationship of south korean "wild goose father" (separated from family in the us while working in korea) and north korean defector

See it if this is quirky touching/funny story of how two very lonely and awkward people deal w feelings of isolation, insignificance & failure

Don't see it if bolted on to story is simulation of effect of internet culture on story by talented chorus of actors; cute but distracting/irrelevant

Preview hard problem
75
Deals w the hard problem: what is the source of consciousness, the brain or something beyond that (e.g., god)? intriguing but far from stoppard's best

See it if in typical Stoppard fashion sets forth w elegance a major intellectual problem; O'Brien's direction is comparably elegant

Don't see it if Stoppard has NOT found a convincing theatrical vehicle to bring alive this perennial problem; more a forum for vigorous debate

Preview capture
68
Lays bare absurdity of thanksgiving school plays celebrating "our friends" the native americans; amusing but thin

See it if satire of all things politically correct: racial, sexual, educational, theatrical; silly proceedings but deep message; good comedic actors

Don't see it if thin, more skit than well-developed play, at least 30 mins too long; comedy stereotypes grow tiresome

Preview lc2
81
Two marvelous plays show how much the territories visited by lewis & clark & america have changed over 200 yrs, not for the better; what a treat to see in intimate rattlestick space

See it if 1st play beautiful rumination about how hard it is 2 return to rural roots, 2nd harrowing study of rural dysfunction; fine acting

Don't see it if you expect 2 see plays focusing on Lewis & Clark & their trip, rather than riffs on the trip; in slim 1st play key problems left unresolved

Also There are certain similarities between the two plays which deal w dama... Read more Read less

Preview hbwj duke web announcement image 1 orig
71
Hemingwayesque figure returns from the jungle after missing for 8 years: wild absurdist comedy by vonnegut where macho-aggressive culture returning figure represents runs head long into post-woodstock culture

See it if inventively/w humor reflects macho aggressiveness in set, characters mimicking animals, songs of the '50s/60s: "you belong to me"

Don't see it if dated satire of Hemingway machismo; frenetic and overacted (other than by fine K McCluggage), more cartoon than sharp social criticism

Also It's hard to act successfully in an absurdist play where characters ar... Read more Read less

Preview 180906 sg website homepage
86
Perfect little play about african teen girls beset by body image demands; cruel african twist: whiteness index of perfection

See it if taut well-acted tale filled w laughs, drama & profound observations about teen girl & Africa's 2nd class status; "mean girls" but much more

Don't see it if some of the drama is ginned up; at 70 minutes no time to differentiate all 6 teens

Also Set in Ghana HS for black girls, play starts w standard "mean girls" p... Read more Read less

Preview niceties
86
Powerful presentation of radically different views on slavery & covert racism thru no holds barred debate between liberal ivy league professor and radicalized black student

See it if brutal heavyweight fight where power shifts back & forth btwn rivals; reveals liberal academic blindness, strident student position

Don't see it if at times degenerates into alternating speeches where parties talk past each other; action flags at begin of 2nd Act

Also The play features a real ongoing debate in academia about slavery & th... Read more Read less

Preview tno1
77
During previews
Very gifted monologist but pedestrian subject

See it if Birbiglia keeps audience laughing thru out show w keen/offbeat observational humor about becoming a new father

Don't see it if nothing groundbreaking about show or observations; about 15 minutes too long

Preview motm1
79
What if your teenage daughter wanted to leave home to lead an army into battle?

See it if 4 Glenn Close's affecting performance as mother of Joan of Arc, humanizes J by showing her actions/cruel end from her parents' perspective

Don't see it if has sitcom vibe; robs Joan of some of her mystery/gravitas, showing her as modern pain in the a** rebellious teen

Also I. Something unique happened at the performance I attended: after hear... Read more Read less

Preview oklahoma mobile 04
93
An "oklahoma" for the 21st century; an audacious reimagining of the iconic musical

See it if this stripped down version finds in the original its Country and Western, feminist, raw sexual and violent roots; fine gutsy performances

Don't see it if some will feel betrayed by change 2 the ending of original (see below); Laurey's "dream ballet" redone as incomprehensible modern dance

Also Oklahoma is an archetypal celebration of Amer optimism & manifest dest... Read more Read less

Preview ame p113 300x450
78
During previews
Find out the dread of being the mother of a black teenage son; personalizes "black lives matter"

See it if taut detective-like story with devastating ending; effectively contextualizes cops vs. Black Lives Matter concerns; fine ensemble

Don't see it if characters are stereotypes: behave precisely the way you'd predict based on race/gender/class/position; dialogue veers into cliche

Preview bsv1
61
Durang's absurdist satire of society obsessed w prurient scandal is unbelievably over the top

See it if makes important pt how public feeds on scandal, inflamed by media; public eerily represented by offstage voices/then wraith-like figures

Don't see it if heavy handed; after rape/castration/decapitation + escalating demands 4 horrific entertainment, you feel: enough already, we get the pt!

Preview 800x1200  1
64
During previews
Rich material - 1969 on “commune” during heyday of u.s. student activism, but meh theatrical story

See it if strong acting, set and music evoking the ethos of the '60s

Don't see it if tho 1960s crucible 4 major political/social mvts, by focusing on ineffectual mixed-up youth and silly plot, play trivializes the moment

Preview ts9
82
During previews
What was it like to navigate life as a gay man in the 1970s & 80s? harvey fierstein creates unforgettably neurotic, coruscatingly hilarious and heartrending character.

See it if Michael Urie memorable in exquisite Pagliacci-like performance as drag queen & in brilliant comedic fugue w 4 actors in 1st Act

Don't see it if play falls off in 2nd Act: interaction of hilarious Mercedes Ruhl as classic "Jewish mother" w Urie has the jokiness and rhythm of sitcom

Preview fireflies2
75
During previews
Shades of mlk jr and coretta, tries to link personal stories to major civil rights event, here the birmingham church bombing, evocative but not wholly successful

See it if feminist statement on price to pay 4 marriages & by wives of leaders of civil rights mvt, final sermon by Coretta figure powerful/poetic

Don't see it if inside look at personal lives not that compelling or revealing about mvt, tho strong cast 2-hander needs more characters 2 enliven