Hilton Als

Hilton Als is a critic with New Yorker. This account has been auto-generated, and does not indicate that this person is an active member of Show-Score.com. That said, if you "follow" this member, you will automatically be updated whenever s/he writes a new review.

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Reviews (36)
40
New Yorker

"'Straight White Men' is such a great title for a show that it momentarily blinds you to the fact that there’s no real script to support it...Rigged to make audience members feel hep, because they get to give a thumbs-down to some straight white men in a political climate that is increasingly critical of all three of those designations...Not only does it not exhibit any of the humor, recklessness, and passion of Lee’s previous work; it refutes those things...Shallow, soporific, and all about ... Full Review

65
New Yorker

“O’Brien is especially good at teasing out the ways in which women reveal their sexuality in their closed, largely segregated environment…Unfortunately, Fleming, the famous soprano, is no actress…The choreographer, Justin Peck, does a credible job of keeping her and the rest of the cast moving, but occasionally his work seems too expressive for the stage: it makes the space look smaller...And because Henry himself wants to get it right, he can be too precise in his 'anger.'" Full Review

65
New Yorker

"Smaller than her previous plays but is shaped like the shimmering and original scripts that made Kennedy’s name...The new work is too short and thin to thrive on its own, especially for audiences who haven’t seen Kennedy’s work before. How marvellous it would be to experience Kennedy’s new work alongside another version of her parents in love and at war, spinning together and separately as their daughter tries to be if not a divided self then entirely herself." Full Review

85
New Yorker

"Hnath has now found himself by parsing and filling in a story he didn’t write...To go from dreaming about Nora’s life to writing it required a leap of faith—an author’s faith in his own imagination—and that’s the kind of energy that jumps out at you from Hnath’s play, his strongest yet...It was thrilling to feel that the writer and the director weren’t condescending to us and assumed we’d keep up. We do, because Nora matters to us and will always matter to us." Full Review

95
New Yorker

“Yank is an embodiment of the playwright’s ideas about theatrical naturalism and how to elevate it beyond the proscenium and make it deeper, spookier…Reading ‘The Hairy Ape,’ you’d never imagine what Jones comes up with, and those surprises are the reason the production is such a thrill…Jones’s talent is genius. By engineering this spectacle of O’Neill’s tragedy, he makes the playwright’s twenties modernism modern now, just for us, and it’s astonishing.” Full Review

25
New Yorker

"Kinney doesn’t so much direct here as organize traffic, and most of the show takes place in a bottleneck: one watches listlessly because the script doesn’t seem to matter much to the actors, or, when it does, they’re using it to their own aims, as in the case of DeVito. Ruffalo is dead on his feet, and Hecht, ever needy, feels entirely lost. It’s as if she and Shalhoub, whose insinuating sexiness fails him in this role, are waiting for the show to be over." Full Review

90
New Yorker

“Sondheim’s mid-career masterpiece…‘Sweeney Todd’ is filled with so much wonder that, especially when you have a cast and a director as talented as those involved in this London import, it can temporarily erase the memory of the cynicism or knowingness that informs so many other current productions..The actors perform without mugging. Their characterizations are organic, and they open Sondheim’s brilliant lyrics up to a new freshness: their interpretations are those of actors, not stars.” Full Review

85
New Yorker

for a previous production "The director, Kate Whoriskey, stages this and the ensuing disasters with clarity and verve…Nottage and Whoriskey spent a great deal of time in Reading, interviewing factory workers and survivors—if that’s the word—of the economic downturn. You can hear the region in Nottage’s lines; the people there got into her bones. A kind of alchemy occurs in her rhythms, in the way a character’s lines jump on or sidestep another character’s emotions. Those emotions are harrowing." Full Review

45
New Yorker

"You keep hoping that, despite early signs of limpness, it won’t be drained of all its energy and sentiment by the end. But the director, Leigh Silverman, is adept at throwing ash on soap bubbles. The problem is that she’s too serious about theatre; she wants her shows to count—to have a moral purpose...Instead of trusting in and directing the flow of Foster’s natural wellspring of talent, she set out to dam it." Full Review

10
New Yorker

"One of the most dishonest musicals I have ever seen...What can you do with a show that opens with a song called 'Four Jews in a Room Bitching,' and uses AIDS to endow it with seriousness? The rot at the center of 'Falsettos' is slathered in self-congratulation. Finn and Lapine use Jews, AIDS, and so on to rope in a particular audience, which is then held captive to their seemingly endless array of self-referential songs and weak humor." Full Review

85
New Yorker

"There’s nothing strained about Bock’s new play...David Hyde Pierce, giving one of those performances that take you over, moment by sensitively explicated moment...The director, Anne Kauffman, doesn’t try to make the script more than it is; she helps to reveal the subtleties and the weirdness at its heart. Hyde Pierce and the rest of the cast are ideal collaborators for what Bock and Kauffman want to convey." Full Review

90
New Yorker

"Fantastically well-realized...I’m sure that Gurira knew that her story risked falling into cliché unless she did what she so brilliantly does here: stay within the reality of the characters and their voices...Gurira has a nearly unerring ear for how to make popular theatre without compromising authenticity...Gurira, like her director, has an incredible sense of comedy and how it plays against pathos. But Tippett takes it to another level; he is one of the best actors I’ve seen in ages." Full Review

70
New Yorker

"You can see why the director, David Herskovits, elects to speed things up—this impressionistic hundred-minute “study” leaps among the trilogy’s high points. Even the small-plate version has longueurs, though: for every revelatory choice—multiplying portraits of the doomed family patriarch; a death-haunted score—there’s a sequence that hasn’t found its feet. But in its best moments the piece conjures strange revenants from a still unquiet past." Full Review

80
New Yorker

"Without Dickens’s eye and ear for extreme emotional and fiscal predicaments, the story’s more fantastic moments wouldn’t have the weight of truth...Thomas’s script affords actors the opportunity to emote through speech rather than behavior; the words are their gestures...The reality that Thomas and Wilder offer us is filtered through memory and the self-absorption that comes with being—and the music that comes with it, too." Full Review

65
New Yorker

"Jennifer Haley’s genuinely frightening script is toying with dark ideas about adolescent rage, virtual realities, and American conformity, which only grow more disquieting as the play lingers in the mind. (It’s hard not to make the grim connection between the play’s young killers and the real world’s Internet-indoctrinated teen-age mass murderers.) Joel Schumacher, directs the Flea’s house ensemble with black humor and a bare-bones aesthetic. The performances vary, but the horror is real." Full Review

90
New Yorker

"Robert O’Hara’s new play, 'Barbecue' (directed with vigor and understanding by Kent Gash), is my idea of an American classic, or the kind of classic we need. Although its fecund imagination seems unlimited, the work wouldn’t exist if it didn’t have the junk of our times to feed on—and spit out. Set, for the most part, in a nameless public park in the middle of the country, 'Barbecue' unfolds in a kind of electrified space, filled with leaf-curling light." Full Review

80
New Yorker

"Working closely with Morgan’s long and essentially plotless script [Daldry] not only shows us how the scene is assembled but makes its construction part of his theatre magic, which is warmer than Brecht’s, but 'alienated,' too... There is nothing like watching a great director with a great star; the relationship can and often does transcend weak material. Morgan’s material is not lacklustre. There’s enough air in it for Mirren to interpret, and for Daldry to guide her interpretation and add ... Full Review

90
New Yorker

"Directed with head-spinning alacrity...all the principals are stalwart and right-minded in their work, and that only adds to the strength and the wildness of the show, which you can’t put on pause. Nor would you want to." Full Review

85
New Yorker

“In Doyle, Rose may have found her ideal director, someone who lets her play to her strengths...It’s Rose’s investment in the character that illuminates the production from moment to moment...It’s a relief to see actors of color being allowed to concentrate on acting...Doyle doesn’t let us get sentimental about any of this. His staging, spare and quick but not rushed—only a great director could have fashioned this tight, ninety-five-minute jewel—shows Carmen as a woman who’s trying to survive." Full Review

55
New Yorker

"Mantello draws on Jackson's staunchness, but her characterization, like that of the other actors, comes not from inside...but from previous performances...A production that favors the flash of show biz over the complications of the flesh...They parade around Buther's overdone set like angsty marionettes, which the director uses to distract us from a story that Albee wrote from the heart." Full Review

85
New Yorker

"Herzog’s beautiful new play...Coon is an appealing performer, but at first I was put off by her characterization—sometimes it felt as though she was working on one level, until I realized that Mary Jane hardly ever deviates from her optimism because she’s a preternaturally optimistic person...I was much more taken by Colón-Zayas and Wehle...'Mary Jane' is Herzog’s most satisfying work to date because it has verisimilitude that many contemporary realistic plays don’t." Full Review

90
New Yorker

"The characters address the audience from time to time, which gives Midler a chance to connect with us by drawing on who she really is, as well as whom she wants to portray...The role of Dolly isn’t necessarily tailor-made for Midler—she’s infinitely more complicated and funny and there isn’t a corny bone in her body—but she has remade the character in her own image: as a scrappy trickster with needs and vulnerabilities." Full Review

75
New Yorker

“Abili’s bravura performance doesn’t come off as ‘bravura’ and has no cheap flourishes...O’Neill was considerably influenced by the argument made by the legendary stage designer Gordon Craig, in his book ‘The Theatre Advancing,’ that, in doing away with masks, pantomime, and dance, the theatre had lost its magic. O’Reilly throws all of that back in. The result is mostly cumbersome and ‘artisanal,’ but, in the end, this unconvincing backdrop serves to show us Abili’s performance in relief." Full Review

10
New Yorker

"I couldn’t tell if my confused, hurt fury was caused by the pretentious and callous staging I had just witnessed or if my anger was a result of feeling robbed of the beauty of Williams’s script...Gold makes clear his desire to leave his mark on the play—at all costs, including the play itself...The actors tear through the script with little care for what is being said or how to say it...Gold puts a stop to the language by inserting himself and his own intellect where the Wingfields should be." Full Review

40
New Yorker

"Webber doesn’t write music that one can sing without 'soaring'...I never really warmed to the movie that the musical is based on, just as I haven’t warmed to the musical: its atmosphere is at once messy and banal; its relentless pop façade and the constant drama of its music preclude intimacy and distance us from feeling, while encouraging a kind of aggressive contempt. None of the characters are truly big, let alone human, even as they play big." Full Review

90
New Yorker

"This exceptional production is directed by a great new talent, Lileana Blain-Cruz...The overlong full title tells us what it’s about, but not what it’s really about, which is language—the rich sound and implications of black English...Various characters take the stage individually but also move en masse: they are ideas about blackness clustering together, then separating, like beautiful molecules." Full Review

80
New Yorker

"O’Brien, who utilizes the best of what Broadway has to offer—a big stage, a solid budget, slick production values—has not only created a milieu in which the performers can shine; he allows them the space to establish their characterizations...It takes a director of O’Brien’s skill to keep all those hoops in the air without losing sight of the story, or of the internal lives of the characters...Although Scott has relatively few scenes, she does a lot to make the play we’re watching credible." Full Review

45
New Yorker

"'Duat' is a complicated piece whose ideas are too big to work onstage. One gets the sense that Jones and his director didn’t want to leave anything out of this overstuffed production...Jones has a scholar’s love of black art, but everything gets further confused in the second part of the show...In 'Duat,' Jones is dramaturgically at war with his most inspired creation, one that benefits from the freedom of his imagination, not from the limitations of his 'truth.'" Full Review

70
New Yorker

"Watching Williams work is like seeing a figure from a documentary perform a fictional reënactment of her own life. She shifts between the two realities—what’s true in the world and what’s true onstage—without ever losing sight of her partner...The director, Mantello has a weakness for emphasizing the issues in 'issue plays'...Fortunately for us, Williams’s performance goes beyond his rather limited purview, but Daniels’s doesn’t." Full Review

80
New Yorker

"Together and separately, they’re more than fine actors; they’re poets equal to O’Neill’s poeticism...I wasn’t sure what I thought of the show until a few days after I’d seen it...But later I remembered Whitaker’s gracefulness...Erie is a white character played by a black man, and the complications inherent in that casting keep the production contemporary and important. Nothing significant happens in 'Hughie' except theatre--and the creative lives of its actors." Full Review

90
New Yorker

for a previous production "This muscular production is no museum piece: A buoyant, full-voiced cast of twenty, and Zalmen Mlotek’s fourteen-piece orchestra shifts effortlessly between Old World melancholia and New World swing. The plot is fluff but even at its silliest it’s an often touching time capsule of the hopes and fantasies of Jewish immigrants circa 1923. The story ends with a masquerade ball, but the whole show glows with the joy and energy of a great party." Full Review

80
New Yorker

"It is that balance—between emotional forthrightness and plain good old-fashioned invention—that makes Thornton Wilder’s beautiful short plays 'The Long Christmas Dinner' and 'Pullman Car Hiawatha' enduring works...There’s something free in Wilder’s depiction of how memory informs and misinforms the individual, how it binds and separates family in particular, and society in general." Full Review

85
Hir
New Yorker

"Change, physical and otherwise, is at the center of 'Hir'... 'Hir' has a lot of ideas—necessary ideas, especially when it comes to flinging open closets in the 'trans' world—which spill over the edges of the play, but I wouldn’t take much out in order to make the show dramaturgically tighter or easier to absorb. The rudeness of its form is part of its power: you can’t build a clearer future without making a mess of the past." Full Review

100
New Yorker

"'John' is so good on so many levels that it casts a unique and brilliant light...Baker returns us to the naturalistic but soulful theatre that many of her contemporaries and near-contemporaries have disavowed in their rush to be 'postmodern.' With 'John,' Baker has done something exceptional on a political level, too: she has declared her ambition. The truth is that it’s still an anomaly for women artists to claim this kind of space for themselves and their work." Full Review

25
New Yorker

"The director, Anna D. Shapiro, moves bodies around the stage with little visible evidence that she’s concerned about their inner lives, and rarely steps outside the Broadway machinery to reënvision the dreck she’s stuck with. And still I can’t help wondering how she was able to reconcile herself to this script, with its cynical manipulation of sentimentality and humor." Full Review

85
New Yorker

"I felt that the primary impulse was to make theatre matter, to have an over-all emotional effect, in which décor and dance are equal to the dramaturgy, as in eighteenth-century operas...Does this mean that, if one forgets moments of the piece in this doomed party atmosphere, it’s superficial? Yes. Does this mean that the profound role the piece plays in altering one’s consciousness makes it a deep work, too? Yes." Full Review