JAMES L 6154

Boston | 50-64 | Male
About:  I live on Cape Cod and come to NYC once a month. When I come, it's important to pick shows of all kinds. It's been fascinating recently to see off-Broadway out-do some of the "must-sees" of Broadway. So, I love shows from NY Theater Workshop to Encores! To Broadway, and beyond. There is so much tale... Read more Read less
Reviews (248)
81
During previews
The Minutes
Midtown W
Thought-provoking, Quirky, Great acting, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if You’re ok really liking 87 minutes of a 90 minute play, and then horrified and left uncomfortable with the last three minutes. Interesting.

Don't see it if You don’t like exposition, need a lot of action, don’t like the performers, or don’t like Tracy Letts. This one lost me at the very end.

Also The last three minutes were ridiculous, gratuitous, and more than a li... Read more Read less

90
During previews
Dana H.
Gramercy
Riveting, Must see, Profound, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if You like Lucas Hnath, are fascinated that this is about his real mother, are okay with a one woman show, and don’t mind violent topics.

Don't see it if You are triggered by violence, mental illness, rape, suicide and similar topics. They don’t occur onstage, but are still vivid.

Also A harrowing account of a true story. Seeing this acted, but lip-sinc’d... Read more Read less

95
Must see, Intelligent, Great staging, Great acting, Funny

See it if You can be amazed that they find humor in Hamlet, don’t mind gender swaps, and are ok with 3 1/2 hours of Shakespeare. Ruth Negga astounds.

Don't see it if You need to wallow in Hamlet. In no means did they make this a comedy, but infused some moments with humor, and gave an all new Hamlet.

Also We saw an astonishing Jude Law production years ago, as well as Oscar ... Read more Read less

95
Medea (BAM)
Brooklyn
Inventive, Must see, Masterful, Great staging, Great acting

See it if You want a tight, tense, streamlined reimagining of the classic. Superb acting, each moment mattered, and the climax was heartbreaking.

Don't see it if You like your classics untouched, or if you hate technology—I love mixed media, but I’m starting to hate that it’s in so many shows.

Also This was a tight 80 minutes, but kept us on the edge of our seat. The ... Read more Read less

100
During previews
Grand Horizons
Midtown W
Must see, Intelligent, Hilarious, Great acting, Brilliant

See it if You want to see the best show I’ve seen all season. Funny (unexpectedly so), intelligent, real, allows for shades of gray in all characters

Don't see it if You don’t think the breakup of a family can be hilarious. The humor can be broad, and may at times be vulgar for some. Great ensemble.

Also We walked in knowing nothing about this, as 2nd Stage subscribers. I’m... Read more Read less

70
Thought-provoking, Resonant, Indulgent, Funny, Entertaining

See it if You want a small show about self, aging, family dynamics, and the loss of one’s ability to care for themselves. It’s a nice small play.

Don't see it if You don’t care about the above, don’t know the actors, or want a lot of activity and cast. It’s a small, enjoyable, two-person show.

Also In reality, the reason to go is to see the legend Len Cariou front and... Read more Read less

90
During previews
Great writing, Great acting, Entertaining, Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if You want an ambitious play that asks a lot of questions, but doesn’t dole out the answers for an easy night. That also entertains easily.

Don't see it if You like everything clear cut, wrapped neatly, or have your opinions clear. This touched on race in a tricky time, but is still timely.

Also There’s a great story/crime, but there’s also a real racial divide, bo... Read more Read less

65
Great acting, Disappointing, Confusing, Banal, Ambitious

See it if I was bored. Admittedly, I went to see Harry Hamlin and Stephanie Powers. They did not disappoint. But they were given little to work with.

Don't see it if You want plot, coherence, or meaning. If you’re going for the two stars, you’ll be satisfied, if not enthralled. But you could do worse.

70
Sing Street
East Village
Fluffy, Refreshing, Disappointing, Delightful, Absorbing

See it if You loved Once, Dirty Dancing, and Next to Normal. I was reminded of each of them throughout. Completely enjoyable, yet disappointing.

Don't see it if You want a fully realized show. It’s in there—just not developed yet. Everyone had a “tag”, just not explored. Brother, agoraphobic, etc.

80
Thought-provoking, Intense, Entertaining, Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if You like Guirgis. This wasn’t his strongest, but kept me really entertained for 3 hours. The ending was phenomenal. It made up for missteps

Don't see it if You don’t like profanity, nudity, drug use, and the myriad of emotions you’d expect in a halfway house. Entertaining, without greatness.

80
Intelligent, Great writing, Great acting, Entertaining, Delightful

See it if You like solid theater, at great prices, that is somehow slightly dated, and very relevant. This kept me interested, if not enthralled.

Don't see it if You want a contemporary play, with “current” themes, big staging, clear answers to many of the play's questions, and moral clarity.

Also Kristine Nielsen wrecked me. Having seen her in many things, I picture... Read more Read less

70
Scotland, PA
Midtown W
Indulgent, Great singing, Funny, Clever, Absorbing

See it if You love MacBeth, love Adam Gwon, or don’t care about a story or a book that is absorbing. The talent is wonderful.

Don't see it if You need a full book, or any absorbing songs. It’s entertaining, but nothing that moves forward, or engages current audiences. Disappointing

85
Resonant, Profound, Great acting, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if You love theater, with it’s spotlight on topical subjects, with unflinching recoil from topical subjects, and themes that need explored.

Don't see it if You have issues with nudity, sexual violence, or theater in its raw form—this is a tough visual to experience, but worthy if you’re able.

80
During previews
Profound, Relevant, Slow, Indulgent, Absorbing

See it if You’re a fan of Anna Deveare Smith. Her shows always surprise, in what a one-person show can achieve. This was a little long, but compelling

Don't see it if You need a lot going on, or a large, diverse cast. The lead was exceptional, and played multiple characters, which is usual for ADS. Bravo.

40
During previews
Indulgent, Excruciating, Disappointing, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if You like plays that are just incoherent, like to see a cast of great actors with nothing to do, and badly equate Hitler/Reagan/Trump.

Don't see it if You like Tony Kushner, and hold him to the standards of Angels in America. This felt like him finding a story he wrote in grade school...

91
Intelligent, Great acting, Entertaining, Clever, Absorbing

See it if You don’t need linear, well-explained plot. I can’t tell you what this is about with any certainty, but came out wanting to see it again.

Don't see it if You don’t like wordy plays, need clear explanations and tidy endings. This takes place all over the place, in the best way, and is amazing.

75
Soft Power
East Village
Indulgent, Intelligent, Entertaining, Ambitious, Clever

See it if You want a fresh take on race, identity, and the state of current musicals. It shoots for the moon, and occasionally gets there.

Don't see it if You’re looking for a fully finished, polished musical. I could see where this might end up, and enjoyed it, but it still needs work.

65
During previews
Uneven, Slow, Indulgent, Disappointing, Confusing

See it if You love Shakespeare, or the actors. The acting was uneven, they were all wearing distracting, unexplained bolts of cloth...

Don't see it if You love Shakespeare, or the actors. It just didn’t work, though the actors tried hard—they appeared to just be in different productions.

Also Classic Stage is hard. They do astonishing—Carmen Jones, surprising—Ar... Read more Read less

61
Slow, Indulgent, Disappointing, Banal, Ambitious

See it if You have an open mind, don’t get angry when others don’t share your viewpoint, are curious and open with political discourse, and like plays

Don't see it if You’re rigidly anti-conservative, can’t view theater as diverse and as art, want some big shocking events to happen, or need a big theater.

80
During previews
Linda Vista
Midtown W
Great writing, Overrated, Entertaining, Clever, Absorbing

See it if You love Tracy Letts—his voice is so clear in the writing. The acting is uniformly good, but the ending just lands with a thud.

Don't see it if You don’t like equal opportunity gratuitous nudity, discussions about relationships, bad behaviors, or want a show with a happy ending.

86
Make Believe
Midtown W
Resonant, Intelligent, Great staging, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if You have no preconceived notions, like dysfunction, want to see how lives change after challenging events, and like deep drama. A surprise.

Don't see it if You don’t like child actors, don’t like family drama, need a very linear storyline, and need characters you like and want to root for.

50
During previews
Sunday
Chelsea
Slow, Insipid, Indulgent, Ambitious, Disappointing

See it if You care what people you don’t like have to say. The characters are (mostly) unlikable, so their bickering is, at best, annoying.

Don't see it if You think that group dances are appropriate and artistic segues between scenes. It’s not common, but this was a disappointing Atlantic show.

75
Forced, Indulgent, Funny, Entertaining, Clever

See it if You like comedy and farce, don’t hold a great love of Chekhov, and like to see things reinvented. The cast works hard, and entertains.

Don't see it if You’re not in the mood. It can feel forced, or hilarious, depending on your mood. You’re all in or done with the first scene. We loved it.

90
Ink
Midtown W
Profound, Great writing, Great acting, Entertaining, Ambitious

See it if You like great acting/writing/staging, with a fast-paced script. The action is funny, serious, and all the more relevant because it is true.

Don't see it if You don’t care about the news, Rupert Murdoch, or plots that can seem to veer in to farce. Otherwise, it’s brilliantly done, and impeccable

79
Burn This
Midtown W
No chemistry, Must see, Intelligent, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You want a well written show, well acted by all 4 leads, in a well done revival. There is no reason not to see this show. Very entertaining

Don't see it if You’re looking to feel/see the chemistry between Adam Driver and Keri Russell, that should drive the show. It’s sadly just not there.

80
During previews
Hangmen (Broadway)
Midtown W
Funny, Refreshing, Great acting, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if You like Martin McDonagh, the actors, or know what to expect. His plays are hilarious, disturbing, and sometimes completely forgettable.

Don't see it if You want a musical, don’t like accents, want a neatly wrapped up story, or just don’t like plays. This was great, but forgettable.

Also This is not a criticism. Six hours later, I’ve forgotten a lot of the ... Read more Read less

75
During previews
Uneven acting, Relevant, Clever, Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if You want an absorbing show of poverty, isolation, and how various characters cope with these. The lead brother and sister were amazing.

Don't see it if You’re offended by big topics simplified, given “excuses”, and want to see a cohesive ensemble. There is a lot to like here, but incomplete

80
During previews
Riveting, Intense, Great writing, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if You want a haunting story of mental illness, how it affects generations, and those surrounding. Carla Cugino and Celeste Arias are riveting

Don't see it if You want a fully polished production—they’re still working out the kinks and timing. This is still in previews. It will be amazing soon.

Also Gabby Beans was also spectacular, in a less showy role. The entire cas... Read more Read less

82
Refreshing, Quirky, Entertaining, Nostalgic, Experimental

See it if You like Duncan Sheik, any of the performers, shows that take risks, don’t need big spectacles to enjoy a show, and like shows that surprise

Don't see it if You want a full musical—this was a play with music. This had echoes of Spring Awakening, more than Secret Life of Bees, or Alice By Heart.

Also This will be a divisive show. Our audience loved it, as did we. But, i... Read more Read less

65
Greater Clements
Upper W Side
Bloated writing, Poor staging, Indulgent, Slow, Great acting

See it if Two leads do great acting. The rest of the cast was very uneven, though characters were caricatures or underwritten. Interesting parts.

Don't see it if You want a great play. There is one here, buried in a lot of filler. The last few scenes were unnecessary, and pretty unbelievable.

Also What happens near the end is haunting, then they keep going, and the l... Read more Read less

85
Judgment Day
Upper E Side
Great acting, Great staging, Epic, Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if You want to see theater on a massive scale. Park Avenue Armory is a space that needs a huge story. Some may disagree that this story fits.

Don't see it if You want an action paced story. This is a small story, as allegory, and ebbs and flows with what you make of it. I found it filled the space

Also I keep hearing people comparing The Hairy Ape and this, and besides th... Read more Read less

85
Must see, Riveting, Entertaining, Great singing, Absorbing

See it if You love Tina Turner, or want to see a jukebox musical that avoids most of the mistakes of the genre. Ike and Tina were extraordinary.

Don't see it if You don’t like Tina, are tired of the genre, want an original musical, or prefer songs that fit the story, and don’t feel shoehorned in.

Also The first act was a little clunky, like most jukebox musicals. But, by... Read more Read less

85
The Thin Place
Midtown W
Riveting, Great writing, Great acting, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if You’re a fan of Lucas Hnath. I am. This was not his strongest cohesively, but he’s always so entertaining. Funny, suspenseful, wonderful.

Don't see it if You need a big theater with big staging. You need a steady theme—you never quite know where this is going, even when you think you do.

65
One in Two
Midtown W
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Disappointing, Banal, Ambitious

See it if You are curious about HIV, specifics related to the African American community (hence the title), or relevant theater, even if it misses...

Don't see it if You want a complete story. It’s alluded to in the play, but it’s worrisome when the ushers come back (twice!) to tell the audience it’s over

Also I was drawn to the title and the horrific statistics it discusses, but... Read more Read less

95
Great writing, Great acting, Exquisite, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if I knew absolutely nothing about this going in, and I wish that for you as well. If you want something revelatory, see this. If not, don’t go

Don't see it if You like a ton of action, neat bows on all your questions, and lots of people doing lots of things. This is a two person show, but much more

Also Don’t read anything before you see this. Let it be a surprise!

93
Betrayal
Midtown W
Must see, Masterful, Great acting, Great staging, Absorbing

See it if You want a superbly acted, brilliantly staged, play. It’s Pinter, which can often be slow and stodgy, and I found myself leaning forward...

Don't see it if You don’t like Pinter. The joy of this was being pulled in to the action, but in Pinter, there’s not a lot. If you want linear story lines.

Also The staging, which left the actors visible at all times, was brilliant... Read more Read less

94
The Inheritance
Midtown W
Profound, Great writing, Great acting, Exquisite, Ambitious

See it if You want to be entertained, challenged, and absorbed in a lot of hours of theater—it’s long but worth it.

Don't see it if You don’t want to see gay themed entertainment, nudity, topics of acceptance and theater, or just want a big happy musical.

70
During previews
Slow, Indulgent, Disappointing, Ambitious, Clever

See it if You want to see a good idea, with little result. There is a story here, but not fully fleshed out. It’s disappointing.

Don't see it if You want a big show, with big theatrics, and a full story.

92
Seared
Midtown W
Intelligent, Great writing, Great acting, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if You want a well-acted dramedy that is funny, touching, and real. A true ensemble, with great acting from the quartet, and a great story.

Don't see it if You need a big show with special effects. This was a small show about real people and emotions, and was exceptional because of that.

70
The Great Society
Upper W Side
Unnecessary, Indulgent, Great acting, Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if You like historical theater, politics, or the huge theatrical experience that Lincoln center always provides. The large cast gives their all

Don't see it if You were expecting, or hoping for, All The Way. It’s unfair to compare them, except that’s how it’s being marketed. It was just boring.

70
Is This A Room
Gramercy
Thought-provoking, Great acting, Disappointing, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if You’re not looking for a real play, with exposition, and a plot. This is a reading of transcripts of a real interrogation, with no winners.

Don't see it if You want a clear resolution. Or an ending to a thrilling play. The acting is good, the story real, but not interesting, esp. the redactions.

40
The Rose Tattoo
Midtown W
Caricaturish, Indulgent, Excruciating, Disappointing, Confusing

See it if You think Tennessee Williams should be done as a Carol Burnett skit. I never associated TW as broad comedy. Marissa Tomei was funny, sadly.

Don't see it if You like Tennessee Williams. He’s NOT A comedy writer. This was so misguided, I can’t believe this is taking up Broadway space.

95
The Wrong Man
Midtown W
Intelligent, Great singing, Great acting, Exquisite, Absorbing

See it if Wow. Wow. A simple concept encompasses in the title, and totally sung-through—this should not have been as astonishing as it was. Breathless

Don't see it if You need a big plot-driven story, can’t be amazed by a simple story that spellbinds, don’t like these actors, or want a big musical. Wow.

Also This was a simple story that kept us enthralled. Not to be missed.

65
During previews
The Michaels
East Village
Ambitious, Talky, Slow, Indulgent, Disappointing

See it if You’re fine sitting around a kitchen table, and not hearing much of the conversation. What I did hear was okay, and certainly not bad.

Don't see it if You’re waiting for something big to happen, don’t like modern dance, or need a big rip-roaring musical. Nothing at the Public is bad...

68
Wives
Midtown W
Indulgent, Disappointing, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting

See it if You want broad comedy, female bonding, very good performances, and what felt like sketch comedy from Carol Burnett. Unevenly entertaining.

Don't see it if You want a tonal consistency. The final scene was so jarring from the rest. This isn’t wrong—I just hated it. There is comedy, drama...

70
Slow, Resonant, Intelligent, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if You have a connection to St. Vincents, to the AIDS epidemic, like experimental theater, or want to see a show that reaches beyond boundaries

Don't see it if You want a tidy plot line, a neat ending, a linear story, or just don’t like the subject matter. There was a lot to like, but incoherent.

96
During previews
Masterful, Hilarious, Funny, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if You want to see the show in a new way. I loved that Tammy Blanchard didn’t mimic Ellen Greene, but sought to make Audrey her own. Wonderful.

Don't see it if You’re just looking for the show you’ve seen before. They make different choices, and it’s only in previews. There was HUGE audience love.

80
Entertaining, Disappointing, Great writing, Great singing, Ambitious

See it if You love Lynn Nottage, Duncan Sheik, the novel, or LaChanze. It’s an excellent production. Nottage’s book was spectacular, Sheik’s score ok.

Don't see it if You’re looking for the book and score to come together into something mesmerizing. Very watchable—my husband was crying at the end.

78
Dying City
Midtown W
Poor staging, Gimmicky, Intelligent, Great writing, Great acting

See it if You want an intelligently written show (a Pulitzer finalist). It’s well acted, and intriguing. Second Stage is always better than average.

Don't see it if There was about 1/2 the stage that wasn’t used except for a 10 second moment for the ending. Distracting. The scene changes were distracting

85
Resonant, Profound, Intelligent, Great writing, Great acting

See it if You like Lucas Hnath. He’s brilliant. Or, if you like the cast. You can’t take your eyes off of them. The show is not political—just true.

Don't see it if You don’t like politics—it’s a hot button topic these days, and people see what they want to see. I can’t think of another reason not to go.

Also This playwright is brilliant. We’ve been lucky enough to see all his w... Read more Read less