Jesse Green

About:  Jesse Green is the co-chief theater critic for The New York Times, and the former theater critic for New York Magazine and its culture website, Vulture. You can follow him on Facebook (jesse.green.critic) or on Twitter (@jessekgreen).
Reviews (436)
The New York Times

CRITIC’S PICK "Mary-Louise Parker in the Subliminal, Sublime ‘Sound Inside’: Adam Rapp’s play transfers to Broadway in a rivetingly dark and detailed production by David Cromer." Full Review

Soft Power
East Village
The New York Times

"In the Musical ‘Soft Power,’ China Whistles the Tune: A complex look at democracy from an Asian perspective turns 'The King and I' inside out." Full Review

The New York Times

CRITIC’S PICK "In ‘Heroes of the Fourth Turning,’ a Red-State Unicorn: An astonishing new play by Will Arbery risks a rare stage subject: Christian conservatism." Full Review

The New Englanders
Midtown W
The New York Times

"Trying Too Hard to Be Special: Gay dads and their 'woke genius' daughter face the limitations of life in a patchy new play by Jeff Augustin." Full Review

Why?
Brooklyn
The New York Times

"Peter Brook Asks the Ultimate Question in ‘Why?’: A new work from one of the indisputably great directors is partly a tribute to theater and partly a warning about theatricality." Full Review

runboyrun & IN OLD AGE
East Village
The New York Times

"For These African Immigrants, Life Is a Haunted House: In ‘runboyrun’ and ‘In Old Age,’ the latest installments of Mfoniso Udofia’s nine-play cycle, America is no place to hide from the past." Full Review

The New York Times

"In ‘American Moor,’ an Insider’s Guide to ‘Othello’: A new play argues that no one knows more about Shakespeare’s great tragedy than a man “born black in America.” Full Review

The New York Times

CRITIC'S PICK "Review: Public Works Finds the Heroism in ‘Hercules’ With shrewd casting and amateur performers joining professionals onstage, a middling 1997 animated Disney musical becomes a pageant of civic engagement." Full Review

Douglas
Gramercy
The New York Times

NYT Critic's Pick “Is Hannah Gadsby’s ‘Douglas’ Stand-Up? Theater? Yes, Please. A follow-up to the startling and divisive ‘Nanette’ is just as startling and probably just as divisive.” Full Review

Broadway Bounty Hunter
West Village
The New York Times

"She Belts. She Brawls. She’s a ‘Broadway Bounty Hunter.’ Annie Golden stars in a musical B-movie pastiche that lands in the gap between tribute and spoof." Full Review

The New York Times

"The show’s mismatched creators — apparently assembled by random spins of a Rolodex — call the result a kung fu musical. I can report that what the director Chen Shi-Zheng and the 'Kung Fu Panda' writing team of Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger have come up with does involve martial arts and tonal sounds. But to the extent kung fu usually provides thrills, and musicals usually tell stories through song, the new genre is a misnomer if not an outright lie." Full Review

Toni Stone
Midtown W
The New York Times

"'Toni Stone' is at its considerable best whenever, like its main character, it’s at its most unconventional. The spiky rhythm of Pam MacKinnon’s direction; the unvarnished quirkiness of the eight-man ensemble supporting Ms. Matthis; the astonishing, dancelike movement (by Camille A. Brown) that expresses the game without mimicking it — all contribute to the feeling that we’re learning something new, but also in new ways...Ms. Matthis’s characterization holds everything together." Full Review

The New York Times

“This delicious, admirably clear production, directed by Leon, acknowledges and builds on as it gently but firmly escorts the great comedy into a #MeToo, Black Lives Matter world...The actors play specifically black characters, drawing on their own resources of emotion and style to make those characters rich...Beneath the comedy, this production reflects a world in which domestic violence is more of a threat than the foreign kind...Its politics cloud neither the romance nor the comedy.” Full Review

Continuity
Midtown W
The New York Times

“’Continuity’ never convincingly weds its airy approach to its heavy subject...The approach is almost whimsical, as if Wohl were setting a trap whose bait is comedy...The themes of the play never cohere except in the title...The comedy wilts and the drama, with no stageable crisis, fizzles...You’re left with little to do but admire Wohl’s clever connections and end-time puns...Only near the end of its 100 minutes does ‘Continuity’ find a way to weave its main strands together.” Full Review

BLKS
Midtown W
The New York Times

"Aiming to be a raucous comedy of misbehavior and a quiet tragedy of mistreatment, it amazingly succeeds at both...It is serious and sad and profoundly human...Crowe-Legacy, Fuller and Gilbert are so delicate with the sadness that it keeps coming as a surprise how merciless they are with the comedy. O’Hara’s direction is key here...'BLKS' suffers from a familiar structural turbulence at the end, as if it’s too big a vehicle to land on a short runway. Still, it lands." Full Review

Tootsie (NYC)
Midtown W
The New York Times

“Though it retains the premise of the original, it diverges smartly in both plot and milieu...Fontana gets just about everything right...Even though Horn’s book bristles with zingers, a lot of the humor is so rooted in story it doesn’t need words...Comedy rarely flows as smoothly as it does here. The secret is more than the book; it’s the songs...The staging and physical production of ‘Tootsie’ are so trite and vanilla...Happily, ‘Tootsie’ recovers, thanks in part to its excellent cast.” Full Review

The New York Times

"Where carnage and camp coexist — if not exactly in peace, then in a constructive dialectic...For me, at least, the most convincing and powerful moments came when the performances aligned with the gravity of the premise. Gary’s speech about the power of art to create new realities was one such moment for Mr. Lane: You could feel the hope in the hyperbole he spoke of...Strange bird or not, I’m glad it’s here. Not everything perfect is true, and not everything messy isn’t." Full Review

The New York Times

"Though not quite as emotionally powerful as its predecessor, it is just as funny and, in some ways, more momentous...How such minutiae mount into a crisis is a mystery built into the company’s method. Some of it has to do with the subtle, super-sharp direction by Mad Ones member Lila Neugebauer...Nothing is handed to you or signposted. The process of exposition is rigorous and ingenious, forcing you to become an active agent in the discovery of the play’s themes." Full Review

The Cradle Will Rock
East Village
The New York Times

"The simplicity that has felt clarifying in Doyle’s best work feels stingy here. The piano accompaniment strips 'Cradle' of much of its sostenuto beauty; what’s left is further eroded by singing that sometimes grates the ears. The staging is largely static and, where musical theater razzmatazz is called for, totally underwhelming. Too much of the acting seems deliberately wooden....Just as you begin to fear that denying pleasure has become a point of pride, the production coalesces.” Full Review

Ain't No Mo'
East Village
The New York Times

“Ain’t No Mo’ is bumpy. It’s also thrilling, bewildering, campy, shrewd, mortifying, scary, devastating and deep...What Cooper has attempted, and director Walker-Webb has brought close to fruition, is nothing less than a spiritual portrait of black American life right now...The best parts of 'Ain’t No Mo’ master a complicated trick: pulling wrenching drama out of a party hat of borrowed theatrical attitudes." Full Review

I Married an Angel
Midtown W
The New York Times

"Not only does it provide an opportunity to watch the New York City Ballet star Sara Mearns perform the choreography of her husband, Joshua Bergasse, and to hear a Richard Rodgers score suavely reincarnated, but it also makes you think about the role musical theater has often played in maintaining odious social norms...Mr. Bergasse has neither the troops for spectacle nor the directing chops to keep the evening from separating like mayonnaise." Full Review

Nantucket Sleigh Ride
Upper W Side
The New York Times

"A play that begins with a puzzle and willfully remains one...Despite some heavy pruning and reshaping since it was first produced at the McCarter Theater in 2012, it remains, in Jerry Zaks’s zippy, overbright staging for Lincoln Center Theater, both hermitic and hermetic: obscure and airless. That’s not a great environment for audiences — or actors — to thrive in...Still, you may get a shiver of the dark anxiety hiding in the writing as a ghost hides in a child’s crowded closet." Full Review

The New York Times

"Sampson makes a contemporary fable about the black female body and its discontents. She also makes, in the Playwrights Horizons production that opened on Sunday under the exuberant direction of Leah C. Gardiner, an auspicious professional playwriting debut...Sampson uses a refreshing palette of theatrical colors to fill in the story...Though the inventiveness does not always pay off Gardiner’s well-acted and swift-moving production usually picks up the slack." Full Review

Superhero
Midtown W
The New York Times

"'A misfire. Authors with golden track records for serious work have somehow created a musical so lugubrious and underpowered that it never gets off the ground. The problem is built into the low-stakes, high-whimsy concept...Not even as allegory could the fantastical adventure that swallows the second act sustain my interest; its concerns are sketchy, as thin as comic book stock...It does not grant much to 'Superhero' to say that its leads manage to rise above it." Full Review

Hurricane Diane
East Village
The New York Times

"An astonishing new play...Ms. George has fun with these women — or girls, as they call themselves — but does not mock them. Rather, with loving attention to sitcom rhythm, she gradually anatomizes the emptiness that animates their 'Golden Girls' chatter...Ms. Silverman’s control of the tone in the first half, along with the hilarious but grounded work of the cast throughout serves the play’s intentions beautifully." Full Review

The New York Times

"‘The Lightning Thief,’ a Far Cry From Olympus: A musical adaptation of the popular fantasy novel comes to Broadway and goes to Hades." Full Review

TERRA FIRMA
Gramercy
The New York Times

"In ‘Terra Firma,’ a Wee Wet Country on the Brink: This inaugural offering from the Coop squeezes whimsy, character comedy and ecological allegory into one crowded play." Full Review

The New York Times

"CRITIC’S PICK "Four Times as Big and Just as Searing: Jeremy O. Harris’s Off Broadway hit about race and sex in America shakes things up on Broadway." Full Review

The Great Society
Upper W Side
The New York Times

"In ‘The Great Society,’ Another Presidential Nightmare: Brian Cox plays Lyndon B. Johnson at the height of his powers, when history decided to bring him down." Full Review

The New York Times

"In ‘The Height of the Storm,’ Two Stars and an Enigma: Florian Zeller’s tiresome new play features Jonathan Pryce and Eileen Atkins as a long-married couple, one of whom may be dead." Full Review

The New York Times

"‘Novenas’ Offers Prayers for a Hospital That Died: The epicenter of New York’s AIDS epidemic, St. Vincent’s (1849-2010) is the subject of a memorial service that’s also a play." Full Review

Felix Starro
Midtown W
The New York Times

"Do You Believe in Miracles? ‘Felix Starro’ Does: A new musical about a Filipino faith healer bringing “psychic surgery” to America expands the frontiers of the form." Full Review

Make Believe
Midtown W
The New York Times

CRITIC’S PICK "In ‘Make Believe,’ Four Children Meet Their Inner Adults: Bess Wohl’s daring, mysterious new play is a comedy of underparenting and a tragedy of selfishness. Or is it the other way around?" Full Review

Road Show
Midtown W
The New York Times

"Sondheim’s Bumpy ‘Road Show,’ Now at the End of the Line. An Encores! Off-Center revival reveals the tantalizing cleverness and intractable faults of the 1997 (and 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2008) musical." Full Review

The New York Times

"Review: Chekhov’s ‘Three Sisters,’ Now with Upspeak and Emojis. Halley Feiffer’s 'Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow' turns the master’s refined Russians into 'Mean Girls.'" Full Review

The New York Times

"Lands in the gap between drama and anecdote. It doesn’t help that Mr. Cale is often more compelling when playing other people than when playing himself...Under Mr. Falls’s delicate direction, Mr. Cale makes complicated creatures of them all...The variety of colors Mr. Cale is able to wring out of his voice as he sketches them in song is remarkable. Yet as David Egleton turns into David Cale and the story rushes into the present, the tension inevitably slackens." Full Review

The New York Times

"The problem isn’t the added songs. The score, by Duncan Sheik and Susan Birkenhead, is in fact quite beautiful...What’s more, the songs are sung gorgeously by a cast that’s equally powerful in solo numbers and ensembles. The problem is what the songs are added to, and how much had to be cut to make room for them...The absence of context is not ameliorated by Mr. Gold’s staging, which seems to scrape away all novelistic trappings as if they were ostentatious." Full Review

The New York Times

"Time has been good to 'Frankie and Johnny.' Its sentimentality hasn’t curdled the way it has in some of Mr. McNally’s many other plays...The obvious overstretching of the plot to fill two acts doesn’t matter as the play’s bigger mysteries click into place. What begins as a basic inquiry into the nature of love — is it blind or, as Johnny says, 'the exact opposite'? — slowly transforms into something deeper and eerier." Full Review

Proof of Love
West Village
The New York Times

“The monologue is delivered well...the circumstances that make it one are notably contrived...It does provide Pressley a rich opportunity to explore a complex, loquacious, if emotionally stifled, character...Hutchinson has hobbled herself by choosing a structure that starves 'Proof of Love' of live conflict...Carroll has done what she can to shape the script’s graceful paragraphs into a simulation of action. But her effort is undermined just before the end of the 75-minute play." Full Review

The New York Times

“It’s certainly not a conventional drama, any more than the real Paul Swan was a conventional artist...And though the fearless actor Torn doesn’t stint on the theatrics, his incarnation of Swan never quite comes to life...Though the monologues Kiechel has given him feel believable enough, there is a weird superstructure around them, as if to assert the play’s avant-garde bona fides. In a work about fustiness, such distancing effects seem like holding one’s nose.” Full Review

All My Sons
Midtown W
The New York Times

"O’Brien’s literal-minded production does not make a resonant case for the drama today...Ms. Bening goes deepest of the four leads in exploring the muck at the bottom of her character’s personality. She also has terrific technique...But the opacity of the production overall means we still can’t read her with any clarity, and the play acquires a weird wobble at its core...The production is almost never moving, except when Ann’s brother, George, shows up intending to expose everyone’s lies." Full Review

The New York Times

“The sumptuous, hypnotic and somewhat hyperactive musical...Chavkin and her creative team have saved ‘Hadestown’ on its way uptown by turning it into something very much warmer...The story is clearer...’Hadestown,' even with the heat turned up, is still a somewhat abstract experience...Mitchell develops her larger themes mostly through metaphor. This can get tiring; even though so much of what happens happens beautifully." Full Review

Sincerely, Oscar
Midtown W
The New York Times

"Its distinguishing features included a hazy provenance; an obsequious, uninformative text; a lazily organized catalog of songs; and an unaccountable focus on an unknown performer. Also: holograms...The kind of show that makes you wonder if someone is secretly satirizing ambition. Certainly the spirit of the production and the spirit of the man it honors are at odds...Each song is sung exactly alike, with the same few gestures and vocal mannerisms." Full Review

The New York Times

"Nothing less than a chronicle of the legal subjugation of women by men...It is a tragedy told as a comedy, a work of inspired protest, a slyly crafted piece of persuasion and a tangible contribution to the change it seeks. It is not just the best play to open on Broadway so far this season, but also the most important...Schreck gives a real and wrenching performance, not a speech…‘Constitution’ is one of the things we always say we want theater to be: an act of civic engagement." Full Review

The New York Times

"Maddie Corman, giving a riveting performance, mostly as herself...'Accidentally Brave' does not offer answers...I wanted to see, rather than just hear as an anecdote, how Ms. Corman came to understand her husband as someone who isn’t evil but unwell, poisoned by pornography. And how she came to stand by him, as her wedding vows promised...The monologue form being what it is, Ms. Corman’s performance is more convincing with the negatives than with the positives." Full Review

After
Midtown E
The New York Times

“If it weren’t for the play’s ludicrous reversals and recurrent eddies of argument, it would last about 10 minutes instead of 85...You can’t blame the cast members, who ride the hairpin turns of their characters with nearly convincing finesse. Nor is the subject of gun violence and its aftermath unworthy...The story is too baldly engineered — too bullying, in fact — to engage the audience in the manner necessary to produce empathy.” Full Review

The New York Times

"The authors’ take on marriage is more complex and insightful than we may recall. And where they did wander into material now rightly seen as toxic, a few changes and one major revision allow us to enjoy it in a new light...Carlyle’s often thrilling choreography offers a bountiful assortment...That too many other numbers disappoint is a problem not just with the choreography but also with the overall staging, which by the middle of the second act seems to run out of invention." Full Review

The Cake
Midtown W
The New York Times

"One of those 'issue' plays that goes down easy and leaves you undernourished...Whenever the play allows Della’s contradictions to flower, it feels dramatic, raising usefully unanswerable questions...These are stories that burnish the audience’s progressive credentials without really testing them against formidable opposition...Della — like 'The Cake' itself, if you can get past its cloying elements — is nevertheless trying to grapple with something quite complex for a comedy." Full Review

Boesman and Lena
Midtown W
The New York Times

"Farber’s staging seems to complete this metamorphosis, clearly placing itself within the tradition of existential rather than political drama...In Farber’s unrelentingly bleak staging — time disappears...we could be in any era, ancient or modern. So too with the characters, whose specific plight is sanded so smooth we barely see them as an estranged couple anymore...They are solo archetypes of the broader human condition, regardless of race or poverty." Full Review

The New York Times

"Not so much stripped-down as emaciated. All of the contrasts of idealism and greed, gloss and substance so central to the story’s effectiveness are flattened under the pressure of forcing it to stand without enough legs...The songs, with all their polish removed, no longer reflect the coherent Broadway world of the story...Often radically reconceived, harshly truncated or left to dribble away, they no longer ennoble the characters or provide much pleasure for the audience." Full Review