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 (511)
The New York Times

" 'Leopoldstadt' is at its best not in instructing us how we must mourn a lost world but in bringing it lovingly back to life." Full Review

Corsicana
Midtown W
The New York Times

"Arbery seems to have written 'Corsicana' with his internal censors set to their lowest setting, as if he were hoping to make music the way his characters do: for themselves and, as Ginny puts it, 'with the door closed.' The tune may be strange and leggy and long, and you have no idea whether it’s funny or sad, but it feels like happiness to overhear it." Full Review

The New York Times

"That’s the real drama here: Louis’s struggle to rationalize, within his politics, the irrational desire to forgive. Still, 'Who Killed My Father' is a strange way to do it, especially if you know (as neither the book nor the play tells you) that his father, despite the title, is alive. Just not onstage." Full Review

The New York Times

"directed exquisitely by David Cromer, is another of Hunter’s public explorations of his own private Idaho: a post-boom, existential vastness in which emotional and economic collapse are conjoined. ... And though 'A Case' makes the connection between personal and societal calamity more explicit than ever — can it be just an accident that it’s set in Twin Falls? — it may also be the purest example yet of Hunter’s approach to playwriting as an experiment in empathy." Full Review

POTUS
Midtown W
The New York Times

"As a farce, 'POTUS' still plays by old and almost definitionally male rules; farce is built on tropes of domination and violence. On the other hand, and more happily, 'POTUS' lets us experience the double-bind of exceptional women unmediated by the men who depend on their complicity." Full Review

Hangmen (Broadway)
Midtown W
The New York Times

"Four years later, the world feels coarser — perhaps it always does — and not just because death has become much more visible in streets and wards and wars. So has people’s indifference to it, and to all kinds of suffering and unfairness. McDonagh’s cynicism feels closer to our own, or rather we to it. 'Hangmen' now plays less like a clever exercise and more like news, with an unnerving headline." Full Review

The New York Times

"When 'American Buffalo' first hit the stage, in Chicago in 1975, its portrait of lowlifes like Teach — two-bit grifters aping the realpolitik of American business — was a game changer. Though it did not quite induce sympathy for a man who would strike a kid in the face with an iron, it did make audiences queasy about the respectable entrepreneurs whose behavior Teach was translating to his own turf. In language as crass and cadenced as gunfire, Mamet turned their man-eat-man philosophy, whic... Full Review

To My Girls
Midtown W
The New York Times

"If this round-robin of frenemy fire puts you in mind of 'The Boys in the Band,' Mart Crowley’s 1968 play about catty and self-hating gay men a year before Stonewall, you aren’t far off. JC Lee’s muddled new comedy, 'To My Girls,' which opened on Tuesday in a Second Stage Theater production, does function, in part, as a millennial update to the earlier and much more pointed work. Call it 'The Boys in the Sand,' set not at the dawn of liberation but at its eyes-wide-shut dusk." Full Review

The New York Times

"The uplifting, star-making, overwrought new musical...turns history on its head. Racism becomes an individual character flaw instead of a systemic evil; resistance, the solitary moral genius of a hero...Most of the characters — and there are 10 major roles — seem less like people than ideas with human masks...'Paradise Square' feels almost authorless despite its many contributors, and the direction of Moisés Kaufman, known for a strong hand and conceptual coherence, does little to erase the ... Full Review

The New York Times

"Despite the wearying efforts of a likable cast headed by Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, the passage of 54 years is more than enough to reveal the triptych of one-act plays as uninhabitable in 2022...You could, I suppose, investigate 'Plaza Suite' as a catalog of male failings in midcentury America...In any case, that’s not what the current production is offering. Rather, it seems to hope we will look forgivingly enough on our benighted past to excuse it with a 'that’s how things... Full Review

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Gramercy
The New York Times

"For me, it tries too hard. The central metaphor — that Black women are literally falling apart — is assiduously explored, but the issues that might give it heft are left, like Angela and Odessa, buried in the sand...Which is not to say that every play about Black women must be a tragic news bulletin. In some ways it’s a relief that when Angela and Odessa do rise from the sand, there’s some enjoyable interplay between them." Full Review

Black No More
Midtown W
The New York Times

"Makes the smart decision to borrow only the novel’s rudiments. It dumps most of the silly names (Ezekiel Whooper, Rufus Kretin), thin caricatures (of W.E.B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey, among others) and weirdly jovial tone in favor of a more serious look at internalized racism and the conundrums of assimilation. The result, directed by Scott Elliott, is a gorgeous mess...its tone is jumpy and its storytelling lumpy...But oh, what music and dance!" Full Review

The Tap Dance Kid
Midtown W
The New York Times

"I wish that were the focus of the story — or that there were a focus at all. If the musical numbers are sometimes hard to grasp visually, the staging of the book scenes is too often undifferentiated. And at least on opening night, after just 11 days of rehearsal, the technical elements were not yet cohering. For a show about the excitement of dance, the pace is strangely languid." Full Review

Intimate Apparel
Upper W Side
The New York Times

"CRITIC’S PICK...In that sense “Intimate Apparel” — even more as an opera than as a play — is an act of rescue. When Esther tells Mrs. Van Buren, as they write the first letter to George, “My life ain’t really worthy of words,” she means that she isn’t special enough to be made permanent on paper. That isn’t true; as Nottage and now Gordon have shown, she is worthy of even more. She is worthy of music that is finally worthy of her." Full Review

The New York Times

"CRITIC’S PICK...Yet there they are, prominent props in Robert O’Hara’s warp-speed Covid-era revival, which opened on Tuesday at the Minetta Lane Theater in Greenwich Village. Far from cheapening a classic work with random relevance, they help define (or at any rate don’t get in the way of) a beautifully acted and affecting interpretation for a new age of disease and lockdown." Full Review

The New York Times

"Though sometimes mesmerizing, “Flying Over Sunset,” the new musical about LSD that opened there on Monday, is mostly bewildering, and further proof that transcendence can’t be shared." Full Review

Kimberly Akimbo
Chelsea
The New York Times

"CRITIC’S PICK...And don’t let its pure enjoyability mislead you into thinking it’s not a tragicomedy. To see an old hand like Clark make sparks with a newcomer like Cooley is to feel how quickly the world spins forward. “No one gets a second time around,” they sing in the finale (though “Kimberly Akimbo” fortunately did). It may be an old-style “carpe diem” message — or a “mad recipe,” as Seth might have it — but in this case, leavened by exceptional craft, it makes a totally satisfying meal." Full Review

The New York Times

"Critic's Pick! What begins as a backstage satire of white cluelessness and Black ingratiation gradually broadens and darkens into something far more mysterious: a peculiarly American tale of lost opportunity." Full Review

The New York Times

"“Nollywood Dreams” is spirited and casual, with the knockabout rhythms and narrative shortcuts of Hollywood in its early years, before flickers became films...A play about the enjoyable makeshiftness of early Nollywood films therefore gets an enjoyably makeshift treatment: Form follows dysfunction. Ali’s direction emphasizes color and comfort over snap and discipline. (Dede Ayite’s costumes nail all four.)" Full Review

Morning Sun
Midtown W
The New York Times

"The play is no disaster, just strangely becalmed and unresponsive. Only rarely can you detect its pulse, let alone the feeling Stephens describes as “the sadness in your chest.”" Full Review

Dana H. (Broadway)
Midtown W
The New York Times

"NYTimes Critic's Pick!...“Dana H.” is not just the story of a woman brutalized by a psychopath; it is also the story of a mother abandoned by a son. What else would a playwright do to make reparations but write a play about just that, in the process returning to her what the world had stolen: her voice." Full Review

Sanctuary City
West Village
The New York Times

"I have rarely seen a play that so effectively embodies the way external forces — in this case, immigration policies in the United States — distort the inner lives of actual humans." Full Review

The New York Times

"If “What Happened?: The Michaels Abroad,"...did nothing more than offer us another chance to see Maryann Plunkett do nothing, it would have been enough. She remains the same wonder as ever." Full Review

The New York Times

"A big comedy when we really needed one after a small, grim year, yet also a play celebrating Black life in America, when we really needed that as well...an across-the-board excellent ensemble!" Full Review

Endlings
East Village
The New York Times

"In ‘Endlings,’ the Pain of Swimming Between Worlds: What do Korean divers and Manhattan playwrights have in common? A new play looks for the connection." Full Review

The New York Times

"These coherently interpreted characters do not add up to a coherent interpretation of the play, which wobbles between shouty polemics and a kind of Tudor snark." Full Review

The New York Times

"As long as it sticks close to young Sarah’s resilience as she tries to make friends without revealing her mortifying condition, 'The Bedwetter,' an Atlantic Theater Company production, is a potty-mouthed pleasure. But in jimmying the original into a more serious musical format as it proceeds, it achieves only a middling geniality." Full Review

Wedding Band
Brooklyn
The New York Times

"'Wedding Band,' despite its comfortably yarny, old-fashioned construction, is a blazing, upsetting, necessary work for today. Its specific subject is the relationship between Julia, a Black woman, and Herman, a white man, who in the South Carolina of 1918 cannot marry — nor could they have until 1967, when the Supreme Court, in Loving v. Virginia, overturned antimiscegenation laws on the books in 16 states. Looked at more broadly, “Wedding Band” is about the miscegenation of America itself, ... Full Review

Macbeth (Broadway)
Midtown W
The New York Times

"Despite the star power of Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga, the overthought production that opened on Thursday at the Longacre Theater seems unsure of its welcome, as if a classic that has enjoyed nearly 50 Broadway revivals since 1768 might no longer find an audience willing to meet it halfway." Full Review

The New York Times

"Over the years, many revivals have been attempted and defeated because the thing a revival is trying to revive is not to be found in the property itself. It’s in the personality of the necessary star: someone not nice but inevitable, not diligent but explosive, not well-rounded but weird. They don’t grow them that way much, anymore, nor write new material for them." Full Review

The New York Times

"Ultimately, I came to feel that if it is the theater’s main business to mirror who we are — to act, like the minutes of a meeting, as an absolute record of what we say and how we behave — then “The Minutes” does what a play aimed mostly at white people must. It shows us how we are starting to understand, but still mostly failing to accept, that our privileges are tied to a history of denying them to others. " Full Review

The New York Times

"This is not your grand-mère’s 'Cyrano.' Replacing Rostand’s stately 12-syllable alexandrines with jumpier rhythms, its euphemisms with plain speech and its perfect rhymes with ones so slant they serve as italics, Crimp rockets the action to a world drunk on language as it’s actually spoken. It’s also a world in which, as the baker Ragueneau (now a poet, too) predicts, 'There’s going to be a new force of words.'" Full Review

The New York Times

"It’s not the kind of work that benefits much from postgame analysis, which reveals flaws in construction and logic. But in performance, now no less than in 2002...it is mostly delightful and provocative. Perhaps especially for gay men, it is also a useful corrective to the feeling of banishment from a necessary sport...But as Lemming and Marzac form a bond — not romantic but not untender, either — the ideas that Greenberg is juggling, about integration on the ball field and integration of th... Full Review

The New York Times

"Profoundly strange and overwhelmingly beautiful...If the text is sometimes baffling and hermetic, it is confident enough in its oddness that you do not worry about crashing when it flies close to the twee line...What’s haunting is how the oratorio form and Christian’s private cosmology elevate such banal statements to an almost sacred plane. Alternating in the classical manner between massed choral singing and solo arias — all exquisitely performed under the music direction of Ben Moss — she... Full Review

At The Wedding
Upper W Side
The New York Times

"Though it’s not by a long shot the first time a comedy has mined the nuptials-with-an-ex-to-grind setup, Bryna Turner’s 'At the Wedding'...offers a fresh and trenchant take on the genre...The lines are funny; Turner has a boxer’s sense of the two-punch rhythm of jokes. But it’s Wiseman...who makes them hilarious by making them sad at the same time...The plot, too, keeps well ahead of you, trusting you will survive in pleasurable uncertainty until its loose threads are eventually gathered...T... Full Review

English
Chelsea
The New York Times

"Both contemplative and comic, it nails every opportunity for big laughs as its English-learning characters struggle with accents and idioms. But the laughter provides cover for the deeper idea that their struggle is not just linguistic...In dealing with characters who could easily be exoticized in their chadors, Toossi has chosen instead to focus on their familiarity; like most of us, they deal less with the disaster of geopolitics than with an atmosphere of mild if daily discomfort." Full Review

The New York Times

"There comes a moment in the latest Broadway production of Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man” when high spirits, terrific dancing and big stars align in an extended marvel of showbiz salesmanship. Unfortunately, that moment is the curtain call. Until then, the musical, which opened on Thursday night at the Winter Garden Theater, only intermittently offers the joys we expect from a classic revival starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster — especially one so obviously patterned on the success of... Full Review

The New York Times

"Wheeldon’s choreography — performed by Frost along with a superb if amazingly jacked ensemble — remains compelling longer, offering a three-dimensional version of what most of us have seen only from distant arena seats or in dark videos on depthless screens. (The show’s “Michael Jackson movement” is credited to two additional choreographers, Rich + Tone Talauega.) The stage patterns are far more varied and expressive than in similar musicals, scoring points without words as they deliver the ... Full Review

The New York Times

"CRITIC’S PICK...So begins “Skeleton Crew,” a play by Dominique Morisseau that in considering the ways we must sometimes break rules, breaks none itself. It’s so adroitly built and written — and, in the Manhattan Theater Club production that opened on Wednesday, so beautifully staged and acted — that you hardly have time to decide, until its brisk two hours have passed, whether it’s a comedy or a tragedy. Even then, as in life, you may not know for sure." Full Review

The New York Times

"That was never the problem with Jane Wagner’s play; it bristles with barbed insights that have kept me nursing the beautiful bruises for 35 years. And the good news is that in the revival that opened at the Shed on Tuesday night, starring Cecily Strong and directed by Leigh Silverman, many of those barbs are as piercing as ever, breaking the skin of American optimism. Wagner’s existential one-liners amount to a Rosetta Stone of sardonic comedy, an overlooked source of stylings typically attr... Full Review

Company (Broadway)
Midtown W
The New York Times

"In that sense, this “Company” is perfectly in line with his intentions: It’s new. And truth be told, I was never less than riveted — if usually in the way Bobby is, eyeballing messy marriages. Nor is the chance to hear the great score live with a 14-piece orchestra to be taken lightly; is there a more exciting opening number than the title song? So I guess I’m sorry-grateful. Sorry for not liking this version of “Company” better — and grateful to Sondheim for providing the chance to find ... Full Review

Clyde's (Broadway)
Midtown W
The New York Times

"Critic's Pick!...Nottage’s delightful new play, “Clyde’s,” which opened at the Helen Hayes Theater on Tuesday, dares to flip the paradigm. Though it’s still about dark things, including prison, drugs, homelessness and poverty, it somehow turns them into bright comedy." Full Review

The New York Times

"But if you decide to write a musical about a real woman, known worldwide, who died tragically while still a young mother, something more rigorous is demanded. “Diana,” though, is lazy and thus neither entertaining nor insightful; though audiences talk back to it at will, it’s not even campy fun. It’s just exploitative, doing to the Princess of Wales pretty much what the tabloid press — let alone the monarchy — did to her in the first place." Full Review

The New York Times

"There is no lack of cheese, God knows, in musicals. Worthiness is also plentiful — and sometimes more off-putting. Still, until “Trevor” opened on Wednesday at Stage 42, I’d seldom encountered, outside of after-school specials, the cheesy-but-worthy combo, a seemingly impossible platter that’s almost as righteous in the world as it is wrong in the theater." Full Review

The New York Times

"NYTImes Critic's Pick! The wonder is that it is never less than thrilling to experience. This being a musical, the music is part of that; Tesori’s wondrous score is like the search function on a car radio, picking up snippets of every genre on the dial...Clarke, who won an Olivier award for her performance in the British production, adds hers. She makes of the maid an almost Shakespearean figure; even at the depths of the character’s despair." Full Review

The New York Times

"How does mind-numbing banality become heart-racing excitement?...a 65-minute verbatim transcript has now become the basis for one of the thrillingest thrillers ever to hit Broadway. “Is This a Room,” which opened on Monday at the Lyceum Theater, turns the ums and stutters and bizarre non sequiturs of recorded speech into astonishing — and astonishingly emotional — theater." Full Review

The New York Times

"If Anyanwu doesn’t provide us with keys to the allegory, except to hint rather broadly that it involves the repression of artists in a totalitarian state, an actor as excellent as Watts cannot help but fill in the blanks." Full Review

The New York Times

"Somehow Nwandu gives us the recognition of horror that has informed drama since the Greeks while also providing the relief of joy — however irrational — that calls to mind the ecstasies of gospel, splatter flicks and classic musicals, all of which are sampled." Full Review

The New York Times

"That both siblings are played by Dowd is a problem, and a plus. The plus is that Dowd is an endlessly and effortlessly compelling actor, apparently unafraid of any extreme of human depravity...Because Dowd is playing both, and because she is a tiny figure on Hildegard Bechtler’s giant catwalk of a stage as it branches out amid the tables, she must push both characterizations to extremes." Full Review

The Perplexed
Midtown W
The New York Times

"In ‘The Perplexed,’ Moral Gridlock on Fifth Avenue: Richard Greenberg’s overstuffed new play about family feuds and ethical choices turns a wedding comedy into a crisis." Full Review