Jesse Oxfeld

About:  Jesse Oxfeld is a critic with New York Stage Review. He has also reviewed for The New York Observer, Entertainment Weekly, Town & Country, The Forward, and The Times of London.
Reviews (84)
New York Stage Review

"Hill and Smallwood (in his Broadway debut) are deft and winning, and they imbue their talky parts with a dynamic, nearly acrobatic physicality." Full Review

New York Stage Review

4/5 Stars. "The genius of 'Girl From the North Country' is that it treats Dylan's songs not as hits to be played from a jukebox but as poetry that constructs a mythic, broken American landscape." Full Review

New York Stage Review

2/5 Stars. "Playwright Alice Birch is saying interesting things; if we could engage with the stories, we'd probably even be moved to care about them." Full Review

The Thin Place
Midtown W
New York Stage Review

3/5 Stars. "The kookily sincere 90-minute phantasmadrama is intriguing, somewhat amusing, and succeeds in its tricky outlandishness. It also aims for a profundity that it never quite achieves." Full Review

New York Stage Review

4/5 Stars. "Everything's Gonna Be Fine, Fine, Fine: An angsty, angry, surpassingly excellent Broadway musical that somehow has a sweetly happy ending." Full Review

New York Stage Review

2/5 Stars: "Seeming almost like a school play, it's an ode to STEM skills and female friendship, except with four-letter words and great production values." Full Review

The Michaels
East Village
New York Stage Review

4/5 Stars "It's nice to be back in Rhinebeck. The Michaels is a work about time passing, about things passing, about remembering what came before - and is there anything so ephemeral as the steps to a movement long ago last danced?: Full Review

New York Stage Review

for a previous production 3/5 Stars: "What happens when the spoof is as venerable as the spoofed? The answer is this: Moderate amusement, a few good jokes, a lot of middling ones, and no real reason for existing except that it has always existed" Full Review

New York Stage Review

★★★★ "'Everything's Different, Nothing's Changed.' Halley Feiffer's quasi-contemporary, wildly anachronistic, and genuinely affectingly retelling of Chekhov's Three Sisters reminds us that we all face disappointment, boredom, and lost love." Full Review

Fairview
Brooklyn
New York Stage Review

"Twists and turns contain so many surprises, so many unexpected and occasionally jaw-dropping moments, that to describe them would be to ruin half the fun...'Fairview' is extraordinary. It is funny, it is insightful, and it is shocking. It makes you uncomfortable, in all the best ways. It leaves you thinking about it for days afterward, and then it leaves you rethinking what you’ve thought...As Trumpism has come into full flower, 'Fairview' is an eloquent, defiant response." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"This impeccably performed production of McNally’s sweet, sad, and funny play, crisply staged by Arin Arbus, can feel nevertheless a bit sodden. For all the virtuosity on display, I’m not sure that we ever truly believe the characters, believe that these people are as lonely, and as needy, as the script requires them to be...Johnny, as played by the estimable Shannon, is a charmer, but he’s also overbearing, relentless, and slightly frightening." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"It’s hard to read Feiffer’s performance, but it’s nearly impossible to read her character. Linklater, for his part, skillfully deploys his usual warmhearted charm in service of this charmingly nefarious character. Trip Cullman’s forthright direction allows the mysteries of this story to unfold efficiently, even if they’re never quite resolved...'Pain' is informed by developments in Feiffer’s life. She’s clearly working through all of that in this play. She hasn’t worked it through far enough... Full Review

New York Stage Review

"An intriguing, fulfilling sketch of a fantasy...It is perhaps not the world’s most original observation. But portrayed within the bounds of this relationship, by these fine actors on this crucible of a set and under Joe Mantello’s expertly controlled direction, it is deeply provocative...It’s a slim, impressionistic portrait. But it’s just enough. With this production, these actors, this marriage, a little bit is a lot." Full Review

The Cake
Midtown W
New York Stage Review

"'The Cake', which initially seems a goofy confection, turns out to be a thoughtful examination of changing cultural mores...Rupp brings charm, daffiness, and heart to her character. And it’s refreshing to see a culture-war depiction that presents all its combatants as good-hearted and struggling...But even with its flaws, this play works, on the strength of its sympathetic takes and Brunstetter’s sharp script. T'he Cake', as it turns out, is sweet." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"There’s a lot to smile at in this wonderful production...As gimmicks go, 'Fiddler' in Yiddish has a pretty good one...But this 'Fiddler' succeeds fully on its own merits. Grey’s interpretation of the classic is simple and moving, and he has assembled a fine cast of Yiddish-speaking (and Broadway-level-singing) performers...The Yiddish language places the piece even more firmly than usual in a specific place and time." Full Review

Sea Wall/A Life
East Village
New York Stage Review

"The two halves are tightly intertwined, but what makes them especially interesting is that while they are exercises in personal storytelling they are not actually personal, and though they paired they are not linked by a common voice...Masterfully constructed and beautifully performed, but it is as a meticulously constructed simulacrum of truth and revelation that it is perhaps most perfectly suited for our alternative-realities time...Both stories are sad, revelatory, and quite deeply movin... Full Review

New York Stage Review

“The verdict is: Whatever...The project certainly seemed like a good idea...What’s on stage...Is a pretty good argument for why not. Heckerling seems far too close to her original material, and far too unfamiliar with what makes a ’90s spoof work in 2018...That’s not to say it’s all bad...Cameron’s dynamite...The script...never achieves any lift...Worse are the songs...The lyrics are awful...Ultimately, 'Clueless'...can’t help feeling like a let’s-put-on-a-show college pageant." Full Review

Wild Goose Dreams
East Village
New York Stage Review

“This new play centers on two lonely South Koreans and attempts to song-and-dance-ify the internet itself. The different pieces, each powerful on its own, yields a result that manages to be sometimes intriguing, occasionally heartbreaking, and not a little soporific...When ’Wild Goose Dreams’ is best is when it’s examining...the faults in a seemingly happily neon-lit culture...For the purposes of this story, the distractions of the internet are just a distraction.” Full Review

New York Stage Review

"A clever piece, with an interesting idea, by a sharp young playwright. Its only problem is that it’s not nearly as provocative as it thinks it is...Director Moritz von Stuelpnagel keep the energy high and the jokes flying; the cast has perhaps the most fun of anyone in the tiny theater...It’s fun, but there are no explosive ideas...Yes, well-intentioned liberals can be ridiculous. We knew this already; we’ve been to Park Slope." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"An intriguingly constructed, movingly written look at a very specific relationship...It’s deeply, almost shockingly frank, and it’s also deeply revelatory...The script is carefully balanced and slowly unpacks its secrets. Her structure is precise, and so is her wording. Even the jokes build carefully and land precisely. Margot Bordelon’s direction sharpens this effect...This is a smart, well-made play that is very much of its time, a look at the brave new world of gender nonconformity." Full Review

New York Stage Review

for a previous production "The play is an anguished, deeply personal, and ultimately hopeful look at whose rights are protected and respected under our governing document and whose are not... Schreck is a warm, engaging presence, and her script, too, conveys an ingratiating conversational warmth. But what makes the play so impressive, and so necessary, is Schreck’s earnest, well-intentioned interest in reckoning not just with what’s gone wrong in our system, but also what’s gone right." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"It’s Julie Taymor’s puppetry that continues to astound...The problem is that the rest of the musical is not as good as Taymor’s vision for the animals and their gorgeous ensemble numbers...Now, the beauty is there, but the show feels a bit worn...The few big numbers aside, much of the John-Rice score is middling ’90s pop rock...That said, the performances, even now, are rather lovely...But you’re not here for the performances. You’re here for the puppets. And they’re worth it." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"Does a remarkably good job of taking a collection of seeming missteps—a show stacked with stereotypes, platitudes, and plot contrivances—and, with happy acknowledgement of all those deficiencies, turning them into a genuinely enjoyable if perfectly inane night at the theater...It is, in fact, the most hackneyed, predictable story you could imagine...It’s also so committed to its goofiness, so good-natured and having so much fun, that it’s impossible not to enjoy yourself." Full Review

Log Cabin
Midtown W
New York Stage Review

"This trim play is no gay fantasia on 21st century themes...Ferguson has the fun part, in neurotic Ezra, and he has fun with it; he’s amusing and engaging without being too sitcom-star focus-pulling...It’s director Pam McKinnon whose work is most essential to this play’s success...While the mess of issues and situations hit upon in the play sometimes threaten to overwhelm, the staging and portrayals stay firmly in hand, propelling the play on." Full Review

New York Stage Review

“An incoherent, amateurish, arguably homophobic slog…By the middle of this play little is making sense…Scelca’s preferred device for critiquing Albee, in this proudly feminist reclaiming, is to critique him for being a gay man writing about women by caricaturing other gay men writing about women…Sex-obsessed sophomoric romp through literary allusions, providing occasional entertainment but no insight.” Full Review

Endlings
East Village
New York Stage Review

4/5 Stars. "Celine Song's fascinating and wonderfully complicated new play is clever and self-aware, in on its own joke, but also deeply serious." Full Review

The Headlands
Upper W Side
New York Stage Review

3/5 Stars. "Christopher Chen raises provocative stakes in this complicated family history, but with unengaging characters" Full Review

New York Stage Review

3/5 Stars. "Charles Fuller's 1981 Pulitzer winner gets a gorgeous revival staged by Kenny Leon" Full Review

Greater Clements
Upper W Side
New York Stage Review

4/5 Stars. "Samuel D. Hunter crafts an excellent, quietly devastating new play, with remarkable performances from Judith Ivey and Edmund Donovan." Full Review

New York Stage Review

3/5 Stars "Horton Foote won the Pulitzer Prize for this play, which doesn't stand up especially well in 2019." Full Review

New York Stage Review

4/5 Stars "Adrienne Warren is spectacular. She sings beautifully and she dances ecstatically. She nails that raspy, growling, wide-vowelled Tina voice. And she does the whole thing with a focused ferocity." Full Review

New York Stage Review

4/5 Stars "Audrey II is back, and the talking topiary is just as primed for conquest as ever. This new production is a delightful reminder of just how charming and weird and funny and sweet the 1982 mock-horror musical is" Full Review

New York Stage Review

★★★★ "'All You Need Is Love (and Showmanship).' Baz Luhrmann's hit bohemian-Paris movie gets bigger and bolder for Broadway." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"A beautiful, moving, and ultimately deeply engaging one-man biomusical...Cale is a droll storyteller, and his songs are pretty and haunting. It’s a cliché that characters in musicals break into song when mere words are insufficient, and it’s never seemed more true than in 'We’re Only Alive'...This is Cale’s story, and his accomplishment. But the staging makes it so much more." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"'The Secret Life of Bees,' which is beautifully staged by Sam Gold and gorgeously sung by a talented, big-voiced cast, suffers from a malady all too common to musicals based on teen-focused novels: Its messages are billboarded, its plot points are signposted, and its characters are largely unidimensional. The script, by the multi-Pulitzer-winning Lynn Nottage, ably delivers a warm-hearted story of predictable uplift, but it doesn’t succeed in making 'Bees' dramatically compelling." Full Review

New York Stage Review

for a previous production "A very enjoyable, very self-aware, very slick, very tuneful, very constructed-to-please-the-crowds new Broadway musical...All of it builds to a perfectly, wonderfully, showbizzy good time...It’s those big performances that work best here — Jill Abramovitz, wonderfully ridiculous in a bit part as an investor’s vacant wife, is a standout — because the whole show is so big." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"Bloody, flatulent, funny, and unexpectedly optimistic...Mac’s script is hilarious, and director George C. Wolfe has assembled for his cast three of the stage’s great comic performers...But there’s profundity hidden inside this high comedy...The serious point of this very funny show: That the only way to survive horrors is to turn them into art, that comedy must come from tragedy." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"That late, hopeful glimmer of effectively winking self-awareness is gone...Which is, sadly, pretty much par for the course in this aggressively cheery, entirely unbelievable, bring-the-bachelorettes musical...'Chick Flick the Musical' is exactly what you expect it to be, for better and for worse, and that might well be enough to earn it a dedicated girls-night-out audience...The songs come at you, the dancing comes at you, the amplification comes at you. As such, David Ruttura’s direction is... Full Review

Alice By Heart
Midtown W
New York Stage Review

“The script is so unclear, and the staging so busily distracting, that it’s nearly impossible to tell what’s going on...Sheik’s score is poppy and yearning...The youthful actors are, all of them, fantastic, doing the best with what they’ve been giving and singing tunefully...The direction and dance clutter rather than clarify.” Full Review

New York Stage Review

“’Vera Stark’ attempts many things at once...In this elegant production, it is ultimately much as it was in its 2011 debut...funny, smart, frequently clever, and ultimately successful in achieving only some of its goals...Vera’s regally self-dramatizing turn as the grand-dame talk-show guest is simply sensational...But the early scenes lag, and the academic spoof in the second act is obvious and unnecessary. And the hinted-at deep secret is left unexplored.” Full Review

New York Stage Review

"This is not a revelatory new interpretation, but it’s a serious and successful look at a seminal modern work...Hawke and Dano are excellent...But you can’t imagine them switching the roles, as their predecessors did. You don’t feel like you’re seeing something unprecedented. What you are seeing, though, is a top-notch take on Shepard’s provocative script." Full Review

The Jungle
Brooklyn
New York Stage Review

"Extraordinary...A smart, searching, provocative piece the finds hope in this miserable place and questions how and why the world allows human beings to live like that...It’s an immersive experience that puts spectators inside a restaurant in the camp, with the action going on all around us...It both tells a story that’s important and presents that story with such bracing immediacy...The sprawling cast...is uniformly excellent but also a true ensemble." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"The performance is frequently funny, it contains a few astute observations, and Birbiglia proves himself pleasant company for the time you’ll spend with him. What 'The New One' is not, however, is a play...It’s entertaining, to a certain point, but it’s not dramatic. And, other than one, brief moment—one that its producers have asked reviewing press not to reveal—it’s not in any way theatrical...This piece would be a pleasant few minutes on the radio." Full Review

New York Stage Review

“There’s not a lot that happens in this play dramatically…What makes this play succeed is precisely its familiarity…Ultimately, we know these people, and the slow sadness of Gladys’s condition, the sad way so many die today when modern medicine—and, yes, some privilege—keeps them physically fine even as their minds disappear, is heartbreaking...That’s why I found myself sobbing in the second act. And that’s why this flawed play nevertheless packs a punch." Full Review

New York Stage Review

‘’The Lifespan of a Fact’ is presented as an urgent and timely examination of facts and accuracy...But it knows its answers before it begins...The play can’t help feeling a bit ersatz...This is not to say that the play is unenjoyable, especially as stylishly directed by Silverman...The book...is a charming and engaging meditation on the craft of writing and the ultimate inscrutability of knowledge...The play is an amusing evening at the theater.” Full Review

The Nap (Broadway)
Midtown W
New York Stage Review

"It is funny, but less funny than you’d like it to be. It entertains, but it is instantly forgotten. You can’t shake the feeling that you’re missing something...Well performed, never ascends to any giddy farcical heights. It remains consistently, stubbornly, mildly amusing. There is nothing laugh-out-loud funny. This is most likely because—and this should come as a surprise to no one—Americans are not primed for snooker humor...What we get is a pleasant, provincial-British diversion." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"I went to the Majestic last week to find out what it’s like all these years, and millions, later. It turns out: Kind of a blast...The sets are towering, the costumes lush, the orchestrations overwhelming (in a good way). By setting the show in the world of opera, there are perfectly good reasons for the over-the-top sets, overwrought performances...Hal Prince’s direction remains both overwrought and sensitive, with some truly lovely moments...As good as it is, it is stagnant." Full Review

Fire in Dreamland
East Village
New York Stage Review

"It’s an interesting and beautifully staged play, directed by Marissa Wolf, with a fantastic central performance from Rebecca Naomi Jones, that’s less than entirely fulfilling only because Groff tries to squeeze quite so much into its 90 minutes...Here, there’s real-world tragedy, too. But the experience ends up being, perhaps, a bit like that fire: thrilling and exciting, and just too much to take in." Full Review

Teenage Dick
East Village
New York Stage Review

“The serious and seriously terrific new ‘Richard III’ spoof...Well and tightly constructed — a thoroughly engrossing and entertaining play that zips through humor and pathos, building inexorably to its climax...Mozgala is more than a bit too old to be playing a high schooler, but his performance is a deeply affecting one...A well-paced, smoothly moving production that retains just enough scruffy edge...The ending is perhaps even darker than Shakespeare’s.” Full Review

New York Stage Review

"The play remains compelling viewing, for its wit and its pathos and especially as a slice of historical anthropology. But there’s just no good reason, and there’s never been a good reason, why the miserable men in Michael’s living room don’t simply get up and leave. It’s the unavoidable flaw in this unavoidable work. Director Joe Mantello hasn’t solved that problem. But he’s otherwise given us as fine a version of 'Boys' as we’re likely to get." Full Review