Karen's Bookshop

New City
About:  NYC Theatergoer since forever (yeah - I saw "A Chorus Line" when it was young, and so was I.) English majors may wind up living on pennies, but we can't be beat when it comes to opinionating on anything involving words. (And sometimes we make one up.)
Reviews (65)
Two Can Play
Midtown W
Talky, Good acting, Dated

See it if you'd like to see yet another iteration of "men dominating women is bad"

Don't see it if a dated situation and heavy accents would throw you

Also This is a two-character play, so there's a lot of talk; much of it is ... Read more Read less

During previews
Dracula (CSC)
East Village
Long, Uneven, Thought-provoking, Ambitious, Clever

See it if you don't mind having your feminism laid on with a trowel

Don't see it if you want Bram Stoker's version of the tale

Also Kate Hamill has left comedy and launched somewhat heavily into social ... Read more Read less

Some excellent acting, Indulgent, Offensive, Too long, Disappointing

See it if a few genuinely funny lines can compensate you for the loss of 3 hours & the fact that the play is a mess

Don't see it if you would be as offended by a series of uninterrupted transphobic rants as I was, or if you care about realistic dialogue in general

Also I can't imagine who let this play hit the stage without sitting the pl... Read more Read less

Scotland, PA
Midtown W
Good cast, Good tunes, Clever, Mordantly funny, Delightful

See it if you'd love a clever inversion of Shakespearean tragedy into pitch-black comedy, & also if McDonald's makes you puke

Don't see it if you hold the Bard and/or the Golden Arches sacred

Also A trusted Show-Score friend gave this one an excellent review, and I w... Read more Read less

All My Fathers
East Village
Too meta, Slow, Overwritten, Well-acted

See it if you want to see some excellent acting in a play that bogs down in the playwright's navel-gazing & out-clevering himself

Don't see it if you have little tolerance for a shaggy dog story that refuses to wrap up, or for a dream sequence inexplicably featuring a man in a Speedo

Also No complaints about the acting, which was very good, but the Big Revel... Read more Read less

During previews
Unfulfilling, Well-acted, Derivative, Intelligent, Ambitious

See it if you have spent too much time in the college English department & enjoy self-referential dramedy in that setting

Don't see it if you have read too many books & don't want to keep being distracted from the play by thinking, "Yup, I see where he stole THAT from."

Also Heavily influenced by Margaret Edson's "W;t", "Catcher in the Rye," "S... Read more Read less

During previews
Must see, Poetic, Great acting, Great staging, Enchanting

See it if you can get a ticket.

Don't see it if you don't want sheer, ravishing stage magic, rather than a literal translation that's word-for-word Rostand.

Also I had high expectations after seeing the cast & creative team discuss ... Read more Read less

Disappointing, Great acting, Overwritten, Wordy, Intelligent

See it if you're not triggered by unrelenting rape-iness and can sit 2 hours without needing a bathroom

Don't see it if you object to explicit onstage naked kink, or hate spending the second & third acts of a play thinking "Yeah, this needs some serious cuts."

Also I had a lot of doubts about this one, but the NYT rave and a cheap tic... Read more Read less

Riveting, Must see, Frustrating, Baffling, Exciting

See it if you want to see the best & most intense Jud Fry you never dreamed this role could be. I was rooting for him to get with Laurey.

Don't see it if you want traditional Broadway razzle-dazzle. And yes - the ballet dream sequence really IS that bad. (Not the dancer - just the concept.)

Also I'd never seen Patrick Vaill in anything before; he was absolutely riv... Read more Read less

Eureka Day
Great writing, Great acting, Biting, Hilarious, Delightful

See it if brilliant satirical treatment of the breakdown of polite liberal behavior under duress can make you howl with glee

Don't see it if you are a liberal who can't cop to the fact that sometimes we can be douchey, opinionated and hard to take

Also SO brilliant. SO much fun. SUCH great actors. I recognized every singl... Read more Read less

Make Believe
Midtown W
Great acting, Entertaining, Clever

See it if you want to see some phenomenally good child actors

Don't see it if you are tired of Dysfunctional Family Dramas

Also The children in the first half of the play were absolutely terrific. T... Read more Read less

During previews
Impressive, Intelligent, Ambitious

See it if you're a Joyce nut

Don't see it if you aren't.

Also Memorizing 75 minutes' worth of Molly Bloom's monologue - the "Penelop... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Back-to-basics, Enjoyable, Thought-provoking

See it if you want a purer, more grass-roots experience of the play

Don't see it if you only like your Broadway musicals to have glitz and razzle-dazzle

Also Minimalist set; beautifully staged and presented. This was the first T... Read more Read less

Excruciating, Overrated, Puerile, Over-amped, Disappointing

See it if You're a young teen or a tween

Don't see it if you expect a Broadway show to be better than a big-budget high school production

Also Best part of the evening: theorizing origins of this musical. It's the... Read more Read less

During previews
Life Sucks.
Midtown W
Great writing, Intelligent, Great acting, Funny, Clever

See it if you always knew you oughta like Chekhov, but wished he'd lighten up a tad so you COULD.

Don't see it if the phrase "Life is real, Life is earnest, and the Grave is not its goal" doesn't make you want to giggle, even a little.

Also Just delightful. Writer Aaron Posner has joined the exalted company of... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Well-researched, Provocative, Fast-paced, Well-acted

See it if you are a Lenny Bruce fan - this is as close to actually seeing him perform as you'll ever get.

Don't see it if you'd be unable to sit through reenactment of Lenny Bruce material that uses obscenities, the n-word & racial slurs to make a social point

Also Extremely well researched; I've read just about every Lenny Bruce bio ... Read more Read less

Fort Dicks
Midtown W
Disappointing, Insipid, Excruciating, Unfunny, Amateurish

See it if you love a cast member.

Don't see it if you can possibly avoid it.

Also I'm so sorry - I wish I could say something positive about this show. ... Read more Read less

Your Invisible Corset
Lower E Side
Confusing, Slow, Overwritten, Good actors, Insipid

See it if you like to support small theaters and a cast that tries hard with a less-than-inspiring script

Don't see it if you are irked by repetitious exposition and a muddled approach to feminist themes.

Also These poor actors. The script is simply not very good. You can see how... Read more Read less

Pop Punk High
Greenwich V
Clever, Great singing, Funny, Loud, Amusing book

See it if you like raunch, enjoy an appealing cast & a clever book, and have a good set of earplugs.

Don't see it if standing up for 2 hours or seeing an eight foot long pink plush penis would bother you.

Also Arrived at 6 - stated start time of show. Immediately realized there w... Read more Read less

During previews
Clever, Ambitious, Great acting, Amusing, Entertaining

See it if you like to watch and hear Janet McTeer perform (as I do).

Don't see it if you are a stickler for accuracy in theater history.

Also Lovely revolving sets, and McTeer is delightful (of course). Not the c... Read more Read less

Dated, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if you want to see the best-performed version of this admittedly butt-numbing four hour drunkologue you are ever likely to experience

Don't see it if you hate O'Neill and his long-winded & fairly dated dialogue

Also I am so glad I went. Yes, it's tough to sit through an O'Neill play an... Read more Read less

During previews
Feeding the Dragon
West Village
Intelligent, Funny, Nostalgic, New yorky, Warm-hearted

See it if You adore books, libraries, the Upper West Side, beautiful lighting and an intelligent, well-performed one-woman memoir piece.

Don't see it if you only like bling.

Also As an Upper West Sider who has been at the St. Agnes Library hundreds ... Read more Read less

Mother Lode
Banal, Disappointing, Good acting, Indulgent, Uninspiring

See it if you'd like to see a one-woman memoir piece, well-performed, that's a little over an hour long. Linda Haston does a good job w/ the material

Don't see it if you are hoping for great writing or an epiphany/interesting plot twist of any kind. Not the most harrowing Monster Mom tale you'll ever hear

Let There Be Stuff
East Village
Disappointing, Indulgent, Slow, Banal, Uninspired

See it if you have friends or loved ones in the show

Don't see it if you don't.

Also There were a few genuinely funny moments. The play got off to a promis... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining, Disappointing

See it if you love Stephen McKinley Henderson, and don't mind that a lot of the dialogue is just soapboxing.

Don't see it if you expect character development instead of just talkity-talk.

Also It didn't lag, it was fun, and the actors did a good job. I would go w... Read more Read less

Touching, Rueful, Honest, Funny

See it if you are willing to believe a daughter who's brave enough to tell uncomfortable truths about her celebrity mother

Don't see it if you need to believe all mothers are saints

Also I liked this; I felt considerable sympathy for Barra Grant as she unsp... Read more Read less

Ham-on-wry, Great acting, Busch-y, Delightful, Funny

See it if you love campy send-ups of Douglas Sirk-type schmaltz

Don't see it if cross-dressing, brothels, and occasional (hilarious) verbal vulgarities offend you

Also This was better than expected. Having read the other Show Score review... Read more Read less

Irreverent, Edgy, Intense, Intelligent, Hilarious

See it if you love brilliant social commentary enveloped in raunchy, razor-sharp wit in the tradition of Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and Hannah Gadsby

Don't see it if you like Times Square better now that it's Disneyfied, cause it makes you feel safe and you can take the kiddies.

Also First time seeing Desiree Burch for me; hope it won't be the last, and... Read more Read less

During previews
Dazzling, Electrifying, Great singing, Great staging, Must see

See it if you love her music & want to see the closest thing to perfection in a Tuna Turner who is NOT, in fact, Tina Turner herself. Tonys sweep.

Don't see it if you prefer chamber music

Also These tickets are going to be impossible to get once the show opens & ... Read more Read less

Linda Vista
Midtown W
Meh, Some laughs, Ew, Indulgent, Disappointing

See it if you don't see enough straight, white, middle-aged, whiny loser-dudes for free & you want to pay to spend 3 hours watching yet another one

Don't see it if you're a woman who has already had it up to here with this self-indulgent King Baby crap.

Also I was warned, but...I didn't listen. Story of me and how I wound up at... Read more Read less

During previews
The White Chip
Midtown E
Enjoyable, Well-written, Funny

See it if you enjoy a well-told, well-acted alcoholic war story

Don't see it if you are tired of the undeniable fact that everyone in show biz who's been to a rehab eventually thinks, "Hey - this is COMIC MATERIAL!"

Also Very good staging and sound effects; three actors do a lot with a litt... Read more Read less

During previews
The Rose Tattoo
Midtown W
Goofy, Sweet, Funny, Great acting, Dated

See it if you don't mind that some of Tennessee Williams has not aged well, and you'd like to see Marisa Tomei in a slip

Don't see it if the use of every possible cliche and derogatory term for "of Italian heritage" would bug you, or you'd hate to see Marisa Tomei in a slip

Also Marisa Tomei gives this her delightful all, and there are many smiles ... Read more Read less

Stupid F**king Bird
West Village
Long, Funny, Clever

See it if you want an updated script screaming CHEKHOV IS ABOUT EXISTENTIAL ANGST! in your face, most of the time amusingly.

Don't see it if your expectations were shaped by "Life Sucks." This was good, but not AS good.

Also Smart, funny script, but nowhere near as good as "Life Sucks." Actors ... Read more Read less

Raunchy, Ambitious, Well-performed, Clever, Funny

See it if you like a smart, very funny woman in a show that has more in common with a 90 minute stand-up routine than an actual play

Don't see it if four-letter words and sexual humor offend you, or if self-mockery of one's own intellectual pretentions is not your bag

Also Practically everyone in the audience was younger than I, and they were... Read more Read less

Little Gem
Entertaining, Intelligent, Clever, Great acting, Funny

See it if you'd enjoy a series of rapid-fire monologues that are occasionally very funny indeed

Don't see it if you'd be thrown by a format in which three actors take turns addressing the audience in long monologues, rather than each other

Also The title is something of a misnomer; the eponymous character never pu... Read more Read less

Funny, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Incisive, Great writing

See it if you can get a ticket

Don't see it if you only want a retread of Nanette - new material here.

Also One of the best writer-performers I've seen. The show is a little unev... Read more Read less

During previews
Little Women
West Village
Occasional brilliance, Baffling, So much wtf, Disappointing

See it if you refuse to believe Kate Hamill could ever get it so wrong

Don't see it if you're able to take a warning

Also After "Vanity Fair" and "Pride & Prejudice" turned me into a voracious... Read more Read less

Loverly, Great singing, Enchanting, Delightful

See it if you adore this musical and can't remember a time when you didn't know the words to all the songs

Don't see it if you want darkness & angst

Also It was delightful. I'd never seen it onstage before, and it was, in a ... Read more Read less

Occasionally odd, Charming, Great choreography, Great singing, Enchanting

See it if you love the musical and Kelli O'Hara's singing

Don't see it if it would bother you every now & then to think "I wish they hadn't changed that part."

Also The dancing is off the hooks, especially Corbin Bleu's tap-dancing fir... Read more Read less

Greenwich V
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Must see, Thought-provoking

See it if you've always found prior adaptations of Fitzgerald's masterpiece disappointing and couldn't quite articulate what was missing.

Don't see it if you can't sit in a theater seat for 6 hours. Pro tip: Move from the orchestra to the box seats for a perfect view and ample leg room.

Also The Elevator Repair Service's production of "Gatz" is the only success... Read more Read less

During previews
The Dead, 1904
Upper E Side
Enchanting, Exquisite, Great staging, Great singing, Must see

See it if you want to go to the best party in New York any lit nerd could ever dream of attending.

Don't see it if you hate Joyce or period pieces or interactive theater

Also This was one of my happiest theater nights ever. The staging was beaut... Read more Read less

During previews
Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Topical, Sad

See it if you want to see the legendary Elaine May in an exquisitely realized performance

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with "what do we do with our formerly independent & dynamic family member who now is old & makes us all all crazy?"

Also I can't say enough about how great Elaine May is as Gladys, the New Yo... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Raunchy, Clever

See it if you enjoy lampoons, comically exaggerated mimicry, and a good-natured, high-energy performance.

Don't see it if you've never seen S&TC.

Also An entertaining, well-written and well-performed Cliff Notes version o... Read more Read less

For a previous production
Entertaining, Great staging, Dizzying, Hilarious, Must see

See it if you loved "Noises Off" and yearn for a giddy evening of expert slapstick.

Don't see it if you're in the mood for Chekhov.

Also There were two tall people sitting in front of us; my friend and I pla... Read more Read less

During previews
Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Ambitious

See it if You are deeply familiar with the Albee play (as well as the works of Tennessee Williams) and love a rowdy, irreverent send-up.

Don't see it if You can't stand a disappointing second half after a play gets off to a promising start.

Also Roaringly funny first "act" (no intermissions), during which the autho... Read more Read less

During previews
The Metromaniacs
Midtown W
Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Dizzying, Hilarious

See it if you relish mistaken/assumed identity farces, brilliant wordplay, and the inimitable verbal pyrotechnics of David Ives

Don't see it if you dislike dialogue in rhymed couplets.

Also I always know I'm in for an excellent evening when David Ives involved... Read more Read less

Enchanting, Great acting, Great writing, Thought-provoking, Delightful

See it if you don't want to miss Mark Rylance creating an exquisitely-written role.

Don't see it if you hate brilliant writing and magnificent acting (or operatic singing. OK -there is that.)

Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Absorbing, Entertaining

See it if you'd love a well-told, witty, one-woman paean to the joys & frequent heartbreaks of doggedly pursuing the dream of being a working actor

Don't see it if you hate theater (but in that case, why would you even be in a theater?)

Also Zenobia Shroff delights, both as herself and as the multiplicity of ch... Read more Read less

Great singing, Brilliant, Hilarious, Genius, Must see

See it if you like laughing till your stomach hurts.

Don't see it if the possibility of laughing so hard you wet the seat makes you uncomfortable. Or if you're a Mormon and serious about it - then don't.

Also The only thing that took me this long was the cost of the tickets. Tha... Read more Read less

During previews
Disappointing, Insipid, Slow, Ambitious, Banal

See it if you want to magically extend your lifetime by making 90 minutes feel like 3 hours.

Don't see it if you've already read Jefferson, Dickens, and Tolstoy and you don't want an evening of the "for dummies" version & no surprises.

Also Whose idea was it to dress Charles Dickens like Gene Wilder playing Wi... Read more Read less