Soho Rep presents its commission of Anne Washburn's '10 out of 12,' a wry and absorbing look at how work forms and deforms us, set during a technical theatre rehearsal. More…
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to tech. Around you, a company of 14 is engaged in the very peculiar—and peculiarly impossible—task of making a new play. You’ll have a seat next to the sound designer as he mixes cues. You’ll eavesdrop on backstage gossip as it happens over headset. You’ll watch the director struggle to contain the uncontainable. This play was borne out of years of note-taking by Anne Washburn at various tech rehearsals in her career.
'10 Out of 12' is an excruciatingly detailed and totally realistic rendering of an all-night technical rehearsal at some small, unnamed downtown theater. Les Waters wrangles the 14-person ensemble with a sure hand and a keen sense of irony...The whole thing is terribly funny." Full Review
"The miracle here is the extraordinary cohesiveness of the perfectly cast and technically impressive production, which Les Waters has directed with an awesome precision that inspires believability in every performance. The excellence helps demonstrate again why Soho Rep continues to be about the best and smartest small theatre in the Off Broadway arena." Full Review
"'10 Out of 12' is subtler than, but just as deep as, other Washburn works. Tech is where theatrical fantasy meets plywood and paint, where artistic visions find form or, frequently, compromise with the limitations of money, materials, and time. Not a bad analogy, Washburn suggests, for life." Full Review
"We get a sense of a totality. Enough of the sketch is completed to satisfy our understanding of the people, the purpose, and the play. The characters are wonderfully drawn, and glimpses add up to great depth of feeling...It’s surprising that a play that is about endless repetition and boredom can be anything but. But my first tech rehearsal was fascinating, and those 10 hours passed like a breeze." Full Review
"'10 out of 12,' a funny, imaginative, and thoroughly original comedy comes roaring to life near the end of the first act...Its pleasures are of the deadpan, oddball variety -- and at a certain point you might begin to wonder if the play will ever amount to more than a series of deftly staged and performed throwaway gags. But if you listen, closely, you pick up bits and pieces of information that lay bare the cross-currents of tension, jealousy, irritation, and fear that underlies everything ... Full Review
"The show is at its best when something like accidental art happens, in which restlessness and exasperation mix spontaneously and combustibly with the unassembled elements of the play...It does give us an enchanting denouement. I won’t spoil it for those of you willing to swim through the ocean of ennui leading up to it. But I can say that the evening’s accumulated frustrations blend joyously into a wholly original love song to the maddening art of the theater." Full Review
"Washburn’s new ambitious, amusing and exasperating backstage play...doesn’t seem to be intended as an entertainment nor even an education about backstage life so much as it is a painstaking effort to re-create it...Both waiting and tedium are in abundance in Washburn’s play...It’s a testament to Washburn’s talent that, as cheesy as the drama seemed to be, I wanted more of it." Full Review
"Exceptionally funny and moving...The entire cast, under the jaw-droppingly fine direction of Les Waters, is dead-on. And it’s quite amazing to see Washburn pull the rabbit of real theater out of an obviously trick hat. My problem is that the rabbit is not very consequential...Cutting some of the conventional conflict might have helped keep the focus on what is so beautifully unusual about it." Full Review
"At a few moments they seem to be aiming for a level more transcendent and ethereal than the rest of the piece...I’m not sure I felt that magic in those moments nearly as much as I did watching the sheer craft and craftiness of the rest of the play. It’s a wonderful evocation of the joy of craft, and a loving remembrance of some of the high- and lowlights of past days of downtown theater in New York. That’s mystique enough for me." Full Review
"I thoroughly enjoyed the inside jokes of the tech rehearsals, and found the first act to be funny and engaging...I have to wonder how '10 out of 12' would play to someone with less understanding of a tech rehearsal.. Anyone who has ever been involved in theater will appreciate '10 out of 12' but I’m not sure that this play is the right opportunity to contemplate the meaning of life in the theater." Full Review
"Les Waters’ fluid production hits a few easy targets along the way and as it crosses the 2.5 hour mark, the feeling of ennui settles in the audience as easily as those in an actual tech rehearsal...But Washburn and Waters truly nail the small details: the funny dances actors do to amuse themselves in lulls, the small talk about foodstuffs, the languishing regret of missed projects. It’s moments like these that keep '10 Out of 12' at a solid 8 out of 10." Full Review
"With everything that happens behind the scenes, it’s a miracle theater ever makes it to an audience. At least that’s the impression we get from '10 Out of 12...' Shockingly, for a show that’s basically about drudgery, '10 Out of 12' isn’t boring at all, though it goes on a little long...The one person missing is the fictional play’s author. Too bad: She’s missing a good show." Full Review
"Boredom is a component of '10 Out of 12.' The density of information and layered narrative is thrilling, yet at more than two-and-a-half hours, it’s still an endurance test. But if, like this critic, you served in the trenches of Off-Off Broadway, particularly in the ’90s, this backstage tour will be all at once a familiar haunt and a devilish maze." Full Review
"There are plenty of laughs here... But Washburn also uses the occasion to sow some bigger ideas about the artistic and human value of the theater act, offering welcome content to what at first presents as an extended insider gag. Its immersive conceit, complex narrative structure and ambition to turn theater inside out (not to mention its deadpan humor) make '10 out of 12' another example of why downtown theater can sometimes feel so daring (and even when its not)." Full Review
"'10 out of 12' takes the distinctly unglamorous form of an extended technical rehearsal off-Broadway. The result is occasionally as soporific as it sounds, but no one can accuse the playwright of presenting a false or romanticized version of the stage. '10 out of 12' is steadfastly, almost unsettlingly real...It's not pretty or exciting, but any true fan should understand how the theatrical bratwurst is stuffed." Full Review
"You don’t have to be a theater geek to appreciate the human behavior on display...The show goes on too long — and maybe that’s on purpose...Between digesting what’s going on before our faces and being fed into our ear, '10 Out of 12' assumes stereophonic, if not symphonic, dimensions. As an audience member, you’ll look at shows with fresh eyes and ears — and marvel that any acting goes on at all." Full Review
"'10 Out of 12' seems long, given those valleys in the middle of each act that have everyone waiting for the cavalry to come. And it comes, thank goodness — but it's a little too late. Clearing some pre-cavalry clutter would do '10 Out of 12' a world of good. It's a clever play whose cleverness is just a little overextended." Full Review
"This show feels somewhat experimental, especially with the earpiece; I was really impressed with the overlapping dialogue. The ending didn’t work for me, it felt off. But I so enjoyed being a part of the process that I left fully satisfied with the experience. I’m not sure how widely this production will be replicated since it’s so tech-heavy — in addition to the added cost of the earpieces, the play-within-the-play includes rather cumbersome elements. It’s certainly do-able, just not budget... Full Review
See it if you work in theatre, want to know how theatre works, or just love theatre and used to do it.
Don't see it if backstage shenanigans make you bored, you think backstage drama should be obvious and uncomplicated, you have no interest in theatre.
See it if You've ever worked on a play in any capacity or curious re: "the process" of theatre. This is Theatre as act of production and of obligation
Don't see it if You don't care about the meta or behind the scenes aspects of theatre, and want a more clear-cut beginning, middle and end.
See it if You are a theater person, you always wondered how shows are created, you love backstage antics
Don't see it if You like traditional narrative structure, you hate inside jokes, you didn't like when the Man Behind the Curtain was revealed
See it if you want a glimpse at the backstage drama of putting up a drama. Very inventively staged.
Don't see it if you want clear, linear storytelling. The theatrical techniques used were much more compelling than the actual play.
See it if you like to peek behind the scenes, enjoy theatre people, like things meta.
Don't see it if you don't think you could give yourself over to not knowing what's going on every minute, don't like backstage dramas/comedies.