20th Century Blues
20th Century Blues
75

20th Century Blues NYC Reviews and Tickets

75%
(197 Reviews)
Positive
79%
Mixed
18%
Negative
3%
Members say
Relevant, Great acting, Intelligent, Entertaining, Absorbing

About the Show

This new premiere tells the story a group of four women whose annual photo shoot ritual keeps them together, until it threatens to tear them apart.

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Member Reviews (197)

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66
Cliched, Contrived, Well-acted, Edgeless, Mildly entertaining

See it if you are woman of a certain age; you enjoy those "very special episodes" of network sitcoms.

Don't see it if you can't relate to the issues of aging women & can't tolerate cliched, self-indulgent & largely inconsequential conversation between them..

65
Cliched, Banal, Slow, Disappointing, Relevant

See it if Despite the valiant efforts of a talented cast, dramedy is a tedious retreat of later-day feminism Mann's lifeless direction doesn't help

Don't see it if Miller whips up every late 20th century women's issue only to leave each one unexplored & undeveloped Viewer is left frustrated and bored

Critic Reviews (21)

The New York Times
November 26th, 2017

"Does this smack of contrivance? It does. Though some contrivance is forgivable...These are fine actors, and if Miller’s dialogue is less than spontaneous, they speak it feelingly...'20th Century Blues' is genuinely sweet. But sometimes it is even sweeter than that, as though Ms. Miller has baked a chocolate cake and then frosted it with sugar cubes...Might be a better play if it were harsher, more naturalistic, its focus not so soft."
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Deadline
November 27th, 2017

"The introduction of Danny’s addled mother (played by the wonderful Beth Dixon) and grown son adds unintended bathos. That this is familiar terrain, and Miller can lay it on thick, makes it no less timely, especially on the subject of invisibility as it applies to most female humans over, say, 30.... Miller has the grace to be empathic, something crucially and deeply felt in Emily Mann’s sensitive staging. I’m certain that’s why '20th Century Blues' grew on me, as it did."
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Theatermania
November 27th, 2017

"'20th Century Blues' is a warm play, but one that cares more about stating big ideas than theatricalizing them. It's a stage version of a think piece...Though the four protagonists are believable as friends, little about their performances are as real they need to be...Directed by Emily Mann with too leisurely a hand. The gentleness of the pacing, combined with the overall lack of discernible conflict in Miller's genial script, creates an evening that isn't particularly engaging."
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Lighting & Sound America
November 27th, 2017

"It offers a symposium dealing with issues of import for progressive women of a certain age...So much is brought up that, in a play running one hour and forty minutes, there's no time for anything to get more than the once-over-lightly treatment...Mann's direction can't really find a dramatic spine in all this girl talk...Miller's play seems mostly designed to make aging, disaffected liberals feel less alone...Everybody is so busy singing the blues that there is no time for drama."
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Talkin' Broadway
November 26th, 2017

"A smart, funny, and touching ode to friendship and aging...It's hard to imagine anyone who would be immune to the love that infuses this first-rate, terrifically-acted production...Perhaps '20th Century Blues' is a bit overstuffed with plot...Yet the writing and the performances under Emily Mann's warm direction are so strong that only a real curmudgeon would quibble. There simply is not a misstep in the entire evening, and you are likely to leave the theater deeply moved by the experience."
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TheaterScene.net
November 30th, 2017

“There is nothing much very wrong with Susan Miller's ‘20th Century Blues’ that a few more revelations or dustups wouldn't solve. Beth Dixon, Franchelle Stewart Dorn, Polly Draper, Kathryn Grody and Ellen Parker play believable, recognizable women at a plateau in their lives when some taking stock is in order as they approach the age of being considered senior citizens. A pleasant evening in this form, but Miller's play gives an aftertaste that will leave you hungry for more.”
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Theater Pizzazz
November 26th, 2017

"The talk and banter doesn’t reveal anything new about women or aging but fortifies what’s been said on timeless occasions...However, there are abundant humorous lines to give it an easy conversational feeling and the audience some chuckles...There’s a lot of heart in Susan Miller’s writing, directed by Emily Mann, as the storyline picks up more emotion moving forward over the one hour, 40 minutes. But the theme is worn out and needs some new revelations."
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CurtainUp
November 26th, 2017

"Engaging...One of its main assets is that it gives four women over age 60 a chance to show off their considerable talents...Mann has guided each actress to present a unique, fully dimensioned personality and make their at once loving and tense interactions real and believable...While Dixon and Socarides play their limited roles beautifully, their scenes don't fit in as seamlessly as they should...Fortunately, neither do they detract enough from the play's otherwise substantial pleasures."
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Front Row Center
November 28th, 2017

"This is a well-intentioned play, focusing on a subject that is rarely seen in the theatre. Nevertheless the storyline is so contrived that it nearly doubles back on itself and in the process loses its hold on the point of the tale...The writing swirls around these women like so much chiffon yardage. There is no 'there' there. The actors try valiantly, but these characters are not firing on all cylinders, so there is little they can do other than be valiant. Ditto the direction by Emily Mann."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
December 1st, 2017

“There's really not much here to chew on. The conversation, which occasionally stirs a ripple of polite laughter, has a biteless artificiality, the characters lack dimensionality, and dramatic tension is notably absent. Some of the dialogue…sounds more academic than natural; at any rate, it's hard to buy. And, like many playwrights, Miller has difficulty finding convincing reasons to get characters offstage so that others can be left alone to speak privately.”
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Times Square Chronicles
November 26th, 2017

"These women have survived life and along the way protest marches, women’s liberation...now they are trying to hurdle the road map of getting older...The direction by Emily Mann and the acting of these five fierce females, allows this discussion to take place...Miller dialogue is authentic and piercing, if not a little too talky, and with the addition of Danny’s mother and son, it seems as if there are too many subjects being discussed at once."
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The Huffington Post
November 27th, 2017

"Emily Mann directs as best she can. The cast—four top-notch actors are the friends—attempt to give life to a drama that, since it deals with women of a certain age confronting their past and present, is a strong premise that falls far short of achieving the power it should."
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Gotham Playgoer
November 26th, 2017

"The interaction of the four friends could easily have provided enough material to hold our interest. The level of the writing is uneven, incisive one moment and clunky the next...The topic of feelings of invisibility and obsolescence for mature women is one worthy of our attention. The treatment it gets from Ms. Miller is just good enough that I was left wishing it had been better. The actors work well together."
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Wolf Entertainment Guide
November 27th, 2017

"Reflects women in the face of how they are unjustly regarded in society. The portraits are effective, as the cast members are all excellent in their delineation of what is happening in their lives. The writing is crisp, and yet there is insufficient drama to make the work more dynamic. But what there is impresses, and one comes away with more awareness of what women go through and how they are affected by a society that prizes youth and beauty and instills fear of becoming over the hill."
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W
November 27th, 2017

"Playwright Susan Miller has the pulse of women at a certain age. Her characters are well drawn and not so obviously diverse that they feel like clichés. Humor is as spot on as insidious fears. We know these people...Director Emily Mann stages with comfortable naturalism. A few too many exits when things get prickly, however, seem like a way not to have to handle unspeaking characters. Timing is realistic. Physical characteristics fit personalities."
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The Clyde Fitch Report
November 27th, 2017

“Playwright Miller and director Emily Mann pace the storytelling with the deliberate pause-and-reflect rhythm of a daytime serial...More a calibrated pastiche than a decisively constructed dramatic ride. There is little suspense, scarcely a story to unfold. We’re left with the charm of the characters to entertain us...The stakes and life events are very present, but the mode Miller relies on is sequential monologues, not crafted dialogue...It’s watching characters report, not relate.”
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Motherhood Later
December 5th, 2017

"How heartening to witness the love and backbone, and neuroses, among these complex women, reinforcing the vitalness of female bonds...Once we are in the company of these gals, we get immersed in their camaraderie and at times, clever and insightful banter...All the actors more than hold their own, and Emily Mann directs with a sensitive hand...An earnest and at times painful, yet comedic take on aging and lives lived fully with intent."
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Off Off Online
December 5th, 2017

"The mood of the piece is easy if somewhat loaded; the conversations are clipped and swift, touching on but not touching down on anything too deeply or for too long...Theatrically, that is a lot of pressure on the final reveal of these images...It’s no surprise when Danny’s photographs don’t live up to such pressure...Although the fast-paced rhythm might be intentional, it is distracting...A slick, smart script that’s being given an enjoyable ensemble production."
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N
November 26th, 2017

"Charmingly played by Kathryn Grody, 'Gabby' is everyone's best friend and soulful listener...However it's Ellen Parker who breathes reality into this play...Director Emily Mann brilliantly moves these women through a night of pleasure, camaraderie and pain. '20th Century Blues' is very good theater. Warning: It's not television's 'Golden Girls' our mothers loved so much. Instead it's real women not afraid to live their lives in our ever-changing society. I hoped they would succeed."
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[Q]onStage
December 4th, 2017

"Compelling new play...Marked by all the rhythms of conversations of women who have known one another for a very long time...While there is no mounting crescendo in this play, playwright and director have devised and highlighted a series of subtle explosions...If you have been in love with an idea, had a parent with dementia, or ever noted the quantum nature of relationships, then you will resonate like a Tibetan singing bowl, as this play thrums with surface and depth."
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Curve Magazine
November 27th, 2017

"Miller's artful dialogue, embedded with witticisms and sharp observations, flows naturally as directed by Emily Mann. The action circuitously but beautifully delivers different levels of intimacy and conflict between women, who love each other in a unique way. There is never a dull moment...It’s fun and compelling viewing. Miller’s script is clever and wise, bursting with great lines and naked truths...'20th Century Blues' offers reflections of female existence that are usually denied us."
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