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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York City

Members say: Funny, Great acting, Entertaining, Clever, Quirky
73
Critics
65
20 reviews
Members
74
143 reviews
 

Two very different people caring for their ailing mothers meet at the hospital in MCC Theater's world premiere of Halley Feiffer's dark comedy, starring Beth Behrs from TV's '2 Broke Girls.'

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A foul-mouthed twenty-something comedienne and a middle-aged man embroiled in a nasty divorce are brought together unexpectedly when their cancer-stricken mothers become roommates in the hospital. Together, this unlikely duo must negotiate some of life’s biggest challenges...while making some of the world’s most inappropriate jokes. Can these two very lost people learn to laugh through their pain and lean on each other when all they really want to do is run away?

 

Cast & Creatives (11)


Reviews (163)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
65
Avg Score

90
The New York Times

"'Funny Thing' makes a convincing case that hard laughter is an absolutely appropriate response to those moments when life seems like too bad a joke not to respond otherwise...For its intermissionless 85 minutes, 'Funny Thing' abides by the rom-com rules that a couple who meet antagonistically have to be attracted to each other. But to render 'Funny Thing' in synopsis doesn’t do justice to Ms. Feiffer’s exposed nerve of a script, or to the open-wound performances." Full Review

80
BroadwayWorld

"The playwright and director soon make it clear that these are two very troubled people whose social ineptitude and downright nastiness is a defense against acquiring new wounds, and that's when 'A Funny Thing...' turns interesting and, yes, funny....Reaching the possibility of a romance between the two does not appear to be the playwright's point. 'A Funny Thing...' is more about surviving the first baby steps of emotional healing and feeling safe enough to try one more." Full Review

40
Time Out New York

"Well, the title is funny. It is hard to know what else to make of Halley Feiffer’s 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City,' a play ravaged by central miscasting...There is good writing in the play, and one can only wonder how it might work with a different actor in the lead role...Loaded with jokes about death and rape, the play aims for very dark comedy but gets no farther than dim." Full Review

85
Theatermania

"Raunchy and fearless, bound to delight some audience members with its audacious mix of crude humor and deep feeling, while displeasing others for the same reasons...Under Trip Cullman's perceptive direction, Feiffer's funny and moving script is presented with a beautifully recognizable naturalism...The weakest aspect of the script is its predictability...Still, her distinct voice is on fine display throughout, in all its uniquely unsettling glory." Full Review

35
The Hollywood Reporter

"'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center New York City' only sporadically lives up to its strained title...Other than the abundance of raunchy one-liners, this play has little to recommend it. Neither the characterizations nor situations ring true; practically everything feels forced...For all the performers' efforts, the play ultimately feels as artificial as its derivative, overlong title." Full Review

60
The Guardian (UK)

"Feiffer’s distinctive if uncertain play is a romantic comedy on the surface only. Underneath, it is about how anyone copes or doesn’t with the everyday traumas and tragedies of life...It’s as though Feiffer wanted to write a comedy, but keeps being drawn back to drama...What the play does best is to show the varied ways its characters mask difficult emotions, mostly unsuccessfully...Under Trip Cullman’s direction, Behrs is perhaps somewhat too eager to prove her stage bona fides." Full Review

85
New York Theater

"There are no great revelations or glorious resolutions, no startling insights, but the path we see them taking as the play unfolds, and the past that we learn along the way, feels largely credible...There is much humor in the play; what works best is what feels earned rather than imposed. Trip Cullman directs at a brisk pace, getting fine, honest performances out of the four-member cast...The funny thing that happens at 'A Funny Thing Happened…' is not just laughs, but life." Full Review

80
Lighting & Sound America

"The author is a master at switching between a killer laugh line and a moment of exquisite pain, often in a matter of seconds...If the later scenes of 'Funny Thing...' seem a little pro forma, even sitcom-ish, it's partly because Feiffer's skill at writing scenes of tentative reconciliation isn't as distinctive as her knack for invective and shock tactics...Still, under Trip Cullman's nimble direction, the actors traverse the high-wire script with remarkable agility." Full Review

45
Theatre's Leiter Side

"Feiffer...strains mightily to create an offbeat rom-com about a mismatched pair of losers who meet cute in a hospital room where their mothers are being treated for ovarian cancer; it’s a heavy lift...Feiffer’s black comedy, which tries to wring comedy out of the dire misfortune of a loved one’s suffering by laughing in the face of death, has noble intentions. The characters she creates to navigate the situation, however, are neither interesting nor amusing enough." Full Review

30
Talkin' Broadway

"As a result, the only thing about this play that's truly funny or insightful is its title…The action (a term I use quite loosely) putters around until the expected, or several variations on it, occurs, and things reach a sufficiently tidy arbitrary point to collapse back into the theatrical ether. There are moments along the way that almost qualify as entertaining…And there are occasional jokes that earn, perhaps, a mild chuckle." Full Review

45
New York Daily News

"A disappointing thing happened on the way to this MCC production. The talented Halley Feiffer takes a step backward as a writer. She earns points for audacity. But otherwise she obeys rom-com conventions and lets this black comedy peter out. Karla is a struggling millennial comedian. Don is a shaggy middle-aged mogul. They meet in a hospital, where their mothers fight for their lives. Karla and Don hate each other at first. No surprise — that changes." Full Review

80
CurtainUp

"It's not easy to brighten a death watch situation with laughs and romance. But Feiffer does make the romance she's concocted blossom in full view of two dying women...The humor is often so over-the-top that it tends to overwhelm the darker subtext. Still, Feiffer, Cullman and the actors do manage to let that darkness ultimately surface." Full Review

80
Theatre Reviews Limited

“Ms. Feiffer’s script allows the characters to engage in repeated volleys of assault and disarmament that result in millennial bravura being transformed into an intergenerational truce...Under Trip Cullman’s judicious and incisive direction, Mr. Lochtefeld and Ms. Behrs both deliver convincing and authentic performances each capturing the complexities of their characters’ lives...Halley Feiffer’s new play is worth the visit." Full Review

45
Newsday

"The message, I suppose, is that needy people can be rich or poor and there’s someone to love the most unlovable. More interesting, potentially, are the mothers—including the always-formidable Lisa Emery as a worn-out, nasty single mom, and Jacqueline Sydney, who never speaks but whose expressions suggest she hears everything. I would have preferred to hear what she has to say." Full Review

25
TheaterScene.net

"As smug and heavy-handed as its title. Ms. Feiffer’s rudimentary characters communicate by the sledgehammer approach to comedy. Until the mawkish finale there is a barrage of zingers, one-liners and vulgarisms…Director Trip Cullman’s staging is straightforward but he has the leading actors overplaying to the point of desperation…With its stock characters, deficient writing and shrill presentation,' A Funny Thing...' is a superficial and grating take on the subject." Full Review

70
Bob's Theater Blog

"If you are not offended by the idea of a black comedy with cancer jokes, raunchy language and sexual situations set in a hospital room with two cancer patients lying silently in their beds, you are in for some very funny moments...The ending is weak. Nevertheless, the dialogue is snappy, the acting is fine and the attempt by playwright Feiffer to try something different is admirable...Those not turned off by the play’s premise are likely to enjoy themselves for most of the time." Full Review

90
Front Row Center

"The throat-grabbing writing of Halley Feiffer was raw, risky, really hilarious and pushed me hard into the fear and grief that is cancer…Feiffer mocks the powerful thief that is cancer, but never loses respect for what is required of our humanity when cancer breaks in…Lochtefeld is absolutely precious as Don...Lochtefeld and Behrs are a delight to watch as they dance through the embarrassing tears and inappropriate laughter in their interrupted lives." Full Review

80
Theater Pizzazz

"The progression of their relationship is somewhat impalpable but for the fact that here are two major lonely, dysfunctional people, who are thrown together grieving and feeling sorry for themselves...Life can be very inappropriate and people say the weirdest things in the most unusual circumstances. 'A Funny Thing' is just such a time and place. Trip Cullman is a genius at directing this ensemble of top-notch actors who really know how to throw a punch." Full Review

80
Out Magazine

“A dark and often funny look at some highly unlikely bedfellows in a cancer ward...One of Feiffer’s favorite themes happens to be a running thread here: the importance of parent-child communication and the roadblocks that get in the way of achieving that...While the play sometimes strains, Feiffer deserves such a pat for giving a healthy edge to a potentially sitcom situation.” Full Review

80
NY Theatre Guide

"'A Funny Thing…' takes a very sensitive topic and flips it around to be humorous and dark, but also compassionate with in-your-face realism...It shouldn’t work, this dialogue-heavy performance on a single set, with minimal characters and walking room, but it does. 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York City' isn’t a show for everyone, but it’s definitely a show everyone should see." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
74
Avg Score

55
Dark, Raunchy, Slow

See it if you're in the mood for sloppy, dark comedy

Don't see it if jokes about cancer offend you

84
Funny, Great acting, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if I liked it more than I thought. Thanks to the ladies in the hospital beds!

Don't see it if You get offended easily.

79
Funny, Clever, Quirky, Great writing, Hilarious

See it if You enjoy comedic shows and enjoy dark humor

Don't see it if You want a classic show and/ or are easily offended

69
Indulgent, Cliched, Explicit

See it if Interested in complicated mother/daughter relationships, interested in the difference between how we see self and how we project to others

Don't see it if Don't think a plot involving cancer automatically ensures profundity, over May/December F:M relationships, offended by simulated sex

72
Clever, Quirky, Resonant, Cliched, Fluffy

See it if you want to see the best-staged sex scene in 2016 (spoiler: it's not all that sexy, but it is hilarious and honest.)

Don't see it if you're not into stuff that's really riding the cute/quirky angle hard before it pivots into the resonant.

75
Funny, Original, Ambitious, Clever, Romantic

See it if You enjoy quirky comedies with unusual characters who are at odds, improbable romances, endearing performances

Don't see it if You don't like absurd situations, difficult to like characters, discussions of cancer and its impact on loved ones

80
Funny, Edgy, Intelligent, Raunchy, Slightly treacly

See it if You're willing to suspend disbelief at the set-up and understand that there are many ways to experience pains and loneliness.

Don't see it if You're squeamish about language, women's attitude towards themselves, or dealing with illness.

90
Intelligent, Raunchy, Refreshing, Resonant, Hilarious

See it if Disarmingly heartfelt study of irony as a weapon and a balm, contemporary riff on Private Lives, a gem. Scabrous & impeccable Emery & Behrs

Don't see it if you don't like raunch, or if you're looking for laughs without feelings- it's more of a drama with jokes.

82
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Quirky, Great writing

See it if you like Halley Feiffer's work. Maybe not as GREAT as her last play at the Atlantic - but very worthy for its observations about death.

Don't see it if you'll be easily offended at strong language - or if you're easily offended by looking at serious situations comedically. Namely cancer.

49
Quirky, Disappointing, Excruciating

See it if gallows humor in cancer ward is funny

Don't see it if you have ever lost a friend to cancer

63
Raunchy, Indulgent, Banal, Excruciating, Slow

See it if you love Lisa Emery as I do and respect the high standard of New York actors. As to the play: it's awful. Mother daughter wrong boyfriend.

Don't see it if Sound familiar, it is big time. It's set in a hospital room, but, really a domestic play, nothing at all to do w/ health care or hospitals.

80
Funny, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if You like funny plays w/ heart. It's a well constructed & acted. You understand why the characters are the way they are. Emery is excellent

Don't see it if You are looking for something serious or deep. While the show does tackle some serious themes it's done with a joke or a smile.

80
Funny, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Entertaining, Well written

See it if this is less a dark comedy than snapshots of those moments when we, despite ourselves, laugh nervously in the face of impending tragedy

Don't see it if you don't appreciate lightheartedness around the issue of terminal illness and parent child disfunction.

78
Funny, Entertaining

See it if You like odd ball characters You like to laugh

Don't see it if You could never find anything about cancer, hospitals and dying entertaining

88
Funny, Original, Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You want thought-provoking and riotously funny in equal measure. Terrific acting and writing. It stays with you. as long as you can remember

Don't see it if The idea of a "comedy" set in an oncological unit of a hospital seems either off-putting or not possible to pull off (it's not and it does).

81
Funny, Original, Clever, Refreshing, Entertaining

See it if I was pleasantly surprised by this. I always worry when I TV or movie star tries to act on stage but she did great. She was matched with a

Don't see it if great actor and held her own. My only issue is she did not hold for laughs. Very funny and now what I expected

74
Funny, Clever, Great acting, Indulgent

See it if you want to see a dark comedy that is more than the title suggests and you like great acting.

Don't see it if any of the following make you queasy: hospital rooms, disease, emotional frailty, the need to connect with others.

75
Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Uncomfortable

See it if you enjoy challenging your heart and mind

Don't see it if you are looking for something easy and fluffy

70
Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Raunchy, Slow

See it if You're interested in people dealing with life and death in intense situations.

Don't see it if You're offended by sex scenes/ foul language.

73
Funny, Original, Great acting, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if Like crude humor, black comedies, Beth Behrs who really shows her range

Don't see it if Don't like foul language, are in the least bit prudish

79
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Raunchy, Great writing

See it if you are a Halley Feiffer fan and enjoy good writing. It goes from hilarious to heart wrenching in an instant.

Don't see it if you are easily offended.

85
Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you like pitch perfect acting.

Don't see it if you object to lots of simple profanity

78
Edgy

See it if Can find humor in hospital situations

Don't see it if Has a bad experience with relatives suffering from cancer

90
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You like a well written play with talented performers telling a story that will have you laughing one minute and breaking your heart the nex

Don't see it if You get offended easily by sex jokes and if you don't like plays about a dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship.

45
Indulgent, Banal, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if you think anything about cancer, gratuitous and vulgar sex and foul language is funny.

Don't see it if You want to see really fine actors struggle with sentimental, poorly written work that tells a story poorly and ends with a Hollywood ending