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A Parallelogram

Members say: Great acting, Thought-provoking, Clever, Absorbing, Ambitious
77
Critics
66
31 reviews
Members
79
173 reviews
 

Second Stage Theater presents a new existential comedy by Pulitzer Prize winner Bruce Norris in which the past, present, and future collide. Starring three-time Tony nominee Celia Keenan-Bolger. 

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If you knew in advance exactly what was going to happen in your life, and how everything was going to turn out, and if you knew you couldn't do anything to change it, would you still want to go on with your life? That is the question facing Bee (Keenan-Bolger) who, much to her boyfriend's confusion, can click through different moments in her life with the touch of a remote control. Directed by four-time Tony nominee Michael Greif ('Rent,' 'Dear Evan Hansen').

 


Cast & Creatives (11)



Reviews (204)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
66
Avg Score

90
Theatermania

“An undeniably intelligent and multilayered play…This comedy with a bitter dramatic aftertaste will leave you pondering what exactly you just saw for days after…Norris has us mentally firing on all cylinders. Every beat seems to bring a new insight or argument to consider…A well-staged, sharply designed production…Greif and Norris steadily accelerate the flow of ideas and dramatic possibilities all the way to the end as we work to keep up with a play that always feels a few steps ahead of us.” Full Review

55
Variety

"Greif keeps a sharp cast moving at a smart clip through a static text that’s more talk than action—and more thought than talk. Most of the conversation takes place in the bland bedroom of an unmarried couple who are themselves pretty bland...The problem with the play has nothing to do with science, or even sci-fi versions of time travel. The problem is that Bee is severely hamstrung by her limited imagination and lack of human compassion." Full Review

55
The Hollywood Reporter

“More often than not it seems to be spinning its own wheels…‘A Parallelogram’ doesn’t live up to its sharpest moments. Whatever messages Norris is trying to impart are muddled at best and depressing at worst. The shifting perspectives add up to little more than clever narrative tricks…The play also feels needlessly dragged out…The performers do solid work, but Keenan-Bolger and Kunken are hamstrung by their characters’ shrillness...The saving grace is Gillette." Full Review

60
Time Out New York

“Whether you'll want to see ‘A Parallelogram’ depends on your palate for poison. Norris excels at writing conversations you heartily wish would end, and Keenan-Bolger and Kunken talk at each other with the kind of blank insistence that does, in fact, make you fear for humanity. I certainly came away with a bad taste in my mouth; the play is successful, as far as it goes, in making even the pre-apocalypse savor of ashes.” Full Review

45
The New York Times

“Offers plenty to think about and much to enjoy in Michael Greif’s sleek production. But as drama it’s not only a nonstarter but a nonender; it’s a red herring that swallows its own tail…‘A Parallelogram,’ which at first seems like a change of pace from Mr. Norris’s usual satirical approach, reveals itself as more of the same but weaker…Norris’ ginned-up climaxes go nowhere...If you knew how the play ended when it began, would you see it? In this case, I think not.” Full Review

40
Theater Life

“A powerful theme and the playwright does afford some fascinating explorations of this existential dilemma, but the central shtick of redoing scenes gets repetitive long before the evening ends. There are also several holes in the plot…The adept four-person cast brings much shading to these confused characters…Norris has previously presented complex and layered puzzles in his plays…But ‘Parallelogram’ comes across as a one-joke sketch stretched out to two acts." Full Review

70
Lighting & Sound America

"'A Parallelogram' benefits enormously from Greif's deft direction and a cast skilled in the art of walking the tightrope on which their author has placed them...Not everyone will warm up to Norris' heartlessly analytical dramaturgy and you could make a case that the playwright is behaving rather abusively toward his heroine. But there's a tonic quality to his pessimism, with its implicit message that one had better get busy with the business of living since God only knows what is coming." Full Review

65
Broadway Blog

“Why the insignificant Bee…is visited by her future avatar isn't answered, nor do we know why Bee 2 knows so much about quantum mechanics; many other questions could be raised about various contrivances, but Norris's concern is less with logical plotting than with establishing a basis on which to bat around ideas inspired by his time-bending conceit…Under Michael Greif's upbeat direction, the production is engaging…with Gillette's razor-sharp delivery of cynical observations leading the way.” Full Review

60
Front Row Center

"There is such a muddle of 'message' that one is at once intrigued and unsatisfied...Norris seems as much at sea as the rest of us...Director Michael Greif’s artful and experienced sensibility is evident in the smooth, sleight of hand misdirections...The actors bring talent and polish...Still, with all these gifts of talent and experience, 'A Parallelogram' falls short...A play needs more than a clown car of notions and a three-ring circus of ambiguity." Full Review

55
New York Daily News

"If you knew in advance what was going to happen in your life and couldn’t change it, would you still want to go on? Audiences at Norris’s darkly funny but frustrating comedy...are likely to walk away with a different query: Is that all there is? Alas, yes. Despite pungent performances all around and a crisp staging by director Michael Greif...the play leaves you wanting...Leaving things up for grabs is one thing, but copping out is another...In the end, the play doesn't square." Full Review

65
CurtainUp

"A very dark though frequently funny puzzle play...It's been given a top-notch new production. And Norris, as usual, tells his story with humor and sharp dialogue...Unfortunately even the directing savvy of Mr. Greif and the terrific performances don't really manage a credible link between the real and surreal Bees. Consequently ‘A Parallelogram’ is memorable mostly for its tantalizing, if not always believable or easy to follow, stylishness." Full Review

90
Front Mezz Junkies

“A thoroughly engaging and exciting piece of theatre…As directed slickly and concisely by the total pro Michael Greif, this engaging and thrilling new play feels like the perfect mind game...This piece doesn’t make one misstep…Miraculously designed by Rachel Hauck, the set spins and messes with our sense of reality...It’s a piece of pure theatrical magic…But the true magic, beyond the impeccable performances, is the play itself. A work of fascinating puzzle-making.” Full Review

50
TheaterScene.net

“Bruce Norris' ‘A Parallelogram’ endeavors to explore some sobering facts about the effect of the future on the present and responsibility to others. Unfortunately, the play ends up being laborious and tiresome - without being revealing or challenging. Too many of the fantasy elements have not been worked out so that much must be taken on faith or not considered. Norris wants to say something deep but this 2010 play having its belated New York premiere is more confused than meaningful.” Full Review

90
Gotham Playgoer

“Although there are metaphysical elements involved in the premise, don’t let that worry you. You don’t need to understand them to enjoy the play…Did I mention that the play is also very funny?...The production is first-rate: the cast is uniformly excellent, the direction by Michael Greif is sharp…The play has more to appeal to the intellect and the funny bone than to the heart. It runs a bit long too. But it you want to see a quirky example of superb stagecraft, I highly recommend it.” Full Review

90
The Wrap

"Having just seen the first New York production of this gently nihilistic comedy, I think I’ll never forget it...Keenan-Bolger’s gift as an actress is to keep her façade abnormally placid while revealing what’s just below the surface, as well as what’s wrenching her gut. Michael Greif’s direction pairs her beautifully with Gillette…In the end, its message is a downer, but the play is thrilling to watch while it’s there in front of us.” Full Review

80
Talkin' Broadway

“An intriguing and darkly comic science fiction-inspired play…It is well worth the visit…The performance of the play is dependent on some exquisite timing by the cast and crew…The characters take a back seat to the unpacking of the story, and the men, in particular, serve mostly as plot devices. But Keenan-Bolger and, especially, Gillette do a fine job in bringing to life the playwright's sometimes nihilistic, sometimes quirkily funny ideas about our insignificant place in the universe.” Full Review

85
CitiTour

“Norris has tackled some of life’s thorniest issues and difficult questions with an almost unprecedented mixture of honesty, humor and fearlessness. Those qualities are in evidence once more in ‘A Parallelogram’...a top-notch production under Greif’s remarkably assured direction…What could come off as mere intellectual pretension instead feels very real thanks to the efforts of this extraordinary cast…May not be Norris’ finest work, but I nonetheless implore you to make the time to see it!” Full Review

75
WNBC

“You can see the ideas of class and status explored in 'Clybourne Park' percolating in this earlier existential comedy…Director Michael Greif allows Norris’s misanthropy to creep slowly into the proceedings…‘A Parallelogram’ is a dark piece that argues we’re unlikely to emerge from the primordial muck of our own creation.” Full Review

80
Wolf Entertainment Guide

"A super cast and Greif’s sharp staging of Norris’s snappy dialogue, characterizations, and provocative insights, make for an entertaining if sometimes overextended journey...Some of the ideas become repetitive. But the concepts with which the playwright deals are intriguing...He succeeds in laying them out in often hilarious situations and conversation...And hovering over everything is the superb, memorable, and enjoyable performance by Gillette." Full Review

45
Broadway & Me

"Norris is a master of the snappy line...Director Greif is a master stager of all kinds of material and he's adept here as well, working hard to delineate the time shifts...The show also has a top-notch cast...But neither the good acting nor the jocular dialogue made me care about either of the Bees or the men in their life. In the end, the only takeaway the play could offer up is that life is better when people are nice to one another. Which...I knew going in." Full Review

65
Financial Times (UK)

"Under Michael Greif’s direction, the time-twisting tale unfolds in knockabout style thanks to Norris’s slick, Seinfeldesque dialogue and the cast’s deadpan comic talents. The badinage is a little too refined at times...But Norris makes up for such lapses with his flair for on-the-nose similes..But...'A Parallelogram' never fully develops its philosophically rich premise...It remains broadly entertaining, but 'A Parallelogram' ultimately seems to be missing a dimension." Full Review

40
NY1

"Far from Norris' best...Norris’ premise is an interesting one but what should have been an existential head trip ends up something of a cop out and dramatically it’s rather inert. All of the characters, including a young Latino lawn cutter, become tiresome halfway through. It is well acted though and Greif’s direction is strong enough to keep us guessing far longer than the play deserves...Disappointingly half-baked." Full Review

85
Act Three - The Reviews

"One of the few magical plays out there this season...A clever loophole and a fascinating theory fill this play with mystery and wonder...Don't expect all the answers. But expect a wondrous, funny, heartwarming performance by all the actors in what might be Mr. Norris' second-best play." Full Review

60
NJ.com

"The first half is clever and funny, with Norris making deft use of a sort of metaphysical remote control...As the story unfolds, though, a certain cynicism takes over...This playwright never seems quite so satisfied as when he's pitilessly anatomizing his characters' worst impulses and flaws. This approach can be entertaining, and certainly 'A Parallelogram' has its moments. But Norris fails to say anything here about fate, destiny and free will that hasn't been said countless times before." Full Review

65
WNYC

"'A Parallelogram' is a thought experiment...Director Michael Greif...keeps this conceit from ever feeling corny by milking its humor...This is a more playful work, with many plot holes. Norris is less concerned with his characters' actual lives than with exploring a philosophical idea about what moral actions people should take when faced with the inevitability of death. It's more a parable than a social study." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
79
Avg Score

76
Absorbing, Quirky, Indulgent, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy plays that are thought provoking

Don't see it if you don't enjoy plays or only like big productions

80
Funny, Clever, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Refreshing

See it if Woman repeats parts of her life while talking to an older version of herself. Interesting philosophies, clever acting and staging.

Don't see it if A bit repetitive in spots. More intellectual than emotionally engaging. Characters are humorous but lack depth.

89
Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Profound, Great writing

See it if You like thought provoking plays or plays about the choices one makes. Well acted and nice staging. Interesting plot twists and gripping.

Don't see it if You want to see a light hearted play, or a musical

81
Norris gets supernatural

See it if Clever Bruce Norris scenario of a young woman encountering her older self. Anita Gillette is endearingly hilarious.

Don't see it if Kind of slight, but we really enjoyed it. When they magically replay scenes, you can see how well the actors know their parts.

75
Indulgent, Entertaining, Great staging, No payoff

See it if you like existential time warping stories about regrets and second chances with a fantasy element. Very nice set and good performances.

Don't see it if you're expecting a new take on the "if only I'd...." theme or a happy ending. None of the characters is particularly likable.

80
Thought-provoking, Strong & classic off b-way

See it if You can tolerate uncertainty and dysfunction

Don't see it if You want something straight forward

Also The play could use some editing ( shorter might be better ) but overal... Read more Read less

90
Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if You like plays that leave you with a lot to think about concerning life and all the choices we make.

Don't see it if Plays with straight forward stories that you won't need to figure out in the end

64
Ambitious, Great acting, Disappointing, Askew

See it if you like the "what if I made different choices" question & the sci-fi trope of parallel universes; you want to see the divine Anita Gillette

Don't see it if you're a fan of the superior plays Constellations, Marjorie Prime or even Groundhog Day, where similar themes are played out more profoundly

84
Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing, Great staging

See it if Well-acted sci-fi funny comedy about a married couple where the wife is "seeing things". So true when it says money is not key to happiness.

Don't see it if Very taken aback when they said "people won't think or care about the Holocaust or September 11th in the future"; that ruined the show.

75
Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Confusing, Disappointing

See it if You like thought bending drama. Are fans of these actors -- who do as well as they can with this limited script.

Don't see it if Don't have patience for a convoluted story line and language-based theatre experience.

83
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you want to be entertained by some nutty ideas...that maybe aren't so nutty

Don't see it if you have no sense of humor, or don't like great acting and fantastic set changes

Also I really, really enjoyed this show. I'm not entirely sure it was all t... Read more Read less

79
Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if like non-linear storytelling; it has excellent performances, especially Anita Gillette. The show is definitely original

Don't see it if Need a linear, sensical story.

80
Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Quirky

See it if Like off-kilter story done well.

Don't see it if Want more traditional/linear plays.

66
Quirky, Indulgent, Disappointing, Slow, Repetitive

See it if You want to see these actors -

Don't see it if You want a satisfying full evening in the theater. This story repeats and repeats and could have been told as a one-act

79
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Quirky, A little confusing

See it if You want a story that deals with a metaphysical subject in a smart and unusual way. You might leave asking yourself a few questions.

Don't see it if If you Like plays that give you all the answers with a neat and clear ending. Some people might find the story confusing at times.

77
Dizzying, Quirky, Slow, Great staging, O'neill-esque

See it if You love any of the principals involved -- they give it their all. Anita Gillette and Celia Keenan-Bolger never fail to deliver.

Don't see it if You're looking for pure entertainment as opposed to a Stoppard-like brain exercise. We've heard this message before from Eugene O'Neill.

70
Great acting, A bit derivative

See it if you are a fan of good acting and want to see the latest Norris play; if you are patient about a plot line that replicates Groundhog Day.

Don't see it if you want a neatly written piece where all the storylines are resolved and packaged with clear endings. Takes some patience.

Also A truly wonderful cast who are better than the material they have to w... Read more Read less

90
Edgy, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Profound, Great staging

See it if So completely thought-provoking; I couldn't stop thinking about this for days. Totally beguiling, well acted--an excellent night of theater.

Don't see it if I can't really think of a reason not to see it; the play/staging/acting was the total package. Maybe skip if you want a fun musical.

95
Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy great acting esp by Anita Gilette and Cecilia Keenan Bolger. Also if youu like to think. Concept re: Life is fascinating. Reality?

Don't see it if need a musical extravaganza or you prefer a play that spells out what is ahead. . .What's with revolving stages? 12 in last 6 weeks

86
Absorbing, Clever, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Great staging

See it if you love mind bending plots that dont give you all the answers and you leave the theater questioning your very exisitence

Don't see it if you like plays that are straightforward, happy and end with all loose ends tied up

56
Clever, Great acting, Quirky, Indulgent, Disappointing

See it if if you like being asked metaphysical questions and don't require sympathetic characters.

Don't see it if if you want any answers to those questions or likable characters.

77
Thought-provoking, Quirky, Confusing

See it if you like wellacted fast paced dialogue & don't mind challenged by show's take away; definitely prompts after show discussion on show meaning

Don't see it if you don't want confusing story line & show's meaning; elements of waiting for godot; shows pedigree & expectations leads to disappointment

92
Clever, Edgy, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Confusing

See it if You enjoy theater that makes you think. This dark comedy will make you question what is real and what is not. Also great performances by all

Don't see it if You are looking to just sit back and be entertained and don't want to be challenged.

Also This show has a clever concept and is well executed and well acted. An... Read more Read less

67
Thought-provoking, Disappointing

See it if you like shows that make you think, but not too much

Don't see it if you'll be disappointed by a show that has lots of potential but cheapens itself every time it could do something great

95
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you like shows that challenge you to think, that are beautifully acted and have amazing sets. Story makes you think about time, space, etc.

Don't see it if you want a nice, pat little play.This one is thought provoking. I didn't like the set in the last act. It implied a living style. Offensive.