A Parallelogram
Closed 2h 15m
A Parallelogram
79

A Parallelogram NYC Reviews and Tickets

79%
(179 Reviews)
Positive
86%
Mixed
13%
Negative
1%
Members say
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Clever, Absorbing, Ambitious

About the Show

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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Member Reviews (179)

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

64
Ambitious, Disappointing, Askew, Great acting

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

Critic Reviews (31)

The New York Times
August 2nd, 2017

“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.”
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Time Out New York
August 2nd, 2017

“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.”
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New York Magazine / Vulture
August 2nd, 2017

“The restless, disturbing new play burrowed under my skin…I left 'A Parallelogram' with the same feeling in my internal organs that I’ve had after watching certain episodes of 'Black Mirror'—and Norris’ play strikes me as the closest I have seen a piece of contemporary theater come to accessing that same unsettling strain of science-not-quite-fiction…Norris, director Greif, and their company have done a rare thing: They have created a production that’s not asking to be liked.”
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The Hollywood Reporter
August 2nd, 2017

“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."
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Variety
August 4th, 2017

"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."
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New York Daily News
August 2nd, 2017

"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."
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NY1
August 4th, 2017

"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."
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Theatermania
August 2nd, 2017

“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.”
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Lighting & Sound America
August 2nd, 2017

"'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."
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Talkin' Broadway
August 2nd, 2017

“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.”
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TheaterScene.net
August 11th, 2017

“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.”
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Theater Pizzazz
August 2nd, 2017

“Keenan-Bolger deftly carries the very engaging if not completely satisfying dark comedy with major assistance from a fantastic supporting cast…Gillette is a delight as Bees 2, 3, and 4…Greif’s direction is spot-on. He and his cast tell a tale that’s eminently laughable but tinged with sadness, even desperation…Norris’s play, in addition being very funny, is intelligent and incisive, which is why its ending disappoints…‘A Parallelogram’ sets us up for a strong finish but doesn’t deliver.”
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CurtainUp
August 11th, 2017

"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."
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Front Row Center
August 7th, 2017

"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."
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Front Mezz Junkies
August 2nd, 2017

“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.”
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Broadway Blog
August 11th, 2017

“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.”
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C
August 2nd, 2017

“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!”
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Gotham Playgoer
August 2nd, 2017

“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.”
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The Wrap
August 2nd, 2017

"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.”
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Wolf Entertainment Guide
August 6th, 2017

"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."
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T
August 29th, 2017

“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."
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Village Voice
August 10th, 2017

"Bright performances and a smartly designed production (neatly staged by Greif) mitigate somewhat the sorrowful essence of Norris’s seriocomic tale. As the show progresses, it is possible that you will be able to overlook the not-altogether-credible sci-fi mechanics of the play to more pleasurably focus upon the characters...The dialogue is brisk, and so is Greif’s pacing; the half-dozen-odd 'Groundhog Day'-type repetitions in time are amusing. And the performances overall are persuasive."
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Broadway & Me
August 5th, 2017

"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."
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Financial Times (UK)
August 2nd, 2017

"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."
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WNBC
August 2nd, 2017

“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.”
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Off Off Online
August 9th, 2017

“A puzzling, static meditation on determinism and free will that never coalesces satisfyingly…Keenan-Bolger as Bee has little to do but embody quiet desperation, looking blank and frustrated…Jay’s behavior marks him as a playwright’s construct; nothing about it rings true…Although there are several interesting ideas at play, the whole leaves one stymied…One must depend on the performances for satisfaction…It’s Gillette who soars…She’s the production’s best asset.”
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NJ.com
August 3rd, 2017

"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."
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W
August 6th, 2017

"'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."
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Act Three - The Reviews
August 2nd, 2017

"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."
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BroadwaySelect
August 14th, 2017

"Every time you say, 'Ah! This is what this play is about!' it takes a turn that may make you say, 'Now what’s going on?'...As the play continues on its two-and-a-quarter-hour journey, there’s some collateral damage that makes a confusing experience into an ultimately unpleasant one...No need to blame director Michael Greif or the cast. Keenan-Bolger is one of our best actresses at making exasperation seem cute...Gillette gives an astonishing, multi-award-deserving performance."
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R
August 10th, 2017

“A fascinating and occasionally humorous play about self-motivation. Specifically, what would you do if your older self came back in time and told you what your future holds? And nothing you do changes very much. Beautifully acted and directed, the show tackles a big question with intelligence. Taking place over a year of one young woman's life, it all works beautifully until the last 60 seconds, when too much is revealed. The end frustrated me, but I loved it for two hours.”
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