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New York | 2h 15m | Already closed

A Parallelogram

From 31 critic and 178 member reviews
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.  More…

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').


“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

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

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

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


“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

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

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

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

New York Magazine / Vulture

“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.” Full Review

Reviews Off Broadway

“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.” Full Review


“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

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

Village Voice

"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." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“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.” Full Review

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


"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

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


"'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

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

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


"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


"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

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

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

Off Off Online

“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.” Full Review

Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Exquisite, Great acting

See it if you are looking for a searing, unique show that twists, and forces you to contemplate society and morality, all the while making you laugh.

Don't see it if you want to see something uplifting or based completely in reality.

Clever, Great acting, Hilarious

See it if You like wonderful comedic acting and a storyline that is a little quirky.

Don't see it if I can't think of a single reason not to see this show.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Must see, Riveting, Multi-layered

See it if you are interested in serious theater about the deep questions.

Don't see it if You loved Lion King.

Also Ignore the reviews, especially Jesse Greene's. This is terrific theate... Read more Read less

Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Refreshing

See it if You like the idea of meeting yourself in the future; you like plays that explore ideas that seem impossible; you like to think about a play

Don't see it if You only like straight-forward plays with a beginning, middle, and end with no confusion

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

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.

Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if If like us, you do not follow the vicious review of the NY Times see it before it close.An original play great writing, acting & directing

Don't see it if You do not like intelligent plays

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You love theater and want to see something new and exciting. This play was absorbing from beginning to end.

Don't see it if No reason not to see it. It is a masterpiece.

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

Absorbing, Clever, Intense, Entertaining

See it if you like sci-fi, character development, and suspense

Don't see it if you're looking for something light-hearted and uplifting

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.

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

Absorbing, Masterful, Profound

See it if you like an intriguing, yet unconventional, plot development with humor and a good deal of gravitas. Ultimately, Not for the light of heart.

Don't see it if you are turned off by plays that make you ponder the meaning of life and your future.

Clever, Dizzying, Thought-provoking

See it if You like to think about fate and the different possibilities for reality or time.

Don't see it if You don't like cynicism or non-realistic situations.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Quirky

See it if ...you like to try to parse out reality from fantasy, and enjoy some fine acting along the way. Celia Keenan-Bolger, Anita Gillette!

Don't see it if ...you like your plots grounded in realism, told in a straight line.

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

Absorbing, Dizzying, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Excruciating

See it if You can separate your thoughts well; you want to challenge your thoughts and intuitions

Don't see it if You have a hard time following sequences and separating things that happen more than once

Absorbing, Ambitious, Intelligent

See it if You want to have a interesting and thought provoking night of theatre, examining life and your decisions.

Don't see it if You don't want to have a thoughtful night of theatre, A Parallelogram will leave you with a lot to think about.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Great writing

See it if You enjoy dramas which attack fundamental problems like free will and predestination. Best viewed as scenes of prior or post alternatives.

Don't see it if You insist on a linear plot.

Great acting, Eerie, Darkly-humorous, Slightly-underdeveloped, Depressing yet discussion-catalyzing

See it if you can suspend belief and keep an open mind; don't mind some pretentious elements that border on pseudo-intellectualism; love great acting.

Don't see it if darkly-humorous, even depressing, plays that leave you questioning what you're doing with your life are not your way to spend an evening.

Also A Parallelogram is ambitious, asking big questions about life, free wi... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting

See it if you like a thought-provoking , funny, interesting plot .

Don't see it if you don't like 'out of the box' plots

Also loved this show. really made you think about life's meaning and our pu... Read more Read less

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.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You like a new play - something to make you think. Different and interesting.

Don't see it if You want a musical, comedy, something familiar.

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

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

Cast & Creatives (11)