New York | 1h 50m | Already closed

A Real Boy

From 13 critic and 18 member reviews
Members say: Thought-provoking, Relevant, Ambitious, Clever, Intelligent

About the show

Ivy Theatre Company, in association with Athena Theatre, present a satiric play about what happens when two puppets adopt a human child. More…

When the young boy starts growing strings, his kindergarten teacher takes it upon herself to "save" him. 'A Real Boy' explores life for those on the fringe of society and the tensions that arise when others try to fix their "problems."


“This cleverly staged show provides a view of how parenting, education, and government policy can affect a young child...‘A Real Boy’ effectively challenges ideas about individual values, acceptance, and the role of institutions...The cast features a group of thespians that capture their roles...'A Real Boy' is a unique and thought-provoking piece of theater." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"The telling of the didactic post-modern tale ranges in tone from witty satire to serious discourse, from full-blown tension to symbol-laden fantasy...Despite some unclear symbolism at the play’s end, an unexpectedly easy resolution to all the antipathy, the inexplicable transition from puppets into people, and a marked shift in mood...,through the use of humor and imagination, 'A Real Boy' delivers an important message for our troubled times.” Full Review


"Stephen Kaplan's 'A Real Boy' is about a pair of puppets, named Peter and Mary Ann Myers, who adopt the eponymous child named Max, and it proves about as preposterous as such a premise suggests. It isn't helped by director Audrey Alford's often awkward staging, or by a muddled and confusing conclusion." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“Ann Beyersdorfer's set represents a kindergarten classroom, although kindergarten classrooms no longer look like this one...Nevertheless, this is the least of 'A Real Boy's' problems. Those begin with an hour-and-50-minute, jumbled, overwritten script that clouds whatever issues it's trying to address with so many fantastical and thinly satiric distractions that you're never quite sure just what it wants to say, which arguments you should favor, or just what those arguments are.” Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"A work-in-progress...'A Real Boy' veers off into far too many directions...'A Real Boy' contains some wonderfully absurd situations and dialog...But neither the director, Audrey Alford, nor the diverse cast have quite figured out the tone or the direction they want to go with this. The plot...needs to be more sharply focused, and the characters need to be more clearly drawn...The play is in sore need of honing and polishing in order to escape its thematic tug-of-war." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"A thoroughly original way to examine prejudice from both sides of the fence...And now, the bad news...The omissions in writing obscure parallels...The play’s ending is effective and unexpected. Alford seems oblivious to stage sight lines...Acting is wildly uneven. Neither actor/handler is an adequate puppeteer...There are lots of good ideas here, but not enough distinctive writing." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"'A Real Boy' certainly raises some interesting and uneasy questions, but unfortunately it gets tangled in symbolism and loses emotional connection with the audience. But despite the fact that the play gets confused by its own conventions and, as a result, suffers from muddled direction and acting, 'A Real Boy' bares a grain of noble intention." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"The play deals with the essential ideas of self-acceptance and acceptance of others, and the emotional intensity of the performers is commendable, but, the use of the puppets was a hindrance rather than an enhancement to metaphor and emotion. I wanted to see George’s face as Mary grappled with what was best for Max, but I was distracted by the clumsiness of the expressionless puppet. Selznick also gives a moving performance and their vulnerable portrayal of Max was a highlight." Full Review

Front Row Center

"'A Real Boy' is trying very, very hard to be a real story about real issues...The fact that it fails in spite of the talent is disappointing...Michael and George seem to have some real acting chops. What they have not been guided to do is handle a marionette...The reality of this choice–to make the marionettes, well, marionettes instead of 'people'–creates a conflict that buries the story...The parable sputters across the finish line, and the good intentions are for naught." Full Review

Village Voice

"It becomes almost immediately apparent that we are dealing with a hilariously simplistic play that wants to function as a strained allegory about learning to tolerate difference...The marionette work here is so tentative that it feels like both Michael and George have been plunged into their task without adequate training…In the midst of this bewildering whack-a-mole symbolism, Danie Steel gives a snazzy sketch-comedy performance." Full Review


“Kaplan's colored his play with so much commentary...the result disorients rather than illuminates. The staging, under the sloppy direction of Audrey Alford, adds to the confusion…It's hard to see what's happening…Which, frankly, is just as well…While the puppets are underwhelming, the human characters are overdone…If Kaplan and other members of this production had studied reality more closely themselves, they might have given audiences a real play." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"Kaplan’s tackling racism, homophobia, bigotry...But it pains me to say, that this play and its production is a major fail on almost all counts. A full F grade...Everything about the space, design, and construction work against the play making transitional moments overly long and tedious...The text, especially in the last ten minutes, squanders all the possibilities of making a clear and concise point...This show sunk down to the bottom of the tank with each passing minute.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“A real muddle, a weird tale about the plight of marionettes that gets thoroughly tangled in its own plot strings…In all my decades of theatregoing, I cannot think of another play that used its central plot device more awkwardly and to so little effect…The problems abound in Alford's production. The puppet characters lack any sense of individuality…The performances are shrill and overwrought throughout, a clear sign that nobody in the cast has a clear notion of how to proceed.” Full Review

Ambitious, Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy shows where you interpret the message for yourself and think about it for a long time afterwards; you like satirical comedy

Don't see it if You don't enjoy puppets or a challenging, experimental piece

Clever, Unique, Great writing, Allegorical, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy shows with clever concepts that are well written and you can appreciate satire and allegories.

Don't see it if You require your shows to be literal and can't appreciate a good metaphor

Also The strength of this show is in its writing, and that is the basis for... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Indulgent, Confusing

See it if An original idea

Don't see it if It doesn't know what puppet people are a metaphor for and loses the plot in the second act

Relevant, Ambitious, Disappointing, Slow, Interesting writing

See it if you enjoy puppets without personalities; decent acting within an overlong and slow moving production; interesting ideas unfulfilled

Don't see it if you hate puppets of any kind; you are not able to suspend your beliefs in reality; this is not Pinocchio, and not for kids.

Cliched, Confusing, Disappointing, Quirky, Slow

See it if You really like puppets

Don't see it if You don't like confusing mixed metaphors and clunky staging.

Confusing, Banal, Indulgent

See it if don't.

Don't see it if don't.

Clever, Great writing, Profound, Relevant, Intelligent

See it if want to enjoy a great show with wonderful writing! Stephen Kaplan is an incredible teacher and an equally gifted playwright!!

Don't see it if you are afraid to challenge your own beliefs and explore societal prejudices from a whimsical point of view.

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

See it if You are willing to look beyond your own prejudices and belief and look for a deeper meaning in what you see.

Don't see it if You are looking for simple entertainment. It is not Pinocchio.

Also Thought provoking. Each time I think about a line or scene, I am seein... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Intelligent, Profound, Relevant, Resonant

See it if You're looking for a multifaceted look at the public education system, family values, and the place of government in both of these entities.

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with intimate theater settings.

Clever, Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if You enjoy receiving thought provoking moments that will keep you having ah-ha moments days following!

Don't see it if You're scared of puppets:)

Also At first I felt the puppets were clumsy and distracting but as the sce... Read more Read less

Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to laugh, cry, think, and feel good

Don't see it if you expect puppets to move and emote like real people

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Profound, Great writing, Ambitious

See it if -You enjoy seeing theatre that makes you think -You enjoy new and ambitious work -You joy something experimental and groundbreaking

Don't see it if -You just want to be entertained -Aren't open minded

Thought-provoking, Resonant, Ambitious, Great staging, Relevant

See it if you want to see a dynamic duality of performance between puppet and puppeteer, with a thoughtful confrontation of ingrained prejudices

Don't see it if you don't like being in close quarters with the performance, or if issues of discrimination and family separation are triggering

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Funny, Clever, Intelligent

See it if You're willing to let go of a-typical casting & care about art reflecting today times. It challenges our being, limitations and strengths.

Don't see it if You don't like it when the art takes head on what we face everyday. Other than that...challenge yourself. Go!

Ambitious, Entertaining, Intelligent

See it if You like a unique vision mixed with puppetry and a refreshing change of pace in regards to story.

Don't see it if You need everything tied up neatly or like the story to follow a simple 1-2-3 plot structure.

Also A REAL BOY is a compelling new work, one that it riveting even as it's... Read more Read less

Clever, Resonant, Quirky, Refreshing, Confusing

See it if you enjoy the clever use of puppetry to tell a story everyone can relate to.

Don't see it if you don't want to be on stage, because that's how close the seats are!

Also This show was entertaining and clever. It could use a trim, and should... Read more Read less

Clever, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if This is a thinking piece, questioning education's place in the development of our youngest minds and how home and politics play into this.

Don't see it if You are terrified of puppets!

During previews
Clever, Ambitious, Funny, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if If you like to laugh but you also like to be challenged, this incredibly creative play is for you.

Don't see it if You don't like puppets or great writing!

Cast & Creatives (17)