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About Alice

From 16 critic and 47 member reviews
Members say: Romantic, Great acting, Great writing, Funny, Delightful

About the show

Theater for a New Audience presents this new two-character play inspired by humorist Calvin Trillin’s memoir of the same title about his late wife. More…

Alice Trillin, a gifted writer, educator, film producer, activist on behalf of cancer patients, and muse to her husband, the humorist Calvin Trillin, died September 11, 2001, at age 63, from complications due to treatment for lung cancer diagnosed 25 years earlier. Rather than memorializing his grief, Trillin celebrates the real Alice and their 36-year-marriage as a New York love story.

Lighting & Sound America

“’About Alice’ is an efflorescence of grace in a world that very much needs it...Trillin has a found a way to transform prose into theatre...Trillin has effectively dramatized his essay...The actors display an easy intimacy that may rouse envy in many in the audience...In size and scale, ‘About Alice’ is a little thing, but under its polished surface lurk profound and enduring emotions.” Full Review


"Humorous and heartfelt, this touching tribute to Trillin's late wife is not just the memoir of a marriage, but an intimate look into a lost culture shared only by two...This is a play about cancer, but it is no depression-fest. ‘About Alice’ is the story of an unlucky thing that happened to two otherwise very fortunate people who managed to find each other and spend 38 wonderful years together. For 75 charming minutes, Trillin invites us to bask in some of that warmth.” Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

“Trillin brings to life his inspiring relationship with his wife in the heartfelt, beautifully rendered ‘About Alice’...Bean is terrific as Calvin, calm and easygoing, his eyes aglow with his deep love for his wife. And Paff is luminous as an extraordinary, multifaceted woman with a passion for everything she did; it won’t take long before you fall in love with her too. Alice was often a character in Calvin’s writing, but she becomes so much more in this moving tribute to a lovely human being.” Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"A humorous, sweetly touching account of the couple's relationship that revolves around one main theme: Trillin really, really adored his wife, who he admits was way out of his league...It works beautifully as a two-character piece, because it allows Alice to represent herself...Despite its brief 75-minute running time, the piece wanders at times...But despite its occasional tedious patches, the play, staged in rewardingly simple fashion by Leonard Foglia, proves deeply affecting." Full Review


"Bean and Paff have a tremendous rapport, he somewhat wry as Trilln's writing, she bemused by his pronouncements; he, the fantasist, she, the realist. Described as a beautiful blonde, Paff lives up to that description...Neither of them seems to age even though 36 years go by in the course of the play's 80 minutes. The play also seems lightweight as it is very episodic, being told as a series of vignettes. It also doesn't have a cumulative feeling as it is not told in chronological order." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"An affectionate and touching portrait...A warm, often funny, altogether charming account of two nice, educated, cultured people...The story easily skips about in time as it is narrated mostly in an anecdotal fashion by Trillin...This husband and wife, or the author and his muse, or the delightful couple of New Yorkers whose interplay is so naturally acted here, are winningly portrayed by Jeffrey Bean and Carrie Paff." Full Review

Epoch Times

"Calvin Trillin’s way of not only letting people know who Alice was, but also showing just how much she was part of his existence...An alternately lighthearted and somber journey through points in the couple’s life...While the specter of Alice’s illness is ever-present, it’s the relationship between the couple that forms the linchpin of the story, particularly the way they complement each other...A touching story of a somewhat familiar yet quite unique, very moving journey." Full Review

Theater Life

“If any play deserves to be called ‘a work of love’, it would certainly be this radiantly emotional play...Paff and and Bean create that casual familiarity unique to married couples. For this reason they are totally believable. Despite the highly emotional content of their story Bean and Paff are remarkably low-keyed. This makes the story all the more moving...Those who look for high drama will be disappointed...’About Alice’ seems to touch on the...nature and strength of sustained love.” Full Review

Front Row Center

"The love that Calvin feels for Alice is obvious, but at the end of the piece I found myself wanting more...I left the theater wishing I had read Trillin’s memoir in order to get a fuller picture of his wife that he so loved and admired, rather than seeing snippets of their happiness together played out onstage...'About Alice' was expertly performed, and the simplicity of the production elements let the performances and the relationship be the true center of the story...A beautiful love lette... Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"The play is gentle and funny, touching and romantic, kind and gentle, just like the Alice that hangs around the theatre reminding us all what love looks and feels like. It doesn’t have a driving force throughout, nor does it pack the highest of emotional punches, maybe because we know how it all is going to end from the very beginning...It sweetly falters a bit on its sentimental legs, but as a tribute, its a gentle sweet hug and loving kiss on the cheek, and not much else." Full Review


"A New York love story that will touch your heart and perhaps make you cry... It can be a little disorienting at times to keep up with the free-wheeling repartee. However, while Trillin is more a journalist than a playwright, his wry humor and instinctive comic timing keep things on track...Maybe the only fitting way to sum up the production is to say it achieves its aspirations to bring Alice dramatically alive in the here and now." Full Review

Film Festival Traveler

"Trillin’s deadpan humor—as anyone who saw his many hilarious appearances on Johnny Carson can attest—is always in evidence, even when his drama takes a darker turn...Bean and Paff play off each other with easy familiarity and tenderness in Leonard Foglia’s simple and effective staging. Of course, at 75 minutes it might only skim the surface of such a lengthy and loving relationship, but 'About Alice' retains the warmth and wit that distinguishes Trillin’s best work." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"A sweet and touching, if not particularly memorable, two-person play…It's a familiar version of the kind of story we've practically become inured to…describing noble, exceptional people fighting fatal…The general tone is more that of a memorized recitation than words spoken spontaneously. For all Bean's appealing charm, his words have a literary, not a natural cadence…There are laughs here but they're neither frequent nor loud enough to ward off the inevitable sorrow." Full Review

The Wrap

“A slender but thoughtful look at the writer’s beloved wife and muse…A one-man memory play, with occasional interjections from the subject of that one man’s memory…Thankfully, the two stars suggest a fuller, rounded life than seems to exist on the page…Despite its 75-minute running time, ‘About Alice’ can seem a little saggy at times. But for the most part, it’s a wry and rueful tribute to a remarkable woman.” Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

“Bean paints a realistic portrait of a grief-stricken man…The show is relatively tight…but it does meander...when Calvin reflects on his married life. Time is very fluid, which does seem to hold true to memory…Foglia didn’t necessarily need to mark each passage of time with a wig and costume change, which slow down the action…’About Alice’ is a love letter to Alice…Although the viewer might empathize with Trillin and his loss, in the end the death of Alice is not very impactful.” Full Review

The New York Times

"The emotional terrain has shifted with the genre, so much that the restraint now feels like withholding. As a result, the sweet and mild and less emotional than the book, when what you want is for it to be more so...Not that the actors in any way fall short of inhabiting their characters...But creating these simulacra of the book’s characters is not the same as dramatizing them." Full Review

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Romantic

See it if Calvin Trillin's love letter and memoir to his late wife Alice is a delightful departure from the typical stage play.

Don't see it if this is not a big play, it's not very traditional. the structure is a little non linear. staging is very minimal.

Water your funny bone

See it if you ever lost a double kayak from your car roof, at 60 mph, re-saddled, laughed and drove on. We did. Alice and "Bud" did too, ever-humored.

Don't see it if you take life too seriously, can't overcome bumps in the road (some worse than others) OR learn to laugh and succeed anyway.

Also As a writer myself, I have always loved Calvin Trillin. ... Read more Read less

Flawless, moving, funny, heartbreaking, uplifting

See it if You love Calvin Trillin or, shamefully, do not know him. You can start making up for lost time with this play.

Don't see it if You are an illiterate, insensate philistine, with no taste, no brain, and no heart.

Also I spent a breakfast with Calvin Trillin in 1993 while at Yale and livi... Read more Read less

Enchanting, Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Refreshing

See it if delightful performances interest you. Beautifully staged even my side top balcony seat had a good view. I left the theater feeling uplifted.

Don't see it if Amusing two character shows are of no interest. Or you don't like going to Brooklyn but it will be your loss.

Absorbing, Delightful, Great acting, Great writing, Romantic

See it if You, like my wife and I, are a Calvin Trillin fan and want to see a well-acted ode to his wife, Alice.

Don't see it if You have no sense of humor and hate a love letter from a wonderful writer to his late wife

Great acting

See it if u want 2 c what a perfect marriage is all about... absolutely beautiful writing performed exquisitely

Don't see it if u do not want to experience what true love is all about… and cannot not bear to tear.

Great acting, Intelligent, Warm, Romantic

See it if Beautiful rendition of a play about love and a relationship that transcended time. Wonderfully cast and acted.

Don't see it if You don't like small intimate plays that don't have any razzle-dazzle in them.

Delightful, Romantic, Resonant, Great acting, Funny

See it if you want to see a lovely, romantic show about true love. It is quite touching and nicely acted. It is also heartbreaking because she is gone

Don't see it if you expect elaborate staging, a real plot, or if you are not a real romantic. You might find it dull. But I found it enchanting. Bravo.

Great acting, Great writing, Romantic

See it if you've read the story of Alice Trillin and you want to know just how special she was.

Don't see it if you're self-centered and don't like hearing about someone else's happiness

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if you want a lovely story based on Calvin Trillin's likfe with his wife.

Don't see it if you don't like small, intimate pieces of theatre

Absorbing, Romantic, Intelligent, Enchanting

See it if You believe in romance, generosity and wit.

Don't see it if You don't want to know anything about anyone else's happiness.

Quiet two hander with humor and an appreciation for what was, Great writing, Great acting, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you read the article on which it is based. You want to know just how special Alice Trillin was. Her words often dwarf his prose.

Don't see it if You are not interested in a saga of a fight for life. Of a contemplation of a life shared and truly lived.

Intimate. endearing. intelligent. insightful.

See it if A two hander of the life and love and death of a man and his lovely wife. An intimate, real sounding look into a good man's good life.

Don't see it if You want dynamite and theatrics.

Also Nice staging of a mostly talking head show. Great costumes for the lad... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Great writing, Great acting, Great staging, Romantic

See it if you love Calvin Trillin and especially his writings about Alice, with two excellent actors telling a simple, sincere love story.

Don't see it if you want production values, conflicts, and a dramatic story line and are not interested in two people telling their story.

Also My primary reaction, on top of what I've said above: incredible envy f... Read more Read less

Delightful, Funny, Moving

See it if You are a fan of writer Calvin Trillin. You like intimate (and humorous) stories of love and loss.

Don't see it if You like big productions with large casts and complicated plots. This has a cast of two in a small theater .

Also This is an intimate love letter of a play to his wife Alice by Calvin ... Read more Read less

Delightful, Great acting, Great writing, Vintage nyc, Romantic

See it if if you love Calvin Trillin's work. Also, if you love cool downtown NYC stories, love stories. Don't miss this.

Don't see it if you need a "big story". This is a story of a shared life.

Delightful, Funny, Intelligent, Romantic, Refreshing

See it if you like the writing of Calvin Trillin and like a good story of a long love.

Don't see it if you have no interest in a beautiful marriage.

Absorbing, Great writing, Funny, Romantic, Sweet

See it if You love the idea of a sweet middle-age romance, you like an impressionistic two-character play that explores a single idea

Don't see it if You want something big, profound, deep, examining current issues

Funny, Resonant, Enchanting, Refreshing

See it if A delightful warm bath of a literary love story when The Village was The Village and when writers could afford to live and work in New York

Don't see it if Only Trillin could really play Trillin, the driest of martinis personified, yet Jeffrey Bean still captures his essence well enough.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Sentimental, Romantic, Funny

See it if You love Calvin Trillin. Or if you like well done sentimental works. The marriage is presented as a real love story. Tears and laughter.

Don't see it if You done like sentimental stories. Or if you like edgy works. This is very old fashioned.

Under dramatized, Charming, So close, Romantic, Slow

See it if you're a fan of Calvin Trillin's short book upon which this is based. You're looking for a melancholy experience. You're a romantic.

Don't see it if you don't know the Alice-Calvin love story because you need that background to appreciate this subtle Valentine.

Also In this adaptation from the book, I was looking for a dramatization of... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Disappointing, Indulgent, Relevant, Romantic

See it if You want to see a love story. This is a valentine from Calvin Trillin to his wife, and it is lovely. Valentines are not always good theater.

Don't see it if You’re expecting action, are distracted by showy set pieces (the costume changes become distracting), or want a clear narrative,.

Clever, Funny, Intelligent

See it if you enjoy Calvin Trillin's work and want to know more about the wife he adored and lost too soon.

Don't see it if you get frustrated by a skin-deep characterization -- but what a skin! Alice was a marvel by all accounts.

Banal, Disappointing, Dull, Slow

See it if You love& have followed Calvin Trillin. If you remember the time period

Don't see it if You loved the book. The play can’t capture the love in the book

Cliched, Sitcom-y, Simplistic, Thin, Disappointing

See it if you've read the book and can bring depths to the experience that simply do not exist in the stage version.

Don't see it if you're infuriated by this stereotype: the pretty blonde wife who's terrible with money but adores a schleppy guy because he's semi-funny.

Cast & Creatives (5)