Members say: Absorbing, Relevant, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing

About the show

Manhattan Theatre Club presents Anna Ziegler's deeply felt, comic, and thought-provoking play about two students who meet at a raucous party during their freshman year at Princeton.

... Read more

Tom and Amber connect in ways that seem innocent enough at first. But as things progress, they find themselves in murky territory, with ramifications that could affect the rest of their lives. What actually happened between them? And when it comes to relationships, how often is the truth completely objective? Can we ever shed our pre-conceived notions?

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

New York Magazine / Vulture

“Ziegler’s taut, devastating new play, directed with a deft, unsparing sense of forward motion...A smart, profoundly painful exploration of the murky, treacherous sexual culture this country is mired in...‘Actually’s’ wit and its intelligence are part of what makes the complex darkness at its center hit so hard. There is brightness in this play, and in these people, and to see its sparks overwhelmed by such fearful and familiar shadows is shattering. In moments, it’s even revelatory.” Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

“Could very well be the play of the season...A powerful indictment about the way in which appearances, prejudice, and societal constructs like gender and race can take on immeasurable weight when stacked on each other...Ziegler's dialogues are filled with her usual combination of snappy repartee with the sudden phrase that seems to turn the world upside down...The play should elicit some provocative conversations." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Director Blain-Cruz and her two sharp actors infuse this talky piece with energy and urgency, and Ziegler’s meticulously detailed script is more than occasionally funny, despite its serious themes. As Amber and Tom unravel the knotty threads of their fateful interaction on an unadorned stage, our sympathies are repeatedly tested. 'Actually’s' subject is politically charged, but its focus is squarely on the human beings behind the headlines." Full Review

Theater Life

“The play could not be more timely as the flood of sexual-harassment allegations raises a myriad of issues. This sharp and scary two-hander pits what some see as black-and-white into troubling realms of gray. Both sexual and racial overtones arise...Ziegler wisely does not choose sides but endows each character with virtues and flaws. Blain-Cruz manages to maintain tension and intensity through the play’s 90-minute running time despite the limitations of the format.” Full Review

Front Row Center

“An engaging think piece that wonders if opposites attract or if opposites attack...Ziegler has her characters presenting their cases directly to the audience, keeping interaction between the two at a minimum...What makes the play tick is that we are never given any conclusive answers. And because of that, ‘Actually’ is a story about overt sexual assault only on the surface. It is more concerned with what shaped Tom and Amber’s perceptions...The production is perfectly paced.” Full Review


“Ziegler’s absorbing and thought-provoking new drama...There's a surprising amount of character-driven humor; the kind that deals with the normal anxieties...without ever undercutting the seriousness of the situation...The major strength of Ziegler's storytelling is that she seems less concerned with having viewers take sides than she is with having us feel the mutual tragedy of the situation and be more concerned with discussing how such matters can be prevented.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“Ziegler keeps turning the screw, adding details that constantly force us to revise our opinions of the characters...Under the sure directorial hand of Blain-Cruz, neither Boone nor Socha tips the author's hand, presenting each character's argument without fear or favor and leaving us to puzzle out for ourselves the truth...The staging is as lean and swift as the writing." Full Review


"Essentially the play is a narrative about two young people from very different backgrounds...Both actors manage to give lively and convincing performances. Director Lileana Blain-Cruz keeps things moving along. She does tend to allow Socha to be quirkily neurotic to excess and to repeat her physical shtick...The dialogue is smart and often quite funny. She has packed it with an overabundance of issues." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"As for their back stories, Ziegler might have...removed at least one from each of her characters...The play’s dramatic flaws are almost obscured by the deeply felt and thoroughly lived-in performances and the smooth direction of Blain-Cruz...While ‘Actually’ raises some very important questions about how men and women should interact - it’s a testament to everyone involved that it provides no easy answers or snap judgments." Full Review


“Blain-Cruz’s exquisite staging underscores Ziegler’s devotion to a kind of dramatic fair play...Absent stacking of the deck against either Amber or Tom, they emerge as complicated young people determined not to let their ambiguities undermine their conviction about what happened that night. Understanding all that is what gives the terrific actors a dreamlike power in which a gauzy truth gradually and painfully comes into sharp relief.” Full Review


"A gripping portrait of campus rape that frustratingly misses the wood for the trees...Impressively, Ziegler has created what feels like real individuals in Amber and Tom, something that comes across clearly in Socha and Boone's layered performances...Unfortunately, in devoting much of the play's energy to developing nuanced characters, Ziegler glosses over some crucial questions...I didn't leave conflicted, but sad: ‘Actually’ isn't really a reevaluation, but a reminder." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"It's a compelling and provocative subject whose dramatic potential is only fitfully realized in this talky effort, consisting largely of monologues...It's a technique often used by the playwright...But here it feels lazy...It's in the infrequent instances when the characters do interact that ‘Actually’ actually clicks...Despite its stylistic drawbacks...the play feels incisive and smartly observed. As superbly played by Boone and Socha, the characters register as sympathetic figures." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"I was struck by its humor and compassion for its two characters...Most of the performance plays like an extended monologue...I found myself alienated by the self-aware telling of the story...The asides and stories were entertaining and illuminating, but they often overlapped in such a way that was jarring and did not ring emotionally tuned...The climax was affecting, mainly because Boone handles Tom’s recognition with staggering range. The final image is stunning, but felt unearned." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Ziegler’s play lets us bask in the uncomfortable tale of how these two characters have been set up for this disastrous night...Director Blain-Cruz keeps her staging as minimalist as it gets...The burden of keeping us alert and engaged falls mostly on the actors and the text, which pushes the actors to sometimes overcompensate with a delivery that seems pushed...Ziegler’s nuanced depiction of a potential rapist we hate to hate and an imperfect victim is a brave effort." Full Review

The New York Times

"Blain-Cruz’s high-gloss minimalist production makes a great deal of sense moment by moment but cannot seem to accrete meaning and value as the story keeps lurching around...And the actors, called upon to switch gears constantly, have a similar problem maintaining credible characters. Boone keeps enough in reserve to smooth over the role’s inconsistencies, but Socha is stuck making hairpin turns on unmarked roads. To say she doesn’t crash is high praise." Full Review

Escape Into Life

“While the production sometimes lets the text down, the play’s provoking bitterness keeps us watching...There are many strong moments of writing here...Illustrated with beautifully full, specific, and natural language...There are occasional weaknesses...A too-full ending section, wherein the characters, and the playwright, throw everything against the wall...There are direction issues. Blain-Cruz is unaccountably disengaged...Alexandra Socha employs a mannered façade." Full Review

The Huffington Post

“So ‘Actually’ by Ziegler can’t help but be timely. It could however be better...The play’s manipulation feels grating almost from the start. Every detail that they share feels like a piece of evidence...Blain-Cruz presents the drama as well as can be done with the elements at hand...The ping-ponging back and forth between each character with every new revelation intended to color our opinion of them was so frustrating and false that we stopped believing in them.” Full Review

The Alt

for a previous production "A timely, true-to-life production...Blain-Cruz, Socha and Boone work flawlessly together to set the scenes, with excellent results. Both Socha and Boone were stellar in their roles...The electricity between the two crackled, which made the hearing scenes even more emotional...There are very seldom clear-cut heroes or villains in every story–and empathy lies in understanding that. This show’s power is in its realism, and it will affect everyone lucky enough to see it." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

for a previous production "An exceptional two-hander...This work is not heavy-handed, melodramatic stuff; instead, it is extraordinarily realistic...It would not be accurate to call this seat-squirming theater, but the very natural performances bid theatergoers to consider, to contemplate...Blain-Cruz gives these actors space to create. The director, fortunate to be working with a sharp script and insightful actors, helps to fuel this 90-minute piece. It's all terrifically absorbing." Full Review

Berkshire Eagle

for a previous production "'Actually' is not a typical he-said-she-said play...The tone throughout is heartfelt and authentic; not given over to melodrama and theatrics but, rather, pain, confusion, anger, and, yes, humor, all of arises naturally as a function of who Amber and Tom are...Ziegler has written an honest, open play whose characters are fully formed; whose points of view, attitudes, and thoughts arise from within, from who they are as dimensional human beings, rather than mouthpieces in a polemical debate." Full Review

Boston Globe

for a previous production "What emerges over the course of Ziegler’s riveting new something subtle, a story that extends even beyond the two anguished students at the center...Ultimately Amber moves beyond one-dimensionality as, bit by bit, with consummate skill, Ziegler assembles the intricate jigsaw puzzle of the people Tom and Amber were before they met...The playwright ultimately does not scant the psychological and moral complexity of either of the students." Full Review

Critics at Large

for a previous production "Contemporary plays on hot-button topics tend to be didactic, with an unwavering point of view, but 'Actually' holds fast to its ambiguity...It’s an unusually sensitive and non-doctrinaire piece of work, emotionally detailed and seeded with humor, and Ziegler does a superlative job of finding distinctive voices for the two characters...It’s only with Ziegler’s sketching in the background of Tom’s side to the story that the narrative gears creak somewhat." Full Review

Berkshire On Stage

for a previous production "Socha and Boone are skilled actors and perfectly cast...The technical weaknesses of this production are largely mitigated by the riveting performances and Ziegler’s incisive use of language...The lack of genuine academic ambience leaves Ben Stanton’s lighting design to fill us in on the changing times and spaces. I confess that at times I thought I understood what the lighting changes were telling me, and other times I was hopelessly lost." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing

See it if Ugh, missed writing this while it was open. GREAT Writing! Weaker production than in LA. I would even recommend reading the script.

Don't see it if Sadly, it's closed, so you can't. This is a series of Monologues. - Little interaction between the actors other than spoken exposition.

Also This is a really beautifully crafted piece.... Read more Read less

Edgy, Masterful, Refreshing, Relevant, Well written

See it if You are concerned with issues of sexual misconduct, harassment, false allegations and the reputations of unwitting participants,

Don't see it if If you aren’t open to all the possibilities of the discussion about these so present and pressing conversations.

Relevant, Disappointing, Slow

See it if you’re interested in on-campus sexual assault allegations. This piece looks at an event from the point of view of accuser and accused.

Don't see it if You’re looking to see a PLAY. This is a short story - all narration and little dialogue / action.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant, Great writing

See it if Anna Ziegler always worth seeing..short-to the point interesting story line--provides food for thought

Don't see it if You can't follow a non-linear story line in play to the very end...much back and forth may leave viewer unclear on what's happening

Absorbing, Intense, Relevant, Confusing

See it if you enjoy a drama about an alleged rape. Action goes back and forth in time and was confusing. Plot itself is very relevant to our times.

Don't see it if you don't like a very annoying voice. The girl has annoying sing song voice that took away the strength of her story.

Also I thought it would be more of a he said she said story. This drama kee... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Resonant, Great writing

See it if You are looking for a thoughtful piece on a difficult topic

Don't see it if Rape is a difficult topic for you

Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You work at a college; you appreciate character development; you want to think about an issue from multiple perspectives

Don't see it if you need closure/resolution to feel satisfied by a show; you prefer large companies; you're triggered by sexual assault content

Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Ultimately disappointing

See it if you're interested in watching two very real and nuanced characters develop before your eyes

Don't see it if you're hoping for a message about feminism or sexual assault, or if you've ever been assaulted, as you'll find no closure here

Also Far easier to watch than you'd expect, as there is no assault depicted... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Intelligent, Profound, Relevant, Great writing

See it if You want to see very good writing related to a very difficult topic

Don't see it if You want to see a play that could make conservatives very pleased

Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing

See it if you are interested in the age-old issue of responsibility. The reference to The Cruclible is extremely apt. Timely and relevant material

Don't see it if you do not want to be challenged and potentially angry/upset. The "funny" is fleeting; the pain and damage is persistent and forever

Great acting, Intense, Relevant

See it if Excellent actors portraying fully realized characters.

Don't see it if Issues of ( possibly untrue) rape allegations are not what you go to the theater for.

Absorbing, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Contrived

See it if Indictment of college drinking & hookup culture. Kids with vastly different motivations & expectations get in trouble. Good characters.

Don't see it if You are bothered by unconvincing elements. The legal hearing was a contrivance. Real college students actually(!) study during the week.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you ever wondered how reality and confusion often get mistaken for each other.

Don't see it if you would rather believe what you think you know instead of opening yourself up to ALL the facts of the situation.

Also Playwright Anna Ziegler’s play’s subject matter dominates our newspape... Read more Read less

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

See it if You are interested in sexual politics on a college campus. A friendship turns into a controversy after a casual date takes a turn.

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with sexual activities or multiracial dating; cannot sit through a 90 minute show; have hearing problems

Also The relationship between the two students of different backgrounds dev... Read more Read less

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

See it if you're interested in issues of gender, race, consent, and sexual politics. Great performances, particularly from Joshua Boone.

Don't see it if you want to see something light and fluffy. Play has plenty of humor, but issues raised are serious and require some thought & attentiveness

Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Timely, Needs editing

See it if You're interested in sexual dynamics, the challenges/disorientation of college freshmen, looking at both sides of "he said-she said".

Don't see it if Don't like a series of monologues to audience, want more action, can't relate at all to the college experience of today's youth.

Also There's a lot to ponder in this incisive and intelligent look at the m... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Relevant, Resonant

See it if You like smaller productions, want to see two great young actors perform, want to hear about relevant topic in society today.

Don't see it if If you need a linear show, don't like smaller productions, don't have patience (story unveils bit by bit)


See it if You want to see a well acted story about an interesting subject.

Don't see it if You don’t like two person he said she said about sexual accusations.

Funny, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Disturbing

See it if Well acted depiction of possibilities and how things could go terribly wrong. He was particularly strongly and sympathetic.

Don't see it if Disturbing discussions bother you. Writing and points sometimes overdone and excessive.

Interesting play for 42-1/2 minutes; problem is that it's 85 minutes; still, it's an eye-opening 42-1/2 minutes

See it if insightfully shows how important personal history & context are in adjudicating college rape charges; engaging performances in 2-hander

Don't see it if too much of a "he said she said" vehicle; heavy-handed in demonstrating unfair process; lacks big dramatic moments

Also This is second Anna Ziegler play I've recently seen w The Last Match (... Read more Read less

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing

See it if you enjoy a fascinating and sad examination of sexual politics on campuses today. Ziegler is such an intelligent and provocative writer.

Don't see it if you don't want to see a classic story of "he said" versus "she said." At times the plot felt a bit contrived.

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Timely

See it if you enjoy a piece about two individuals that have differing opinions about a mutual sex act. Very contemporary

Don't see it if you are offended by a piece that presents both sides of an issue and draws no conclusion

Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Indulgent, Repetitive

See it if You want to dig into the murkiness of sexual politics.

Don't see it if Whiny characters turn you off or you want a sense of completion/forward movement at the end of the play.

Also A two-hander with pitiable characters and storyline that highlights th... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Over done

See it if you want to see a show that tackles the issues of race, consent and rape. Staging is very interesting, But show goes on too long and is dull

Don't see it if you want a show that gives a fully developed argument about a very difficult subject.

Also The play has a lot of potential. I loved the point/counterpoint. But i... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Thought-provoking

See it if you're interested in the topics of race and consent explored through theatre

Don't see it if you're uncomfortable with talk of explicit sexual activities

Also From a dramatic standpoint, this show works pretty well. However, it r... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (9)