New York | 2h 20m | Already closed

Ah, Wilderness!

From 9 critic and 31 member reviews
Members say: Dated, Slow, Entertaining, Disappointing, Funny

About the show

Blackfriars Repertory Theatre and The Storm Theatre present Eugene O’Neill's classic comedy about the trials and tribulations of a young man and his loving family in a small Connecticut town on July 4, 1906. More…

O’Neill described his play as, “A nostalgic comedy of the ancient days when youth was young, and the right was right, and life was a wicked opportunity.”

The Mama Maven

“Life for teens in today’s word is fast-paced...Nevertheless, carving out a few see...’Ah, Wilderness!’ can be worthwhile...A really great play with a compelling story...The dialogue is the original dialogue of the play – no need to dumb it down for us, although some of it is outdated and definitely not politically correct for our time. All things considered, it’s great to be able to take your pre-teen to a show...I could not have asked for a more perfect ending! Full Review


"Shorter than his dramas but still feels long at two hours and 40 minutes with an intermission but it is absorbing nonetheless. That’s due to its novel perspective...The youthful Peter Atkinson is outstanding as Richard and is the production’s centerpiece...Director Peter Dobbins’ solid yet sensitive staging settles in after the slack opening sequence...This tender production demonstrates the enduring beauty of 'Ah, Wilderness!'" Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

“I’ve never seen ‘Ah, Wilderness!’ done on a small scale, and this production...Passes the no-budget test...While Dobbins’s cast is somewhat uneven in quality, most of the actors are quite good...As for Dobbins’s staging, it’s as uncomplicated as the décor...just a straightforward rendering of the play itself, which is allowed to work its quaint magic without benefit of special directorial pleading...The best thing about “Ah, Wilderness!” is the way in which it mixes sweetness with sorrow.” Full Review

Off Off Online

“The piece is as stageworthy as ever, and it works fine in a smaller house...What’s striking about this production is the generation gap...The younger actors are more impressive than the grown-ups...Dobbins keeps the pacing suitably leisurely and lets the piece speak for itself...The older generation really might work on sharpening their characterizations, and there are probably better productions of ‘Ah, Wilderness!’ out there, but it’s a pleasure to have this one around.” Full Review

Theatre is Easy

“While ‘Ah, Wilderness!’ is definitely a comedy, don't go in expecting broad jokes about sex and politics. The humor here is more subdued...Dobbins stays true to O'Neill, giving a straight-forward rendition to honor his legacy. The one thing that stands out is the commitment of lead actor Peter Calvin Atkinson...Even if the subject matter does not entice, 'Ah, Wilderness!' is still worth seeing for the committed acting of Atkinson.” Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

“O’Neill’s coming-of-age play is sadly so outdated, because very few people remember the world, when it was that innocent...Dobbins direction is slow paced and he does not bring out the best in his cast which is inconsistent, with women faring better than the men. As the lead Atkinson has the looks, but not the acting chops...This is a period piece where the time seems long gone and innocents a thing of the past. ‘Ah, Wilderness!’ made me weep for that realization.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“It takes an especially nimble company, aided by an equally adept director, to bring out the melancholy highlights in this otherwise nostalgic, sun-splashed comedy and, in truth, Dobbins and his troupe aren't really up to the job. In this play, more than most, nuance is everything, and it is a quality that is noticeably missing here. Most of the cast members find a single note and strike it, repeatedly...Even in this somewhat rickety staging, the play's homey, yet insightful, humor comes thro... Full Review


"One of the big problems is that things never go that sideways...Any problems that crop up somehow conveniently go away. The result is a sort of uneasy disquiet for the audience...Unfortunately direction and acting don't help these matters. Peter Dobbins' direction is ponderous, and keeping the script almost untouched does the production no favors. And most of the actors can't pick up the slack on their own." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

“The casts’ delivery of the outdated dialogue, idiosyncratic slang, and old-fashioned values, forced laughter and feigned intoxication is generally stilted and unnatural. Combined with O’Neill’s offensive ethnic and gender-based stereotypes, the period piece, at present, is more cringe-worthy than humorous...Despite the renown of its author, the current production...begs the question, ‘Why?’ This is one O’Neill play that would have been better left in the vaults.” Full Review

Entertaining, Great writing, Delightful, Funny

See it if U enjoy traditional theatre; in tone, this is reminiscent of "You Can't Take It With U." U want to see the only comedy Eugene O'Neill wrote.

Don't see it if U won't enjoy a traditional, middle of the road production; prefer more "cutting edge" drama to a comediy set in 1906 & written in the 30s.

Also I personally preferred this to last year's offering by the same troupe... Read more Read less

Delightful, Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent, Slow

See it if you want to see O'Neill's only comedy done well. The cast is quite good and very well directed. The actor playing Richard is esp. good

Don't see it if you are not a fan of traditional straight plays. It's a bit long at 2hrs40 min but then it IS O'Neill

Hilarious, Great writing, Great acting, Funny

See it if See it you like long plays from beginning of last century . A nice story about a family relationships and that era

Don't see it if Don’t see is you like a fast play with a lot of action

Absorbing, Delightful, Entertaining, Great staging, Great acting

See it if You want to be entertained and see a play about a family in 1906 and their trials and tribulations. You want to see nice costumes.

Don't see it if You are not interested in the story of a young man and his family. You want a heavily dramatic performance. You don't want to laugh.

Nostalgic, Charming, Great staging, Eugene o’neill “light”, Entertaining

See it if This is a period piece complete with music of that era. A large cast portrayed family dealing with alcoholism and young love.

Don't see it if You are not interested O’Neill’s oeuvre. You want a fast moving production.

Dated, Classic, Engaging, Uneven acting by ensemble

See it if you are interested an old O'Neill work about youthful naivete with all its idealism/intellectualism & turn-of-the- century morality

Don't see it if you're looking for an exciting production or uniformly great acting; not interested in seeing plays about puritanism, alcoholism & sex

Also This is a nearly 100 year old 'coming of age' story about a kid in a r... Read more Read less

Sweet, Long, Profound, Ambitious, Nostalgic

See it if you have never seen this classic American play. The production captures the loving family overcoming the problems of another era.

Don't see it if you cannot sit though more than three hours with only one intermission.

Entertaining, Great writing, Dated

See it if you like a small theater, want to feel close to the action, like period pieces, good costumes, and people who care about their role.

Don't see it if you do not like pieces that celebrate the goodness in all of us and the American Dream.

Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Dated

See it if You enjoy period pieces, are interested in seeing O’Neils only comedy about family life in rural CT in 1906. Actor playing Richard very good

Don't see it if You expect an intense family drama, fancy set & costumes. Is an old fashioned play. Long but I was not bored

Lesser eugene o’neil script, Dated classic, Entertaining, Sentimental, Nostalgic

See it if Coming of age story of an idealistic literary-minded boy (based on autobiographical material) 100 years ago. Lead actor is spot on.

Don't see it if You want a polished professional production, or don’t have patience for a long, slow play about a long-gone simpler age.

Also Projections (which I didn’t see due to projector malfunction) could ha... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Dated, Indulgent, Fluffy, Slow

See it if You really love Eugene O'Neill. It's certainly part of the catalog, though not his best.

Don't see it if You get bored. You don't like teenage love stories.

Entertaining, Slow, Dated, Good staging, Clever

See it if You enjoy classic plays performed in a small intimate theater with capable actors/actresses.

Don't see it if You find older plays with dated material to be tiresome, or want a new staging of a classic play.

Great acting, Dated, Slow, O’neill’s only comedy

See it if Sometimes feels like the O’Neill version of Our Town - the happy mirror image of the family in Long Days Journey Into Night so a bit jarring

Don't see it if It’s Oneill at his most hopeful when youth and dreams seemed limitless but like his other works long and much more limited

Delightful, Cliched, Dated, Slow, Intelligent

See it if coming-of-age story of young man at turn of 20th century, an O'Neill story with a happy family; the young man likes to recite poetry*

Don't see it if want characters with depth, don't want cliches, 2 hrs 45 min with intermission**; alcoholic character treated humorously

Also * Title of play comes from one of them.... Read more Read less

Clever, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if you want to see O’Neill’s only comedy.

Don't see it if you are do not like straight plays on the longer side.

Disappointing, Romantic, Slow, Uneven, Overrated

See it if You love O’Neill and are willing to see a less than quality production of one of his earlier plays. You enjoy classic plays.

Don't see it if You need a highly polished production of a well-known classic to enjoy that classic. You are looking for a 90 minute show. This is over 2 H.

Classic, Great eugene o'neill, Supposed to be a comedy, Slow, Disappointing

See it if Worth seeing if you love O'Neill and American Classics, even tho the director seemed to forget it's supposed to be a comedy!

Don't see it if You'll get impatient with the slow pace and lack of laughs in spite of some good performances. Can't justify 2hrs20min

Also Altho it's often not fair to compare productions, I feel so lucky that... Read more Read less

Slow, Romantic, Overrated, Fluffy, Dated

See it if You are a fan Eugene O’Neill work, comedy, family drama, historical pieces, coming of age story set in 1906 in CT

Don't see it if You dont enjoy shows that deals with family dynamics in 1906 in rural area, offended by referral to alcoholism, prostitution, long plays

Dated, Funny, Overrated, Slow, Great staging

See it if you want to see a play by O'Neill that isn't often seen. It's a pleasant story about a family but it's dated.

Don't see it if you want an exciting drama or a great comedy.There is humor but it's at the expense of an issue called alcoholism.

Also It was interesting to see life through a family's eye in 1906. Things ... Read more Read less

Slow, Lacked laughs, Dated, Sincere performances

See it if you are curious about the only "comedy" that Eugene ONeill wrote.

Don't see it if you are not patient. Keep in mind it is dated.

Also The actors who portrayed Nat & Essie Miller seemed more like Richard M... Read more Read less

Slow, Dated, Well-produced

See it if you HAVE to see all of O'Neill's works. Actors were very good - the play itself is not. Language felt offensive to women - "Man knows best".

Don't see it if you don't want to be offended. Story is dated has not aged well.

Also I was curious to see an O'Neill "comedy" given his other works. Wow - ... Read more Read less

Dated, Slow

See it if You are interested in a period piece of middle class family life before world war 1 .

Don't see it if You want a fast moving absorbing plot.

Slow, Dated, Uneven acting, Unpolished, Disappointing

See it if you are O'Neill completist. More telling to see AW (even subpar prdn) than read it. Lead (Richard) is talented. More melodrama than comedy.

Don't see it if you want strong acting/staging. Many diff acting styles, mostly unsuccessful. Script may have merit, but imposs to tell here. Amateurish.

Mostly miscast, Dull, Dated, Slow, Disappointing

See it if you're an O'Neill completist and want to see a community theater production of his sole "comedy" about turn-of the-century coming-of-age.

Don't see it if you're seeking laughs from your comedy [There are scant few to be found here]; you seek a fast-paced, exciting theatre piece.

Also This might be a gem of a play, considering that it was written by one ... Read more Read less

Long night's journey into boredom

See it if Want to see O'Neill's only "comedy". This is a period piece written in '33 and set in 1908. It's slow, long, and doesn't hold up.

Don't see it if You want to laugh. This production drags from its first scene and I felt depressed when I left. Apparently not all O'Neill needs revisiting.

Cast & Creatives (20)