All the Ways to Say I Love You
Closed 1h 0m
All the Ways to Say I Love You
78

All the Ways to Say I Love You NYC Reviews and Tickets

78%
(132 Reviews)
Positive
84%
Mixed
14%
Negative
2%
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

About the Show

MCC Theater presents Neil LaBute's new drama, a solo play about love, hard choices, and the cost of fulfilling an all-consuming desire. Starring two-time Tony winner Judith Light.

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Member Reviews (132)

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60
Well acted, Absorbing, Banal, Unambitious, Short

See it if you like Light or LaBute. You get plenty of both here. The play is unambitious. As a character study (with a punchline ending) it succeeds.

Don't see it if Not much insight, just a strong performance. Why is Light sharing her story?Not sure what the moral is. Very short for ticket price!

76
Great writing, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if Amazing performance. Simple staging, great lighting. Great writing and clever storytelling.

Don't see it if Themes of child abuse/statutory rape bother you. In a 55 min play, there was plenty of room to develop a few of the threads a bit more.

Critic Reviews (36)

The New York Times
September 28th, 2016

"Light's performance, under the assured direction of Leigh Silverman, is a model of modulated transparency. It’s an artful 'now you see her, now you don’t' presentation of character that almost makes you believe that the story being told on stage may wind up surprising you after all. It doesn’t...Ms. Light brings a vibrant, thirsty eroticism to the part...'All the Ways' feels less like classical tragedy than vintage soap opera."
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Time Out New York
September 28th, 2016

"It could accurately be described as lightweight—or, better, Light-weight: Its impact comes largely from Judith Light’s full-throttle performance...Light moves in and out of emotional intensity, building up pressure and then pulling back. It’s foreplay of a kind, but it builds to an odd anticlimax. LaBute has written very good short plays spun out of single ideas. This hour-long work seems like an attenuated version of one of those: a 20-minute play with stretch marks."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
September 28th, 2016

"The gap between content and tone is so extreme that the play would get dangerously close to giggle-worthy were it not for Light’s commitment to it...She is a marvel of heightened naturalism, all her abilities in top form and wielded together toward the same ends...That said, it’s clear that Light is working too hard to make up for what’s missing in the script...I’m not sure what else the director and actress could have done...It’s admirable how much they succeed."
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The Hollywood Reporter
September 28th, 2016

"Lasting less than an hour, the monologue barely justifies its existence beyond serving as a strong acting vehicle...Unobtrusively directed by Silverman, the piece feels overextended despite its brevity; the provocative premise is never fleshed out in sufficiently intriguing fashion. Its thinness is somewhat redeemed by Light's impressively intense performance...The playwright has put us in similarly uncomfortable moral positions many times before, but usually in far more interesting fashion."
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Variety
September 28th, 2016

"An embarrassingly clumsy one-act...LaBute always did have a way with words. But while the language of the play makes for easy listening, not so the thinking behind it...Light is one of our most reliable stage actors...But she appears to be experiencing real discomfort getting through Mrs. Johnson’s humiliating confession, discomfort beyond the character’s own distress about the lies she’s told...There’s no context for Mrs. Johnson’s exposure of her deepest, most painful secrets."
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Deadline
October 7th, 2016

"This Neil LaBute monologue dresses up the sordid tale of a horny married teacher and her affair with a very young African-American student in a lame approximation of Greek tragedy that reaches way beyond its soap-opera grasp...Mrs. Johnson is a wallowing, self-regarding narcissist...The show is effectively staged by Leigh Silverman for the adventurous MCC Theatre, and I believe we’re supposed to admire her for her 'honesty,' but I wasn’t buying any of it for a second."
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AM New York
September 28th, 2016

"A relatively sympathetic character portrait, in which Mrs. Johnson opens up about the weight of her anguish and regret. It’s as if LaBute is trying to confront the general perception that his writing is misogynistic in tone. Light gives a shaded and dramatically effective performance under the direction of Leigh Silverman that keeps you drawn in. That said, 'All the Ways to Say I Love You' is a pretty slight offering, running just an hour and with a single performer on a tiny set."
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Theatermania
September 28th, 2016

"It is a disappointing misfire from an otherwise dynamite team...LaBute continues his penchant for the unexpected by eschewing all that makes him a thrilling writer, penning a play that is limp in both story and language...The story lethargically meanders as LaBute drops little breadcrumbs that encourage us to hold out hope for an exciting twist that never really comes...Director Silverman does little to solve the disconnect between text and performer."
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BroadwayWorld
October 4th, 2016

"Under the direction of Leigh Silverman, Judith Light, one of the strongest and most interesting actors currently gracing New York stages, is thoroughly convincing as Mrs. Johnson...The choice to set the play set within the safety of Johnson's classroom ultimately saps the piece of potential tension, as there is no indication of a particular person she's speaking to...Thus 'All The Ways' doesn't quite deliver the emotional impact its scenario is capable of producing."
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Lighting & Sound America
October 3rd, 2016

"Aided by the direction of Leigh Silverman, Light delivers a performance that, against the odds, just about transcends the script's overreliance on too-easy plot reversals and heavy-handed moralizing. Still, even she can't stop us from noticing that neither Tommy nor Eric, Mrs. Johnson's husband, is drawn in any depth...and that her final punishment involves her nagging fear of the kind of event that usually happens only on the soaps—and in the plays of Neil LaBute."
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Talkin' Broadway
September 28th, 2016

"LaBute constantly weaves new surprises and complexities into the mix as he tantalizes you...Intriguing though the play might be in the melodies and harmonies it presents, its tone is undeniably more muted. And it's not helped in this regard by a general lack of action...'All the Ways to Say I Love You' may not be a great play, and this mounting of it—Light notwithstanding—may not inspire reverent chatter a decade from now. But it offers plenty to think about and talk about today."
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TheaterScene.net
September 30th, 2016

"Despite intriguing elements, the play narratively peaks halfway through and then grinds on...Ms. Silverman has paced the production briskly and fully realized its theatrical potential...Theatergoers expecting another of Light’s tour-de-force performances will not be disappointed. She elevates 'All the Ways to Say I Love You' as much as possible but it is ultimately a somewhat interesting dramatized anecdote rather than an engrossing work of theater."
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Theater Pizzazz
September 28th, 2016

"All you really need to know is that Mrs. Johnson is being portrayed by Judith Light, which is basically as good as it gets...What we are watching is an ultimate act of commitment by a performer, one that should hopefully be remembered many months from now when awards season is in full swing. Kudos certainly go to the director, Leigh Silverman, for her seemingly hidden but obviously vital role in these proceedings."
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CurtainUp
September 28th, 2016

"Despite the darkness of LaBute's meditations on love, they tend to also have funny moments. Indeed, 'All the Ways to Say I Love You' again delivers funny as well as teary moments...Its twist on top of twist ending can be more readily predicted. Though the prose is still sharp, the big trick here is Light's performance: Watching her shift moods...appearing open and ordinary yet clearly complex enough to mix personal neediness with crafty manipulation."
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Stage Buddy
October 13th, 2016

"Not an especially good play...Its central 'issue' is so dated, that one wonders if having it be an issue at all is part of one of the playwright’s perverse jokes...If the actress playing Mrs. Johnson was anyone other than Judith Light, then the show would be insufferable and interminable, a misogynistic soap opera...But because it’s Light, the play feels almost majestic, a torrent of emotion washing all over the audience like waves coming from the depths of Light’s ocean."
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Front Mezz Junkies
October 14th, 2016

"The imagination of Neil LaBute is here in full effect in Light’s powerful and desperate portrayal. It is ferocious and driven in biblical proportions...But the hour as a whole seems a bit slim as a full meal...As it stands, it’s a powerful hour, an appetizer of complicated self-flagellation coated with denial. Spiraling admissions of pain and loneliness and burden. And we can only applaud Light’s rawness and bravery. And hope for LaBute’s further development of this story."
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Exeunt Magazine
October 11th, 2016

"Though the play lacks one of LaBute’s signature shocker twists, it still has a few smooth curves and pivots in its plot...The biggest unanswered question hovering above 'All the Ways,' though, is 'Why?' Why has LaBute chosen to write this play now?...Why is this character speaking now, and to whom?...Judith Light and Leigh Silverman’s sensitively directed production provide compelling reasons to listen, but the story being delivered doesn’t convince quite so strongly."
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T
October 16th, 2016

"LaBute’s play begs for a striking performance and it receives one in the brilliant and emotionally exhausting performance of Judith Light...Under Leigh Silverman’s astute direction, Ms. Light gives her character’s infatuation with Tommy a remarkable level of authenticity and honesty...There is not a wasted movement in Judith Light’s action nor an unnecessary amplified outburst in the thunderous claps of grief and sadness that erupt from this actor’s soulful bravura performance."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
October 14th, 2016

“The takeaway is not the play but Light’s bravura performance, which exposes feelings of love, lust, anxiety, and guilt. Under Leigh Silverman’s precise direction, Light’s constantly shifting emotional trajectory keeps you glued to every word...At times, Light’s passionate expressiveness makes her seem more a victim in a classic tragedy than the character she’s playing; on the other hand, without her mesmeric acting there’d be little reason to visit the Lortel.”
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DC Theatre Scene
September 28th, 2016

"As expected, Light is the best thing about it. What’s less expected is how slight the play is...This is not one of LaBute’s most substantive or satisfying efforts. Still, the playwright is skilled in using language to reveal character, and Light makes the most of it...The attitudes towards Mrs. Johnson that LaBute’s play evokes in the audience are not as clear-cut nor as interesting, despite best efforts by director Leigh Silverman. But Judith Light is never less than watchable."
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Times Square Chronicles
October 8th, 2016

"Judith Light is the consummate actress who can make even a narcissistic, self-absorbed women seem civil...The content feels like purgatory and if not for Ms. Light’s commitment, I could have easily tuned out to this soulless human being...Leigh Silverman’s does the best she can with this script, which lacks any kind of remorse that is not self-afflicting. Funny, the one thing missing here is any kind of love."
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The Guardian (UK)
September 28th, 2016

"Light's elegant authority is used to fine and sly effect, elevating a mildly sensational monodrama into a reasonably compelling character study...Despite LaBute’s gifts for ordinary speech, the iterations and tangents and dead-ends, much of this would seem factitious or possibly even silly, were it not for Light’s finely calibrated performance and Leigh Silverman’s assured direction. Silverman charts emotional terrain like an expert geographer."
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The Huffington Post
October 4th, 2016

"While LaBute has written an unusual scary piece, he's also put together a powerful one-woman show that two-time Tony winner Light shapes as a tour de force. Under Leigh Silverman's seamless direction, Light meets the requirements of moving from Mrs. Johnson's assured teacher to a wife in love with her supportive husband to a woman recalling the thrill of physical passion to someone attempting to deal with guilt that won't be assuaged...We're lucky to have her back again."
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B
September 28th, 2016

"Neil LaBute’s new play is really just an hour-long monologue for an actress on the far side of 50. But when that actress is Tony winner Judith Light, who’s going to complain about it?...Those expecting the usual dose of bile and surprise from LaBute will be disappointed. Light is impressive but her performance is too often overheated with few quieter moments to relieve the intensity...I wish director Leigh Silverman had gone for a wider emotional palette."
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The Wrap
September 28th, 2016

"Since his promising early works, LaBute has gotten increasingly skimpy with his considerable talents...There used to be a time in the theater when short one acts were put on a double bill...Let’s just say that it is a LaBute play, meaning that someone is going to get spanked really hard for having some pretty terrific sex. As paddles go, LaBute’s is much bigger than even Arthur Miller’s. Light, wearing an exceedingly stiff wig, is appropriately overwrought under Leigh Silverman’s direction."
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W
October 11th, 2016

"A searing play...Judith Light’s performance is an extraordinary master class in exacting technique. The actress has given herself up to the role, allowing memory to violently course through her character. It’s as raw a monologue as you may ever have seen...What might’ve been a tirade emerges as a roller coaster of palpable reactions under the skilled direction of Silverman. Harrowing signs of losing grips never sacrifice intellect for feeling. The two ride wrenchingly effective tandem."
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Broadway & Me
October 12th, 2016

"'All The Ways to Say I Love You' hinges on the ability of the actor playing Mrs. Johnson to show her gradual descent from a needy woman who knew at the time that what she was doing was wrong to one who becomes hollowed out by the deed in its aftermath...And who better to do all of that than the always-remarkable Light?...Under Leigh Silverman's attentive direction, Light delicately peels back the layers until the emotional viscera of Mrs. Johnson is fully exposed."
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Newsday
September 28th, 2016

"Leave it to Neil LaBute to find a heretofore unknown way to express one’s love...As anyone who knows LaBute’s work can expect, a creeping primal darkness ensnares us in what appears to be an ordinary life...Light seems just a bit uneasy in Mrs. Johnson’s more revealing sexual exclamations...Under Leigh Silverman’s astute direction, she flips between girlish and matronly, giddy and unseemly in a character study that veers toward flippancy before digging in deep."
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Towleroad
September 29th, 2016

"If LaBute himself is trying to convince theatergoers that the play is any less half-baked than some of its many predecessors, it’s a hard sell — even with a luminary like Light commanding the stage by herself for 60 minutes...LaBute provides scant context for Light’s performance, powerful though it may be under Leigh Silverman’s direction. Without knowing to whom Faye is confessing, we have no idea what the stakes are."
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NorthJersey.com
September 29th, 2016

"Judith Light's eminently capable of holding a stage by herself, but LaBute doesn't make it easy for her...That technique of having Mrs. Johnson rapidly cast doubt on her assertions is something LaBute resorts to throughout the evening, giving an unfortunate predictability to the rhythm of her narrative...LaBute wants us to appreciate the burden of carrying around an enormous lie, but the character he uses to communicate that message doesn't ring true, which badly blunts his point."
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Financial Times (UK)
September 30th, 2016

"It’s hard to imagine Judith Light being locked up for anything except an unpaid parking ticket. But as Mrs. Johnson, a high-school English teacher, she offers a compelling portrayal of uncontrollable desire in a culture gripped by a set of intensifying taboos...This play does not have the visceral misanthropic power of the earlier work ['Bash'], but under Leigh Silverman’s restrained direction, Light’s Mrs. Johnson emerges as a more fully rounded female character than her precursors."
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WNBC
September 28th, 2016

"Light must track a range of emotions for an hour, with barely a break for a sip of water. She does so magnetically, animating LaBute’s material with her husky voice and wide, dark eyes...LaBute’s 10th piece is somewhat threadbare, but don't let that dissuade you from seeing it: he's reaching for exquisitely interesting material. Director Leigh Silverman teases out a layered performance from stage veteran Light."
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Epoch Times
October 9th, 2016

"Kudos to actress Light and director Silverman for making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear...This play itself is fascinating on the one hand and quite pedestrian on the other. It covers no new ground, but it works well because Light is able to make the character come completely alive...A more glaring problem with the script is that LaBute never makes clear just who Mrs. Johnson is telling this story to...Yet Light is an absolute joy to watch. Commanding the stage from start to finish."
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Reflections in the Light
October 11th, 2016

"Light, as always, is fascinating to watch at work. No one cries better on demand. The wide range of emotions she displays on this roller coaster of ecstasy and agony is staggering. The amount of energy to sustain the character in the hour-long monologue is astounding. The play itself, however, did not fulfill my desires. LaBute is a talented playwright, but the subject matter of this one is rather offensive and he fails to make us sympathize."
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The Associated Press
September 29th, 2016

"Leigh Silverman directs Light with careful attention to each trembling crack in her character’s initially confident facade. With disarming directness and simplicity, Light, who has won both Tony and Emmy awards, makes her anti-heroine Faye Johnson seem normal and likable — up to a point...Despite Faye’s unsettling revelations, Light skillfully keeps our sympathy to the haunting, heartrending end."
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Cervelli On Stage
October 1st, 2016

"The play is disturbing and can make you very uncomfortable, but you literally hang onto every word and inflection in Light’s incredibly stunning portrayal...The monologue might not have succeeded as well as it does in another less able actor’s hands other than Light’s and director Leigh Silverman’s almost psychological dissection of this woman. Her Mrs. Johnson will cause a whirlwind of emotions within you."
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