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All the Ways to Say I Love You

From 36 critic and 132 member reviews
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. More…

Mrs. Johnson is a high-school English teacher and guidance counselor in a loving marriage. As she recounts her experiences with a favored student from her past, Mrs. Johnson slowly reveals the truth that is hidden just beneath the surface details of her life. Directed by Tony nominee Leigh Silverman.

Theatre Reviews Limited

"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." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"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." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"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." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"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." Full Review

The Associated Press

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Cervelli On Stage

"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." Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

"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." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"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." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"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." Full Review

Broadway & Me

"'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." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"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." Full Review

Epoch Times

"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." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"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." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“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.” Full Review

The New York Times

"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." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"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." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"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." Full Review

Time Out New York

"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." Full Review

Absorbing, Masterful, Great acting, Resonant

See it if You love Judith Light, who gives a powerhouse performance as a conflicted teacher. Beautiful set design set in a school room.

Don't see it if You are offended by the talk of adultery.

Absorbing, Great acting, Edgy, Intelligent, Must see

See it if you love Judith Light and complex, antiheroines.

Don't see it if you don't mind missing out on the best that NY has to offer. Don't miss this show.

Absorbing, Intense, Great acting, Powerful, Emotional

See it if you want to see a magnificent performance by Judith Light. Whatever weaknesses in the script, Ms. Light holds court and never lets up

Don't see it if one person plays are not your thing. A very emotional monologue, one can wonder: Who is she talking to?

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Great writing, Intense

See it if You like Judith Light. You enjoy Excellent acting! If a script is well written.

Don't see it if You don't like an hour of a one woman show. You don't enjoy a small venue.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Masterful, Must see

See it if you like intense, thrilling plays, Judith Light, or Neil LaBute.

Don't see it if you don't like one woman shows, otherwise go!

Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Masterful, Riveting

See it if You like great acting, like a story that pulls you in and gives you surprises...

Don't see it if You don't like one person shows, if you are queasy about sex.

Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Profound, Raunchy

See it if you like the kind of thought-provoking, adult-themed, sometimes raunchy plays Neil LaBute writes & are in the mood for an intimate solo show

Don't see it if you prefer to be dazzled by more light-hearted productions that feature a large cast, colorful costumes, intricate sets and lots of action

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Dizzying, Ambitious

See it if you enjoy Judith Light. you enjoy Neil Labute.

Don't see it if you don't like stories that are ambiguous, or that don't necessarily have a happy ending...

Epic, Hilarious, Intelligent, Must see, Masterful

See it if you wanna see a masterful Judith Light in a powerful role.

Don't see it if you are a conservative person from Billings Montana.

Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intense, Must see

See it if you love amazing acting, Judith Light, an intense story, and characters who are not perfect but honest.

Don't see it if you like action, more than one character, and stories that have a clear resolution.

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

See it if You want to see a master class on acting by one of the greats, you love one person plays, or short and intense theatrical experiences.

Don't see it if You hate Judith Light, one person plays, or are turned off by the plot of a middle aged teacher having an affair with a student.

Absorbing, Funny, Intense, Profound, Thought-provoking

See it if You love Judith Light and a well told story.

Don't see it if Don't like monologues.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You want to see amazing acting by Judith Light. Story line is pure Neil LaBute (always a twist) so if you love his shows, definitely go see.

Don't see it if You do not like one person shows about complex, real life situations

Absorbing, Enchanting, Clever

See it if You enjoy seeing Judith Light in probably the best role of her career. An emotionally charged solo performance.

Don't see it if Do you not see this if you are sensitive concerning sexual issues. Do you not see this if you are ultra conservative .

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting

See it if You enjoy one-woman shows that address the fourth wall.

Don't see it if You dislike small stages.

Absorbing, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if outstanding performance by Judith Light in an interesting monologue would thrill you

Don't see it if a short one person play about a teacher who errs in her behavior would bore you

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

See it if you want to see Judith Light deliver another masterful, memorable performance of an interesting tale.

Don't see it if you want a light, breezy comedy or are expecting Labute's depictions of the darkest side of human nature.

Edgy, Great acting, Masterful, Thought-provoking

See it if You love Judith Light! She's mesmerizing!

Don't see it if You get bored easily or you have a problem with difficult topics

Entertaining, Great acting, Quirky

See it if You like Judith Light (which I do), Neil LaBute (which I sometimes do), or one-person plays (which I generally do).

Don't see it if You're expecting a dramatic story. It's a quiet story told in a very charming way by a great actress.

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Profound, Must see, Intense

See it if You enjoy shows

Don't see it if You hate good acting

Clever, Great acting, Disappointing, Overrated, Thought-provoking

See it if You like to see a great actress. The play itself is slight. It was so hyped. Go if you like acting over writing.

Don't see it if You don't like a lot of sexual innuendoes.

Great acting, Absorbing, Relevant, Resonant, Powerful

See it if powerful performance that goes completely in character,

Don't see it if uncomfortable with adult situations

Great acting, Ambitious, Masterful, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy witnessing an actor create magic. This all about the acting not the play.

Don't see it if your looking for the next great drama.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful, Raunchy

See it if And evening of superb acting and writing. A heartfelt performance with a believable story arc. Made better by the small venue.

Don't see it if Don't see it if you're not in the mood for heavy drama. There are moments of deep sadness and remorse.

Absorbing, Great acting, Epic, Intense, Intelligent

See it if You are a fan of Judith's and into an interesting story.

Don't see it if You don't want to see great acting.

Cast & Creatives (8)