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All the Ways to Say I Love You

Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Intelligent
75
Critics
65
36 reviews
Members
78
131 reviews
 

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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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.

 

Cast & Creatives (8)


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Reviews (167)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
65
Avg Score

65
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

30
Theatermania

"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." Full Review

40
Variety

"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." Full Review

60
BroadwayWorld

"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

60
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

45
The Hollywood Reporter

"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." Full Review

70
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

60
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

75
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

60
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

65
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

60
AM New York

"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." Full Review

85
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

75
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

40
Times Square Chronicles

"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." Full Review

30
Deadline

"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." Full Review

80
CurtainUp

"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

75
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

90
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

67
TheaterScene.net

"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

70
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

45
The Wrap

"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." Full Review

80
Newsday

"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

85
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

85
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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
78
Avg Score

13
Banal, Confusing, Disappointing, Insipid, Fluffy

See it if you like Judith Light.

Don't see it if you like a good story.

80
Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Resonant, Powerful

See it if powerful performance that goes completely in character,

Don't see it if uncomfortable with adult situations

75
Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if you're a Neil LaBute or Judith Light fan

Don't see it if you don't like one-woman shows

78
Absorbing, Great acting, Scandalous

See it if you enjoy well acted one-woman plays about the flaws and life mistakes of her life.

Don't see it if you would be offended by deep deceit told from the perpetrator as victim or by innapropriate behavior, specially by a teacher.

71
Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you want to see Judith Light emotionally tear through the play.

Don't see it if you don't like single character, one-sided plays.

73
Great acting, Overrated, Frustrating

See it if you want to see Judith Light performing her craft.

Don't see it if you are not a fan of one person shows or feel playwright Neil LaBute trivializes women. Or dealing with a delicate sexual situation.

87
Absorbing, Clever, Enchanting

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 .

100
Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, 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.

65
Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Entertaining

See it if Enjoy great acting making the most out of a trivial script.

Don't see it if Wish to dialogue or anything theatrical - something that you couldn't just read on the page.

65
Great acting, Cliched, Slow, Intriguing, Star turn

See it if you are a fan of Judith Light and want to see everything she does

Don't see it if you aren't a fan of Neil LaBute's work, or if you want to see something that is more than an extended monologue

74
Edgy, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Uncomfortable

See it if you want to see the amazing Judith Light span her vast emotional range

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with sex spanning different generations within a relationship.

95
Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Great writing

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!

74
Not my favorite neil labute

See it if You want to see a varyingly absorbing one man show about living with a lie and its consequences. Simple set, interesting lighting.

Don't see it if You dont like monologues, you are disturbed by the subject matter of a teacher having an affair with a student.

Also There was a talkback and it would have greatly enhanced my enjoyment o... Read more Read less

70
Ambitious, Edgy, Intense, Thought-provoking, Misogynistic

See it if You like plays about difficult subjects, and can take the playwright's views about women with several grains of salt, & JUDITH f'ING LIGHT!

Don't see it if You are triggered by misogyny, sexual talk, anti-sex polemics, and "she had it coming" retributive karma.

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

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.

83
Great acting, Quirky, Entertaining

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.

90
Funny, Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Profound

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

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

75
Clever, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if you're okay with an uncomfortable subject of student-teacher affair and enjoy Judith Light's subtlety on stage

Don't see it if you're expecting a powerful plot and seamless problems addressing throughout the monologue

5
Disappointing, Overrated

See it if You want to fall asleep, but thank God its only a short nap as the play is under and hr. I loved everything Neil did until now, what a

Don't see it if disappointment. Everyone knows if Light wasn't it in no one would care. This is how the theater steals money from people.

77
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if You are a fan of Light or enjoy watching masterful performances. Light is excellent & has you hanging on to her every word.

Don't see it if Running at 55 mins, it's a little short. Felt there could have been more to the story and would have liked to have seen it play out.

67
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Overrated

See it if You like Judith Light. She is wonderful. One woman play and she is powerful.

Don't see it if If you want a new exciting story this is not it. Simple old story that is thin and kinda silly in the end. Very short. Not even one hour.

68
Ambitious, Great acting, Disappointing, Overrated, Slow

See it if you want to see Judith Light give a riveting performance; you are an extreme fan of solo shows

Don't see it if you need a story that goes somewhere or a character that is not written as a bit of a stereotype

71
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if you love a good one woman play performed with excellence by Judith Light

Don't see it if if you want a more full multi character play This play is more a character study

75
Absorbing, Intense, Disturbing, Masterclass in acting

See it if you're a J. Light fan - she's amazing & had the audience enthralled, which is quite a feat for such an unlikeable "heroine."

Don't see it if you're bothered by trivializing statutory rape. I left impressed with the performance but feeling like I needed a shower.

Also It disturbed me that the audience loved Light so much that they seemed... Read more Read less

53
Great acting, Disappointing

See it if You want to see. An excellent actress perform a dramatic reading.

Don't see it if You want something deep and wind up at a Neil Labute reading instead.