Closed 1h 45m
Antlia Pneumatica
Midtown W
65

Antlia Pneumatica NYC Reviews and Tickets

65%
(79 Reviews)
Positive
47%
Mixed
37%
Negative
16%
Members say
Slow, Confusing, Disappointing, Great acting, Absorbing

About the Show

Playwrights Horizons presents the world premiere of Anne Washburn's new play about a group of old friends who reckon with their pasts as they bury a loved one.

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Member Reviews (79)

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81
Thought-provoking, Resonant, Funny, Enchanting, Absorbing

See it if You're a fan of The Big Chill or are from The Hill Country of Texas or have a dear friend who has recently died or all three like me.

Don't see it if You're looking for a fast paced story that spoon feeds you all the answers. This one is going to make you think.

71
Disappointing, Banal, Confusing, Great acting, Excruciating

See it if you're an Anne Washburn fan, like "Big Chill" style reunions, fans of Annie Parrisse and Rob Campbell who deliver, like out-there themes

Don't see it if you lack the patience to figure out how all are related and wait for key information, eerie mysteries and drawn out stories tax you

Critic Reviews (32)

April 4th, 2016

"'Antlia' has been directed with a mix of bright whimsy and dark portentousness by Ken Rus Schmoll and features a likable cast. It is definitely a downer to report that the play’s ghost story feels as leaden and unsurprising as its collective portrait of midlife doubts in the face of mortality...Washburn seems to have gotten lost between the traditional and experimental sides of her craft, never finding a comfortable voice that accommodates both."
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April 4th, 2016

"Washburn is not your ordinary playwright. The pleasures of her work are fugitive, sidelong and slippery...The dialogue is often glib, funny and heartfelt, making 'Antlia' a sheer joy as a listening device...Washburn’s witty, surprising language makes you laugh in self-recognition...I think everyone should see Anne Washburn’s plays, but those who demand familiar forms and takeaway messages be warned: all that’s needed here are your ears."
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April 4th, 2016

"A supernatural twist is introduced that upends our perceptions of everything that's come before. The revelation is jarring, not so much for its spookiness but rather for the perfunctory manner of the storytelling. The proceedings are tonally inconsistent and the plotting full of holes only adds to the overall frustration. That's a shame, because the play is enjoyable for long stretches, thanks to its witty dialogue and well-drawn characterizations. The actors deliver fine performances."
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April 4th, 2016

"Anne Washburn writes weird plays, and 'Antlia Pneumatica' is no exception...Childhood friends who meet over a funeral feast waste considerable stage time catching up on other old friends we never meet...It sounds like an audience challenge, trying to identify the ghosts among the dreamers. But with the exception of Nina, the characters are so superficially drawn, there’s not enough substance to them to distinguish the living from the dead."
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April 16th, 2016

"The title alone should warn you of the dreck that awaits you...Drags on for an hour and 45 minutes without intermission, interspersed with much cooking, many reminiscences about stars and constellations, and some boring songs that could drive you to drink...Relationships between the characters are so thinly outlined that you end up knowing nothing about any of them...The author displays no knowledge of the pace of change most people learn in a first-semester playwriting seminar."
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April 4th, 2016

"A work about friendship and the impersistence of memory that starts out plump with promise but steadily deflates...Washburn has perfect pitch here when it comes to dialogue...Under Ken Rus Schmoll’s direction, the cast clicks. But for all of the convincing conversation, plus impromptu singing, these characters have as much shape and interest as empty balloons. The dramatic enterprise falls flat."
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April 4th, 2016

"Washburn does a fine job posing intriguing questions about the nature of relationships. But the play feels more like a series of intellectual musings than a fully immersive world...We need more than just an eloquent metaphor to keep us attached to this story. We never learn much about any of these people — who they are now or who they used to be. And the more they seem to disconnect from one another, the more we disconnect from them."
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April 6th, 2016

"In its sly, sideways manner, it has something - a haunting sense of the passage of time, a feeling of wonderment at the mysteries of the universe…Nothing really happens and yet, as a meditation on middle age, mortality, the passing and rekindling of desire, and the sheer mystery of existence, 'Antlia Pneumatica' casts a certain spell that I found beguiling. It helps that Schmoll has assembled a company notably skilled at expressing the unsaid. Annie Parisse is first-rate as Nina."
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April 4th, 2016

"Washburn crafts an evening that's at once quiet and disquieting, as beautiful for what it contains as unsettling for what it doesn't. But Washburn has trouble gauging when she goes too far. Eventually she hints at supernatural forces driving the action in ways that defuse the sparks she ignites earlier on...The pacing is Ice Age glacial...The actors, they're all decent, if overblown in one way or another...Memorable though this play may be, it has too much to hang on to."
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April 7th, 2016

"Rachel Hauck’s scenic design is the most outstanding feature of the interminable 'Antlia Pneumatica'...This play’s author Anne Washburn takes a proven dramatically fertile situation and renders it with pretentiousness and vagueness...Creating a work of basic resonance appears to be an anathema to her. The cast are all capable actors. However, with this material their performances uniformly consist of irritating tics and mannerisms."
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April 8th, 2016

"The performances were good but not exceptional...Washburn’s naturalistic dialog with overly long, sometimes uncomfortable pauses, made for moments when we no longer cared what a character would say, just so long as they’d get it over with...It’s too full of hot air that fills the space of something we not only can’t see, but also don’t care about."
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April 4th, 2016

"What we learn about the characters is too fragmentary to make us really care...Except for these occasionally engaging conversations, most of the table talk meanders along and leaves us wishing director Ken Rus Schmoll had trimmed it along with that interesting but overlong star-gazing scene in the dark. The actors' performances overall are fine. Too bad they're playing six characters in search of a play by Anne Washburn at her best."
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April 5th, 2016

"Director Ken Rus Schmoll’s staging is as static as it is pretentious…Ms. Washburn has taken a perfectly good idea for a play and loaded on so much artifice that it collapses under its own weight…The performances offer a glimmer of hope, but there will be no happy ending, just one final return of the poetry zombies, singing a dirge, turning at odd angles from each other for no apparent reason."
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April 4th, 2016

"At its most compelling, 'Antlia's' concern is with mortality and what happens, at a certain age, when death becomes a normal part of life...When the themes turn cosmic, though, 'Antlia' loses its way a bit...Under the crisp direction of Ken Russ Schmoll, the play has the usual lived-in dialogue and lyrical tangents that color most of Washburn's work...There's so much good here, but maybe too much. By wrap it seems like it could have gone with one less metaphor or one less body."
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April 8th, 2016

"The play is a slippery thing happening in three different registers. Much of it is perfectly ordinary. But then it slips a gear, and turns into something darker, richer, and stranger: an invocation, an act of not-so-innocent eavesdropping, a ghost story about one’s own youth...It’s genuinely eerie and unexpectedly moving when the pieces snap together. The dogged literalness of the realist surface play is just a thin skin...the shape beneath is unsettling and magically strange."
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April 4th, 2016

"Characters recall events that they then dismiss as dreams. But the disorientation is not limited to the characters. Most scenes in the play occur on a stage that is lit too darkly to see clearly. In theory, this double disorientation of both characters and audience should be thought-provoking, the atmosphere intriguing. In practice, it comes off as vague...Washburn’s wit and ear for dialogue make attendance worthwhile even when she’s leaving you in the dark."
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April 4th, 2016

"Washburn plays with our perceptions of reality as her script slowly ambles, or, I should say, rambles, along, offering behavior that's sometimes conventionally realistic...and sometimes magically realistic. This being a play in which things are not always what they seem to be, the situation, for all its seeming ordinariness, makes it hard to become fully engaged with these shadowy characters...‘Antlia Pneumatica’ could stand to have some dramatic air pumped into it."
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April 4th, 2016

"The plot you figure out almost instantaneously. The problem here is once you do, you don’t care...We get banal talk about the stars and our existence...Director Ken Rus Schmoll does not help make this piece any more palatable. The good news here is the actors all radiate warmth and a realness that makes this seem less like acting and more like peering through a slice of time."
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April 4th, 2016

"While 'Antlia' works well as a low-key naturalistic play and fairly successfully as a more stylized one, the production doesn’t yet unite the two modes in ways that seem purposeful. Some of the disappointment is in the finish, where Washburn sets up a terrific conflict where diverging realities suddenly collide. But just when the nightscape threatens to become wonderfully mystifying, the play ends."
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B
April 4th, 2016

"I did not have high hopes for Anne Washburn’s new play now at Playwrights Horizons. Alas, my low expectations were met...It has a major gimmick and a few minor ones, none of which worked for me...All this might have involved me more if the characters had been more interesting...Ken Rus Schmoll directs with a sure hand. Washburn is greatly admired by many in the theatrical community. I wish I could see what they see."
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April 4th, 2016

"Beware of plays with coy, obscure titles that are clumsily explained shortly before the final curtain...Washburn captures the awkward humor of people trying to play catch up with their collective past. She and her director, Ken Rus Schmoll, are effective when scenes feature the witty banter between Nina and the other female characters...A not insubstantial amount of 'Artlia' unfolds like a radio play with voices amplified and/or taped as the audience sits looking at a bare stage."
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April 9th, 2016

"Perhaps because I've been wrestling with some of the issues that Washburn is trying to work out, I was willing to forgive the play's considerable shortcomings...The acting is uneven...Parisse anchors this production with a smart yet heartfelt performance...But the real problem is that the play's aims are murky…In some ways, 'Antlia Pneumatica' seems like a draft instead of a finished play. As the characters nattered on about one thing after another, the audience got more and more restless."
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April 6th, 2016

"Without basic narrative grist, the dramatic machinery risks grinding to a halt. There lies the problem with Anne Washburn’s new play 'Antlia Pneumatica'...The six characters just don’t have much to say to each other. And what they do say sounds scripted...'Antlia' evolves into a kind of ghost story — albeit one that never surprises us. Under Ken Rus Schmoll’s direction, the pacing remains glacial throughout."
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April 6th, 2016

"A meandering play...The scenes come off as a torturous radio show and may spur you to cancel your subscription to NPR...The conversations seem deliberately mundane and opaque, and although director Ken Rus Schmoll imparts a certain sporadic charge to them, the effect is frequently to leave the listener at a loss...Washburn has a following and her work is produced regularly, but she also has skeptics. Obscure and unsatisfying, 'Antlia Pneumatica' will give the latter plenty of reason to carp."
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April 7th, 2016

"It’s rather frustrating to know Washburn could meet the demands of a more traditional play but wouldn’t commit. 'Antlia Pneumatica' is certainly well acted, well directed and given a handsome production. For a seemingly conventional play, it’s also rather bold and interesting in its sound design...Yet even here 'Antlia Pneumatica' falls a little short...ultimately not adding up to much. Just like, I fear, the show itself."
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April 8th, 2016

"Not a great deal happens as folks stand around chatting for an hour and 45 minutes...Director Ken Rus Schmoll manages to create an uncertain atmosphere that matches the questions we have about these folks...Not enough invested in the characters. It takes us a while to figure out who they are and what their relationships to each other are...'Antlia Pneumatica' makes us feel more like we showed up at the wrong house by mistake."
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April 4th, 2016

"Washburn plays with time and memory so that even while we're watching 'Antlia Pneumatica', we are questioning what's real. As a theatrical experience, that's interesting...'Antlia Pneumatica' is a somewhat challenging play. As I was watching it, I didn't feel fully engrossed, but the more I think about it, the more I appreciate the experience..It's almost like you have to let this feast for your senses happen to you, and then let your memory take over."
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April 4th, 2016

"Anne Washburn provides a realistic, disarming ghost tale, invigorated with ruminations about time and space, in her new play. A quietly unsettling production directed by Ken Rus Schmoll...'Antlia Pneumatica' is a tender examination of everyday concerns...Scenes of shared memories between the friends are effectively given ritualistic, elegiac treatments...Schmoll has satisfactorily overlaid the realism and ordinariness with an atmosphere of mystery."
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April 6th, 2016

"A typically elegant production by Ken Rus Schmoll…At first, Washburn seems to set the stage for wistful autumnal reminiscence, but she soon lights out for richer and stranger terrain…Amid such looming questions, Schmoll's production finds grace in the details…We're left retroactively wondering what was real and what was reverie, as that most basic of natural laws — the hard division between life and death — appears to dissolve."
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April 4th, 2016

"In 'Antlia Pneumatica', language prevails– there are segments of it when the stage is dark and the characters barely visible...Watching the fourth wall crumble as characters challenge the audience directly is exciting. Is the oft glacial pacing necessary to make us listen more intently? There is wit and on occassional depth, even philosophy in what seems like a communal mid-life crisis...Ken Rus Schmoll directs the cast whose dry delivery is often very funny."
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B
April 6th, 2016

"'Antlia Pneumatica' is eccentric and difficult but rewarding, filled with tangents and blocks of unsteady information...This play is like an explosion of matter that cannot be put back into any proper order, and Washburn sees a freedom in that. She likes to have her characters speak of small things and large things but skips the middle ground that most plays reside in. This might be irritating to some, but to others it will be liberating: post-play, post-apocalyptic, lost in space."
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April 5th, 2016

"The characters in Washburn's play are merely cardboard cutouts with a few proficiencies superimposed to create a far-reaching, higgledy-piggledy narrative reduced to senseless minutiae. The result is a blasé high art affair spiked with idiosyncratic poetry and a narrative that baffles and exasperates, mostly because most of the more interesting components take place offstage and are narrated via pre-recorded tape."
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