New York | 2h 15m | Already closed


From 10 critic and 64 member reviews
Members say: Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Great acting, Absorbing

About the show

The Barrow Group presents this timely new play with a cast of fifteen people from all walks of life engaging in intimate, life-changing conversations around the polarizing issues of the day.  More…

Exploring such issues as race relations, gun violence, police brutality, and immigration policy, "Awake" strives to puts its finger on the pulse of America’s division.

2h 15m | Already closed | TBG Mainstage Theatre (Midtown W)


"Manning's direction and script are both expertly crafted. The play's moral questions are cleverly woven into each of its fully-dimensional characters' words, and their tales are often presented without bias, leaving the audience to draw its own conclusions. The actors find their full potential in this play, each one as compelling as the next, filling their portrayals with humor, earnestness and passion; they listen to each other in every moment and are a joy to watch." Full Review

Berkshire Fine Arts

"A compelling and meaningful staging of 'Awake’. Manning has created a triumphant piece which shakes sensibilities, upturns stereotypes and makes us smile at the sheer conundrum of being human...An entertaining, truly natural, smoothly written and directed script. Nine skits with fifteen players are like leaves in the book of everyday America's s social and political issues as they inhabit our lives...Each piece, fully explored, leaves us with where do we go from here?” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Exceptionally well-acted, theatrically satisfying, and thematically pertinent…Most tend to be vignettes, highlighting a particular issue-racism, white privilege, and immigration...Young people engaged in naturalistic conversations that explore the fissions and contradictions roiling our social consciousness. None of the material is explosive but it's sufficiently thought-provoking, the dialogue sounds authentic, and a satirical undertone helps prompt more than a few laughs." Full Review

Front Row Center

“’Awake’ is a series of monologues and short scenes about the most relevant issues of our time...Manning is not giving any solutions he is just showcasing life and how these issues that otherwise seem like big words; impact our day to day lives...Each cast member brings nuances to their character that is pivotal in forwarding the story...’Awake’ does feel a bit long." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“A collection of nine one-act plays. It's a smorgasbord of cluelessness, insensitivity, casual racism, and outrage wielded like a club, and it's fresh enough to feel like it was written only a few hours ago. Some pieces rehearse familiar arguments...Other pieces have more original slants...Most of these situations could be further developed into longer plays, but, taken together, they offer a wide-angle view of life in these disunited states...Excellent work from the 15-strong company.” Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Touches on so many timely issues that it runs the risk of feeling like a checklist of topics...So it's impressive that for the most part, Manning avoids the trap of writing a show that feels like an endless stream of 'important' issues...Though the pieces vary greatly in terms of plot, they feel of a whole, and the last scenes in each act parallel each other well...This is also the rare play that, while it feels written in response to Trump's America, doesn't hit you over the head with it." Full Review

The Theatre Times

“There is nothing soft about the effects of this play. Its investigation into racial identity, gun violence, political ambition, and xenophobia is as sharp as a diamond...While the scenes don’t interweave, the themes certainly do...What the play breadth, it inevitably sacrifices in depth...Each of the dialogues come to feel like face-offs...Sometimes I yearned for more...But this is what you can do with small-form theater: tantalize, provoke, and move on to the next bit.” Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Nine short plays that are mostly effective — and often quite potent — in exposing current societal rifts....Some entries are stronger than others. The most successful are those that take aim at the controversial material through carefully delineated characters and surprising revelations...The less successful playlets are those that forefront the issues rather than introduce fully drawn and compelling characters...Manning and company have proffered a Living Newspaper for the 21st century.” Full Review

The New York Times

“Watching the show is like flipping through a catalog of America’s dysfunctions and societal problems...Manning take pains to show the many sides of an issue...but his efforts to be evenhanded can err on the side of safety and often sap the show’s energy...The show is essentially an earnest prompter for conversations or school discussions...What may linger most, however, is not a provocative idea (there are none) but some of the performances." Full Review

Fordham Observer

“Manning is an incredibly honest playwright, simple and to the point in the best of ways. His imagination in creating the vignettes that compose 'Awake,' in exploring colossal issues of social deserving of praise...If each vignette is meant to tackle some monumental piece of American sin in 10 to 15 minutes what thread might tie the play together?...What results is a social justice potluck where neither dish, its place at the table justified, is served particularly well." Full Review

Resonant, Relevant, Refreshing, Profound, Great acting

See it if You care about race issues and other Human Beings

Don't see it if You like fluff and easy going material

Absorbing, Great writing, Great staging, Relevant, Great acting

See it if you want a fresh look at 9 masterful 10min plays about current issues. Mostly not black&white but exploring the gray zone, making you think.

Don't see it if you are not interested in current issues our country deals with these days or if you only like 1 long play per night, not 9 short ones.

Also We were absorbed by Awake from start to finish and were sad when it en... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if you like short pieces that pack a punch.They teach a lesson without being pedantic.Each one is a gem.I LOVE Barrow Group, never disappoints

Don't see it if you are a racist fool--actually I sat behind such a couple, and the left at intermission.They are really the ones who need to see this most.

Absorbing, Cliched, Great acting, Must see, Relevant

See it if You like vignettes on timely and "PC" issues. A large and talented ensemble. Seeing the director/ playwright in one of the pieces. Stand-

Don't see it if Alone pieces, which are part of a larger theme. This was reminiscent of George C. wolfe's "The Colored Museum". There was slight use of the

Also "N" word, some cussing, race and gender talk, and a beautiful male tor... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Profound, Intelligent, Absorbing, Entertaining

See it if you want to see controversial issues explored fairly, not giving one-sided opinions

Don't see it if you don't like a series of short plays, preferring a continuous plot line. You don't like shows about controversial topics (they cover alot)

Also The acting is generally very good but a little uneven in spots

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intelligent, Absorbing, Intense

See it if You want a somewhat intense show that makes you think about current political and social issues from a number of perspectives.

Don't see it if You want a musical, something light & fluffy, something to escape the current political & social issues, or want a straight play.

Also I enjoyed this show, but it's not a straight play, but a series of vig... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Inspiring

See it if a compilation of (9) vignettes adeptly illustrating a host of societal woes, paradoxes & hypocrisies appeals; are ready & willing to reflect

Don't see it if you seek a full-length play, comedy, single cast, or elaborate set design; averse to intimate staging, complex issues laid bare & unresolved

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Entertaining, Ambitious

See it if you want to see some very strong vignettes. Even though these centered on societal themes, they were still very character-driven.

Don't see it if you don't like vignettes.

Ambitious, Intelligent, Profound, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if The vignettes are a great way to start some important conversations about topics affecting our lives. See it with a friend and get a drink!

Don't see it if If you are looking for one, coherent narrative that presents a set of answers to these social issues then this isn't the play for you.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great writing, Resonant

See it if you're into challenging vignettes dealing with race, gender, terrorism, & many other current social issues. Very entertaining, if unfocused

Don't see it if you just want a light entertainment or if you prefer a full-fledged narrative to unrelated vignettes. Some resonated more than others.

Great acting, Relevant, Funny

See it if Great performances by a group of very talented young actors. Out of 9 storylines, there were relevant social issues explored thoughtfully

Don't see it if The resolution and handling of some stories/issues may not be subtle or nuanced enough

Ambitious, Great staging, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you are interested in seeing a series of short scenes about current events that sometimes brings new information to the topics

Don't see it if you don't want to think or be challenged

Great acting, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Relevant

See it if short pieces emphasizing prejudice interest you. Very well produced and staged.

Don't see it if you expect original concepts. Many of the pieces are predictable with stereotyped characters or situations.

Intense, Relevant

See it if Socio-political drama porn. Dramatically drawing out shades of gray on like 20 current polarizing issues to "woke" you.

Don't see it if Current politics are triggering / annoy you. If you’re staying "woke" on these issues, it's frustrating because it offers no solutions.

Also Free ticket from Show Score.

Great acting, Relevant, Intelligent

See it if The performances are good, the acting solid, if you want to see a good cross-section of current social issues performed on stage

Don't see it if The ideas are solid and relevant, but there's no new point of view presented that we haven't been presented with before in other forms

Well acted, topical, timely

See it if . . . you enjoy well acted and directed short plays by an American playwright.

Don't see it if . . . you’d rather not see short plays about contemporary issues.

Great acting, Intelligent, Must see, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if If you want to spend an evening contemplating current issues

Don't see it if If you want the show to tell you what to make of these current issues. It doesn't offer answers, it asks instead for you to think on them.

Great acting, Intense, Relevant, Refreshing

See it if You like “short storie” with a potential twist. Modern theatre. Good acting. Want inspiration to reflect.

Don't see it if You don’t like short stories that make you think.

Intense, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Must see, Hilarious

See it if I loved this show - Such a talented ensemble- really thought provoking and inspired great conversation over drinks afterwards!

Don't see it if You are close minded and rigid in your ideology. Or maybe that is why you should see it!

Also A beautiful portrait of America’s diversity and the challenges that we... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Entertaining, Exquisite, Great staging, Great writing

See it if A powerful play with current life struggles.

Don't see it if If you don’t want to think.

Also For many years, I have seen some of my favorite plays & musicals Off B... Read more Read less

During previews
Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Resonant, Must see

See it if you want to challenge yourself confronting different prospectives of our identity-group separated world and our failure to “get” the “other.

Don't see it if you prefer comedy, single linear plot to many 10 min. one-act plays and solliloqueys, or musical, avoid race/immigration themed/conflict.

During previews
Ambitious, Profound, Great writing, Must see

See it if Excellent conversation-starter whilst being thoroughly mesmerizing. My brain is totally stimulated and all wired-up now!

Don't see it if You may be inclined to feel guilty and exposed by some twists but that just says about who you are as a person, right?

Also Friend and I have immensely enjoyed this play, definitely one of my fa... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Must see, Riveting

See it if An important play told in a “you are immediately hooked and can’t look away” manner ! You want a fresh take on contemporary societal issues.

Don't see it if You are looking for a feel good, laugh a minute style show. Don’t see it if you can’t face the very troubling serious issues in our nation !

Also I was unprepared for the stunning brilliance of both the succinct writ... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Must see

See it if You want to see 9 excellent thought provoking short plays with good actors talking about relevant things.

Don't see it if You like musicals or very light plays.

During previews
Absorbing, Resonant, Relevant, Must see

See it if You are a caring sensitive person, even if you’re not it may help you and the way you petceive the world we live in.

Don't see it if If you subscribe with hate and racism.

Cast & Creatives (20)