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Because I Could Not Stop: An Encounter with Emily Dickinson

From 11 critic and 25 member reviews
Members say: Disappointing, Ambitious, Slow, Indulgent, Intelligent

About the show

Through a pairing of her words with the music of renowned composer Amy Beach, Ensemble for the Romantic Century brings audiences on a journey into poet Emily Dickinson’s soul and inner world. More…

Emily Dickinson produced some of the most haunting and mysterious works of the 19th Century, but she was one of the most elusive artistic personalities. In Dickinson’s self-imposed solitude, she constructs a world of images, sensations, and emotions ruled by the breadth of her imagination. 

Talkin' Broadway

"Altogether lovely, thanks to Angelica Page's assured performance as Dickinson, soprano Kristina Bachrach's crystalline singing, and beautiful renditions by a five-piece chamber group...An enchantingly artistic endeavor, carefully constructed by writer James Melo, and beautifully performed under Donald T. Sanders' perceptive direction. If it does not offer a complete portrait of the cryptic poet, it certainly makes for a congenial visit to her most private world." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"It brilliantly explains how all of her poems were eventually published, many posthumously...Musical selections compliment the action that is both contemplative and reverent...Director Donald T. Sanders finds depth in the imagery, bringing even more dimension to the outstanding and memorable performance of Angelica Page." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"Tonight’s exceptional string comprised of four, young, nuanced musicians in such emotional sync that the raising of bows is balletic and they seem to breathe as one...Verse is seamlessly woven into monologue as if the poet made no distinction...I wonder at a surfeit of distractions that to me, seem like pandering...Angelica Page is marvelous...Like all efforts by Ensemble for the Romantic Century, this one, despite my caveats, is fascinating and unique." Full Review

New Yorker

"The Ensemble for the Romantic Century has made the inspired choice of pairing a staging of Dickinson’s poems and letters, read by Angelica Page, with a chamber-music performance...Directed by Donald T. Sanders, the production includes some unnecessary elements that often undermine the urgency of the music and the verse...But Page is a superb interpreter of Dickinson, lending a fresh depth and spirit to even the most familiar poems." Full Review

The New York Times

“Page’s Emily may be the most flamboyantly unhappy version to date...The context for this characterization is both copious and inadequate...Like most offerings from the Ensemble for the Romantic Century, this one is multidisciplinary, blending words with music and elaborate visuals...Here the various elements seldom reflect on one another in mutually illuminating ways...The haunting sense of mortality and eternity in Dickinson’s work often takes a back seat here." Full Review


“Essentially a solo show, with Page delivering Dickinson's words to us in the nonmusical portions. She does so in a manner that seemed excessively affected in the first half...Like she hadn't yet fully learned the part...One will still come away...feeling both awed by the musical and literary beauties on display but also a little hungry for a more substantial experience. There's not a whole lot here one couldn't learn by simply reading Dickinson's poetry and listening to Beach's music.” Full Review

New York Theater

"Self-consciously tasteful and inadvertently tacky...One is more likely to appreciate any production by ERC by expecting a chamber music concert, rather than a full-fledged work of theater...The problem is the projections during the music – anything, it seems, they can think of goes up there on the screen, as if the creative team was anxious that the audience would get bored just listening to the music." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"Unfortunately, the musical aspect of the program far outweighs the verbal part of the excursion into Dickinson’s life. As written by James Melo, the text is sketchy and not very dramatic or poignant. Perhaps it is what she has to work with, but Page’s portrayal comes across as rather vacuous and uninvolving..Fortunately, the music composed by Amy Beach as performed here is sublime and makes that part of the visit enjoyably satisfactory." Full Review

Theater Life

"Dully undramatic but musically interesting…'Because I Could Not Stop' is essentially a concert of Beach's art music interrupted by Dickinson both reciting selected poems and ruminating on her personal reminiscences…Page, who bears not the slightest resemblance to the poet, struggles to portray Dickinson as an ethereal creature, with now and then a twinkle of humor. However, burdened by a pseudo-British accent and the production's artsy ambitions, she rarely succeeds." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"Page, though a wonderful actress, is miscast in this role. She neither looks nor acts like one would expect Emily Dickinson. Page is poorly costumed by Vanessa James and not well directed. She poses and acts too arrogant to be the voice of these lyrical poems...Their choice of composer Amy Beach...made the evening clash as it was the wrong tone to Dickenson’s poems and would of been better suited to Sylvia Plath...Altogether this whole production was a misfire." Full Review


"Stranger still is the choice of Angelica Page to play Dickinson who looks rather too healthy to be the famously thin and sallow-faced writer known from the one famous photograph. She makes Dickinson sarcastic, arrogant, cynical, self-important, and haughty which goes against the voice of the woman in the poems. At times she has been given arty stage directions like posing by a mantelpiece or sleeping on the ground next to what we assume is her father's grave." Full Review

Absorbing, Great singing, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Musically-stunning

See it if You want to hear an extraordinary string quartet, piano, soprano, Dickinson poetry, and watch interesting slides

Don't see it if You expect a solid play or musical. This is more of a salon or musicale.

Also The acting is the least of the wonders of this show, which is not to s... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if you like Emily Dickenson's poetry and chamber music.

Don't see it if you don't like poetry and Amy Beach's music.

Also I am not a poetry lover but I enjoyed this production. I loved Angelic... Read more Read less

Unexpected, Unconventional, Great staging, Refreshing, Musical

See it if You like chamber music, Emily Dickinson, the romance of poetry and classical music

Don't see it if You need a linear plot, classical chamber music and/or poetry bore you

Beautiful music/singing, Disappointing, Disjointed production, Ambitious and earnest tribute to a beloved and iconic writer, Dickinson’s work is inspirational—this production is not quite what it could be

See it if a fan of Emily Dickinson's work, invested in 19th-to-mid-20th-century American history, unbothered by subpar storytelling if music delights.

Don't see it if expecting: riveting and historically-accurate performances; more than poetry set to music; a cohesive show: this relies on projections, too.

Also Because I Could Not Stop: An Encounter with Emily Dickinson has divine... Read more Read less

Beautiful music, submerged poetry

See it if You love Emily Dickinson and Amy Beach. But don't expect the lovely music to enhance the poems. They each go their own way as do the videos.

Don't see it if You want either a recital or a poetry reading. Leaves you wanting more Dickinson poetry. You get beautiful music but the two do not mesh.

Entertaining, Ambitious, Disappointing, Great music, Indulgent

See it if you love Emily Dickinson's poetry and Amy Beach's music. I was unfamiliar with the latter, but was so pleased to have an introduction.

Don't see it if you have a low tolerance for inflated use of projections and other gimmicks.

Also I would have enjoyed this so much more just listening to the music and... Read more Read less

Indulgent, Slow, Enchanting

See it if you're a fan of Emily Dickinson's poetry. There's no real narrative here. It's mostly her recited poetry accompanied by classical music.

Don't see it if you prefer quick-paced shows with traditional narratives.

Beautiful chamber music, Disappointing, Slow

See it if you love chamber music, beautifully sung art songs, talented musicians.

Don't see it if you are looking for a fully realized theatrical production. The evening moves along very slowly and Page as Dickinson does not move me.

Disappointing, More music than play, Wonderful acting but too little of it

See it if You enjoy classical music with the poetry of Emily Dickinson--but not enough! (Why let projections tell the narrative instead of Emily??)

Don't see it if You don't like mostly well-played classical music with some of Emily's poems (but too little of her) and projections for the narrative.

Indulgent, Slow, Ambitious, Pretentious high art

See it if You like high art and classical musical and singing in French and are a Dickinson fan

Don't see it if you like linear stories, are averse to pretentious presentations and affected performances

Excruciating, Indulgent, Slow

See it if you are interested in Emily Dickinson's life and poetry, and would enjoy​ a string quartet and spoken word poetry combined.

Don't see it if you are hoping for a fully actualized plot, want to see a fully fleshed character interacting with others, and don't like mimes.

Also This is a narrative about Emily Dickinson's life with a single perform... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Banal, Confusing, Great singing, Quirky

See it if you would like the opportunity to hear Amy Beach's music

Don't see it if you are expecting a coherent production.

Great singing, Slow, Disappointing, Banal, Great music

See it if You are a fan of Amy Beach and have yet to hear any or all of the pieces within. You want to see a great quintet play fabulous music.

Don't see it if You are looking for any new insight into Emily Dickinson's life, or Amy Beach's for that matter. You are expecting a narrative experience.

Also "1870's-Thomas Edison invents the electric light." - Because I Could N... Read more Read less

Confusing, Ambitious, Clever, Disappointing, Intense

See it if This is one for poetry fans, Dickinson in particular. An artist with remarkable talent, a tendency for morbid material,a flirtationwithdeath

Don't see it if You’re unmoved by poetry or disturbed by the notion of suicide as an inevitability in a woman’smind; a beautiful, fiercelytalented tragicfig

Absorbing, Enchanting, Great acting

See it if A good way to discover/understand a little about Emily Dickinson. The chamber music accompanying the play was suburb.

Don't see it if You are a restless person as it’s a little long and might be tedious for some.

Ambitious, Disappointing

See it if You enjoy more cabaret-style shows that feature (mainly) one actress portraying a story. Also if you have an infatuation for ED.

Don't see it if You typically see traditional plays. I was disappointed that it was just a basic story told through song. I was hoping to be more invested.

During previews
Masterful, Must see, Page mesmerizes

See it if Pedigreed princess Page mesmerizes in the uncertainty of her acting choices. On the same level as her "Edge" and "Torn Page."

Don't see it if Chambre music ensemble romantic concert series shares DNA w/ previous in same space.Extract Angelica and the others aren't distinguishable

During previews
Beautiful, Clever, Intelligent, Profound

See it if You want a glimpse of Emily Dickinson’s life and writing. You are curious about the music of Amy Beach. You are open to unusual thoughts.

Don't see it if You don’t like 19th-century classical music. One-woman shows don’t interest you. You want action or love stories.

Also Probably not many people would come to a show that was billed as a rec... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Clever, Ambitious, Disappointing, Great staging

See it if you enjoy unusual theater. This show combines acting with instrumental and vocal music and video to tell story of Dickinson's life.

Don't see it if you like a traditional telling of a story or you do not like classical music.

Also I saw 3 other productions of this company (Van Gogh, Tchaikovsky and M... Read more Read less

During previews
Slow, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Ambitious, Enlightening

See it if you enjoy experiencing different approaches to telling a story. The chamber music is exceptional, the story telling is weak.

Don't see it if you want or expect to see a traditional stage performance

During previews
Quirky, Disappointing, Confusing, Ambitious, Exquisite classical music

See it if You love classical music played by excellent musicians by a woman composer and the poetry of Emily Dickinson.

Don't see it if You get frustrated trying to figure out what it’s all about and what the focus is

During previews
Ambitious, Slow, Disappointing

See it if you're interested in Emily Dickinson and would like to hear beautiful music on stage. The music was just enchanting.

Don't see it if you want to see a traditional show. This is definitely outside of the box. Had potential but it was a little too slow for me.

Also The history of Emily Dickenson's life was very interesting but overall... Read more Read less

During previews
For chamber music lovers, Distracting, Satisfying ending

See it if you’re looking forward to a music program of works by 19th c composer-prodigy, Amy Beach. Script arranged by a musicologist.

Don't see it if you hope the combo of artistic disciplines has a powerful effect, or for the show to make Dickinson at least as interesting as her poems.

Also Caters to chamber music aficionados and music theorists; less so to th... Read more Read less

During previews
Historical, Slow, Ambitious

See it if You like Emily Dickinson's work. Want to see an acrylic baby grand. You like a soprano soloist sprinkled in to your drama.

Don't see it if You like well paced theater. If you want to concentrate mostly on Ms. Dickenson's work.

Also I enjoyed the history, I enjoyed hearing Ms. Dickenson's poetry. I lik... Read more Read less

During previews
Uneven, diffuse, busy, melodious, civilized,

See it if Amy Beach's ravishing music and Emily Dickinson's hypnotic poetry get plenty of air time. The musicians are excellent.

Don't see it if The concept and staging are very busy such that the whole is less than the sum of its parts. The visuals undermine the music's impact.

Also The rationale for juxtaposing Beach and Dickinson did not ultimately p... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (4)