Boesman and Lena
Closed 2h 0m
Boesman and Lena
79

Boesman and Lena NYC Reviews and Tickets

79%
(90 Reviews)
Positive
80%
Mixed
16%
Negative
4%
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Intense, Slow, Great writing

About the Show

In Athol Fugard's "Boesman and Lena," the human need for kindness, hope and compassion is on display in the struggles of abusive Boesman and his long-suffering wife Lena, who encounter a stranger while wandering the South African wastelands.

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Member Reviews (90)

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691 Reviews | 212 Followers
85
Intense, Brooding, Resonant, Slow, Great acting

See it if Two discarded apartheid slum dwellers trudge through life, angry at the world and each other. Haunting poetic language.

Don't see it if You don't want to stew in desperate abandonment. I was mesmerized & saw the human condition in them. Read more

687 Reviews | 113 Followers
81
Great acting, Resonant, Intense, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if Fugard's poetic prose & dynamic lead performances make this bleak existential drama bearable Apartheid is just metaphor for its universality

Don't see it if Overwritten (about 20 minutes worth) w/political themes becoming a little forced Lena feels a bit more complex (character-wise) than Boesman

668 Reviews | 156 Followers
86
Beautifully played, Uneven, Spare, Powerful

See it if you’d like to see 3 powerful performances in a beautiful production of an important play from 1 of our playwriting giants.

Don't see it if 2 uninterrupted hours of intensity would put too great of a strain on you. Read more

657 Reviews | 147 Followers
83
Disturbing, Great acting, Searing, Powerful,

See it if You enjoy Fugard, like plays about apartheid in South Africa or intense character studies about those impacted by apartheid

Don't see it if Do not like Fugard or plays about apartheid, unfamiliar with South Africa’s class system, dislike loud arguments, violence against women

don
506 Reviews | 1002 Followers
75
Intense, Overrated, Thought-provoking, Disappointing

See it if Credit due for the acting. Minimal set meets the story-line. The smaller signature site works. Partner gave it a much higher rating.

Don't see it if Depressing. My rule of thumb. 90 minutes NO intermission, 105 minutes a MUST intermission. (91-104 Director/Writer discretion see ALSO Read more

593 Reviews | 264 Followers
90
Trio performs powerful tone poem that both shows how apartheid grinds down black south africans but how human spirit is unquenchable

See it if moving; audience stunned by tragedy of characters uprooted, dehumanized by apartheid; Zainab Jah amazing Lena trying to retain her humanity

Don't see it if play starts slowly on moonscape mudflats where Boesman/Lena 1st appear but soon stage filled w rage/conflict offset by small acts of grace Read more

567 Reviews | 146 Followers
80
Slow, Great writing, Great acting, Intense, Absorbing

See it if So. African dysfunctional couple forced into indigence fight the label of "the white man's rubbish." Lena carries the brunt of his abuse.

Don't see it if Afrikaaner spoken here without subtitles. Threatening violence. Two hours without a break. Slow. Someone not allowed to take a bow. Read more

461 Reviews | 710 Followers
75
Intelligent, Slow, Great acting

See it if you’re looking for a break from light, fluffy theatre. This is a slow, thoughtful show with terrific performances.

Don't see it if you prefer escapist theatre and are just looking for a fun night out.

Critic Reviews (24)

The New York Times
February 25th, 2019

"Farber’s staging seems to complete this metamorphosis, clearly placing itself within the tradition of existential rather than political drama...In Farber’s unrelentingly bleak staging — time disappears...we could be in any era, ancient or modern. So too with the characters, whose specific plight is sanded so smooth we barely see them as an estranged couple anymore...They are solo archetypes of the broader human condition, regardless of race or poverty."
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Time Out New York
February 25th, 2019

"Farber...emphasizes its timelessness...While the production is powerful from an intellectual perspective, it can be emotionally numbing...Only when Boesman and Lena's routine is disrupted do they start to tear at your soul...'Boesman and Lena' may leave you impressed at the resilience of the spirit or depressed by the revolting way people continue to treat each other. Either way, it is a challenge to endure."
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Theatermania
February 25th, 2019

"It's a tough play to watch, and at times, Farber takes things a bit too far. But with its three virtuosic performances and brilliant staging, this two-hour journey is unquestionably worth taking...Farber's production captures the appalling injustices and cycles of abuse perpetuated by apartheid...Though 'Boesman and Lena' shares some of the existential themes of 'Godot,' it has none of its humor...Fugard shows us a world of intolerable iniquity with little room for that kind of joy."
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BroadwayWorld
February 27th, 2019

“As written fifty years ago by the now-celebrated 86-year-old, the refugee couple, played with stark sensitivity by Ngaujah and Jah in director Farber's exquisitely somber production, are carrying everything they own as they seek a spot in the mud flats of the river Swartkops to settle for the night...Forgoing a linear plot, ‘Boesman and Lena’ is a study of how inhumane treatment can transform those who lose their identity by systematic abuse.”
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Lighting & Sound America
March 12th, 2019

"As a portrait of life on the outer margins of existence, without a drop of mercy and absent any hope other than managing to live another day, 'Boesman and Lena' can be difficult to watch...But time and again, the play -- especially in Yaël Farber's majestic production -- delivers blazing insights into these characters...Farber has gotten superb work from her two leads...'Boesman and Lena' is, functionally, a two-hander, and Farber has cast the roles brilliantly."
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Talkin' Broadway
February 25th, 2019

"Bleak, angry, and violent, 'Boesman and Lena' is a difficult play to watch, and director Yaël Farber does not make it any easier in her production choices. The two-act play is performed without intermission, so it is an emotionally draining two hours...As Lena, Jah is utterly and scarily convincing...Ngaujah is equally strong."
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New York Stage Review
February 25th, 2019

"A formidable sense of doom hovers over Yaël Farber’s demanding production of 'Boesman and Lena'...Ngaujah turns in a frighteningly good performance as the bullying Boesman, all fire, fists, and fury. Meanwhile, Jah is every inch his match and more."
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Theater News Online
February 25th, 2019

"Jah - a standout in such works as 'Eclipsed' and 'Venus' - gives one of the season's most extraordinary performances as Lena, a woman who should be utterly defeated by everything life has thrown at her: dead children, poverty, body aches and the now-perpetually angry Boesman. Still, she rails and wails, often without making much sense. Yet it's always clear she's talking just to make sure she's alive."
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