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"Rather than helping us better understand and resist the Trump administration, ‘Building the Wall’ merely reinforces what we already know…It's a lot of tell, with very little to show. You may find yout mind wandering from this somewhat dull staged conversation…Dale does a fine job coloring Schenkkan's sketch of a Texan good old boy…Tunie is also believably human…A C-minus stab at dystopian fiction from a politically engaged playwright still burning with anger and confusion." Full Review
"The rough first draft of a journalistic play...A sloppy soup of factoids, clichés and dire portent, the show may elicit standing ovations from those who already share its fears, but they’re only standing in place...Exposition doesn’t come much balder than it does here...The characters and the history they lay out in retrospect are generic and implausible...The subject requires more than propagandistic alarm. It’s too easy to be incendiary when what you’re burning is a straw man." Full Review
“A solid reminder of how quickly and effectively theater can respond to what’s going on in the world…‘Building the Wall’ contains passionate anger and urgency and, despite the occasional didactic exchange in which the characters all too obviously serve as mouthpieces for political arguments, it’s extremely well written…Despite its predictable aspects, the play still emerges as powerful political theater. It never feels static, thanks to Edelson’s taut staging and the gripping performances.” Full Review
“Slick and dispiriting…The dialogue, and even the thinness of the characters, are not the core problems here. Both are, in any case, mitigated by the director Edelson’s production, which is expertly paced, beautifully lit and perfectly cast…‘Building the Wall’ might as well be called ‘Building the Shelving Unit,’ for all the tension it produces...There is no complexity...‘Building the Wall’ is too becalmed to be agitprop. It’s just propaganda—by which I mean that it soothes instead of arouses.” Full Review
“A powerful dystopian drama…The work is sure to provoke shock, awe and much talk…A hot-off-the-laptop scorcher of a play…The play’s schematic structure has overly familiar elements of conversational confrontations…But it’s gripping storytelling, and powerful performances trump any sense of an overworked template. Under director Ari Edelson’s well-measured direction, Tunie is cool and focused…Dale is riveting as Rick.” Full Review
“Edelson gives the work a taut edge. Dale makes Rick a believable three-dimensional being…Tunie imbues Gloria with individual details. But neither character changes or learns anything new. Much of their dialogue consists of previous actions, statistics, headlines, and talking points…Yet despite the shortcomings, our interest is held for its 80 minutes..Schenkkan has allowed his passion to overrule his dramaturgy and we get the theatrical equivalent of a hastily drawn political cartoon.” Full Review
“There’s no question that Schenkkan is a political playwright, but he is also an adept dramatist…'Building The Wall,' written quickly, may not win the playwright any more of those big prizes; it is comparatively modest, even restrained. Yet it is also an intelligent, well-played and ultimately potent drama...Building the Wall’ is terrifyingly plausible…It helps that James Badge Dale and Tamara Tunie so capably inhabit their characters, under the assured direction of Ari Edelson.” Full Review
"James Badge Dale and Tamara Tunie, solid pros both, do their very best...But Schenkkan's play, written no doubt in good faith following the shock of Trump's election, is a hysterical, not to say irresponsible, piece of work...Ari Edelson's direction is pretty snappy, given the circumstances, although he doesn't shy away from the script's heavy solemnity...The best thing you can say about 'Building the Wall' is that it is sincere." Full Review
“For all its irritating familiarity, hearing the issues bantered back and forth between two solid actors has a certain fascination…Riveting as much of this is, it fails the credibility test. It's impossible to believe that the ‘truth’ of an incident that makes Abu Ghraib sound like kindergarten hazing is being revealed only in a prison interview with an academic...Although neither character is fully believable, Dale does a good job at humanizing Rick's jittery combination of defiance and guilt.” Full Review
"Politics makes artists stupid...'Building the Wall' is the dumbest play I’ve ever reviewed...There is nothing remotely subtle or intelligent about 'Building the Wall,' which is both dramaturgically inept and simple-minded well past the point of unintended comedy...Mr. Dale is unexpectedly plausible as Rick. Not so Ms. Tunie, who is stiff and self-righteous, though I doubt that’s her fault, since Mr. Schenkkan wrote her part that way. Ari Edelson’s staging is numbingly static." Full Review
“An absorbing and unapologetically disturbing drama…An intimate and tight staging directed by Ari Edelson…With dystopian thrillers now in vogue, ‘Building the Wall’ gives yet another perspective on how ordinary individuals can be swept up by history, either willingly or unwittingly. In writing ‘Building the Wall’ and getting it produced so quickly, Schenkkan has initiated a conversation about where the country is heading.” Full Review
“An 80-minute shocker of a play…The thing about ‘Building the Wall’ is that the drama is contained in the gathering horror story told — but not necessarily in any mounting tension between the two characters conveying the story. Indeed, there is not very much of that…Under Edelson’s economical direction, Dale and Tunie are perfectly fine as Rick and Gloria…If ‘Building the Wall’ is more like reading a story than attending a theatrical production, it’s a mighty scary tale at that.” Full Review
"A bleak and terrifying look at the immigrant situation...An urgent cry of warning...Dale’s performance doesn’t make amends, he accepts his responsibility. Director Ari Edelson lets us see his humanity, his pain, and the out of control situation he has been placed in...This play is hard to take and in all honesty, I just wanted to throw up after seeing it, but it needs to be seen." Full Review
“Written in just a week before the election, the play seeks to push buttons and on that level succeeds. It’s also fast moving and credibly acted. Dale’s performance is strong and believable. Tunie's take on an academic could use a bit of fine-tuning. Dramatically, it’s a mostly static hour and a half…And details nag…Despite weaknesses, the play has an ace up its sleeve — and it saves it for last.” Full Review
"A classic case of preaching to the choir...This big theme is realized quite successfully with this small-scale production. However, despite Ari Edelson's steady direction and the Class-A performances, it's too obvious that the initial business is a device to put forth a few background clues before heading into more chilling territory...Bravo to Mr. Schenkkan for managing to produce a coherent play even while the events that prompted him to write it continue to change every minute." Full Review
"A disturbing yet powerful play...Directed impressively by Ari Edelson...'Building The Wall' feels very important. The conversation between these two solid characters, both intensely and purposefully played by these two fine actors, feels true and real...If you don’t think about the artificial setup too much, and just accept that this is where we are, the rest of the play drives forward like a landslide turning into an avalanche. And it’s frightening to listen to or imagine." Full Review
“We should be on the edge of our seats, but somehow with this production I was comfortably sitting back waiting for the shock that never comes…There is opportunity for sympathy from the audience for these characters, but this presentation is too preachy...This production loses its way...The entire production has the feel of holding back…This politically ‘NOW’ piece feels rushed and weakened by a direction taken that serves neither play nor actors.” Full Review
“While the story is absorbing and pulls the viewer into the events being described, the very lack of heat in Edelson's production is problematic. Though the day-to-day events at the El Paso facility become more and more disturbing, the temperature never rises as it is all told on the same level. Dale and Tunie are convincing in their roles but there is no chemistry and little interaction between them. This tends to dissipate the appalling events that Rick finally gets to.” Full Review
“‘Building the Wall’ is powerful in its preposterousness. Just when you think the revelations can’t get any darker, they turn another, deeper shade of black…Gloria never changes…In a better, even more disturbing play, she might also be shown to bear some responsibility for what went wrong in America…Dale rivets in his evolution and manipulation of Rick’s many faces. It’s a performance unlike any other on stage right now...What Schenkkan puts in Rick’s mouth is unforgettable.” Full Review
"You can call the situation dramatized far-fetched but, nonetheless, it makes for an unsettling projection of events in this tightly presented two-hander, grippingly performed by Dale and Tunie...I was thoroughly riveted by the talk between Rick and Gloria as a result of the convincing acting by Dale and Tunie and the issues that the playwright puts on the table...Schenkkan, his cast and director Edelson, whose staging is admirably taut, do a service with this riveting dramatic warning." Full Review
"Under Ari Edelson’s direction, the ensuing dialogue, though an effective plot device, can feel a bit formulaic...James Badge Dale more than makes up for such deficiencies with his all-too-human portrayal of Rick...Schenkkan conveys a grimly persuasive message: Yes, it could happen here...'Building the Wall’s' dire prophecy may prove unfounded in literal terms. But its parting shot will surely continue to resonate, whatever happens." Full Review
“By the end our souls are wringing wet, our feelings numbed by the unimaginable, which echoes the haunting realities that happened...during the Armenian Genocide in 1916, during the Holocaust of the second World War and every genocide that followed…Directed with relentless precision…These incredibly complex themes are established concept by concept…With ‘Building the Wall,’ Schenkkan reminds us to open our eyes to the present in a play you cannot miss.” Full Review
"Out of his imaginative mind comes another powerful theatre piece by Robert Schenkkan...As played at fever pitch by a remarkable James Badge Dale, and as questioned by the formidable reporter played by Tamara Tunie, the play is fiercely committed to calling us to arms...Edelson is certain to receive nominations for his work on this current offering; it’s relentlessly gripping. It is particularly timely." Full Review
“As a piece of dramatic writing, the suspense ebbs and flows in a welter of exposition, but in the overall it does build—if in a formulaic way—to a shocking conclusion and makes its point unabashedly. The play is a two-hander, tautly directed by Ari Edelson and performed with mounting intensity…The plotting becomes clamorous with uncomfortable echoes of the Holocaust…Within the parameters of Schenkkan’s screed-like storytelling, the actors perform commendably." Full Review
"The play is timely and relevant...Yet, Schenkkan's idea of rapid response to current events through theater is also risky. 'Building the Wall' is basically preaching to the choir, repeating old facts without the drama and insight of new ideas...The actors in this two-hander are credible....Unfortunately, in 'Building the Wall,' Schenkkan does not present analytic insight of where we are as a society, just a horrific hint of where campaign slogans like 'build a wall' can lead us." Full Review
See it if you enjoy political themed stories referencing the past, present and possible future.
Don't see it if you are so leery of our present government that one more crisis will send you over the edge. This is a very disturbing play.
See it if You hate Trump, have nothing better to do, and can't get cheap tickets to anything else.
Don't see it if You have anything else to do. I really don't bash shows--I can almost always find something good--and I just couldn't find it in this. Sorry
See it if you're interested in a what-if scenario regarding immigration, deportation, and going too far. Gives you something to think about.
Don't see it if you get bored by a play with only two characters, you don't like matter-of-fact dialogue or political theater
See it if - You like plays which describe how a dystopian environment could develop if potential events are taken to their illogical conclusion
Don't see it if You believe dystopian or dysfunctional regimes are not possible future scenarios. You believe history can't repeat itself ... in some form
See it if Politically themed drama that packs a serious punch is your thing. You are appalled by the road our country has been put on by Trump !
Don't see it if You like Trump because this powerfully written drama whose theme is an imagined horrendous result of his immigration policy is hard to watch
See it if You like 2-character plays about intense, relevant social issues. There's cussing. Minimal set. Prejudice issues. Political rhetoric & anger
Don't see it if Dislike all of the above... It's not anti-any-one-particular-candidate... 85-minutes... Of intensity... Great acting! See it. It won't hurt.
See it if you want a political thriller with drama so real that you might find it on an episode of Homeland or even in the news.
Don't see it if you don't want to be confronted by heavy political themes or are looking for something comedic/uplifting.
See it if You worry about where DT's executive actions are taking the country and their unintended consequences.
Don't see it if You think Trump is doing a good job.
Also Schenken writes a play that builds from the start to a climactic end.
See it if you like a play that is extremely well acted, cautionary, can be emotionally harrowing and deals with a societal trend that is alarming.
Don't see it if desire light entertainment, non political content and happy endings.
See it if are looking for a worst case scenario about our current political climate. It is an interesting study that is far fetched and speculative.
Don't see it if You prefer political shows that are not one sided and not designed as propaganda.
See it if you are looking for a theater experience that will have you talking about it LONG AFTER you leave the theater that evening and weeks later!!
Don't see it if you are not interested in having a mind blowing experience in the theater.
See it if you enjoy political thrillers masterfully written. It needs to be seen so we remember what is at risk & how easily everything can be lost.
Don't see it if you are in Trumpian denial.
See it if powerful case TRUMP launching events sliding country into "final solution" 4 immigrants; James Dale terrific lead showing banality of evil
Don't see it if play provides no new insights 2 rise of Trump; not subtle theatrically, in this 2 hander, Tunie as questioner not effective foil 2 Dale
See it if You're interested in extremely current, topical plays about societal issues & what our future might look like under a Trump administration.
Don't see it if You're already seething about Trump and need theatre to de-stress you instead of reminding you of his agenda.
See it if You love current events with a spin. Or if you love a well preformed and written play. A 90min show makes one question and feel many things.
Don't see it if You are looking for a big Broadway show. The only thing big here is talent. Don't see it if your not a fan of in"real time" shows like 24
See it if You would like to see where a dystopian, right wing, anti-immigrant agenda might lead. Great acting, stunning conclusion.
Don't see it if You believe all is well in the world and that seemingly 'right' policies cannot go awfully wrong.
See it if you want to tether on the waiting-to-exhale insanity of what is currently happening in politics but set two years into the future.
Don't see it if Wait. Why wouldn't you see this play? See this play! It is freakin' brilliant.