Bull in a China Shop
Closed 1h 25m
Bull in a China Shop
71

Bull in a China Shop NYC Reviews and Tickets

71%
(72 Reviews)
Positive
68%
Mixed
24%
Negative
8%
Members say
Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Intelligent, Disappointing

About the Show

Lincoln Center Theater presents a history-inspired comedy about Mary Woolley, the early 20th-century president of Mount Holyoke College, and her long-time partner, Jeannette Marks.

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Member Reviews (72)

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15
Well meaning., Excruciating, Boring, Disappointing, Indulgent

See it if Can't recommend this play at all. The actors are very stilted.Not engaging.

Don't see it if You don't want to be lectured to about feminist issues. Whatever you think of the issues this is not the way to address them. Read more

80
Absorbing, Clever, Edgy, Great acting

See it if At first a show about 2 women, their relationship and the women's movement. Their relationship changes due to the women's movement.Clever!

Don't see it if You like a predictable show. These women change toward each other and sometimes sad to watch.

33
Disappointing, Indulgent, Confusing

See it if You'd enjoy a poorly written tale of a school teacher and her love interest & life.

Don't see it if You value a well-written cohesive storyline. This is amateur hour here.

40
Banal, Cliched, Disappointing, Insipid, Slow

See it if you want to see a play by a new writer who needs to do a number of rewrites before this play should get a professional production.

Don't see it if you are not comfortable with the overuse of the "F" word—which these women would not use. Also, the title is constantly repeated.

62
Ambitious, Intelligent, Relevant, Interesting but doesn't quite deliver

See it if You like to see writers being developed

Don't see it if You have no patience

65
Ambitious, Confusing, Disappointing, Flat, Wasted opportunity

See it if you are sufficiently interested in the lives of women in general and lesbian couples in particular that you can overlook poor writing.

Don't see it if you expect to learn much or be moved by the depiction of two women whose interesting lives deserved a better play. Read more

79
Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Enlightening

See it if you like straight historical plays with anachronistic language, feminist themes and stellar performances.

Don't see it if you're offended by the "f" word. I myself found its liberal use here bracing and pretty darn funny. Read more

75
Intelligent, Relevant, Quirky

See it if You are interested in historical issues concerning the women's movement at the turn-of-the-century.

Don't see it if If you prefer light musicals and simple dramas.

Critic Reviews (9)

The New York Times
March 2nd, 2017

"A pugnacious, tender and gloriously funny new play...Inspired by letters between the real Mary Woolley and Jeannette Marks...'Bull in a China Shop' blows every last speck of dust off these two women and their compadres. Onstage in Lee Sunday Evans’s warm, lucid, handsomely designed production, they are radiant with life...The company of five is impeccable. Ms. Turner’s fusion of the historical and the contemporary doesn’t always result in alchemy, but nearly."
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Time Out New York
March 1st, 2017

"With a light hand and welcome irreverence, Turner neatly dispenses with two hoary shibboleths: that history is perforce dry, and feminists unfunny...Turner limns the power issues that can persist, heteronormatively, in a relationship of presumed equals...Not only does Turner prove she has the requisite touch, the cast delivers fine performances all around: They do the sisterhood proud."
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Deadline
March 9th, 2017

"Turner’s is a new voice and one worth paying attention to, even if this play has the didacticism and crudeness that betrays a writer still finding her voice...There’s a ratatat quality to the choppy scenes that undermines the story, as does a subplot involving a student with a crush. Still, I never lost interest in either of these uncelebrated (at least until now) women."
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Theatermania
March 1st, 2017

“Ultimately, the play makes for an intriguing 90 minutes, and it introduces a voice that will no doubt go on to impress even further. But ‘Bull in a China Shop,’ vibrantly directed by Lee Sunday Evans, is crucially lacking in forward motion and character development. As a result, it never rises above feeling like a piece of fan fiction…We walk out yearning for a greater understanding of what made these two powerful, pioneering women tick."
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Talkin' Broadway
March 1st, 2017

“Turner and her director, Lee Sunday Evans, do sketch the outlines of a fascinating and important bit of pre-suffrage history...Whenever they drill down, though, ‘Bull in a China Shop’ strains to find and maintain its footing…For their parts, Graham and Qian are troupers, trying to make flesh-and-blood figures from lines and situations that aren't much interested in such things…The other actresses...keep switching between performance styles to find one that works, but none ever does.”
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Front Row Center
March 2nd, 2017

"Their exchanges about love and commitment, about courage and challenge, are constant if a tad pedantic...There are two riveting speeches...The first is capriciously funny; the second brought me to tears...While not a perfect play, it has several remarkable performances, two searing soliloquies, and some true dialogue...This play is not for everyone. But, if you are up for 'an odd little evening' with a piquant take on just how complicated it was to suggest women might be whole humans—go."
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B
March 5th, 2017

"Mary Woolley led such an interesting life that it is hard to imagine that it could be turned into a boring play, but playwright Bryna Turner has managed just that...What Turner has written came across to me as scattered chapters from a Cliffs Notes summary of a biography. There was very little enlightenment and not much emotional involvement...As I experienced the play, it shed little heat or light. I must confess that I had to fight nodding off a few times."
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Broadway & Me
March 4th, 2017

"It's all fascinating stuff. But it's also too much. 'Bull in a China Shop' might have worked better if, instead of trying to squeeze the full arc of Woolley's life into 90 minutes, Turner had focused on a particular moment in Woolley's life that revealed the essence of who this remarkable woman was...But don't let my quibbles put you off from seeing 'Bull in a China Shop.' Stories that showcase the lives of women, especially gay women, still rarely get told onstage."
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Village Voice
March 8th, 2017

“Although Turner informs us that these women led surprising, exciting lives, we rarely glimpse these adventures. Instead, we're treated to lengthy monologues and repetitive dialogues parsing events that have already happened. A plot like this might still be theatrically compelling with a believable romance at its center, but onstage, it's tough to buy the idea that Graham and Qian share more than a halfhearted interest in each other's lives.”
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