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From 18 critic and 7 member reviews
Members say: Original, Absorbing, Profound, Riveting, Intense

About the show

Part of the Brits Off Broadway fest, this wordless adaptation of 'Madam Butterfly' centers on a kite maker who's left alone and isolated. More…

Created, directed, and performed by Ramesh Meyyappan, 'Butterfly' uses a mixture of visual and physical theater styles, kites, and a handcrafted puppet to recount John Luther Long's iconic story. Alone and grief-stricken, Butterfly conjures up an idyllic, imaginary world to counteract her trauma and despair. As she immerses herself in this fantasy land, her beauty begins to fade and her tale takes a further tragic turn.


“Mr. Meyyappan, Ms. Livingstone and Mr. Alexander all superbly realize their characters with their fluid physicality and expressive facial expressions...The trio expertly performs Darren Brownlie’s vibrantly moody choreography...Graceful direction melds all of the narrative and presentational elements into an eerie and moving production...‘Butterfly’s’ originality, stirring performances and technical artistry give it the quality of an enchanting adult fairy tale.” Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"Mr. Meyyappan’s direction keeps the piece moving and accessible...Authentic and compelling performances. They bring kite-flying, butterflies, and Butterfly’s child to stunning realism – thanks to the brilliant craft of puppet maker Gavin Glover. Kudos to Ms. Livingstone whose emotional range is stunning and breathtaking...Butterfly’s loss of love and the ways she sustains herself until love reappears or reimagines makes for a wonderful story." Full Review

Off Off Online

“The hour-long production is rich with symbolism, European and Asian sensibilities, and movement choreographed to haunting original music...The word creative is particularly limiting if used to describe Meyyappan, especially given the way he sees and delivers life onto the stage...What becomes clear is that he is a master storyteller. Expressing all of these emotions while conveying complicated humans without words is what propels ‘Butterfly’ to soar.” Full Review

Theater In The Now

"You should run not walk to see 59E59’s 'Butterfly.' This haunting dance-theater piece hits all of the emotional buttons that you want as an audience member...The direction was very precise yet still felt organic and instinctual...It was physically inspiring and emotionally jarring to watch what Livingstone's character went through...I highly suggest taking an hour out of your evening to see this one-of-a-kind dance-theater piece." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

“'Butterfly' effortlessly swept the audience away in a sensory adventure...The movement is clean and clear, with a crisp specificity in its symbolism and a few hints at familiar sign language imagery...Gavin Glover’s puppets steal the show...The play seems to celebrate the marvel of how things are made...A lush, one-hour sensory explosion that engages us in the impact of visual theater through a tragic tale.” Full Review

NY Theatre Guide

“It’s a real accomplishment that the cast effortlessly creates emotion and drama on the stage...Meyyappan’s vivid imagination has created a unique theatrical experience and pushes the boundaries of storytelling into areas untraveled. While a wordless, mimed production may seem filled with limitation, in Meyyappan’s work, they just display how strong of a storyteller he is. ‘Butterfly’ is one of those magical theater pieces that show how imagination can craft theatre." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"Ramesh Meyyappan’s ‘Butterfly,’ which he created, directed, and in which he appears, is a beautifully performed, but not particularly groundbreaking piece of pantomimic theatre about a love triangle...‘Butterfly’ is impressively executed but there’s a slight fragrance of preciosity about it that prevents a deeper connection with its emotional currents. Like the insect after which it takes its name, it’s a thing of delicate beauty, but it flutters away before making a lasting impression." Full Review

Manhattan With a Twist

"This work of art was accomplished by a bold and creative group that had to be so in sync, they accepted Meyyappan’s reality, which was the only way this could work the way it did...The play will be very divisive. During the last moments, I saw people laughing while others were engrossed. The play takes itself very seriously, and its gloomy environment can ultimately grow thin. But what is effected for those of us that enjoy this kind of work, this was a good night for art." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"An uneven, but stylish chamber work…Although the combination of techniques makes for an awkward mix, there are moments of exquisite beauty amidst the ugly violence...A puppet baby, manipulated in some measure by all three performers, somehow exudes humanity, frailty and light, making the dark ending of 'Butterfly' all the more bleak…The three actors were concentrated and intense, making each moment vivid and simple." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"All three performers are skilled at the subtle art of pantomime; there isn't even a hint of overacting...But 'Butterfly' is a strange combination of the sentimental and the brutal, a series of melodramatic twists in search of a meaningful narrative…A certain purposelessness hangs over the proceedings...You might find that 'Butterfly' possesses a certain evanescent charm. But this piece is as fragile as a butterfly's wing, and its spell is all too easily broken." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"As I’m not precisely sure of the tale I’ve just witnessed, I can only share impressions...Some or all of it may be fantasy, dream/nightmare. The men separately return and exit. Butterfly may or may not have a baby...All that’s clear is Butterfly’s pain...All three actors do a splendid job with Naomi Livingstone’s Butterfly a nuanced standout. Until things become obscure, we’re with them every step." Full Review

Edinburgh Guide

for a previous production "This startling piece of physical theatre is visual poetry at its most textured, gorgeous best...The emotional punch it delivers is enough to bring a tear to the eye and, along with the tender keys of the piano throughout, it sings to you like a dark lullaby, pulling at your heart strings as if we too were puppets in its black, twisted world...Its end is truly chilling and will remain with you long after...A truly amazing experience and a triumphant piece of theatre." Full Review

The Scotsman

for a previous production "An exquisite 60-minute piece of wordless theatre...'Butterfly' has a strong, simple narrative arc, and an almost magical relationship with the physical objects that fill Butterfly’s workshop room...At the show’s core, though, are three terrific performances...The performances merge dance, movement, puppetry and dramatic acting with an intensity that forges those art-forms into a single storytelling impulse, beautiful, tragic, and true." Full Review

Herald Scotland

for a previous production "An exquisite, harrowing piece of visual theatre...No words are ever spoken aloud in 'Butterfly.' Instead the nuanced body language, the use of mime and puppets, make feelings and intentions absorbingly clear while the recurring imagery builds into a harsh visual metaphor of how both men stamp possessive ownership on an easily crushed woman....The cast brings more than physical finesse to every detail of the movement--they show a compelling emotional integrity." Full Review

Disability Arts Online

for a previous production "There is a lyricism to this production's effortless flow of dance, mime, handcrafted puppets and shadow puppetry…The three dancers/ actors/ puppeteers take the audience on an emotional roller coaster; their seamless syncopation holds and transfixes as we are driven through a story that moves from romance to violence...'Butterfly' is a beautiful production that is sure to entertain." Full Review

Fringe Review (UK)

for a previous production "Body language and expressions are used to full effect with each movement being deliberate and serving only to push the performance which leaves no room for confusion as the story unfolds...The puppetry is incredible both in its design and its manipulation...All of these elements entwine with ease to create a mesmerizing show that elicits genuine emotion and draws the audience into a visually stunning and incredibly evocative world." Full Review

The List

for a previous production "A beautiful blend of movement and puppetry communicates a tragic spiral of grief...A mesmerizing piece of physical theatre. Without saying a single word, the show tells the story of Butterfly, a female kite maker and the two men who desire her...The performance is rich in symbolism, the central character as beautiful and fragile as her namesake." Full Review

TV Bomb

for a previous production "Combining movement, music and handmade puppets, this dialogue-free piece is a compelling creation from star and theatre maker, Meyyappan...Although the three actors possess transfixing physical qualities, the real stars of the show are the designers...Despite all of the talent that is on display, the audience is left wanting. The choreography never matches the tragedy...An ever-present air of sweetness stands in direct contradiction to the bitter end." Full Review

Must see, Epic, Riveting

See it if You live history, drama, Lin Manuel Miranda

Don't see it if You hate all musicals

Absorbing, Original, Profound, Thought-provoking

See it if without words the actors are incredibly expressive and the emotion is even more pronounced. The touching reality of human frailty is amazing

Don't see it if you think puppets are just for fun - one puppet here is used for dramatic and emotional effect

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Quirky, Riveting

See it if you are okay with no dialogue, don't mind interpreting the story told by using physical movement, and don't mind darker subject matters

Don't see it if you want a light show. Show has very mature subject matters. Very inappropriate for children even though there is puppetry.

Beautiful, Resonant, Slow, Dark, Enthralling

See it if you like small-scale shows from fringe festivals, you enjoy shows that leave room for your own interpretation and understanding

Don't see it if you want dialogue and clarity, you want a longer more drawn-out show

Great staging, Intense, Original, Profound, Romantic

See it if You're a fan of Madam Butterfly and great puppetry. Slightly confusing, but the inventive storytelling is definitely worth seeing. Original.

Don't see it if You'd rather go to a more upbeat show. You're not able to handle shows that are too out of the box. You're put off by more mature themes.

Excruciating, Intense

See it if There's nothing about this show after the first 10 minutes that I would recommend.

Don't see it if You have ever suffered from any kind of abuse, are sensitive to scenes of cruel violence, are expecting a poetic experience as billed.

During previews
Absorbing, Enchanting, Exquisite, Intelligent, Original

See it if you are a fan of alternative theater; this show is hauntingly beautiful, and no words are spoken.

Don't see it if you like Broadway musicals and heavy drama.