Cardinal
65

Cardinal NYC Reviews and Tickets

65%
(170 Reviews)
Positive
43%
Mixed
46%
Negative
11%
Members say
Disappointing, Great acting, Relevant, Entertaining, Thought-provoking

About the Show

Second Stage's world premiere comic drama tells the story of what happens when a small-town girl decides, quite literally, to paint the town red.

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Member Reviews (170)

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72
Entertaining, Great acting, Uneven, Funny

See it if It's cute and entertaining. First half is better, funnier and more focused. Chlumsky is especially great.

Don't see it if Mostly unlikable though mostly​ funny characters. Some resembling reality TV trainwrecks. Read more

75
Entertaining, Funny, Quirky

See it if You find quirky & off-beat characters entertaining. Chlumsky is very funny.

Don't see it if Some of the humor isnt mainstream & some may view certain characters as unlikable. I however found a lot of comedy in these characters.

Critic Reviews (24)

The New York Times
January 30th, 2018

"It so outstrips its gears — trying almost anything to keep the story heading toward the author’s themes — that you may experience severe bumps if you stick around for the whole ride...Perhaps we should see 'Cardinal'...as a fable; that would certainly explain the way the characters have been painted in such bright, primary colors...Unfortunately, the production does nothing to advance that reading...'Cardinal' never achieves the gravity of its worthy aims."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
January 30th, 2018

"'Cardinal' is a bit like its own central character. Both are cute at the outset, both probably mean well despite cynical tendencies, and when you get down to it, both are pretty awful...The story’s dependence on stale devices betrays its would-be hopeful messaging...Pierce might have had noble goals, but he and Whoriskey have fallen into the trap of the play that purports to be making us think hard thoughts, when really it's letting us leave feeling easy feelings."
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The Hollywood Reporter
January 30th, 2018

"Simultaneously attempts to be satire, drama and rom-com, failing dismally at all three...While its absurd plotline would seem to hold the promise for satirical humor...'Cardinal' instead goes in so many different and unfulfilling directions that it flounders aimlessly...Bouncing around from one plot strand and stylistic device to another, the play feels much, much longer than its 90 minutes. Director Kate Whoriskey...fails to provide coherence to the scattered proceedings."
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Deadline
January 30th, 2018

"A dark vein of cynicism churns Pierce’s blood that keeps pulling 'Cardinal' back from the edge of cutesiness...Whoriskey isn't as fully in control of the work as I expected. As likable as the two stars are, they swallow some of the best lines and haven't quite got the rhythm of the repartee...Above all, however, 'Cardinal' is a lot of fun until it wears out its welcome. That happens a good 20 minutes before an overwrought ending that lets all the air out of the show."
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New York Daily News
January 30th, 2018

"A farfetched and muddled play offering little reason to celebrate...Pierce writes witty dialogue, but he forsakes a cardinal rule of storytelling. There needs to be a shred of truth to characters and situations. Too much rings false as 'Cardinal' speeds ahead in sitcom-style fast-mo...The play's point turns ever murkier as subplots about racial stereotyping, love and sex, and generational expectations are briefly touched on...Actors are mostly in go-big-or-go-home mode."
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Theatermania
January 30th, 2018

“‘Cardinal’ amuses, confuses, and infuriates — often, all at once…Pierce's satire has all the subtlety of a flying two-by-four, but...sometimes we need a good smack upside the head...It's likely a lot of audiences will find Lydia repellant...Mostly, they'll dislike her because she holds a mirror up to their own worst impulses...Reminded me of the HBO series 'Veep' and 'Girls'…If you enjoy either of those shows, chances are you'll get a kick out of ‘Cardinal.’ Others may find Pierce's barbs cut too deep.”
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Lighting & Sound America
January 31st, 2018

"'Cardinal' is a notably unevocative piece of writing, and the playwright, Greg Pierce, gives us little sense of what the town was like in its heyday or why the way of life it once offered should be preserved...If we don't see enough of this nameless town, we see far too much of Lydia...It's puzzling how such a potentially sharp conflict yields such bland results...Kate Whoriskey's staging can't find any urgency in these rambling, unfocused proceedings, and her cast proceeds tentatively."
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Talkin' Broadway
January 30th, 2018

"A sketchbook of a play...It is about quirky characters having quirky interactions with one another, and not always in service to the threadbare plot...Pierce assuredly has a way with words and an ear for dialog that is intriguingly idiosyncratic...But despite the best efforts of the committed and talented cast, director Whoriskey's steadying hand, and McLane's cleverly designed set...'Cardinal' feels like it was rushed into production far too soon."
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TheaterScene.net
February 2nd, 2018

“Greg Pierce, the author of ‘Slowgirl’ and ‘Kid Champion,’ has often tackled hot button issues. Here in ‘Cardinal’ being given its world premiere at Second Stage Theater, he takes on urban renewal, Chinese entrepreneurs, racism and amateurs in politics, all worthy of investigation, in comic fashion. However, in this satire his plot seems to reinvent itself in every other scene, with twists and turns you can't see coming.”
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Theater Pizzazz
January 30th, 2018

"Pierce's tepid drama...Whoriskey needs to pull in her leading lady. Chlumsky's enthusiasm is charming at first, but...Her earnest appeals become tired and tiring...The play itself is uncertain. It doesn't seem to know where it's headed, so it's not headed anywhere. It needs pruning and a clearer point of view. It raises questions about topics like values, but it doesn't really have a take on them....'Cardinal' feels static. There's more than enough motion but not much movement."
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CurtainUp
January 31st, 2018

"A multi-layered satire with difficult to mesh plot and style detours. Much of this juggling of multiple plot elements is amusing and clever but it's a hard to bring off juggling act that needed to be more carefully thought through...Whoriskey does her best to help the six-member cast navigate all these sub-plots believably...But at the end of its fast-paced and provocative 90 minutes 'Cardinal' is a mixed bag— one of those frustrating plays that coulda-shoulda-been-better."
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Front Row Center
January 31st, 2018

"The story twists and turns and never lights long enough for an actual plot line to sink in...As a matter of fact everything is left in a 'sort of' state. Unfulfilling and then some...All the elements of this production are on the dull side - writing, staging, direction, performance, and delivery. Actors forget to keep their faces in sight. Lines are mumbled. Enthusiasm falters. After awhile you just give up trying to follow the bread crumbs and wait for the train to run out of steam. Which it does."
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Front Mezz Junkies
February 20th, 2018

"The playwright, and therefore the characters, paint themselves into a corner, with no solid or clear way out...The play veers off balance...Everyone on stage is giving us a lot to peer into...but it doesn't seem to add up to anything cohesive or telling...In the moment to moment of each well-versed scene, the interactions play out intelligently and feel compelling, but once one steps back and looks at it from a distance, the scenes don't melt into a grand or more complex structure."
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Broadway Blog
February 5th, 2018

"Pierce’s script struggles to find its voice, but its themes resonate as the battle over industrialization, coal mining, and other income generators are as much a part of our political landscape as they were decades ago...The jarring tone leans heavily on one-liners, which Chlumsky adeptly handles. She’s literally at sea, with her two leading men delivering less-than-buoyant performances in this fictional waterside town."
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C
January 31st, 2018

"Pierce's new play 'Cardinal' has enough issues to fill a month's worth of NY Times' Sunday magazines...It also has characters, many of them flawed and troubled, one can invest in...There's also abundant humor in the script...And yet, the result is a meandering muddle where the various elements never cohere in a way to form a satisfying play -- and not even a hard-working and experienced cast of stage veterans can overcome its difficulties."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
February 12th, 2018

“Pierce's writing and the tone established by director Kate Whoriskey fail to clarify just how much we're supposed to buy the possibility that Lydia's dream might actually pay off…Pierce's uneasy mash-up of romantic comedy, urban political satire, anti-racist advocacy, and even - out of nowhere - gun violence lacks an organic, truthful feel blending honest acting with vital storytelling…Call it cardinal or call it red, hopefully, it's your favorite color because you'll be seeing lots of it.”
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Gotham Playgoer
January 30th, 2018

"A forest of subplots that jostle each other without coming together...Is it a rom-com? Is it a serious look at urban displacement? Is it a commentary on racial stereotyping? It appears that the playwright could not decide...Whoriskey is a fine director, but she can't supply coherence where none exists. Despite its faults, the play has many entertaining moments and it held my interest throughout. I wish it had been given more time to find its way before getting a NY premiere."
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The Wrap
January 30th, 2018

"Chlumsky and Pally bring their formidable comic talents to a new comedy that's practically devoid of humor...In its promising opening moments, the performances and the premise of 'Cardinal' telegraph comedy - in fact, a big screwball comedy...Chlumsky is stuck with providing most of the energy after the script leaves her comically stranded before the end of scene one...The actress compensates by being flustered...Whoriskey attempts to direct the onstage confusion."
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Stage Left
January 30th, 2018

"Pierce’s effort, more sitcom/romcom than play, lacks a serious foundation upon which to build a meaningful story or develop rich characters. It is, instead, bland and platitudinous, offering a superficial patina of hot-button discussion with little resolution or ideological point of view...What could be a big and provocative story about macro and micro economic and social shifts in an emblematic rust-belt town is reduced to three pairs of wan domestic squabbles...Skip this one."
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Daily Beast
January 30th, 2018

"There is plenty of humorous material in 'Cardinal', but the play doesn't know how much it wants to make us laugh versus clasp our hands together in worry and concern about the state of urban America...Wants to find the funny in something that it also wants us to not laugh at. It wants to be snappy and fun, and it also wants to be Arthur Miller. The characters are a little impossible to connect to, or to root for."
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Financial Times (UK)
January 31st, 2018

"Telling a story about urban decay from such a detached and materially comfortable perspective creates an unbalanced work...Pierce’s script also awkwardly plays up stereotypes of Chinese and Jewish acquisitiveness. Another weakness here is characterisation...Under Whoriskey’s brisk direction, their on-the-nose exchanges sound as if they belong in a passable TV sitcom...Political theatre needs to create a language of its own."
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NJ.com
January 31st, 2018

"Chlumsky is one of the best reasons to see 'Cardinal', Greg Pierce's likable if uneven new comedy-drama...Pierce never quite gets a handle on the show's tone, which veers uneasily from broad satire to pathos to melodrama...Still, I appreciated this show's ambitious, restless energy...Pally doesn't entirely make sense of the somewhat confusing Jeff character...but the supporting cast is solid...Chlumsky anchors the show with a performance that is wily, funny and fast."
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Epoch Times
February 6th, 2018

"Although there is no real villain in the story, there’s no one to really root for either. Lydia, who’s in almost every scene, turns out to be the least developed character in the play...The story would have also benefited had the audience had a chance to see a wider cross section of townspeople. Direction by Kate Whoriskey works well. She keeps the action moving nicely, as well as making sure the tension level is kept high in the various confrontations that occur, be they comical or dramatic."
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NorthJersey.com
February 8th, 2018

"Pierce finds himself here overwhelmed with ideas that go nowhere. There is an overabundance of thoughts that might be going on in Pierce’s mind but mapping them out into a play despite Kate Whoriskey’s capable direction falls flat and tiresome...Pierce has written a mostly theoretical play about how ideas to help a deteriorating town can take a downward turn but never involves the audience which is its fatal flaw. The play should pack a potency and punch which it severely lacks."
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