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Church & State

Members say: Relevant, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Entertaining
80
Critics
74
17 reviews
Members
80
211 reviews
 

Emmy-nominated writer Jason Odell Williams' fast-paced comedy about faith, politics, and “The Twitter” makes its New York debut.

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Three days before his bid for re-election in North Carolina, a Republican US senator makes an off-the-cuff comment to a blogger that calls into question the politico's belief in God. His devoutly Christian wife and liberal Jewish campaign manager try to contain the damage. This comic look at how religion, guns, and social media influence our political system aims to be honest, affecting, and uplifting.

 

Cast & Creatives (15)



Reviews (228)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
74
Avg Score

25
Theatermania

“We wish some of the actors would go off-script after hearing the first several of Williams' groan-inducing jokes…Bowers gives a performance commensurate with the script, mugging and shouting her way through what feels like an endless 75 minutes…Director Markus Potter stages a zippy production that hits all the requisite comic beats, but that can only do so much to compensate for lousy source material…About as deep as a child's wading pool.” Full Review

75
Time Out New York

"Williams is adept at jacking up the tension, and he leavens potentially leaden debates with plenty of humor...When’s the last time you left a play complaining that it was too short? This one zips by so fast, you barely have time to catch your breath; its brevity may well be part of the message. Even if Williams's script ends up more as position paper than play, the writer-director, aided by a crack cast, has come up with an efficient delivery system for words that need to be said and heard." Full Review

65
Lighting & Sound America

"The author switches tone so abruptly you can practically hear the play's gears being stripped...'Church & State' never really outstays its welcome, thanks to Markus Potter's crisp, faultlessly timed direction, and a highly professional cast...Caught between sitcom gagging and deadly serious matters, 'Church & State' ends up a little bit stranded. Williams hasn't managed to fuse his disparate elements into a single striking whole. Even when his play is funny, it's no laughing matter." Full Review

65
Broadway Blog

“'Church & State,' a thoughtful but patchy political dramedy...teeters uncomfortably between broad comedy and grave issues, seeking every opportunity to garner laughs and argue politics and religion...For all the potential interest in 'Church & State's' polemics, everything is abridged for immediate gratification, with too many cheap jokes that create an air of superficiality and implausibility...Nagle gives the play ballast by making Whitmore believably sincere and emotionally vulnerable.” Full Review

85
Front Row Center

“Playwright Jason Odell Williams beats every comic moment out of the cultural differences of these disparate people, and lulls the audience into a comfortable complacency…‘Church & State’ slams you with import. You do not see it coming…Williams writes an unlikely hero, then someone casts a remarkable actor, Rob Nagle, who makes him breathe…’Church & State’ packs surprising philosophical punch, though dressed as a comedy.” Full Review

95
Times Square Chronicles

"Witty, smart, timely...'Church & State' will leave you deeply entertained, but will stimulate your brain...Stealing the show is Nadia Bowers...Williams has written Sara some of the best lines I’ve ever heard...Director Markus Potter keeps the pace going and walks that fine line between comedy and drama. He brings out the best in his cast and makes this about the play and its words...This play is definitely on my list for one of the best plays of the year." Full Review

85
Theatre Reviews Limited

"It is a midlife crisis on steroids and Rob Nagle portrays the Senator’s dilemma with extraordinary authenticity and strength. Mr. Nagle’s bravura performance is the fulcrum of Jason Odell Williams’s engaging play...Under Markus Potter’s even direction, 'Church & State' is a worthy examination of the values needed to be in the service of the public in America at this pivotal point in its history, and the play raises several significant enduring questions deserving answers." Full Review

75
Front Mezz Junkies

"I was not prepared for this crisp, well-written examination of god, guns, and government. It is true that it has moments of hilarity, but the bones of this play have something far more serious to say...Finely directed by Markus Potter with great atunement for the humor underneath the seriousness...The last few scenes are shockingly powerful and carry a strong sense of purpose. Possibly a bit on the convoluted side as it comes to an end, the message is clear and desperately needed." Full Review

90
TheaterScene.net

“Initially a very light comedy, Jason Odell Williams' engrossing and entertaining ‘Church & State’ becomes deadly serious on the topic of gun control and religious beliefs in politics. While some of the characters are stereotypes, they change enough that this is more than a sitcom. As directed by Markus Potter, this is a fast-paced, clever and funny comedy with an important message. It is not afraid to take on big issues in a sitcom manner.” Full Review

85
Act Three - The Reviews

"Grabs you and shakes you to the core...Mr. Williams' new play is a wonderful amalgamation of politics and religion. It may have a point of view, but it certainly treats all sides fairly...Make no mistake, the action unfolds in a deliberate manner to garner the highest dramatic effect—and by high i mean stratospheric...While impactful the play is never preachy or extremely biased. A great piece of theater at a very opportune time." Full Review

75
Theater Pizzazz

“Williams doesn’t let us get away with living through this liberal fantasy unscathed…‘Church & State’ is the political equivalent of fan fiction, in which audience members (presumably left leaning) get to indulge a scenario that feels perfectly logical, and which, ideally, would bring a reasonable resolution to an incredibly complex and divisive issue. It certainly would be pretty to see it all wrapped up so tidily. And for just a moment we’re allowed to go there. It’s kinda nice.” Full Review

60
DC Metro Theater Arts

"Directed at a rapid-fire pace by Markus Potter, the play’s mood instantly shifts from ridiculous to sobering...Rob Nagle turns in a fine performance as the conflicted Senator...Unfortunately, throughout most of the show, the two female characters offer little more than the same old predictable stereotype of the domineering woman...The script treads on very familiar ground...But it does strike a resonant note about listening to the perspective of others." Full Review

85
CurtainUp

"A refreshing new play about faith, politics, and the power of social media. Witty, funny, and fast-paced, it unapologetically pours on the propaganda and places the moral compass at center stage...Though the shadow of gun violence hangs heavy over 'Church & State' the script is peppered with humor, wit, and deep compassion. Williams also creates three-dimensional characters that hold your attention and make you care about them...Sensitively directed by Markus Potter." Full Review

80
Reflections in the Light

“Williams allows himself some stereotypes when writing about Christian characters…But the playwright also surprises by making the characters likable and not making them closed-minded…Director Markus Potter creates a nice balance between humor and serious material and keeps the audience engaged for the short 75-minute production. This is a great show to attend with people with whom you'd like to have a long discussion with after." Full Review

65
TheaterScene.com

“It spins it out vigorously, proffering some funny lines and jarring surprises in 75 tightly packed minutes. Thoughtful as it is, though, it’s also surfacey, and you exit wishing Williams had spent more time in the deep end…Markus Potter directs with his foot on the gas, encouraging the kind of overlapping conversations that make it impossible to hear what everybody’s saying. Too bad, because much of Williams’s dialog is diverting, and it’s a mostly crackerjack cast.” Full Review

85
ZEALnyc

"'Church & State,' fittingly billed as a serious comedy, hits the mark...Jason Odell Williams, the playwright, adeptly uses his play and characters to tackle weighty issues. The 75-minute drama moves through several twists, and packs in a great deal of debate and emotion in a short period of time. Mr. Williams also frequently provides unforgettable laugh-out-loud lines...The four cast members are stellar." Full Review

80
LI Herald

“‘Church & State’ tackles the thorny issues of religion and gun control in politics in the U.S. today…The election results are pleasantly surprising, but the ending of the play is disturbing and shocking. Rob Nagle is excellent as the conflicted senator. He’s sincere and convincing (I was ready to give him my vote)...Playwright Jason Odell Williams sends a powerful message, one that resonates long after the play ends.” Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
80
Avg Score

73
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if You want to see a play deal with politics, religion and gun control.

Don't see it if This was veiled as a comedy, but really this was a serious play.

76
Great acting, Intense, Slow

See it if you are looking for a show that explores controversial subjects. It is very moving and surprising.

Don't see it if you expect it to be a comedy. It gets very serious abruptly.

87
Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Riveting, Entertaining

See it if You liked White Guy...Bus. This show addresses several hot-button issues stylishly. We need more shows like these two. It's not a comedy.

Don't see it if You're on political overload and don't want to think in the theatre. Every cliché in the book is there on stage, but skillfully done.

85
Funny, Clever, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You enjoy dark comedies about current political realities. This play addresses gun violence is a very direct and constructive way.

Don't see it if You don't like to mix politics with your entertainment. This show hits you over the head with its political perspective.

Also Ideal for democrats and progressives who want to confirm what they alr... Read more Read less

60
Banal, Disappointing, Cliched, Insipid

See it if You want to hear polemics about gun control and have not even a grade school education about separation of church & state, want cheap laughs

Don't see it if Mercifully short, there is really no reason to see this clinker, save for a decent performance from the lead character. Superficial & banal

80
Clever, Relevant, Resonant, Great staging

See it if A show that questions if politics, religion & gun control belong in the same arena. Some humor helps get points across. Thought provoking.

Don't see it if You don't want to hear about politics, religion & gun control. If questioning existence of a "God" offends you.

Also This show will definitely divide an audience based in their beliefs in... Read more Read less

31
Banal, Disappointing, Insipid

See it if You want to see a play that deals with very serious topics( guns, faith & politics ) with a simple staging

Don't see it if You want to avoid a play that deals with guns & faith. It pretends to be a serious "work" but in the end is like a bad and long SNL sketch

Also I don't recommend New World Stages to anybody. They are the rudest peo... Read more Read less

82
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant, Interesting, Entertaining

See it if You like plays wonderfully acted about current topics -that make you think, without hitting you over the head.

Don't see it if You are not open to interpretation of ideas.

78
Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if If a short play, about 70 minutes, that covers politics, faith and gun violence sounds interesting. See it.

Don't see it if If you feel that there should be no regulations on who can own any type of gun. Do not go.

83
Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Entertaining, Short

See it if you like to see behind the scenes dynamics of a politican, his wife & staff as they deal w/ their conflicting political & personal values.

Don't see it if you expect more comedy than serious treatment of the subject matter: of gun laws, a politician's faith & how this affects his politics.

94
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing

See it if You want a play that deals w/faith & politics: what happens when both are challenged? You want great writing & acting.

Don't see it if You're uncomfortable w/discussions on gun violence or questioning religion.

79
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Profound, Relevant, Resonant

See it if no matter what your party, u will find the result of a politician's change of heart, after a shooting of innocent children, a worthy story

Don't see it if you're narrow minded, & out for typical Broadway fare. If you aren't drawn to any of the political dramas on television, I'd skip this one!

85
Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You like a good political drama.

Don't see it if You're over elections and politics

80
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant, Uneven

See it if You are interested in a clever show about politics, gun control and religion.

Don't see it if You aren't interested in a play which, though humorous at times, is primarily a serous political statement.

Also The last act was done so quickly that it was difficult to absorb all o... Read more Read less

65
Relevant, Slow, Entertaining, Fluffy, Circular

See it if you are passionate about plays that explore politics, faith and gun control.

Don't see it if you expect there to be action or you'd like the ending to resonate.

80
Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Great writing

See it if great writing; lead actor was fantastic; relevant topics no matter what side you fall on.

Don't see it if only four actors; 75 minutes; you are closed minded on the issue of gun control

70
Relevant, Disappointing, Not funny

See it if you want an optimistic political theater.

Don't see it if you expect a "comedy" -- it's not particularly funny.

80
Absorbing, Delightful, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if You want to watch political dramas and care about issues about Christianity in politics and gun violence.

Don't see it if You are a supporter of an orange president. The first half of the play is better than the second half.

79
Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you like plays with topical plots, well acted

Don't see it if you don't like plays without intermission that deal with current events

77
Clever, Intelligent, Relevant, Cliched

See it if you like political sketches--the show was about an hour long; Southern accents; support stricter gun purchase laws.Good performance by lead.

Don't see it if you dislike political sketches and prefer fully fleshed out plots, are opposed to stricter gun control laws, dislike "preachy" plays.

77
Intelligent, Relevant, Energetic

See it if What begins as broad mockery of a southern political candidate & team develops into a focused crisis of faith. Quick-paced at 75 minutes...

Don't see it if ...but unevenly acted, there's plenty to consider as the story relates to issues in the news. Resounding coda.

82
Great acting, Relevant, Great writing, Engaging, Topical

See it if you are troubled by the current state of affairs in the U.S. & are concerned with gun control, religion & the blue state/red state divide

Don't see it if you do not question Christianity and/or the 2nd Amendment at all

Also This is billed as a comedy (it's not) and the premise is rather implau... Read more Read less

30
Disappointing, Excruciating, Cliched, Illogical

See it if you enjoy mediocrely written liberal porn. You enjoy low-brow easy laughs.

Don't see it if you prefer nuanced and thought-provoking shows about politics, religion, and guns. You don't enjoy caricaturish plays the rely on cliche.

70
Funny, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Cliched, Serious

See it if you might like a show that delves into politics & gun control in some interesting ways, acting is good despite some cliched dialogue & humor

Don't see it if you're off-put by a show which changes tones between scenes—one minute it's a banal sitcom, the next a serious monologue and social critique

70
Edgy, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Profound, Overrated

See it if you enjoy a political commentary on contemporary issues, gun control, role of religion in politics. Rob Nagle is excellent, great monologue

Don't see it if you dislike political commentary and characture roles