New York | 1h 15m | Already closed

Church & State

From 17 critic and 212 member reviews
Members say: Relevant, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Entertaining

About the show

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

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.

1h 15m | Already closed | New World Stages (Midtown W)

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


“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

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

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


"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

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


"'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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


“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

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


“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

Absorbing, Great acting, Excruciating, Resonant, Intense

See it if You are concerned about society You appreciate excellent acting You appreciatre small, exquisetly acted plays that pack a wallop

Don't see it if You aren't concerned about the NRA you have no feelings about the world around us you don't like small intimate theatre that leaves a messag

Absorbing, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if You want a brilliantly acting cohesive team providing a stimulating politically astute play.

Don't see it if You don't want to think about the political and moral implications of our actions.

Absorbing, Intense, Profound

See it if You enjoy thought provoking theatre

Don't see it if You have personal loss from shootings

Clever, Delightful, Funny

See it if Clever really good

Don't see it if Very funny

Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Absorbing

See it if You want an intelligent discussion of politics and life.

Don't see it if You feel you think the current political machine it running smoothly with no need for improvement.

Entertaining, Excellently acted, Serious comedy, Must see, Surprising

See it if you want to see a well written play performed by an excellent cast. Fast paced and very topical.

Don't see it if you don't like short plays with a lot of dialogue in a small theater dealing with politics and religion in a humorous but serious manner.

Clever, Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if You are interested in an intelligent discussion about gun control presented with a dramatic, compelling story.

Don't see it if You are unwilling to listen to well reasoned arguments against your position on gun control (no matter which side you are on).

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Riveting, Must see

See it if Smart and surprising play about government and what happens when a republican stops believing all the bs. very funny and surprisingly moving

Don't see it if You rather see a musical.

Funny, Entertaining, Edgy, Ambitious, Thought-provoking

See it if You keep up with politics and political controversy. It parallels real life politics so I think an open mind is important.

Don't see it if your political views are extreme. This is not a musical either so for those who like musicals, you will be disappointed.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing

See it if You appreciate excellent writing, a thoroughly worked out story, and highly competent acting and directing. One of the best plays I have see

Don't see it if You object to being moved. Seriously, everyone must see this play.

Also What a fabulous play. It did not last long enough in NY, but with luck... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Funny, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy comedies with a message. The acting is uniformily fine. It is well paced and it has a gripping ending.

Don't see it if You cannot tolerate Southern accents or too easy ethnic or regional jokes.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Clever

See it if As a foreigner from a country neither politics nor religion are of a topic of daily conversation, every script was powerful and eye-opening.

Don't see it if you are looking for comedy, not "serious comedy"

Must see, Profound, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy shows about topical subjects. This show should be required viewing for everyone!

Don't see it if You're afraid to think about common sense gun control laws.

Absorbing, Funny, Great acting, Relevant

See it if You enjoy an extremely well acted,well written play about issues that need to be discussed. A funny play about a serious issue-gun control

Don't see it if You want singing and dancing. This is a very talented cast bringing light to a topical issue.

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

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.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if If you want to see a smart play about the state of today's world and how we can't keeping sitting down doing nothing. I left in tears.

Don't see it if If you wanna sing and dance for the evening.

Move over oslo, this is a play that resonates with americans who have a brain

See it if You want to feel something personal: and what works is the even handed way the playwright makes his case. Guns: the "American Dream": NO!

Don't see it if You love Trump and the rest of the idiots who make you want to vomit in the current administrations.

Also Worth the admission price: the writing has bite and the performances a... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Funny, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if You care about the contemporary moment and issues facing the nation. You're a questioning religious person, you want to laugh

Don't see it if You don't like your beliefs being questioned (if you're pro gun or very religious) it's difficult for you to follow quick, often dry humor

Intense, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great acting

See it if You're into politics and want something thought-provoking.

Don't see it if You're a Republican.

Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Intelligent, Clever

See it if You like timely, funny, moving, well-written and acted theater. A terrific night at the theater.

Don't see it if No reason not to see it!

Clever, Great acting, Funny, Entertaining, Intelligent

See it if Can find politics funny.

Don't see it if Have no sense of humor.

Clever, Great writing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You're interested in issues relating to gun violence

Don't see it if You're not interested in issues dealing with gun violence or are offended by profanity

Clever, Great writing, Intelligent, Resonant, Fair

See it if you like political themes; you like a twist at the end; you like fair presentation of all sides with humor and heart;

Don't see it if you hate southerners; you do not like politically themed plays that are current; you don't like guns; you dislike Jesus infused in stories;

Also all sides represented; while there is a point of view of the play you ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Funny

See it if you like comedies

Don't see it if you don't like comedies

Thought-provoking, Riveting, Relevant, Intelligent, 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.

Cast & Creatives (15)