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Cool Hand Luke

From 9 critic and 1 member reviews
Members say: Relevant, Intense, Entertaining, Masterful, Intelligent

About the show

An adaptation of the novel, 'Cool Hand Luke' is a tale of sticking it to "The Man." More…

Under the scorching Florida sun, Boss Godfrey watches the chain gang and keeps his eye on Cool Hand Luke - war hero, trouble-maker, and inspiration to his fellow inmates - just the kind of man the Boss needs to crush. For Luke's defiance and harrowing escapes bring the hope of freedom to his fellow inmates.

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"The stage is alive with convict sweat, cruelty by brutal overseers, prisoner relationships...The story comes through with full passion as a result of its superb cast and excellent staging in a small space. The effect is constantly as gripping as it is sad and unsettling." Full Review


"Despite how well realized this incarnation of 'Cool Hand Luke' is, the pacing periodically slows down. That has more to do with the structure of the source material than flaws in the presentation. Still, overall it is compelling, and is a tribute to free spirited mavericks combatting authority." Full Review


"This version is a distilled and intense rendering of the tale but might leave fans of the film a whiff disappointed...But if you can ignore that screen ghost, this 'Cool Hand Luke' has much going for it...The allegorical element is overdone...Despite the piece's flaws, this 'Cool Hand Luke' is well worth a look." Full Review

NY Theatre Guide

"'Cool Hand Luke' is an evening of introspective Southern storytelling. It aches and hopes in the way that only a dirty sense of desperation can preach. You’ll wish for Luke what he can never wish for himself, and in the long run, that’s all you can hope for." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"This staging has no real frills. There is no furniture and there are no props, just an oppressively minimalistic thrumming of compositions keep us in Luke's head, even when the strident shotgun pumps do a bit too much. The less is more tack works...We are given a much better vantage into what makes the titular man tick." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"This relentlessly bleak scenario is one reason why 'Cool Hand Luke' proves less successful. Also, Reeves' script, for all its serrated-edge sentences and tense confrontations, is weak on characterization....If it is a tougher, less accessible experience, it's easy to admire the enormous precision and discipline with which the members of Godlight go about their business. This is the rare theatre company that contributes something indisputably unique to the New York theatre scene." Full Review

New York Post

"While the physical setting is impressively rendered, Emma Reeves’ adaptation struggles with pacing. Most of the time, we’re left watching an evocative world in which little happens. Still, director Tantalo and his team are creating a recognizable signature style." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"'Cool Hand Luke' can’t exist without a powerful presence at its heart, a presence that will draw not only the other character to it but the audience as well. Absent that presence, the ending fails to move us as it should; in a work like this that’s fatal...Much as the company's work is admirable, their casting limitations suggest that maybe story-driven books and films should take precedence over those centered on a single character of such memorable dimensions." Full Review

The New York Times

"The adaptation is economical, though in the director’s minimalist, highly formalized staging it can also seem repetitive. One scene of men working with pickaxes very much resembles another...But the piece as a whole, which both starts and ends in Luke’s death, lacks impact. However undeserving his death, you’re not too sorry to see Luke go." Full Review

Cast & Creatives

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