Cyprus Avenue
Closed 1h 40m
Cyprus Avenue
78

Cyprus Avenue NYC Reviews and Tickets

78%
(112 Reviews)
Positive
80%
Mixed
15%
Negative
5%
Members say
Great acting, Intense, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Edgy

About the Show

The Public presents the Abbey Theatre and the Royal Court Theatre's subversively funny and savage new play about one man trying to make sense of a radically changed world. Starring Oscar nominee Stephen Rea.

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Member Reviews (112)

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69
Violent, Dark, Unenlightening, Strong acting, Uneven tone

See it if you're interested in psychotic prejudice, played 1st for laughs, then bloody horror. Emotional whiplash. Absurdism uneasily mixed w realism.

Don't see it if you dislike ruthless violence, especially after humor. Therapy sessions seemed pointless, given the crimes. Strong acting; flawed script.

69
Uneven, Great acting, Poor character development, Disturbing

See it if you don't mind disturbing violence. that part is harsh but interesting.

Don't see it if you don't care about Irish political name dropping for 30 min with no effect on the rest of the play. All other characters are props. Read more

Critic Reviews (39)

The New York Times
June 25th, 2018

"Mr. Ireland’s analysis of the ambivalence in Eric’s identity crisis is often inspired. The use in 'Cyprus Avenue' of the sessions with the therapist — who speaks the language of political correctness — as a structural anchor feels like a safe and conventional choice. While the entire ensemble is very good, the play is at its most compelling when you feel you’re stuck inside Eric’s deluded mind...It’s Mr. Rea who puts us smack in the middle of one man’s tenacious, besieged, quivering sense of self."
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Time Out New York
June 25th, 2018

“A baffling waste of resources and time, Ireland’s failed black comedy stretches a single bad analogy into a numbing 100 minutes. Rea plays Eric, an Ulster Unionist...with anti-Catholic feeling...Eric spews great gouts of bigotry which is meant to shock us...and into seeing that such foulness is wrong...Racism can be like madness, but it’s not actually useful to pretend it’s the same thing as psychotic derangement—a distinction this repetitive, smug, underthought play blithely ignores.”
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The Hollywood Reporter
June 25th, 2018

"'Cyprus Avenue' is the sort of subversive piece designed to be both horrifying and funny. The play fulfills those aspirations to a degree, but too often at the expense of being alternately alienating and, strangely enough, boring...Still, the production is a must-see if only for the opportunity to watch Stephen Rea deliver a tour-de-force performance that almost, but not quite, compensates for the work's grueling aspects."
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Deadline
June 25th, 2018

"The easy step from bigotry and ideological entrenchments to outright madness gets a timely depiction...Neither Ireland nor Featherstone want merely to show what madmen do when tethers snap, but rather to suggest what causes the snapping in the first place...The cast is superb...Rea is the star of 'Cypress Avenue,' and chilling in the role, a man so convinced of his rightness that madness seems almost logical."
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Theatermania
June 25th, 2018

"The sheer shock of the boundaries that Ireland and director Vicky Featherstone are willing to cross onstage coupled with the jolt of self-reflection, make 'Cyprus Avenue' a play that everyone should see, but one I wouldn't wish my worst enemy to sit through twice. It's one of the most unsettling experiences in a theater you're likely to have, but it's also one of the most cohesive articulations of the cultural civil war in which the world finds itself and the unfathomable cliffs we're speeding toward."
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BroadwayWorld
June 27th, 2018

"On the surface, the plot of 'Cyprus Avenue' is just a little too weird to take seriously, and that's one of the strengths of David Ireland's creepy drama, as director Vicky Featherstone seamlessly transitions the piece from cerebral exploration to dark comedy to a sickeningly violent ending...Featherstone uses the substance judiciously and symbolically, never allowing sensationalism to overshadow the horror of what is going on in Eric's mind."
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Lighting & Sound America
June 26th, 2018

“A fine actor giving a tour-de-force performance in a play that goes irreparably off the rails...Ireland's play aims for Swiftian satire but settles for being a grim, exploitative cartoon, more interested in rattling the audience's nerves than in making any cogent psychological or political points...’Cyprus Avenue’ is rather like being buttonholed at a party by some loud, obnoxious drunk who won't shut up...One of the dreariest evenings that the Public has presented in a long, long time.”
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Talkin' Broadway
June 25th, 2018

"A gut-wrenching presentation that starts out in the world of pitch black humor and rapidly descends into unchecked psychosis...If you can handle the pernicious content, you will surely find Rea's astonishing performance etched into your memory for a long time to come. Mr. Corrigan as Slim is nearly as powerful as Rea in depicting the unraveled mind of the unleashed soldier-of-war...If nothing else 'Cyprus Avenue' makes for a hell of a cautionary tale against unbridled xenophobia."
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New York Stage Review
June 25th, 2018

"A harrowing new drama...Composed with eerily eloquent monologues for Eric during which he describes his misperceptions of identity and culture, the well-written but extremely bleak 'Cyprus Avenue' is a disturbing portrait of man driven mad by the world that is seething around him...For American spectators who have little knowledge about 'The Troubles,' 'Cyprus Avenue' may be a challenge to appreciate fully. The shocking nature of its climax also may be offensive to certain viewers."
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New York Stage Review
June 25th, 2018

"As a history lesson, 'Cyprus Avenue' is actually quite illuminating...However, as a play, 'Cyprus Avenue' is a frustrating, even excruciating, 100-minute exercise...We get precious little insight into the proudly British Eric’s presumably prejudiced upbringing...Considering that his character is practically a cipher, Rea does an admirable job creating something out of nothing, and navigates the script’s jarring tonal shifts."
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TheaterScene.net
July 6th, 2018

“While David Ireland's ‘Cyprus Avenue’ is challenging in its theme and ultimately riveting theater for its excessive violence, most theatergoers will find it upsetting for all the wrong reasons. Similar in its effect to Edward Bond's controversial ‘Saved’ from 1965, but while that play attempted to sum up the feelings of a new generation, ‘Cyprus Avenue’ fails to make a case for Eric's anger other than as a given.”
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Theater Pizzazz
June 26th, 2018

“This can’t be happening – can it? – we think, laughing at the outrageousness of it all….Ireland is a dramatist who commands our attention, despite the price we pay. His play transcends the topicality of Northern Ireland’s tragic history…Featherstone choreographs the mounting tension with skill and precision…The ensemble is superb. Stephen Rea is riveting…It’s a dangerous play and a hard one to watch, but it will stay with you long after its shocking ending.”
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CurtainUp
June 25th, 2018

"Though this is hardly a feel good experience, I left exhilarated by Rea's subtly nuanced performance but also a bit as if someone had punched me in the stomach — not just by what I witnessed but by the all too clear paralells between the identity crisis that triggers Eric's tragedy and the way the current administration has triggered our own confusion...Disturbing as it may be, no one interested in provocative new plays and top of the line acting, will want to miss seeing 'Cyprus Avenue.'"
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Front Row Center
June 27th, 2018

"Ireland is an extraordinary writer. And the word needs to make it off the page like a foal getting up on its legs. For that you need an actor who is a chemist, a chameleon, and a magician. Rea is all of that and more. Then you need a director who intuits how best to guide such a performer...Featherstone appears to be such a person…A master class in the art of acting...This is the magic that is theatre. This is the transformation that theatre promises staring you in the face."
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Front Mezz Junkies
June 25th, 2018

"Quite the disturbing treat. Powerfully written by the wickedly crazy David Ireland...It’s frightening to watch, especially at a time when we see bigotry and racism flying high and wildly within politics world-wide, but to see it played out within Eric’s small tight family is quite another story...I hope I never see something like that act its way out in the real world, but on the stage, it is mesmerizing."
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T
July 17th, 2018

“Sneaks up on the audience like a cat burglar armed with an AK-15 assault rifle...Disquieting play...Ireland has pushed the plot driven by character’s maniacal temperament to the limit of moral turpitude and beyond...Under Featherstone’s impressive direction, Rea commandeers the stage as soon as he steps upon it and never surrenders the exquisite control he has over his maniacal character...Could not be more relevant and more chilling.”
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New York Theater
June 26th, 2018

“Full of dark absurdist humor that can be funny. Rea’s performance is often entertaining and always impressive...But when Eric goes from spewing ugly language to committing horrifying acts of violence, the play sinks from the weight of its artifice...There is never a moment when his insanity feels real...The playwright seems content to leave it as a metaphor and a moral: hatred can be self-destructive. It’s too obvious a point to make the audience willing participants."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
July 2nd, 2018

"I admit being gripped by Ireland's often corrosively toxic, yet bitingly funny, language; by the…excellence of the five-member cast…and-for a few moments…by the play's premise and point of view. Eventually, though, 'Cyprus Avenue'…is unable to maintain a minimal level of plausibility, forcing you to watch its wheels spinning mainly under the power of its vibrant acting…For all its discomfiting dramatic tension and vicious behavior, 'Cyprus Avenue'…is too exaggerated to take seriously."
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Times Square Chronicles
July 1st, 2018

"The play takes a darkly horrifying turn that had me wondering about the state of our humanity. All the performances here are masterful with Stephen Rea mesmerizing us with his 'Silence of The Lambs' star turn...Featherstone allows the tension to build like a horror film...Everything about this play is well done...There is something lacking in this play as to why Eric does what he does...I left this play saddened with more questions and horrified about where we have and could go."
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Gotham Playgoer
June 25th, 2018

"Rarely have I left a theater feeling so emotionally drained. David Ireland has written a very, very black comedy...The last 20 or so minutes of the play were excruciating to sit through. I felt manipulated, exhausted and angry. The entire cast is strong, particularly Rea and Corrigan...Whether the opportunity to see Stephen Rea in an absurdist play that is highly relevant to our world is worth sitting through the play’s shocking finale is a close call."
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The Wrap
June 25th, 2018

"Crazy people in real life are usually not very entertaining. They’re dull, incoherent, banal and very repetitious in what they have to say. Which sums up the character of Eric in David Ireland’s play 'Cyprus Avenue'...Rea’s performance can best be described as dogged and unrelenting. He’s just as intense with his first mouthful of bile as his last, and Eric has a lot of bile to chew and spew out in the course of this 110-minute play."
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Wolf Entertainment Guide
June 26th, 2018

"The work, a mix of dark comedy and tragedy, is forcefully staged by Vicky Featherstone and sparkles with a superb performance by Stephen Rea....The author is unflinching in the writing, and the director keeps faith with the outlook and presents the tale to the hilt. The dark drama—one might also label it a black comedy-- has a major reward with the gripping, complex performance by Rea and with the no-holds-barred staging. But be prepared. "
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W
July 10th, 2018

“Setting it in bourgeois Belfast...allows savagery to creep up on an audience rather than reducing its effect. There are so many facets with which to engage, we’re distracted…until we can’t turn away. If there’s a better theatrical depiction of bigotry gone mad (outside of Shakespeare), I can’t recall it...Rea is marvelous...Featherstone implies and withholds with terrific discipline, so nothing is revealed before its time. Pacing engrosses. Eruptions jolt.."
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Broadway & Me
July 14th, 2018

“I gasped right along with everyone else in the audience as Eric committed one horrific act after another. And the great actor Stephen Rea's characteristically committed portrayal of Eric had me straining to understand how such a seeming everyman could end up so tragically wrong...We're supposed to see this play as a cautionary tale...But Eric is presented as so deeply delusional that there's no real connection between his story and those of the real-life people who commit terrifying acts."
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Daily Beast
June 25th, 2018

"Rea is terrifying, and terrifyingly magnetic, yet the play—witty in places, and best in dwelling in Eric’s more quiet mordancy—torpedoes itself by making him a deranged madman. The play lets Eric, and the brilliant Rea, down...Any political or cultural satire is blunted because Eric is totally, dangerously mad...It feels gratuitous, and so does 'Cyprus Avenue'—the blood and nuttiness sadly superseding whatever bigger points the play seeks to make through its lunatic central character."
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Financial Times (UK)
June 26th, 2018

"Veers from macabre comedy to all-out horror...'Cyprus Avenue' has much to say about Eric’s obsession with stereotypes but itself offers a mostly stereotypical, though not entirely unfounded view of Northern Irish Protestantism...For all its dramatic accomplishment, Ireland’s play lacks a bit of political nuance."
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Epoch Times
June 27th, 2018

"Hilarious, brilliant, and stomach-turning...Quite often the best way to get a message across is first to defuse controversy with laughter. Ireland masterfully does just that by taking a seemingly sane character and creating a completely outlandish set of circumstances...The play is helped tremendously by Featherstone’s on-point direction...Most importantly, Featherstone makes sure Eric’s diatribes never lag or seem overly pretentious...As Eric, Rea is nothing less than superb."
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Plays to See
June 27th, 2018

"The talented cast is matched by David Ireland’s sharp, fiercely witty writing. The descriptive way in which Eric tries to paint for us, with tireless monologues, the lens through which he sees the world is fascinating. And it is funny...So you’ll laugh – a lot... As you grapple with the overwhelming political themes, you are almost blindsided by the cutting personal tragedy of Shakespearean proportions."
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New York Irish Arts
July 22nd, 2018

"Some parts of...'Cyprus Avenue' are chilling. Some parts of it are funny. A few are haunting. The play showcases a shimmering voice, a remarkable performance from Stephen Rea...So much of the play is wonderful. Some moments are full of theatricality and poignancy...There’s also a lot of humor...But. The set-up itself is tired, and doesn’t go anywhere...The play is very dark. But what it isn’t, ultimately, is surprising...Ultimately, it’s worth it anyway."
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The New York Times
April 22nd, 2016
For a previous production

"As genuinely shocking a play as I’ve come across...Don’t worry if you’re not up on the language of Fenians and Loyalists...in which Ireland’s take-no-prisoners writing is steeped...The playwright folds bitterly dark humor into the gatheringly forbidding mix...There is nothing remotely funny, though, about the concluding passages of a play unafraid to posit terrorism itself as a form of psychosis...The abiding chill cast by the play even now is hard to shake."
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The Guardian (UK)
April 11th, 2016
For a previous production

"What makes Ireland’s play so terrifying is that it takes fanaticism to its logical conclusion and laces lunacy with laughter...The whole play is about a man whose sense of self is so shaken that he has to confirm his prejudices by committing acts of appalling cruelty...Ireland uses the blackest of comedy to expose the absurdity of sectarian hatred...I found the climactic violence hard to watch; I almost wish Ireland had left it implicit rather than physically stated."
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The Telegraph (UK)
April 8th, 2016
For a previous production

"Ireland’s queasily entertaining, bleakly funny and finally shocking, blood-soaked play...This is a hard play to watch because it gives casual voice to so much prejudice and hatred – and also because it pushes you to laugh at things you know you’re not supposed to laugh at. It’s a theatrical ambush, booby-trapped at every turn. Yet compulsive viewing...Strange, silly and savage – and I'd say borderline unmissable."
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What's On Stage (UK)
April 8th, 2016
For a previous production

"There's a frazzled lunacy to David Ireland's black comedy. He writes with a McDonagh-ish mischief, toying with taboos and a violent absurdity...The play spins itself into a tizz – getting a bit knotted in the middle – until it pops with an altogether unexpected ending. The brilliance of Rea's performance is that he never lets on until it's too late...Featherstone's production plays up the tangy comedy."
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Time Out London
April 8th, 2016
For a previous production

"An absurdist satire...Featherstone’s smart, efficient production...Structurally it’s all over the shop...Rea holds it all together phenomenally, bringing both a tremendous gravitas to bear but also absolutely sensational deadpan comic timing...‘Cyprus Avenue’ eventually scampers off completely beyond the pale with a gleefulness that rather blunts the moral point it’s very obviously trying to make. Still, as I say, it is undeniably funny, probably a braver play than I entirely appreciate."
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The Stage (UK)
April 8th, 2016
For a previous production

"Ireland’s disturbing and absurdist play about the complexity of Ulster loyalist identity...At times Featherstone’s production resembles a brutal skit on the export of Irish culture, but at its best it’s altogether more long-limbed and questioning. There’s a jolting quality to the comedy. Rea handles the play’s shifts in tone and register superbly – he’s appalling but he’s also appallingly plausible, a melancholy and desperate man...This is caustic, audience-rattling writing, theatre that shakes you up."
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Financial Times (UK)
April 11th, 2016
For a previous production

"We see Rea onstage far too seldom...He is a consummate actor...The whole project is a fortuitous coming-together...Featherstone knows Belfast-born, Glasgow-based actor-turned-playwright Ireland from her time running the National Theatre of Scotland...Deals in offbeat but penetrating ways with issues of identity and isolation. The laughs stick in your throat, the serious questions lodge in your head."
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The Guardian (UK)
April 17th, 2016
For a previous production

"Ireland’s new play combines horror and humour and thought in bone-shaking proportions. Featherstone’s production is taut. I can’t remember when I saw a play that was so utterly clear yet had such a startling destination. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one so forcefully propelled by a comic idea...Rea is quiet, furrowed, patient, perfectly controlled...It ends with terrifying violence...Terrifying because it is logically prepared for and yet totally unexpected."
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Irish Times
February 17th, 2016
For a previous production

"The provocation of Ireland’s play is to make Eric’s identity crisis stand for the predicament of loyalism...The challenge of the production, though, is to bring the audience into his mind-set...These are cues here, and in various speeches that distend reality, that the production might have been bolder in staging Eric’s delusion. But Featherstone prefers the anchor of realism...That makes it harder for the performance to scale the peaks of devastation."
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Independent.IE
February 18th, 2016
For a previous production

"The plot is expertly spun and completely unpredictable. Featherstone strikes a pitch-perfect tone and lures the audience into a cosy comical state...Plenty of humour; some in wretchedly bad taste, arising from racist comments and coarse language, so the laughter feels transgressive...By the end, the smiles are wiped away...Rea’s superb talent, here witnessed up close in the round, is a treat not to be missed...Ireland is clearly a provocateur, the writing is brilliant and sharp as a blade."
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