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Cyprus Avenue

From 39 critic and 111 member reviews
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. More…

Eric Miller is a Belfast Unionist. He is exclusively and non-negotiably British. But nowadays he is worried he might be Irish. When Eric sees a likeness between his new-born granddaughter and the Irish republican leader, Gerry Adams, his sanity starts to unravel. Determined to defend his family and his heritage, Eric’s lifetime of ingrained prejudice and unsettled identity push him to the edge.

Front Row Center

"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." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

“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.” Full Review

Epoch Times

"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." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“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.” Full Review

Plays to See

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"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." Full Review


"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.'" Full Review


"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 speedi... Full Review

Woman Around Town

“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.." Full Review

New York Irish Arts

"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." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"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." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"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." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"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. " Full Review


"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." Full Review

The New York Times

"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... Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"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." Full Review


“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.” Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"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." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"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." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"'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." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"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." Full Review

Broadway & Me

“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." Full Review

New York Theater

“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." Full Review

Daily Beast

"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." Full Review

Riveting, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Profound, Quirky

See it if u want to see the best drama this year. The play takes place in Northern Ireland but it is about America in the trump era. Excellent acting

Don't see it if you are squeamish about violence and racism.

Also A play not to be missed. A perfect parable for 2018 America and its fu... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Edgy, Masterful, Intense

See it if you appreciate extremely dark comedy, satire, and political commentary.

Don't see it if don't like violence.

Absorbing, Great acting

See it if You love great acting, brilliant writing, albeit a difficult play. Bravo Stephen Rea!

Don't see it if You don't like plays containing infanticide, insanity and insults.

Intelligent, Dizzying, Excruciating, Intense, Masterful

See it if You want an absorbing, witty, heartbreaking experience

Don't see it if You are violence-averse. This is a very intense show

Great acting, Riveting, Profound, Intelligent

See it if you want to see inside the mind of an angry older white male who feels the world is conspiring against him.

Don't see it if shocking violence and language are upsetting.

Also Stephen Rae gives one the great performances of the decade. Spellbindi... Read more Read less

Great acting, Intense, Resonant, Brutal, Funny

See it if You like pitch-black, funny, and politically resonant satires, or you have any interest in modern Irish identity.

Don't see it if You're looking for light fare or have a weak appetite for violence, verbal and physical.

Also You see words like "unflinching" thrown at all kinds of political dram... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Dizzying, Great writing, Great acting

See it if you want to finally understand what may have motivated 63 million of our countrymen to turn our country into a parody of itself.

Don't see it if you can't handle exceptionally dark comedy and a magnificently disturbing metaphor for the world we live in.

Riveting, Edgy, Profound, Relevant, Dark

See it if You want to see a dark...a very dark statement on what happens when we remain silent and do not call out hate for what it is when it occurs.

Don't see it if You can’t handle a violent stark look at the ugliest of truths about our society right now!

Riveting, Great acting, Great writing, Intense, Relevant

See it if Riveting play about how people can insanely hold onto warped perceptions of cultural identity no matter how bigoted and divisive.

Don't see it if The violence that that result for holding on intransigent opinions.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Edgy

See it if you like dark comedy with an excellent cast and writing. Very very disturbing

Don't see it if Violent, disturbing, shocking, NOT for everyone

Absorbing, Funny, Edgy, Intelligent, Riveting

See it if You like dark comedies. Really dark. Funny though. And also, did I mention, dark? You're interested in Northern Ireland.

Don't see it if You don't like violence.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You are looking for great acting in a play that will make you think. I felt wrung out and hung out to dry . This is what theatre should be

Don't see it if you are looking for a light hearted fun evening. This is a very dark play.

Absorbing, Edgy

See it if Stephen Rea! Tragic absurdism. Public Theater.

Don't see it if Politically charged and deep, personal tragedies

Great acting, Intelligent, Harrowing

See it if You like serious drama (with a lot of humor) that is universally meaningful.

Don't see it if You don’t want to see cruelty and violence in the context of political statement. This play is brilliant, but it is not for everyone.

Great acting, Great writing, Masterful, Profound, Relevant

See it if Plays in historical context interest you. You are fine with very minimal set. You can handle some gory violence in a heavy drama.

Don't see it if Off the wall characters and situations don’t disturb you so much that you can’t enjoy a play for what it is.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if Brilliant Swiftian satire on bigotry gone mad in the context of the Irish “troubles” with funny yet violent script and outstanding ensemble

Don't see it if Helpful to know northern Irish history but transcends place and context- sickening violence and very uncomfortable experience

Absorbing, Riveting, Must see

See it if Compelling story, well staged, acted, etc.

Don't see it if You hear "pulp fiction" and want to run (fast) in the opposite direction. ... But please see my "more to say."

Also Usually, I *get* the viewpoint of those who love something I hate or v... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Profound, Resonant

See it if You like to see wonderful acting and a depiction of a troubling part of recent history done with humor and pathos.

Don't see it if You know nothing of N. Irish history, don't like profanity or violence and prefer musicals or are squeamish of 'reality'.

Also It helps a lot if you go to this with some knowledge of the recent his... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to see a great performance from Stephen Rea

Don't see it if You will be offended by bigotry and truly shocking violence

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

See it if you want to see incredible acting in a story about prejudice, mental illness and denial.Stephen Rea is brilliant.Unsettling script.Profound

Don't see it if you want something light or are squeamish.Acting is superb.Writing is excellent.This one makes you think about anger and politics. Relevant.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Masterful, Intense

See it if you love intense drama and are ready for a master class from stephen rhea. thought provoking and chilling.

Don't see it if you don't like thinking!

Intense, Edgy, Great acting, Relevant, Intelligent

See it if You want to see effective acting concerning a very disturbing topical subject.

Don't see it if You can’t handle intense physical violence in your entertainment.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Intelligent, Edgy, Thought-provoking

See it if A political drama set in Ireland. Has a few chuckles and some violence, I left feeling disturbed. Great casting, simple staging .

Don't see it if If you don't like family drama or political themes. The violence can be shocking.

Clever, Funny, Intelligent, Disturbing

See it if If you would like a sidelong look at the bubbles we all live in. Eric's is worse than ours, but we all deceive ourselves about how we think

Don't see it if You have issues with violence, don't like serious topics suffused with humor, or just want a light, fluffy night out.

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Great acting, Dizzying

See it if 120 minutes of a dizzying story of a nationalistic man who is afraid of what he is losing that he acts irrationally. Brilliant cast,

Don't see it if Takes a while to get used to irish accents and suspend reality. The show is violent at times and plot falls in place. it is worth it

Cast & Creatives (11)