Centering on a group of young revolutionaries, Second Stage's new, 1969-set drama is a play about means and ends, ideals and extremes, and the perils of changing the world. More…
Against the backdrop of an endless, unwinnable war raging halfway across the world, and a polarizing president recklessly stoking the flames of racist backlash at home – a generation of young people rises up to demand change from a corrupt political establishment. It is October, 1969 and unbeknownst to the rest of the world, three 20-something radicals are busy planning the impending revolution from a quiet college town in Upstate New York. But when two strangers appear, disrupting the group’s delicate balance, new dangers and old wounds threaten to tear the collective apart. Written by Steven Levenson, the Tony Award-winning writer of "Dear Evan Hansen."
“It begins with an explosion of angry rock music that lets us know the play is not misnamed...Five mismatched characters, each arriving at their current states of conviction from different backgrounds, are the ingredients that furnish playwright Levenson’s play with the engine that keeps it moving at top speed through a totally absorbing ninety minutes...Levenson’s words capture the period in which his story unfolds...’Days of Rage’ now joins a robust list of excellent plays.” Full Review
"Fast-paced and hilarious...Levenson’s powerful play focuses a sharp gaze at politics and the hidden volatility that can tip over into violence and the spilling of blood...The timing and ensemble work of the actors is flawless...Levenson writes with great clarity about the fundamental unclarity of the human situation...The year 1969 is a window into our fraught times, and Levenson uses it just as Arthur Miller used the Salem witch trials to focus his unsparing gaze on the McCarthy years." Full Review
"Trip Cullman’s direction stands out, especially during the quick paced transitions...The cast is stellar and the characters are well drawn out...If you don’t have great leadership and a clarity of purpose, most rebellions at best become a voice for insecurities and desperate desire for attention and at worst land up being misguided escapades. This to me is the message of 'Days of Rage.' And it is delivered with such gusto and force that you are left asking for more." Full Review
"It’s sport to watch the Left be hoist with its own petard in 'Days of Rage,' an acutely observed play...'Days of Rage' has been sitting on the shelf for a few years but is being staged now, with tight direction by Cullman, because Levenson has made a name for himself and because the play is suddenly if obliquely timely: It’s a sharply funny commentary on a period when young people are getting the socialist itch again, becoming increasingly marchy and shouty in the process." Full Review
"Watching the kids in 'Days of Rage' behave as naively as they do, regardless of the sincerity of their beliefs, made me feel that Levenson, too young to have been around in 1969, had conjured up an ersatz, even tongue-in-cheek, vision of clueless, counter-cultural revolutionaries. My plus-one, though,…had a…different take…Himself an activist…he couldn't refrain from an emotional outpouring of how precisely accurate…everything in it is…In the face of this onslaught…I was forced to submit." Full Review
“It’s a story that starts slow but builds up steam as it progresses. The young actors are very good. I wish we received more back story on each character. My essential problem with the play is that I could not figure out the playwright’s point of view. I didn’t know whether his attitude toward the characters was satirical, cautionary or simply observational. I found it entertaining, increasingly involving but not very informative...Cullman’s direction is assured.” Full Review
"As proven elsewhere, Steven Levenson is expert at depicting young people in crisis on stage. 'Days of Rage' is very real in its handling of a group of people of similar beliefs living together who have forces that are driving them apart, and as such it is engrossing and intriguing. However, the play's theme seems to be rather opaque or at least vague in its depiction of college-age radicals at the height of the Vietnam War. While some of the characters are thinly drawn." Full Review
“Absorbing, funny, and problematic...Under Cullman’s brisk direction the other actors are similarly well-matched...In presenting Levenson’s would-be revolutionaries smartly, with a full heart and on their own terms, rather than as symbols or forebears of future challenges, the playwright has given us something that feels fresh and vital—without sidestepping the sad, unavoidable parallels between ‘Days of Rage’s’ divisive times and our own.” Full Review
“In some ways, Levenson’s disappointing play ‘Days of Rage’, is that good story, except turned inside out...The clash between heavy-handed satire and naturalistic conflict leaves ‘Days of Rage’ in a tonal muddle Levenson can’t resolve. The sexual turn that provides closure to many of the scenes begins to seem like a tic, and when that pales, the only option left is a generalized hysteria. At least the hysteria is effectively staged. The director Trip Cullman gets all the tempos right.” Full Review
“This mildly funny satire of 1960s radicalism is now enjoying a lavish production...It's impressive to behold, but it all feels a bit too grand for the story being told...Cullman milks plenty of laughs from the script, but very little dramatic tension. He compensates with high production values...Overproduced and underwhelming, ‘Days of Rage’ is an incredulous snort at boomer idealism from those of us who are living with the consequences 50 years later.” Full Review
“It's hard to make out what the playwright is trying to say with this lighthearted work trafficking in serious themes...It all feels like counterculture-lite, hardly anything to rage about. Cullman's assured direction makes the piece, flaws and all, occasionally enjoyable, and under his guidance the young performers deliver amusing turns. 'Days of Rage' is reasonably entertaining for much of its running time, but it could have been so much more." Full Review
“Rooms full of missed opportunities sprawl across Second Stage...Unfortunately, the subplots do more to dilute the impact of ‘Days of Rage’ than to strengthen it...The cast is uniformly excellent. They develop their characters and their characters’ conflicts with authenticity. Mr. Levenson’s themes succeed in challenging the audience’s complacency; however, the Vietnam tropes (napalm, bombs, political chicanery, etc.) could have been more fully developed." Full Review
“The playwright has built a mostly intriguing play but on an infirm foundation...You might walk into ‘Days of Rage’ with high expectations. In my case, these expectations were quickly dashed...So go along with Levenson back to the late-’60s, if you will. I didn’t buy it, alas. In fact, I walked out thinking it was time to look at Michael Weller’s ‘Moonchildren’, a play captured the times and the attitudes with brio and fervor lacking from the present attempt.” Full Review
“Levenson is a little too eager to expose what Spence, Peggy and Quinn will become, not to mention what’s really cooking inside their middle-class brains in October 1969. The playwright keeps pulling the Marxist playbook out from under them, and their actions and words, while often amusing, have little consequence...Cullman directs an accomplished ensemble, and Faist manages to reveal a few genuine moments of commitment to the cause." Full Review
"A round of applause to Trip Cullman for zipping us through all those scenes— some so talky that they seem longer, some more tense and dramatic...The play's thus enraged young activists are so emotionally messed up, foolish, rigid and incompetent that it's hard to take them seriously. This sends the play see-sawing between satire and seriousness...All this chaos as smoothly directed by Mr. Cullman is intermittently entertaining." Full Review
"One is ultimately left perplexed primarily by Levenson's intention in writing the piece. Is it somehow meant to remind us that 50 years later, we still need to try to fight injustice in the world, or is it a cautionary tale that doing so often leads to little result, other than perhaps death. I couldn't say." Full Review
"It’s apparent that Levenson wants to look at the different kinds of people who were drawn to political activism in the Sixties. But he makes the ones here too one-dimensional...Adding insult to injury, Levenson can’t seem to resist making fun of them. The early scenes come off like a Spinal Tap-style spoof...Cullman's frenetic direction doesn't help...There are some enjoyable moments...The rest of the play moves less convincingly back and forth between slapstick and melodrama." Full Review
“A slick piece of work, a little too calculated...I left it feeling like I had just watched a careful balancing act, a story that skirted having too much of an opinion...There’s an undertone of superiority...While I respect the play’s implication that there will never be one revolution to end all revolutions—I question the neatness of its structure and the ease with which we’re able to write off the immaturity of its central characters.” Full Review
“Levenson’s murky comedy turns out to be a satire of the sixties, but that’s not initially clear. His jibes at the counterculture are too few and too faint. Eventually they gain traction but it’s too little, too late...A director is limited by the material he or she is given but sometimes can transcend it by directing outside the box. That doesn’t happen here...More pronounced visuals might have helped ‘Days of Rage’ find itself onstage.” Full Review
"‘Days of Rage’ is a disappointing and confusing play...Levenson’s play too often renders its characters as cloying cartoons, painfully lacking in self-awareness and overflowing with self-righteousness. Nothing about the play reads as authentically capturing the spirit of the time, and the tone is mostly satire...We have enough days of rage in our present to visit with; skip these ones from the past.” Full Review
"The play quickly gets repetitive, and Levenson’s work lacks both period specificity and an ending. A perfect staging might paper over the gaps, but director Trip Cullman largely miscasts it and...delivers a production without a particle of sexual heat...The details of the play are so unconvincing and the characters’ choices so baffling that we can’t believe they’re realistically sitting on the couch, let alone showing us the true face of progressive hypocrisy.” Full Review
“Levenson's smugly derisive tone, combined with his inability to give anyone...a single interesting character trait, causes ‘Days of Rage’ to be dead on arrival...’Days of Rage’ feels like it was written after he saw a number of bad movies about the era. The single touching moment comes at the end, with a flash-forward sequence that reveals the future of each character. Only at the very last second does he grant them a modicum of grace.” Full Review
See it if A very clever good play about young people who are looking to protest and actually not happy. Very clever writing
Don't see it if If you are looking for a light play just to enjoy
See it if You want a well crafted play with some great performances and characters who are relatable to today despite different times.
Don't see it if You don’t like to watch characters who are frustrating and make bad decisions plus one who is a bit hard to believe.
See it if You have memories of or want an idea of what it was like to live as a passionate youth during the turbulent Vietnam War era.
Don't see it if You don’t like to be reminded that there were (and are) reasons to be angry with the way our country is being run.
See it if you are interested in a look at the counter-culture during the Viet Nam war years
Don't see it if you have no interest in the piece of history that the play involves; you don't care to see story involving self-centered young people
See it if you're interested in seeing the banal human side of young '60s-era social "revolutionaries", engaging story and great detailed set
Don't see it if you've seen (better) more original and deeper plays about this time in history, expect a more layered character play or better acting.
See it if you enjoy shows that revolve around late 60's War, protest themes, with a superb cast.
Don't see it if you do not enjoy stage plays, or have no interest in a story that might offend you.
See it if you value great story-telling and great acting and want a play that makes you think.
Don't see it if confusion about playwright's actual stance and motivations will bother you too much. still worth seeing though
See it if you have any interest in the 60s, politics, 60s politics, or just in wanting to see a really good piece of theater with great performances.
Don't see it if you see politics and the world as black and white; you were a radical in the 60s and aren't open to judgement, criticism and humor.
See it if a fan of the cast, desirous of returning to late-1960s anti-war ideologies, or want a fast 90-minute work that will hold your attention.
Don't see it if seeking a perfectly-crafted play; over “teen-angst” shows; or disturbed by violence, sexuality, drug-use, and some brief backside nudity.
See it if great little story about the passions of youth, and how we sometimes let our passions get the better of us.
Don't see it if the play deals with adult themes including sex, violence and race
See it if An anti-war collective of drop-outs has a reckoning when their own perish.Trip Cullman's edgy direction. Tavi Gevinsson's heiress is great.
Don't see it if Casual bomb detonation talk. Polyamorous relationships. Bi-level shifting stage.
See it if You like character-driven plays that show the hollowness of even some of the deepest held convictions. You like to laugh at serious things.
Don't see it if You're really opposed to male nudity or radicalism being mocked. It's honestly pretty fantastic.
See it if You want to see something that takes place in 1969 but is very relevant today.
Don't see it if You’re not interested in seeing a different perspective on the way some people may have behaved during the protests of the Vietnam war
See it if you love one-act plays filled with cynical humor, just enough surprises, and exquisite acting throughout
Don't see it if are idealistic and nostalgic about the protest+awareness efforts that were being done by youth in the 1960s.
See it if you're interested in the social upheaval of the 60s, and how it affected a group of privileged young people.
Don't see it if the theme of 60s political action is one in which you have no interest.
See it if You are interested in era of Vietnam protest, exploring racism, privilege then and now. There is great music in it.
Don't see it if Are going to pick it apart bit by bit. It covers a range of topics so you have to be open and know it may a few loose ends.
See it if you are interested in radical lifestyles or are fascinated by the Vietnam war era
Don't see it if you like fluffy fun shows. This show is dirty in every way. (not sure if that's good or bad but I liked it)
See it if you remember the Vietnam era, or you or your friends were radicals. See it if you know the difference between Lenin and John Lennon.
Don't see it if you can't relate to protests or young people whose actions are out of the mainstream and are willing to do anything for their beliefs.
See it if If you understand the purpose in drawing parallels between 1960s protests and today’s movements.
Don't see it if If you don’t like chaotic noise, rambling dialogue, and an intentional vague feeling of futility and pointlessness.
Also Brave of the playwright and 2nd stage to put this on at this time
See it if A well acted play with many interesting and thought provoking scenes. if you remember what was happening in 1969 and/or were a protester
Don't see it if You are put off by a series of short scenes that jump from story to story.
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