Des Moines NYC Reviews and Tickets

(37 Reviews)
Members say
Confusing, Great acting, Quirky, Disappointing, Ambitious

The New York premiere of Denis Johnson's play about death and life.

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Member Reviews (37)

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1085 Reviews | 265 Followers
Quirky, Overrated, Fluffy, Excruciating, Great acting

See it if Actors do their best in this poorly written, poorly directed show. It is all over the place and confusing at times.

Don't see it if If badly written absurdist plays are not for you.

913 Reviews | 265 Followers
Riveting, Quirky, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Funny

See it if you like absurd plays - here 5 characters go off in all directions in a drinking game to reveal themselves and their concerns.

Don't see it if you want a straight play-this jumps around a it and covers the same territory over a bit and may leave many wondering what it is all about.

720 Reviews | 220 Followers
Quirky, Funny, Desperate, Thought-provoking, Confusing

See it if 5 characters struggle with confused identities after losing their reference points. Creative, insightful. Good acting. Zany, funny moments.

Don't see it if You don’t like absurdist theater. One character dreams that we all “get off the plane before it crashes.” But what does that mean?

635 Reviews | 237 Followers
Disappointing, Quirky, Great acting, Funny, Weird

See it if You enjoy naturalistic plays — in all their weirdness. This is basically a straightforward play with a lot of funny, quirky moments.

Don't see it if You despise plays that are weird for the sake of being weird. This is a meditation on death with an extended drunken karaoke sequence.

545 Reviews | 133 Followers
Irreverent, Slow, Confusing, Strange, Great acting

See it if You are a fan of the terrific cast.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy an evening of confusion and head scratching. The point evaded me as this could have taken place in any small or large town.

544 Reviews | 58 Followers
Have no idea what it is about or trying to say.

See it if You feel you should see these good actors in any play.

Don't see it if You want a good play that has something of value.

520 Reviews | 107 Followers
Disappointing, Selfish, Disgusting, Confusing, Excruciating

See it if The only good thing that happened tonight was that no one‘s cell phone went off during the performance

Don't see it if You are expecting a story that you can follow and make sense of Read more

446 Reviews | 67 Followers
Overrated, Quirky, Indulgent, Disappointing, Great acting

See it if you want to see 5 actors in terrific form in a play that makes very little sense that at 90 minutes is too long.

Don't see it if you want a straight forward play this is not for you. Read more

Critic Reviews (8)

The New York Times
December 16th, 2022

"Everything is ridiculous, and after an hour and 40 minutes, 'Des Moines', like a night spent drinking at home, ends with a stubborn lack of resolution."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
December 16th, 2022

"The emptiness of 'Des Moines' feels as vast and unsettling as its Great Plains setting. Facing up against the cutoff of death, all there is to do is drink and sing and avoid talking about it."
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December 16th, 2022

"I wasn't bored at any time during the play's one hour and 40 minutes. I suspect this was due less to the play itself than to the strength of the performances, all of which end up being as hilarious as they are absurd."
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Lighting & Sound America
December 19th, 2022

Making its belated New York premiere, this 2007 drama by the late Denis Johnson, long acclaimed for his novels and short stories, is a kind of dramatic spook house, haunted by the shades of other playwrights' better, more vivid works. It strains to unsettle, using stratagems so well-worn that they have lost the power to provoke. If I had to guess, I'd say that Johnson probably didn't spend much time going to the theatre; if he had, I doubt he would have come up with something as derivative as this.
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New York Stage Review
December 16th, 2022

"Des Moines sputters at the end...But even if its final destination proves unclear, the rambling journey getting there is infinitely rewarding."
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December 20th, 2022

American author Denis Johnson often wrote about misfits as part of his vision of a semi-mythic West. His play "Des Moines" from 2007, one of seven he wrote, now having its New York premiere at Theatre for a New Audience, includes these themes. The play brings together five unlikely Iowa people for an impromptu party that seems to go off the rails. We are never certain if it’s all a dream or if it really happened. While the cast led by Johanna Day, Arliss Howard and Michael Shannon seem to know what is going on, we the audience are entirely left out of the equation.
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Front Row Center
December 20th, 2022

"The actors are shooting stars. They are comets crisscrossing the stage, tearing it up, and throwing light on one another and the audience."
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Exeunt Magazine
December 17th, 2022

"There’s not really any deeper meaning to be found in one’s cups, here–just momentary camaraderie and some very strange dreams. Maybe that’s the best humanity does have to offer us."
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