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Describe the Night

From 202 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Ambitious, Intelligent, Great writing

About the show

Set in Russia over the course of 90 years, the Atlantic's new epic drama from Rajiv Joseph ('Guards at the Taj') traces the stories of seven men and women connected by history, myth, and conspiracy theories. More…

In 1920, the Russian writer Isaac Babel wanders the countryside with the Red Cavalry. Seventy years later, a mysterious KGB agent spies on a woman in Dresden and falls in love. In 2010, an aircraft carrying most of the Polish government crashes in the Russian city of Smolensk. 


Member Reviews (202)

MEMBERS SAY:

Great acting, Absorbing, Ambitious, Intelligent, Great writing

65
Confusing, Great acting, Slow

See it if you enjoy historically based stories

Don't see it if you have trouble keeping track of stories that jump back and forth in and out of time periods

65
Confusing, Clever, Dizzying, Profound, Thought-provoking

See it if you like when threads come together at the end

Don't see it if you hate weaving in and out of times periods and storylines

65
Ambitious, Disappointing, Indulgent, Great acting, Banal

See it if you're a diehard fan of Russian history, literature, or of those involved with the production.

Don't see it if you don't want to spend three hours with a furrowed brow trying to keep track of a convoluted plot.

55
Ambitious, Confusing, Disappointing, Clever, Intelligent

See it if you like Russian history and can sort through the characters yourself.

Don't see it if Actors play multiple roles in various times, from Isaac Babel on the front to Putin. Confusing, point gets lost.

During previews
65
Ambitious, Puzzling, Pat, Uneven, Beautiful use of small stage and great stage managing

See it if You have the 2 3/4 hour time and dont mind a slowly revealed predictable play. I dont think the point was ever made, the connection failed.

Don't see it if You want straight narrative, you dont want the typical everything is connected except the rationale for the play.

Also I have puzzled over this play for several days and on rethinking it re... Read more Read less

During previews
60
Confusing, Way too long for what i got out of it, Disappointing

See it if You are a student of European history and don’t mind seeing people treating other people terribly.

Don't see it if You’re okay with not really knowing what’s going on.

Also The acting is good and obviously a lot of time, thought and effort has... Read more Read less

During previews
68
Disappointing, Clever, Intelligent, Quirky, Overly long

See it if intelligent but confusing drama. (Spent much of the 2 intermissions explaining the relationships) based on historical people .

Don't see it if Like clear story line or expect characters to develop and not just age. Sometimes almost annoyingly “cartoonish. “

During previews
69
Long, Epic, Dizzying, Intelligent

See it if you like a play with puzzle pieces scattered all over

Don't see it if you prefer a linearity of plot and something shorter than 2 hour for a play

During previews
52
Disappointing, Long, Soulless, Nonsensical

See it if Can’t think of a good reason to see it. Expected more from Joseph and plot of truthfulness and Russia. magical thinking combined with facts

Don't see it if You expect to care about the multi character and multi decade story where everyone ends up connected- improbable and implausible.

During previews
64
Ambitious, Disappointing, Slow

See it if interested in plays that try to relate to historic events in this case involving the soviet union

Don't see it if was disappointed since I like the Atlantic and the playwright and many of the performers but found it slow and tedious and disconnected

During previews
52
Confusing, Great acting, Quirky

See it if You like Russian history and don't mind going back and forth in time.

Don't see it if You don't care for talky, slightly confusing theater.

During previews
61
Disappointing, Slow

See it if you're a Rajiv Joseph fan or Atlantic member. 3 hr convoluted political drama focused on a true or not true/lies theme w/implausible story

Don't see it if you want entertainment. I'm frustrated in not figuring out what message playwright wanted to convey to his audience. decent acting & staging

During previews
68
Ambitious, moderately entertaining, aspires to be epic

See it if you like historical fiction--a theater version of an epic novel--as a way of understanding a historical time and place.

Don't see it if play that jumps around in time and tends toward redundancy will leave you bored or irritated.

Also It has action, danger, conflict, crisis, a thesis (that in a Totalitar... Read more Read less

During previews
50
Disappointing, Banal, Overrated, Excruciating, Slow

See it if You are willing to spend 3 hours with characters you don't care about. WHY????

Don't see it if You are not in the mood to sit for 3 hours of nothing.

Also I have enjoyed both of his prior shows.... Read more Read less

During previews
57
Excruciating, Overrated, Slow

See it if Recent Russian history is your thing.

Don't see it if If you cannot stand over the top acting. Too long. Sometimes people don't know when to stop writing.

During previews
50
Ambitious, Disappointing, Confusing, Excruciating, Overrated

See it if If you like obscure history facts

Don't see it if When conspiracy theories just become an excuse for fantasies

During previews
52
Confusing

See it if If you are a fan of Rajiv Joseph's work and want to see what he is working on

Don't see it if If you are a fan of Rajiv Joseph's work and you want to be disappointed.

During previews
69
Ambitious, Long, Tedious, Unconvincing, Uneven

See it if you like plays about big important issues (war, censorship, totalitarianism) even if the play doesn't say anything much new about them.

Don't see it if you don't like plays about historical figures or plays presented in a non-linear timeframe.

Also Set in Russia and Eastern Europe from 1920 to 2010, and featuring Issa... Read more Read less

During previews
69
Great acting, Slow, Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if you want to see great acting.

Don't see it if you want a more concise plot, and less formulaic dialogue.

During previews
69
Epic, Clever, Over-reaching

See it if you like complex plot, intrigue and interweaving stories

Don't see it if you don't like loose ends and extraordinary coincidences

During previews
65
Ambitious, Disappointing, Great acting, Indulgent, Slow

See it if You are a Rajiv Joseph fan, you like good scenework and acting.

Don't see it if You want a big payoff after a three-hour investment.

Also So many are saying, "This play makes you work, it makes you think," et... Read more Read less

During previews
50
Ambitious, Disappointing, Indulgent

See it if You need to see All his plays You want to support the actors

Don't see it if You want to feel the almost 3hr trip was worth it in any way You expect the same emotional connection as his other work

Also The story could have been compelling. Marking how the events and chara... Read more Read less


December 5th, 2017
“A frankly tiresome play...Joseph's comedy wilts rather than blossoms in proximity to his tragedy, and his tragedy droops into bathos. The production, directed by Giovanna Sardelli, is no help...The root problem is that the characters are mere conveniences, bent like pipe cleaners into the shapes...
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December 6th, 2017
“Ambitiously complex…In a nearly three-hour play, it's impressive that Joseph keeps everything spinning almost to the very end. What's missing, though, is a sense that there's a center to the whirlwind. What idea, other than ‘fiction exists,’ is all this historical flotsam whizzing around?...Stil...
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December 5th, 2017
“Dense and fascinating...A play about stories, one that begins in historical fact and spins outward...'Describe the Night' eels like a vital attempt to hold a mirror up to the former Soviet Union — in Joseph’s case, as an American playwright, a mirror in which we might also see ourselves...Intell...
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December 5th, 2017
“No shortage of imagination. But, it lacks the emotional resonance to make us sufficiently care about its characters...The playwright doesn't succeed at blending his wildly different stylistic tones and narrative lurches with sufficient finesse. For every scene that crackles with dramatic tension...
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