Theresa Rebeck returns to Primary Stages with the a new family drama, starring real-life siblings Tyne and Tim Daly, who will be appearing together for the first time on the New York stage. More…
In "Downstairs," Teddy is a bit lost and has found himself staying in his older sister Irene’s unfinished basement, which has infuriated her husband Gerry. As Irene and Teddy struggle with this less-than-ideal living arrangement, they quickly find themselves grappling with the burden of their family’s troublesome history. While trying to mend the past, the pair unearths a foreboding danger threatening to break the perilously thin bonds holding them together.
"I have always been a fan of Theresa Rebeck. She has the ability to knit together fully formed characters and lock them together like small tidal waves...The pacing is nearly Hitchcock. The characters are set up and delivered by each of the actors with sensitivity and restraint...Under the skillful direction of Campbell-Holt, and aided by the brilliant set design by Narelle Sissons, this play brings home the goods. This is a play that gets under your skin for all the right reasons." Full Review
"Rebeck’s new play ‘Downstairs’...it’s a very exceptional thriller — one that’s distinguished, in part, because you don’t know it’s a thriller until Rebeck and director Campbell-Holt send out their first shock wave...Has two or three steps up or down a staircase ever provoked such a gasp from the audience? Hitchcock did it in 'Psycho' and 'The Birds.' Rebeck and Campbell-Holt do it with 'Downstairs.'" Full Review
“Rebeck and her stellar cast keep us guessing through a tense, intermission-less hour and 45 minutes...Rebeck avoids melodrama and endows her work with patches of poetry...Campbell-Holt knows when to be subtle and when to be harsh, exploiting the seeds of doubt...Mr. Daly skillfully walks the line between victim and savior. Ms. Daly pulls off the admirable feat of bringing depth to a character who has been beaten numb. And Procaccino is bone-chilling.” Full Review
"Rebeck’s lean, tense thriller and psychological drama...Rebeck increases the tension because we can see both brother and sister are so complexly intertwined...A thriller and convincing marital and family drama that says a lot in its silences, and with excellent performances from its three actors that make this particular basement somewhere you never want to be again." Full Review
"The greatest thrill of Theresa Rebeck’s thriller is seeing Tyne Daly and Tim Daly act together on stage for the first time...Rebeck is better at creating suspense than at making it pay off...While the mystery is resolved, it’s never fully explained. Much happens off-stage; details are left vague...The lacuna in the script wasn’t a deal-breaker for me." Full Review
"It’s a dark, talky, somber evening by uneven, prolific playwright Theresa Rebeck that will not please anyone seeking a coherent, well-written play in a naturalistic style, but the performances by the Dalys are well worth a trip...Directed with balance and vision by Adrienne Campbell-Holt, 'Downstairs' doesn’t add up to much, but what’s there is riveting and suspenseful." Full Review
“Primary Stages gets into the star-vehicle business with ‘Downstairs’...Poised halfway between an enigmatic Pinterian power struggle and a conventional thriller, ‘Downstairs’ is not without its plot holes...If some plot points dangle preciously, the climax features a couple of too-neatly arranged developments...Nevertheless, if you enjoy the Dalys at their considerable best -- and you don't mind an oversupply of exposition – ‘Downstairs’ packs some extremely potent thrills.” Full Review
“Directed with striking clarity and command by Adrienne Campbell-Holt, 'Downstairs' is a well-constructed play of whipsaw moods that have much to do with Teddy’s instability — a restless volatility that Mr. Daly struggles to embody in a performance that is the production’s most amusing yet least convincing...It’s actually quite entertaining...Procaccino’s Gerry is a magnificent villain — belligerent, dangerous, and so habitually, casually vicious.” Full Review
“Rebeck has created two interesting characters for the Dalys...The way both ably inhabit these...characters is enriched by the chemistry...And Procacino...is genuinely scary. The problem is that the scare factor...isn't all that much of a tooth clencher...Despite Campbell-Holt and the three excellent actors doing their best to make this old-fashioned domestic thriller genre less creaky but creepy as ever, this is not as satisfying as other premieres presented by Primary Stages.” Full Review
“Despite a interesting premise...the play mostly spins its wheels and dissipates what little tension it builds up well before it finally ends. If there was any point to it, it was lost on me. Despite fine performances by all three actors, I found myself losing interest and patience early on. The slack direction by Adrienne Campbell-Holt didn't help either...I admire the Dalys for trying something different, but wish it had turned out better.” Full Review
“Rebeck has a fine ear for dialogue and a knack for coming up with intriguing situations...but she never seems to know quite what to do with them...That’s not the fault of the cast...The Dalys are both charming in their roles...Procaccino chips in with a chilling performance. All three make the show watchable. But not even their collective talents can make ‘Downstairs’ more than that because the playwright hasn’t given them enough to work with.” Full Review
“’Downstairs’ is not an entirely satisfying drama. Before the story twists into suspenseful mode, it gets downright sleepy. Campbell-Holt...should have punched up that soft spot in her otherwise solid staging of the play. Still, some distinctive charm and subtle comedy arises amid Rebeck’s chitchat between Teddy and Irene as they fondly reminisce about growing up with their batty parents...While the play is not among Rebeck’s finest, it certainly delivers satisfying dramatic moments." Full Review
"A so-so thriller specifically written for the Dalys…'Downstairs' takes a long time setting up its talkative exposition, made to seem even longer under Adrienne Campbell-Holt's too sluggish direction…There's a natural flow to the dialogue, and, once things finally begin to intensify, a feeling of suspense, but Rebeck holds back too much, forcing us to fill in the many gaps…Its few shivers aside, 'Downstairs' is a minor work providing three first-rate players with colorful roles." Full Review
“Ostensibly about domestic abuse, the evidence is all offstage and we must surmise this from the defeated condition of the heroine Irene played by Ms. Daly. Her husband Gerry (John Procaccino) is involved in some shocking, nefarious business revealed to the characters on stage but never revealed to the audience, nor is the confidential project her brother Teddy (Mr. Daly) claims to be working on which will make his fortune. As such, the thrills are all a matter of guesswork, rather than actual.” Full Review
"Rebeck wrote 'Downstairs' expressly for the real-life Daly siblings...As an acting showcase, it serves its purpose—especially for Tyne...But as a play, 'Downstairs' needs some renovating. The suspense is hit-and-miss: Director Adrienne Campbell-Holt injects some nifty jolts, but slack pacing often kills the chills. The play toys with intriguing ideas...but the denouement doesn't induce an epiphany. Like its central siblings, 'Downstairs' still seems to be trying to find itself." Full Review
“There’s good news and bad news about ‘Downstairs’...Good news: It stars the dynamite real-life brother and sister Tim and Tyne Daly...Though they’re cast as siblings, both actors...are playing terrifically against type...Bad news: Despite the Dalys’ best efforts, ‘Downstairs’ is almost as adrift as poor Teddy. It starts as a quietly intriguing dysfunctional-family drama...Takes a whiplash-inducing turn into thriller territory, then settles back very briefly into the brother-sister story.” Full Review
“Although the production offers the welcome opportunity for...Tyne Daly and Tim Daly to make their first joint appearance on a NY stage, it offers them little more than a gimmicky acting vehicle...Rebeck ratchets up the tension slowly...The play feels repetitive...its slackness preventing narrative momentum from taking hold...The Daly siblings deliver complex, nuanced performances that somehow keep us guessing about their characters even while we're losing interest.” Full Review
"Meanwhile, Ms. Daly, who has made a decades-long career portraying some of the stage and screen's most formidable women - Mary Beth Lacey, Mama Rose, Maria Callas - is wonderfully believable as the seemingly sunny yet ultimately terrified and fragile Irene, a woman who has become scared of her own clothes, her feelings, and especially her domineering husband Gerry (an excellent John Procaccino), whom we meet about halfway through the play." Full Review
for a previous production “A stunning drama that keeps the audience in doubt about reality until it strikes a jarring truth that transforms three fascinating characters...The production is not only technically superb but features subtle, engrossing stage acting...Campbell-Holt sustains Rebeck's fascinating test of what's real with staging that fiercely asserts authenticity yet always leaves room for doubt. Campbell-Holt draws nuanced performances from the three actors...A moving, cathartic theater experience.” Full Review
for a previous production “’Downstairs’ is moving, funny, and scary, and it gives one many things to think about...Considering the depth of the material, it is ironic that the plot can be explained in one sentence...While there are some good laughs and a happy ending in ‘Downstairs’, it is neither a comedy nor simple...An opportunity to see American theatrical royalty on stage in a new work by one of our finest living playwrights in a beautiful and intimate setting in rural Vermont.” Full Review
for a previous production "Adding to the stellar quality of the production was the cast comprised of Tyne and Tim Daly...An intimate 90-minute drama that might be best described as a puzzle, with pieces being added here and there until the picture becomes visible...Dorset’s physical production felt authentic and certainly created the right atmosphere...Not only a dramatic powerhouse, but a deeply touching story of family. Rebeck has created unusually authentic and dimensional characters." Full Review
for a previous production “Rebeck can take heart that the play she wrote expressly for the Dalys is a viscerally human story, and easily her most relatable to everyday people...There are several places where considerable time can be sliced out, both with action that lingers...as well as dialogue that continues pounding home a point already made...But ‘Downstairs’ remains Rebeck's best Dorset play to date. It went down into a basement, but reached lofty heights in meaning and passion.” Full Review
See it if understated, believable characters intrigue you, make you feel invested in & want to know more about how/why they are at this point in life
Don't see it if You want bells & whistles instead of great performances & story. You think theatre should NOT be thought provoking, intense & absorbing.
See it if you like shows about dysfunctional family members who deeply love each other and look out for each other despite their problems.
Don't see it if you only like light comedies and can't handle family drama.
See it if The two great Daly siblings in atypical roles, Great acting by all 3. Great set .Sound & lighting were perfect. "Sleep is overrated'
Don't see it if At first I was disappointed with the ending but after much thought, I loved it.....How can Primary Stage get more of the young theatergoers?
See it if you like serious plays that have a heart.Characters are all very real.Acting, set design, directing are top drawer.This is a touching story.
Don't see it if you want something light,frothy.All 3 actors are at the top of their games.This play is important in what it has to say about women/marriage
See it if You are fans of the actors (how could you not be) and like the playwright’s work. Needed focus on mental illness and abusive spouse
Don't see it if You would be upset by the subject matter.
See it if Daly siblings! Strikingly real. Looked for the message, until realized that the piece was an entertaining yarn á la Hitchcock.
Don't see it if Resolution never fully realized. Disquietude by the end of night.
See it if The cast of 3 were amazing. A real edge of your seat thriller. Serves up no easy answers. The claustrophobic set adds to the menace.
Don't see it if In parts hard to guess what’s happening. The end was not the strongest or clearest.
See it if You want to see an original off Bway play that provides twists and drama backed by strong performances from Daly siblings playing siblings
Don't see it if You want to see something light or a comedy. This play can be intense and heavy at times - you will be on a ride with this one.
See it if Family drama's appealing, you can stomach spousal abuse, are intrigued by talented siblings acting together.
Don't see it if An hour of emotional brutality before the woman reaches a breaking point is too much to endure
See it if You like mysteries with slow building suspense. Tyne and Tim Daly as siblings who harbor a back story never fully revealed. John Procaccino!
Don't see it if You want an easy to understand storyline without twists and turns. Dislike an ambiguous ending. Dysfunctional! family drama.
See it if you like a little mystery added to a family drama. Why does the story take place in the small space that is the "downstairs?"
Don't see it if you are looking for something breezy and predictable.
See it if You’re a fan of Tyne and Tim Daly, you like intimate dramas, and you can suffer the unrelentingly painful expose of all three characters .
Don't see it if Immersion in tragic lives isn’t for you, notwithstanding good acting.
See it if you love Tyne Daly and/or Tim Daly; you like intimate psychological drama
Don't see it if you prefer big plot-driven action productions; you are disturbed by portrayals of mental illness or triggered by intimate partner violence
See it if Traced to sins of the parents, suburban suffocation and mental illness figuratively imprison two siblings named Daly. Tyne Off-B'way is rare
Don't see it if When an inspired scribe drops an uninspired work in your lap that was written specifically just for you, you say...er...uh....
See it if you are interested in psychological family drama, if you want to see 2 wonderful actors playing off each other.
Don't see it if you prefer comedy, musical or simply entertaining theater.
See it if you want to see more great acting, by Dr. McCord, TV Ethics mavin, as well as by his sis Tyne Daly. It's worth your while to watch these two
Don't see it if you squirm at a play with an interesting start - a menage a trois, but ends on a cliched note. Not Rebeck's best but not her worst either
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