Downtown Race Riot
Midtown W
68

Downtown Race Riot NYC Reviews and Tickets

68%
(102 Reviews)
Positive
50%
Mixed
38%
Negative
12%
Members say
Disappointing, Great acting, Slow, Absorbing, Intense

About the Show

Chloë Sevigny headlines the New Group's world premiere drama which offers a snapshot of a time not so different than today, when a new social freedom ran smack into the forces of reaction.

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Member Reviews (102)

39
Banal, Disappointing, Excruciating, Lifeless, Pointless

See it if you're a fan of Chloe Sevigny & want to see her give another dead-behind-the-eyes performance.

Don't see it if a listless, meaningless, dull, cliched, uninsightful, awkwardly-staged downer of a play isn't your idea of a good way to waste 2 hours. Read more

68
Disappointing, Edgy, Relevant, Slow, Banal

See it if Despite terrific production values, adaquate performances & volitile subject matter, this Riot fails to ignite Elliot's direction lethargic

Don't see it if Sevigny's low-keyed junkie mom seems to set the tone for this talk fest about ethnic cleansing circa 1976 A violent outburst comes to late

Critic Reviews (29)

December 3rd, 2017

"About as likely to raise your blood pressure as a homeopathic sleeping pill...You are likely to have felt your eyelids getting heavier and heavier...The action seems to be occurring at a hazy remove, as if it were operating according to sense memory...Sevigny exudes an air of defensive detachment...But it’s not always easy to tell how much her affectless mien is an acting choice and how much it comes from being infected by the somnolent rhythms of a leaden script."
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December 3rd, 2017

"There was a black man among the attackers. It’s the most interesting aspect of 'Downtown Race Riot,' which otherwise indulges in clichés as liberally as Mary does heroin...The New Group’s subpar production—which includes comically on-the-nose design, unconvincing Noo Yawk accents and strangely slack staging by Scott Elliott—exacerbates the play’s flaws. Tension should mount as the onstage clock ticks down to riot time, but you’ll likely be counting the minutes until you can leave."
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December 3rd, 2017

"The play never conjures up the sense of danger you associate with the period. Watching it is like walking through a seedy neighborhood in the middle of the night, only without the suspense...While its premise would seem to hold the promise of tension, the play is a listless affair marked by long stretches of tediously inconsequential dialogue. Rosenfeld's characters are never remotely interesting, and so we never come to care about them."
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December 7th, 2017

"Sevigny plays a sexy-hippie drug addict like a pro in Rosenfeld’s unfocused new play. But she also gracefully shows us the better side of her character...Rosenfeld can’t seem to focus his attention on a central character — and director Elliott can’t seem to do anything about that...Mary is such a compelling character that Rosenfeld is forced to confine her to her room and have her shoot up and nod off in order to concentrate on the other players in his muddled story."
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December 8th, 2017

“’Riot’ concerns a smacked-out mother and her son and daughter, the former a lesbian except when she’s not; the latter a tough pretty boy who hangs with a group of mini-gangsters...I can’t recall another play in which every actor appeared to dread the words about to emerge from his or her mouth, and I can’t say I blame them. The performances under Scott Elliott’s uncharacteristically enervating direction are as halting as the writing is stilted.”
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December 3rd, 2017

"It's hard to argue against the authenticity of director Elliott's carefully designed and furiously acted production...Yet something about the play itself feels excessive...Sevigny embodies the tension between her self-image as a hippie earth mother and her reality as a junkie...Resulting in a performance that veers wildly between nuanced and completely over-the-top. That's true for the rest of the actors as well...Elliot aims for gritty social realism, but too often lands in sensationalism."
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December 12th, 2017

“Despite its provocative title, and despite a game effort by director Elliot’s ensemble cast, Rosenfeld’s fact-inspired drama ‘Downtown Race Riot ‘ is a bit of a bore...There's a full-out brawl in the apartment involving almost everyone, during which Sevigny gingerly taps someone on the head with a break-away bottle, causing it to shatter. Given the cliched characters and flat dialogue, that was pretty much the dramatic highlight.”
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December 4th, 2017

"Succeeds as both a tense drama and a flavorful slice of Greenwich Village life in the bad old 1970s....Rosenfeld's writing thoroughly captures the temper of the times...Elliott's production abounds in good performances...Those seated in the left and right sections -- especially in the first couple of rows -- will be forced to crane their necks constantly just to get a glimpse of what is going on...Eminently worth seeing. Just be careful about where you sit."
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December 3rd, 2017

"If you are going to push the envelope in theater, you really ought to make sure there is enough inside that envelope that makes it worth pushing...Despite the subject matter, the play fails to build in much tension or suspense...More of a sketch than a fully-realized dramatic work, and it is nearly lost in the plot threads that take us, maze-like, into too many starts and stops that lead nowhere...Nothing is developed adequately enough to hold our interest."
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December 15th, 2017

“This overheated melodrama which goes on a bit too long takes on many important themes (racial hatred, drug addiction, petty crime, sexual identity, financial insecurity, etc.) without making any pertinent point about any of them. While the dialogue and the milieu are gritty, ‘Downtown Race Riot’ recycles a great many stereotypes and clichés.”
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December 3rd, 2017

"What makes Sevigny such an arresting actor is her relentless honesty...Elliott conducts this brilliant cast like a virtuoso maestro with Sevigny as his concert master...The impeccably choreographed stage combat is startling and alarming...Rosenfeld’s play is brilliant in its honest understatement. He never resorts to melodrama or sensational histrionics. His characters are just simple people trying to survive a dangerous world and doing what they can to escape its harsh reality."
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December 3rd, 2017

"Rosenfeld’s heart-thumping play demands that you pay attention...Ingenious directing by Scott Elliott brings this play to a level of authenticity that begs to be admired. Pace, delivery, structure – it’s tough to fault any of it. The gritty tale also boasts razor-sharp dialogue...This dynamic production is a refreshing take on much-discussed topics – and the way Rosenfeld has tied together threads of different colors in 'Downtown Race Riot' is a true testament to his story-telling prowess."
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December 3rd, 2017

"The real story here is that the young actors surrounding Sevigny are terrific. Yes their roles are for the most part painfully clichéd, but they act the hell out of them...All of these good things cannot occlude the deficiencies in the play itself...Little that was placed in our face was in the service of much. It's disappointing. There could have been a lot more here than we got to see, and this is particularly unfortunate since the production is blessed with great acting and astute direction."
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December 8th, 2017

“Not only set in 1976, much of this new play by Rosenfeld feels like it was written in that era as well. It flows along with a distinct Landord Wilson vibe...The first hour is a captivating slow burn, then it goes a little off the rails, then it blows up in your face...There are a lot of balls in the air here and the always fine director, Elliott, juggles them skillfully...In lieu of a gratifying climax...we are left with an unsatisfying, wordless fade to black.”
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December 4th, 2017

“A gripping family drama...This retelling has some lovely performances lead by Chloe Sevigny, whose proximity to her audience serves to amplify her authentic portrayal…Rosenfeld’s take on Greenwich Village’s denizens is hard to watch, for some of the right reasons…The plot is based on a true story, unpretentious and candid…Sevigny is effortlessly authentic…Temperate direction by Scott Elliott informs the pace for the evening, assisting the younger unseasoned players as best he can.”
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December 5th, 2017

“Directed with focus and clarity...While the cast do their job with intensity and focus, the play never really feels urgent or dangerous...It doesn’t register as fully authentic...The real emotionality is lost in the overly wordy dialogue...The ending just left me wanting a tiny bit more to chew on...'Downtown Race Riot' never feels entirely real or as edgy as what we can read about that hot summer day out on the streets of downtown NYC. It never feels like this 'Riot' gets going.”
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December 16th, 2017

“The play lacks logos, pathos, and ethos and is completely devoid of catharsis. It is difficult to care about any of the characters or their hackneyed conflicts that drive drab, uninteresting plot lines...Under Elliott’s direction, the talented cast struggles to make sense of Rosenfeld’s script...Failing to address any meaningful discussion about systemic racism or any significant conversation about the 1970s race riots, ‘Downtown Race Riot’ remains a puzzling foray into the realm of the absurd.”
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December 3rd, 2017

"Rosenfeld chooses to dramatize this actual event indirectly...The result feels like a missed opportunity...Largely a disappointment—undercooked in the first half, then overheated at the end. Still, Rosenfeld’s script does offer some precisely observed character and period details...The seven-member cast includes several compelling performances, especially that by Chloë Sevigny...Sevigny gives a nuanced performance as a loving and neglectful mother."
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December 8th, 2017

“A stumbling, hour and 40-minute, domestic drama about a morally confused Greenwich Village family… Sevigny…makes a highly credible Mary…For all its attempts at veracity, 'Downtown Race Riot' has an ersatz quality that fails to make these people and their problems real. The riot itself comes off as merely a trigger for a drama of family dysfunction; too many distractions create disunity...Dialogue that too often sounds above the pay grade of its speakers also punctures plausibility.”
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December 4th, 2017

"Tepid despite its starry and talented cast...Nothing about this show is really action packed. Yes, we get sex; nudity, drug use and a fight that is a little scary due to the proximity of the stage and seats, but nothing that begs 'watch me'...Scott Elliott’s direction is well done for the space, but when your text is so mundane instead of biting into the subject, how much can you do?"
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December 3rd, 2017

"Surprisingly there’s no real exploration of the forces that would motivate the young men to wild out in such a way. While Rosenfeld sets up a gripping dilemma for Jimmy he loosens that grip with a lot of side conversations and subplots...Elliott’s direction and McLane’s shallow set also dribble away the dramatic tension...There’s a smart and moving play lurking somewhere inside 'Downtown Race Riot' but this version feels like an early draft, with its tone and focus still unclarified."
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December 3rd, 2017

"Rosenfeld spends more exposition on the negotiations for this violent confab in the park than the Allies needed to invade Normandy...It would be easy to credit Sevigny with single-handedly slapping an otherwise flaccid drama into shape. But Rosenfeld’s writing for her mother character is simply sharper than it is for the others...It’s doubtful from all his riot angst that Rosenfeld would agree, but these kids show every sign of surviving a terrible, though fascinating mother."
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December 4th, 2017

"The only thing functional, apart from the acting quality, in this dull look at a dysfunctional family and equally screwed up friends is the apartment set...We don’t actually get to see the riot, which at least would enliven the play...The focus is primarily on the mostly uninteresting characters...For all of the sincere strivings of the fine cast members, the play doesn’t pack the strength needed to keep an audience in its grip. It rambles along for 90 minutes."
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December 4th, 2017

"Making a rare appearance on stage and playing against ingenuous type, Sevigny brings understated charisma to a role that defies clichés...Only Demeo and Sovich strike a hackneyed note with wise-guy bravado that sounds like warmed-over Scorsese. But 'Downtown Race Riot' also has the measured, doom-laden pacing of 'Mean Streets' as director Scott Elliott dials up the tension to a lurid yet realistic denouement that should be enough to put an end to that ’70s feeling."
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December 9th, 2017

"For a while it appears that Rosenfeld may be venturing into pretty daring territory—a satire on the scam artists who drain government money to the detriment of 'the deserving poor'...Soon, however, additional threads of plot are woven in...In any case, what seemed to begin as a social satire veers into melodrama. Cannily, though, Rosenfeld stops short of a grim ending...Even if it’s not wholly satisfying, there is much in Rosenfeld’s play to appreciate."
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December 4th, 2017

"Sevigny’s Mary is a ragged delight...Sentiment(ality) gets a little out of hand now and then. Yet these indulgences tweaked my attention only a little; Rosenfeld’s language sweeps us along. We teeter down its consistently sharp and jagged edge as the tension slowly builds...With all its humor, the play bears a troubling message for today: Friendship and family, potent forces though they are, can’t solve the conundrum of tribalism."
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December 16th, 2017

"Not a whole lot of 'Downtown Race Riot' makes sense...I’ve gone on at length about the set, primarily because it’s the most interesting part of the play; the story, inspired by an actual 1976 riot in Washington Square Park, is slack and uninvolving, with unlikable characters and questionable plot developments...Elliott can’t do much with Rosenfeld’s muddled, stilted dialogue or the inefficient acting, although it is a treat to see Oscar nominee Sevigny so up close and personal."
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December 8th, 2017

"Rosenfeld turns cartoons into real characters: with a huge assist from a talented cast and director, of course...Rosenfeld draws sympathetic but realistic portraits of his play’s inhabitants...Still, the play and these people don’t go anywhere unsurprising: they are fated to remain behind, thanks to class or race, which isn’t an earth-shattering revelation...Sevigny’s Mary is scarily authentic...A marvelously physical performance that makes her character and the play she’s in seem substantial."
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December 7th, 2017

"Rosenfeld’s new play dredges up the depravity of New York City during its bankrupt years...Sevigny delivers an understated portrayal of a junkie, and the mother of two teenage children...As directed by Scott Elliott, the ongoing life is pretty crummy, surrounded by race riots, gangs, and violence – most of which we’re spared from watching. It’s the effect of it all that we experience...Still, in spite of poverty, illness and addiction, Rosenfeld’s drama offers a flicker of hope."
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