Already closed | 1h 30m | West Village

Dr. Ride's American Beach House

From 58 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Slow, Quirky, Ambitious, Confusing

About the show

Set in Missouri on the night before Dr. Sally Ride's historic launch into space, Ars Nova's world premiere explores sexual politics, power, and repression between three friends in 1983. More…

From the show:

It's 1983, the evening before Dr. Sally Ride's historic space flight. Hundreds of miles from the launch, a group of women with passionate opinions and no opportunities sit on a sweltering St. Louis rooftop watching life pass them by. Their uncharted desires bump up against American norms of sex and power in this intimate snapshot of queer anti-heroines.


Member Reviews (58)

MEMBERS SAY:

Great acting, Slow, Quirky, Ambitious, Confusing
70
Avg Score

88
Exquisite, Great acting, Great writing, Absorbing, Riveting

See it if You like shows that mesmerize. This somehow balances beautifully on that line of being about everything and nothing simultaneously.

Don't see it if You’re looking for fast paced or lots of action. This is one of those shows that creeps up into your head and kind of blooms like a flower.

Also Delicious!

90
Moving, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Profound, Exquisite

See it if Repressed lesbian best friends hang out and plumb their identities. Made me feel the ongoing struggle of finding myself. Inspiring.

Don't see it if You don’t like character development plays where the action is inside the mind. A wind blows away the fog of confusion and lets in hope.

Also This reminded me of N.C. Hunter’s “A Day by the Sea”, one of my favori... Read more Read less

80
Thought-provoking, Quirky, Great acting, Edgy, Ambitious

See it if Birkenmeire's elliptical, idiosyncratic psuedo-feminist tale of two women inching towards a new self-awareness is driven by a superb quartet

Don't see it if Difficulty in gaining a footing on an elusive (if any) plot takes effort & often dead ends Despite its many appeals, its a shaggy dog story

69
Confusing, Great staging, Slow, Quirky, Disappointing

See it if you like new works - this one well-acted with good a capella singing of 80's songs on a nicely designed set, used well under good direction.

Don't see it if you want a play that goes somewhere - this is a slice of life among four individuals set in a time that maybe unfamiliar to many-it's chatty

74
Entertaining, Ambitious, Funny, Clever, Resonant

See it if women's relationships interest you. The play reflects on friends, neighbors, mothers, daughters, lovers, etc.as seen from a rooftop

Don't see it if slice of life is not your thing. The major event of the play has little to do with the characters we get to know during most of the play

87
Quirky, Intelligent, Great writing, Great staging, Great acting

See it if Two childhood friends believe that they have the luxury of time to accept or refute the context of their relationship. Beautiful. Great set.

Don't see it if Intentional poignancy & regret thicken the summer air on the eve of Dr. Ride's fateful mission,marking the time for decision is often brief.

87
Inconspicuous, Entertaining, Thought-provoking, Clever, Great acting

See it if A trove of ideas & commentary that blend into the dialogue w/ chameleon subtlety so that the show’s almost indistinguishable from life.

Don't see it if the only writers/artists/people worth notice are ones making conspicuous, declarative, look-at-me gestures trumpeting their cleverness.

Also This show almost entirely avoids cliches. Many have said this plot goe... Read more Read less

85
Quirky, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging, Clever

See it if you like complex friendship plays where very little happens dramatically but much is revealed slowly through narrative and character

Don't see it if you don't want to think about who and what a person is, where and how life's decisions affect your future and don't want a feminist bent

Also A very challenging and clever way of showing the three-dimensionality ... Read more Read less

41
Slow, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Banal, Boring

See it if A slow, continuous play with strange language, low stakes, sketchy characters. Four dissimilar women hash out their desires.

Don't see it if There are maybe two interesting conversations in the whole play, and the most interesting characters are not the leads. This one's a bust.

Also Perhaps I was just not in the right mindset or this play wasn't for me... Read more Read less

75
Clever, Quirky, Slow, Disappointing

See it if the show is an intriguing conception, although the playwright doesn't really succeed. it is a rare relief to see a play about lesbians.

Don't see it if It's all talk, and the pacing is overly relaxed. The line readings are deliberately, and pointlessly, eccentric. The play feels incomplete.

86
Lyrical, Great acting, Enchanting, Delightful, Clever

See it if The most natural dialog since Delillo’s White Noise; gorgeous piece of writing and acting exploring repressed ‘80s lesbianism seeking escape

Don't see it if You need high action and can’t sit back and steep in the play’s gorgeous writing and acting as two women try to understand their feelings

Also It’s good to know going in what the play is about. The elephant in the... Read more Read less

78
Romantic, Intelligent, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you love Erin Markey as I do... brilliant... as is Kristin Sieh

Don't see it if you're expecting to be spoon fed... there's a lot of interior stuff happening... I loved it

100
Enchanting, Delightful, Clever, Absorbing

See it if You adore insight into a time period

Don't see it if You aren’t interested in women’s lives.

68
Quirky, Slow, Great set design, Entertaining

See it if you like slice-of-life plays that, er, play out in real time, mostly as a character study, but also don't mind a bit of magical realism

Don't see it if you're expecting something to "happen" during the play - the main action here lies in what happens off-screen and what doesn't happen at all

20
Slow, Overrated, Excruciating

See it if you are desperate to go to the theater and this would be your last choice.

Don't see it if a well-acted, actually scripted play, is what you prefer.

Also Bought tks as the reviews were all good. Really, did I see another sho... Read more Read less

70
Too much is unspoken to feel cogent, An exploration of queer life in the pre-lgbtq era, Loved the premise of the play, but writing fell somewhat short, An 80s feminist slice of americana searching for its wings to fly into the 21st century, Ambitious

See it if you like plays that explore LGBTQ identity themes.

Don't see it if you have no interest in LGBTQ identity themes.

Also I confess I went into this play with high expectations. I loved the fe... Read more Read less

63
Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Funny, Quirky, Great acting

See it if You are interested in female/female relationships examined in a somewhat superficial way. The play doesn't give much back story.

Don't see it if You want a clear story and you want to know who these characters are. The play doesn't give much context for these people. A bit confusing.

62
Casual, Quirky, Uneventful, Confusing, Slow

See it if You enjoy a play that takes its time, if you like 80s period, looking for something lighthearted and enjoyable

Don't see it if Get bored easily, if you’re expecting an arc or much to happen, if you are expecting it to be relevant to space and Sally Ride

Also I really couldn’t tell you what this show is about. The last 10 minute... Read more Read less

63
Excruciating, Confusing, Ambitious, Banal, Slow

See it if you love slice of life dialogue that goes nowhere for a long time, you want a feminist lesbian experience that kinda sorta doesn't budge

Don't see it if a great set is not enough for you; the early 80s and well written characters don't thrill; you want something to happen

Also there is some brilliant writing in this play but dramaturgically it ju... Read more Read less

75
Disappointing, Intelligent, Ambitious

See it if You like quiet, thoughtful pieces with themes on repression.

Don't see it if You want to see a show that doesn't live entirely in what's not being said.

Also I wasn't quite as enthralled by this one as others, but I respect the ... Read more Read less

55
90 minute duration feels like an eternity, Unconvincing situation & characters, Aimless storytelling, Inconsequential, Snooze-fest

See it if want to eavesdrop on aimless conversation among unconvincingly drawn characters. The lesbian undercurrent is the entirety of the plot. Zzz..

Don't see it if expect any degree of realism. I'm sure there's an interesting play about Sally Ride being a lesbian. This dull and plodding affair is not it

Also The un-raked auditorium makes for dreadful sight lines at the Barrow S... Read more Read less

80
Edgy, Great writing, Ambitious, Great acting, Funny

See it if From tiny acorns mighty oaks will grow. Stunning acting and a story draws you in.

Don't see it if Fluid sexuality is assumed so be prepared for casual but truthful transitions.

68
Funny, Slow, Quirky

See it if you're interested in a quirky new play w/ ideas about women exploring their roles and sexuality in the 80s. Well acted, though a little long

Don't see it if you need a clear narrative arc. The play feels a little 'loose' and unfinished.

85
Great singing, Thought-provoking, Clever, Absorbing, Great acting

See it if You enjoy shows that show character development and intricacies of relationships with political overtones.

Don't see it if You only like flashy Broadway productions.

Also The last scene should have been cut.... Read more Read less

85
Great writing, Great acting, Funny, Absorbing

See it if You enjoy a thoughtful script about the human experience, peppered with humor and sentiment.

Don't see it if You need explicitly curated drama.


November 5th, 2019
CRITIC’S PICK "Getting Intimate at ‘Dr. Ride’s American Beach House’: In a witty new play by Liza Birkenmeier, restless friends find themselves challenged by the first American woman in space."
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November 8th, 2019
4/5 Stars "The route of Birkenmeier’s plot is tightly mapped in retrospect, but full of worthy little detours into character...'Dr. Ride' takes its sweet time to rev up, but it goes the distance when the engine kicks in. It’s a specific and evocative depiction of identity and power at a crossroads."
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November 6th, 2019
"After 80 luscious minutes of conversation, the company somehow has material for a whole nother play, a ten-minute scorcher between Sally Ride (Sieh) and an old friend Molly (Markey)...The play itself just keeps soaring up and up and up."
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November 6th, 2019
"Dr. Ride's American Beach House and the Secret Lives of Lesbians in the 1980s: Sally Ride's historic space journey inspires four women on a St. Louis rooftop."
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Cast & Creatives (3)