Closed 1h 25m
Dying City
Midtown W
68

Dying City NYC Reviews and Tickets

68%
(174 Reviews)
Positive
54%
Mixed
38%
Negative
8%
Members say
Slow, Great acting, Disappointing, Absorbing, Confusing

About the Show

Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Colin Woodell star in Christopher Shinn's intimate and compassionate play, where a young widow receives an unexpected visit from the twin brother of her deceased husband. 

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Member Reviews (174)

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75
Disappointing, Relevant, Intense, Absorbing, Great writing

See it if You want to see a well written play, still relevant today even though it deals with headline topics (war) more than ten years old.

Don't see it if You expect unforgettable performances. This play is written better than it’s performed here. Draws you in but leaves you unfulfilled.

83
Thought-provoking, Quirky, Clever, Absorbing

See it if Nice acting. Fascinating story re: twins Being a twin myself, gave it an extra punch and more thought)) Script leaves many "whys?"

Don't see it if A two hander. Minimal set. Avoid 1st two rows for this show as stage has been remodeled.

Critic Reviews (22)

June 3rd, 2019

"Woodell and Winstead register as comfortable and natural on stage. Then again, this a play about discomfort and unnatural acts…The same matter-of-factness extends to the production as a whole…This ‘Dying City’ feels less like a haunting than an exorcism. Mr. Shinn’s play remains of topical urgency, speaking eloquently to the abiding traps and dangers of American manhood. But you register its points intellectually and dryly, when what you really want — and need — is to be chilled to the bone.”
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June 4th, 2019

"Although Shinn is a hugely gifted playwright, he is an inexperienced director; the result is a middling production that feels detached from the play’s insightful examination of how trauma can misshape lives. Winstead...barely musters more than a shrug in her tricky passive-reactive role, which leaves Woodell floundering...Shinn's craft as a writer still shines through...But at its most potent, 'Dying City' should leave you anguished, not analytical."
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June 3rd, 2019

"Shinn relies solely on the writing and the performances for dramatic impact, and the results are stultifying...While Winstead delivers a sensitive turn as the grieving widow plagued by demons, her lack of theatrical experience becomes apparent…But the evening's lack of emotional impact is not so much the fault of the actors as of the play...By the time its brief but seemingly endless running time is over, all we feel is impatience and frustration."
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June 6th, 2019

"It’s one of the finest new American plays to open in this century, a deeply serious drama of overwhelming emotional impact...It’s Ms. Winstead who will surprise you, though: Lately of FX’s 'Fargo,' she is making her stage debut in 'Dying City,' but there is nothing at all unsure or unformed about her acting, and she clearly belongs on Broadway...Mr. Shinn's staging is simple, transparent, and utterly true to life...Even on a first viewing, it already looks to me very much like a masterpiece."
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June 6th, 2019

"I’m glad that Shinn wants to map the ways our social selves interact with inherited trauma and culture’s dominant mythologies. But the combination of high emotional stakes and contrived dramatic release skirts close to melodrama. The charismatic and poised Winstead is convincing...The film star’s thoughtful, low-key style fits her material, for the most part. In the more angsty dual role, Woodell is effective, if a little bland. Shinn directs his script with focus and clarity."
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June 3rd, 2019

“Supportive of the text, unobtrusive to the performances, and slightly dull, this is very much a production directed by a playwright who wants total focus on his words. Luckily, Shinn has a lot to say, and much of it has appreciated in value over the last 12 year…Shinn weaves the personal and political to create a rich tapestry of American life, complete with the ugly parts...Shinn's script benefits from the performances of two excellent actors.”
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June 4th, 2019

“This is a play where the author slowly reveals information about the past in order to determine how the characters got to where they are today...While there are still American troops serving in the Middle East, ‘Dying City’ certainly contained more immediacy and relevance to a larger number of playgoers when first seen a dozen years ago. Shinn's production seems to settle into its own subtly a bit much and though the capable actors work hard, the results are minimal.”
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June 7th, 2019

“In its best moments, ‘Dying City’ is deeply thoughtful about the toxic cultural climate that is twenty-first-century America...But for all its painstaking construction, ‘Dying City’ remains a static piece of work...Still, under the author's direction, this three-way psychological deadlock is far more engaging than previously...A great deal of good work results in a tricky, tantalizing, yet not really successful piece. Individually, many plot points feel trenchant; collectively, they feel contrived.”
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June 3rd, 2019

"Woodell and Winstead both have affecting moments, but they do not yet fully inhabit the roles. As a result, the play seems gimmicky and formulaic in its revelations. Indeed, much of the drama's impact occurs in the subtext, and as fine as the two actors are in the play's powerful climax, the points of the interpersonal triangle are not sufficiently lacerating...Unfortunately, the current production does not plumb the depths of life's inscrutability, relying instead on surface answers."
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June 3rd, 2019

"I didn’t grasp what the major significance of 'Dying City' was all about back when the play premiered in 2007, and I still don’t get the greater point of it today...The production seems as muted as the play—or perhaps it’s the reverse. The acting is capable if rather quiet...The playwright stages the revival and maybe a more experienced director would have pitched the drama and its interpreters at a higher intensity."
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June 3rd, 2019

“It’s delicate, intricate stuff, and this production, which Shinn directed himself, evinces the challenges posed in making it translate into vital drama. Despite Shinn’s thoughtful, sensitive guidance, the staging lacks a certain dynamism. The actors, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Colin Woodell, are attractive and intelligent, bringing compelling nuance to their characters…A lovely, if flawed, production.”
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June 12th, 2019

"The Second Stage revival of Christopher Shinn's 'Dying City' is a disappointment, one of a play that seemed more important the first time around and now seems somewhat diminished. Part of this is the actors' inexperience of stage time. The other is a production that has made poor choices in telling its story. The theme of toxic masculinity in America is one that has remained topical but the play's slow pace without any dramatic tension waters down its effectiveness."
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June 4th, 2019

"The biggest problems with 'Dying City,' however, is not the characters, which are well-drawn and well-played by Winstead and Woodell. It's that Shinn has overstuffed the 80-minute play. Aside from the many personal issues at hand, we get political arguments about the righteousness of the Iraq war and the honesty of the Bush administrations...and how childhood abuse (emotional and physical) seemingly determines how we end up as adults."
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June 18th, 2019

“Directed with a somewhat myopic hand by the playwright himself, Shinn never really finds the personification of his compelling ideas nor the where for all to tease them out in this short one act play. The movements and impulses seem more dictated by text and notes rather than humanistic interactions, which is a shame, as the idea give an environment and an exercise that is both challenging and unforgettable in style and construct.”
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June 26th, 2019

"It might not be fair to call Dying City a relic when we're only a little over a decade out from the year it was written, but it is a testament to the way the world and its engagement with art about the present moment continues to change at a rate much more rapid than we can ever anticipate."
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T
June 10th, 2019

"Under the playwright’s direction, the cumbersome play raises more questions than it answers and leaves the inquiring audience member desperately flipping through The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to sort out the dysfunction displayed on stage...Shinn’s turn as director lacks the ability to elicit strong performances from the two relatively inexperienced actors."
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June 3rd, 2019

“Shinn’s script is subtle and indirect, suggesting all sorts of underlying themes…Eventually — and that word may raise some alarms for a play that’s only 90 minutes long — a picture emerges of dysfunction…But the interaction is generally so low-key, the pace so slow, and the revelations so fleeting, that something feels missing; maybe what’s missing can be called drama…Perhaps a better director might have drawn out more compelling non-verbal interaction from the actors.”
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June 3rd, 2019

"The defining light that Woodell’s performance throws on this soldier is just how contained some straight men feel they must be, how under wraps they keep their emotions — until something inside them explodes. It’s a trait that Woodell never reduces to a tic or a cliché…Winstead isn’t incompetent or uncomfortable on stage…What’s missing is any development in the character…The war references still resonate, while those regarding the terrorist attack on the city now seem forced.”
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June 6th, 2019

“Though primarily laugh-free and contemporary, Shinn borrows a technique from Victorian drawing room comedies...Shinn does an admirable job of serving up his own words. But it is a loss not having another sensibility in the mix...Though Woodell does excellent...in handling the dual roles, individual actors handling the parts would have made for a more satisfying evening...Shinn’s gimmickry works against him in this staging.”
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June 8th, 2019

“While its question is timeless, the treatment here makes ‘Dying City’ seem dated. Some of its dramaturgy is clunky...One might forgive all of that if the relationships between the characters seemed immediate and the performances made them seem genuine. But neither is the case...Both actors might have fared better if the originally scheduled director had stayed with the production...Shinn’s direction is plodding.”
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June 5th, 2019

“Shinn constructs a compelling drama with a course of unfolding mysteries and memories that nonetheless is as predictable as it is uncomfortable...That said, Woodell and Winstead deliver powerful performances of measured and precise physicality...Shinn’s characters are complex, as are their circumstances, and while the plot may underwhelm and plod, they remain three-dimensional, messy, mysterious, and fascinating—their lives and trauma worthy of more exploration on stage.”
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June 16th, 2019

"Written and directed by Christopher Shinn, the Second Stage production is intense...Woodell is riveting as both Peter and Craig. With just a flip of his hair, a change of shirt, and a play on his voice, Woodell makes these identical twins feel worlds apart in personality...Winstead plays Kelly with such a fractured heart to call it 'broken' feels cheap...For many philosophers, forgetting is the true death, which makes trauma consistently alive."
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