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Evening at the Talk House

Members say: Confusing, Slow, Disappointing, Indulgent, Thought-provoking
58
Critics
60
46 reviews
Members
58
164 reviews
 

The New Group presents two-time Tony winner Matthew Broderick in Wallace Shawn's drama about a group of friends gathering to celebrate a past theatrical endeavor in a dystopian future. 

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In 'Evening at the Talk House,' everyone's invited to join the company of Robert's (Broderick) underappreciated masterpiece, 'Midnight in a Clearing with Moon and Stars,' at a get-together to commemorate its 10th anniversary. To recall that wonderful creative atmosphere which they all miss so much, Nellie (Jill Eikenberry) will host this celebration at their old haunt, the Talk House (which, despite everything, remains open). Remember when you felt you could do anything, when there was still nothing to fear? Yes, things have changed a bit, haven't they? Please come. We need each other.

 

Cast & Creatives (14)



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Reviews (210)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
60
Avg Score

60
The New York Times

"'Talk House,' which features a talent-stocked ensemble led by an excellent Matthew Broderick, covers territory that Mr. Shawn dug into more deeply in his harrowing 'Designated Mourner'...The insiderly conflation of theater-world superficiality and the depths of institutionalized evil can feel forced and gimmicky. And the ensemble hasn’t yet fallen into the natural common groove that might mitigate that impression...Ms. Shear stands out...Mr. Shawn is as good...And Mr. Broderick is first-rate." Full Review

80
Theatermania

“The art of dystopian drama is crafting a reality that feels familiar to the audience, so that we can easily draw a line between our world and the one onstage. Shawn has created a world that is uncanny, especially for anyone who frequents the New York theater...Shawn seamlessly blends deathly serious themes with his unique brand of absurd humor…'Evening at the Talk House' isn't really a disturbing look at our possible near future, but our very real present.” Full Review

75
BroadwayWorld

"The stellar cast includes notable names...Under Scott Elliott's direction, the 100-minute piece plays out as a 21st Century twisted version of the kind of leftist conversation that once dominated the corners of Greenwich Village's basement bars and coffee houses...In 'Evening at the Talk House,' the danger of live theatre may have been what led to its demise, and the power of populist fascists may have led to the demise of those who would passionately build it up again." Full Review

25
The Hollywood Reporter

"Unfortunately, 'Evening at the Talk House' lives up to its title by being a monotonously verbose exercise whose provocative themes are too muddled to make much of an impact...Never proves compelling with its vague, futuristic scenario. Shawn's understated dialogue becomes quickly tedious, and the oblique story line doesn’t reach any satisfying conclusion...The talented cast fails to breathe much life into their underwritten roles." Full Review

85
New York Magazine / Vulture

"A terrific production...Where 'Talk House' achieves its unique power is in the slippery subtlety of its contradictory arguments. Surely Shawn would not waste his time writing a cautionary tale for a world beyond caution, or making it so deceptively funny (until it isn’t) if he did not believe in the power of words to do more than moo...And yet 'Talk House' is uncommonly pessimistic about the theater: It’s late in the day and it’s all gas. Worse, plays may be a part of the problem." Full Review

80
Time Out New York

"Watching 'Talk House,' I had the uncanny sensation that Shawn has turned his theatrical nightmares into our waking reality...Staged with sly humor and creeping perversity by Elliott, 'Talk House' is elliptical, weird stuff. Unless you’re already a fan, you may find it opaque or off-puttingly cryptic. Those of us who’ve loved Shawn for years, however, will simply note that he’s moved into documentaries." Full Review

40
The Huffington Post

"The shadow of Orwell looms large over 'Talk House.' Only it’s a rather blurry smudge, so it’s not altogether clear what the playwright’s point is...Broderick talks; and then Shawn talks; and then everybody talks and talks. (The play runs about 100 minutes, but a long 100 minutes.) Fortunately, the cast is full of actors who know how to hold the stage—including, yes, Mr. Shawn—so they do manage to keep our attention." Full Review

60
The Guardian (UK)

"The play digests so easily and un-queasily that it can feel like it was barely there at all...'Evening at the Talk House' ought to be a body slam. Instead, it barely beats you up at all...Despite some lovely performances (Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker, especially, and a perfectly cast Broderick) the stakes seem perilously low, which is odd considering that the collapse of civilized society or at the very least an assassination or two threatens." Full Review

35
Theater Life

"At first the bonhomie of the pre-show carries into the opening moments of the play...An intriguing concept but the air of casual acceptance of these horrors is so pervasive, it deadens the impact. Yes, that’s Shawn’s point—fascism creeps in on little cat feet. But the acting and direction is so mild, the effect is soporific...The all-star company has been directed to underplay every word and action, except for Shawn and Sriram...It’s a pretty dull 'Evening' with all talk and little action." Full Review

70
DC Theatre Scene

"'Talk House' is deliberately vague about the way the society it depicts differs from the one we currently inhabit. Yes, leaving the murdering sketchy adds to the terror–both for the characters and for us. But there are occasionally tantalizing morsels that suggest the 100-minute play might have felt more filling had Shawn cooked up some more aspects of his imagined world...Director Elliott is effective in creating an atmosphere of conventional conviviality...and then of growing dread." Full Review

70
Lighting & Sound America

"A play like 'Evening at the Talk House,' with its dystopian vision of America tomorrow or the next day, usually hinges on how well the playwright draws on the details of how we live right now, and it must be noted that some of Shawn's ideas simply don't resonate...Still, 'Evening at the Talk House' casts a spell of creeping dread, aided by a wildly varied cast...The director, Scott Elliott, handles the diverse cast well." Full Review

45
Theatre's Leiter Side

"Much as Shawn's subject has a fundamental fascination...his play never seems believable enough to accept its premises...Director Scott Elliott...and his noteworthy cast do all they can to make Shawn's attempts at spontaneous language sound other than synthetic. However, the 100-minute play, a sizable, rambling chunk of it played only in candlelight, is eventually murdered by its own artificiality. 'Talk House' may have lots to talk about but it's hard to believe much of what it says." Full Review

40
AM New York

"Elliott’s production is a laid-back, intimate affair with little movement and dim lighting...About halfway through, the dialogue becomes increasingly strange and there is mention of a government sanctioned 'program of murdering'...It’s as if Shawn sensed the play was becoming a bore and responded with a dystopian twist. A handful of moments are interesting...But it’s a challenge to stay engaged with this slow-moving, maudlin and ultimately bewildering piece." Full Review

75
The Clyde Fitch Report

"'Evening at the Talk House' may not rivet the audience with chatter about trivial sitcoms in which his characters have appeared or been involved. But it has the impressive effect of confirming Shawn as remarkably prescient. He’s sussed out the 'normalizing' of destructive behavior settling over us as we speak...As directed with silken menace by Scott Elliott, the actors acquit themselves with aplomb, perhaps Broderick chief among them." Full Review

45
Talkin' Broadway

"Shawn's sleight of hand in guiding us from organic discussion to enforced silence is a bewitching magic trick that Elliott has staged at once subtly and to the hilt; both artists prevent us, like the characters, from seeing where we are or where we're going until we're too enmeshed to escape...The problem, though, is that in the end, all the pieces don't come together...Worse yet, at least at the performance I attended, most of the actors were still finding their ways into their parts." Full Review

30
Times Square Chronicles

"'Evening at the Talk House' starts off serving sugary treats, as the cast mingles with the audience. Sadly that is the best part of the whole show. What this play is trying to say, makes no sense...There is much being said here, but it is so oddly stated that you start to tune out...The direction of Scott Elliott, keeps the play moving...Talented actors here were undernourished with a play that had any substance." Full Review

70
Deadline

"Framing the best performance by Broderick since 'The Producers,' 'Evening At The Talk House' plows terrain familiar to us onlookers at The World According Shawn...It’s a horrific, unsettling worldview...Even more frightening, it seems to have been outpaced by the real events Shawn is commenting on, turning satire – fake news – into documentary – real news. 'Evening' loses focus and doesn’t seem to know how to end. That simply adds to the horror factor, however." Full Review

35
New York Daily News

"Too bad the play doesn't give you that much to chew on...While Shawn's play stirs up a bit of dread, especially considering current affairs, it’s played so bluntly that it's not that disquieting...Under the direction of Elliott, performances in this New Group show are mostly fine, but Broderick struggles to sound like just a regular guy talking in the show’s long opening monologue. The physical production also nags...Furnishings, like the talk in this house, could have been more lived-in." Full Review

40
CurtainUp

"Mr. Elliott and the entire cast do their utmost to bring out both the humor and horror of Shawn's serio-comedy. But the sly finger pointing at a narrow group within a bigger, ever scarier world doesn't mesh as smoothly and clearly as it should...Interesting as some of the ideas that come to light are, the gradual shift in tone is rather confusing. Except for Shawn and Broderick, none of the characters assigned to these well-credentialed actors are especially interesting." Full Review

48
Front Mezz Junkies

"It is a bit shocking how relevant 'Evening at the Talk House' is to the political times we now live in, but this is not a gathering that I would have wanted to be invited to...There are too many moments that don’t flow or that feel repetitive...And although the ending in general was not a shock, it also didn’t make much sense either. Although this 'Evening at the Talk House' kept me tuned in, I can’t say I was thoroughly engaged. This is one cocktail party that I wish I had skipped." Full Review

75
Theatre Reviews Limited

“Under Scott Elliott’s smart and conscientious direction, the cast uniformly explores the depth of each character, delineates the character’s conflicts, and successfully helps to move the plot forward…Engaging theatre, although ‘Evening at the Talk House’ is not without complications...The reference to today’s political climate is obvious and deeply disturbing. This consonance with the present makes 'Talk House' an important conversation as freedoms seems to disappear daily." Full Review

85
Front Row Center

"The fine ensemble acting and well-known faces immediately make the audience feel like they’re in their customary universe, with people they know well...The genius of 'Evening at the Talk House' is that it’s a play that makes you think about depressing things and allows you to laugh at the same time...This is a rare theatrical event that made me think but didn’t make me bleed. Go see for yourself." Full Review

40
Theater In The Now

“Wallace Shawn has concocted a play that will get you to scratch your head, if only to wonder if this future could actually be ours. But this big reveal of a new reality is quite underwhelming…The play happens to be quite passive; most of the character development occurs through stories of the past. And it starts to become tedious...It's one thing to watch the characters muse about the past if it develops their arcs, but it seldom does so." Full Review

50
TheaterScene.net

"It is a very verbose, long-winded affair giving an excellent cast made up of such veterans as Matthew Broderick, John Epperson (aka Lypsinka), Jill Eikenberry, Larry Pine, Claudia Shear and Michael Tucker not much to do. Shawn has written the best role for himself but that is not saying much. While the play may be meant as a cautionary tale, it is also overwritten and self-indulgent. Long before you realize where the play is going you may have lost interest due to all of the explanations." Full Review

60
Bob's Theater Blog

"It sounded so promising: a New York premiere of a work by the provocative and often amusing Wallace Shaw...Despite the underlying menace, the guests prattle on about TV shows and other gossip. One topic is the mysterious recent poisoning of at least two actors. The lights go out, but the talk continues. The play grinds to a halt with an ending that seems almost arbitrary. Somewhere lurking inside this disjointed mess lies an interesting play. I wish Shawn had waited until it emerged." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
58
Avg Score

80
Ambitious, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Profound, Resonant

See it if I found this play fascinating and was totally absorbed by it. It worked on many levels : I especially loved the sinister doings just below

Don't see it if the surface interactions. The New Group gave it a fine production w/ Matthew Broderick plowing charmingly through gobs of text. 8 actors A++

0
Indulgent, Banal, Disappointing, Excruciating, Slow

See it if you enjoy watching paint dry.

Don't see it if you are expecting something other than sitting and watching paint dry. You will be SADLY DISAPPOINTED, SADLY!!!!

Also What ever happened to Matthew Broderick's stage acting? He was so damn... Read more Read less

45
Banal, Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Insipid

See it if you want to be served a cool-aide drink by one of the cast members.

Don't see it if you really hate to see good actors in stupid productions.

Also the woman next to me fell asleep, snoring a bit loudly. when it was ov... Read more Read less

77
Absorbing, Great acting

See it if The cast and the set

Don't see it if Depressing

50
Boring, Indulgent, Disappointing, Excruciating, Slow

See it if conversationalist, subtle, fantastical dystopian future

Don't see it if boring conversation, flat characters

60
Boring, Disappointing, Slow

See it if If you area fan of any of the highly talented cast & must see them perform on stage regardless of material.

Don't see it if Are easily bored or are expecting an exciting play.

35
Indulgent, Excruciating, Slow, Confounding, Mercury fur: senior citizens

See it if You already purchased a subscription to The New Group for Sweet Charity and this was included. Honestly, just let the ticket go to waste.

Don't see it if You're expecting Matthew Broderick to become engaging again or there to be an interesting take on post-apocalyptic life in the theatre.

Also Wallace Shawn attempts to build this post-apocalyptic world but you ha... Read more Read less

65
Indulgent, Confusing, Slow

See it if You don't mind meandering, painfully slow dialogue that has a few "aha" moments

Don't see it if A few shocking moments are not enough to sustain your interest through 100 rambling minutes

79
Absorbing, Intelligent, Intense, Great writing, Slow

See it if you like seeing a thought-provoking social commentary in a play

Don't see it if you don't like a lot of long, in-depth speeches by characters

10
Indulgent, Excruciating, Insipid, Slow

See it if I really try to see something good in every production but there's absolutely no reason to see this show.

Don't see it if you have half a brain and can gather from these reviews that this show is ultra-missable.

68
Quirky, Indulgent, Confusing, Disappointing, Great staging

See it if you're a fan of Messrs. Shawn or Broderick—or nostalgic about LA Law's fab couple (Tucker, Eikenberry); very odd concept that never gels.

Don't see it if you want a cohesive story or to connect with the material, or are averse to dystopia genre or wary of feeling clueless for 100 minutes.

Also I wanted to like or at least grasp what this play was about; I've seen... Read more Read less

69
Absorbing, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Confusing

See it if you like fine acting and direction, and provocative unpredictable theater that leaves you with more questions than answers.

Don't see it if you don't like Matthew Broderick and a distinguished cast that you may find disappointing in this unusual edgy piece.

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

See it if You are a Wallace Shawn or Matthew Broderick fan. You enjoy interactive theatre (get there early to hang on the set with the cast).

Don't see it if You would rather avoid challenging ideas--including some that are prescient.

Also Not sure I would go a second time, but I thoroughly enjoyed this produ... Read more Read less

55
Ambitious, Confusing, Disappointing, Slow, Verbose

See it if to mingle with a star-studded cast on the set before the show; catty dialogue about the entertainment industry in dystopian world

Don't see it if the play more important than mingling; Broderick & Shawn good, others underutilized, one really miscast; the wordiness is tiring

Also difficult to have appropriate feelings about the dystopian world when ... Read more Read less

27
Confusing, Disappointing, Cliched, Overrated, Slow

See it if You want to be inches away from Broderick & Wallace Shawn

Don't see it if You like great theatre

71
Intelligent, Profound, Slow, Entertaining

See it if like Wallace Shawn's writing; want a semi-comedic, dark look at the near future with a very good cast; staged so you feel like part of show

Don't see it if don't like Matthew Broderick (I don't, but he's ok here), want a real plot; the script is verbose; there's alot of talking

65
Intense, Confusing, Excruciating

See it if you are particularly interested in seeing any of the actors featured in an intimate setting

Don't see it if you don't enjoy Wallace Shawn's plays

69
Thought-provoking, Profound, Resonant, Indulgent, Slow

See it if you might like a politically prescient show where group of theatre folk gather for a reunion in an Orwellian society..

Don't see it if you don't care for slice-of-life dramas where most of the "action" is talk and most of the "reveals" are events from the characters' pasts

70
Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Quirky

See it if you like Wallace Shawn as a playwright. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the lead.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy dark, dystopian plays.

75
Absorbing, Intelligent, Profound, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if Interesting show about a dystopian future that sounds all too plausible. Some nice performances.

Don't see it if Too much Matthew Broderick. The show opens with a 15-minute monologue by him. I nearly fell asleep. No sure what the point was.

13
Boring, Indulgent, Excruciating, Cliched, Slow

See it if you need a place to take a quick nap. Although at 100 minutes, it felt like a long winter's sleep. Dull beyond words. Interesting set.

Don't see it if you have a way to avoid it.Most of the actors are good. Way overwritten. Too wordy. Dull as dull can be. Avoid like the plague.

72
Clever, Edgy, Confusing

See it if you like long monologues .It is very dark.The theme becomes apparent later in the production.

Don't see it if You want to be able to relate to the characters.

49
Great acting, Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Slow

See it if you are a huge fan of any of the cast who are very good.

Don't see it if you are looking for a play with a coherent plot. It was only 100 minutes but it seemed like an eternity.

50
Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Slow

See it if like me, you love Matthew Broderick or if you like Dystopian dramas by Vonnegut.

Don't see it if you don't want to leave the theater scratching your head or you don't have patience of a disjointed story .

Also Broderick's monologue at the start of the show was excellent, but not ... Read more Read less

69
Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Confusing

See it if you enjoy great writing and dark thoughts. It will leave you wondering about the person seated next to you. Or is it the one in front?

Don't see it if If you are the one who voted for Trump.