Evening at the Talk House
Closed 1h 40m
Evening at the Talk House
58

Evening at the Talk House NYC Reviews and Tickets

58%
(163 Reviews)
Positive
32%
Mixed
40%
Negative
28%
Members say
Confusing, Slow, Disappointing, Indulgent, Thought-provoking

About the Show

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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Member Reviews (163)

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60
Confusing, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Slow, Good acting

See it if Shawn's latest is a muddled mash-up of a venal dystopian society & theatrical gossip fest Good acting from ensemble fails to illuminate

Don't see it if Talky & banal without Shawn's usual piercing wit or intelligence. Should strike at target points much harder to have desired effect

75
Ambitious, Disappointing, Quirky

See it if you wish to see M. Broderick play M Broderick for the first 10 minutes. The set is wonderful.M.B is superb in that time period (see more)

Don't see it if Talent is wasted. The premise is not realistic.. The 75 minutes is more like 100 minutes (should be an intermssion but alas it would (see m Read more

Critic Reviews (46)

The New York Times
February 16th, 2017

"'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."
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Time Out New York
February 16th, 2017

"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."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
February 17th, 2017

"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."
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The Hollywood Reporter
February 16th, 2017

"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."
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Deadline
February 17th, 2017

"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."
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New York Daily News
February 16th, 2017

"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."
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AM New York
February 16th, 2017

"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."
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NY1
February 16th, 2017

"Though overwritten, Shawn’s play is a shrewdly pointed satire about civilization's tectonic shifts both culturally and politically…The performances are all first-rate…The production, directed by Scott Elliot, takes far too long to hook us in. But when it does, we're fascinated. Unfortunately, the ending comes too abruptly, and many in the audience are left shaking their heads. Bottom line, Wallace Shawn is a great thinker. I just wish his playwriting could match his intellect."
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Theatermania
February 16th, 2017

“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.”
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BroadwayWorld
February 21st, 2017

"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."
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Lighting & Sound America
February 17th, 2017

"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."
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Talkin' Broadway
February 16th, 2017

"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."
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TheaterScene.net
February 24th, 2017

"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."
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Theater Pizzazz
February 16th, 2017

"'Evening at the Talk House' is sure to cause discomfort in the audience, because it’s an indictment of us all...While some find this sort of engagement intellectually challenging, others would rather not be faced with what is really a troubling moment of forced reflection. Either way, it’s a well performed and superbly written piece on Derek McLane’s gorgeously cozy club room set that sneaks up behind the viewer before seizing him by the throat."
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CurtainUp
February 16th, 2017

"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."
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Front Row Center
February 17th, 2017

"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."
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Front Mezz Junkies
February 27th, 2017

"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."
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T
February 24th, 2017

“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."
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Broadway Blog
February 19th, 2017

"In Shawn’s typical writing style, he later drifts into absurdist territory as his characters pose philosophical questions on who should live and who should die...Still, it’s not clear what he is trying to convey: Is 'Evening at the Talk House' about the death of theater or debating the deaths of individuals? In order to make an impact, it should be one or the other. As it stands, this is one evening that is still trying to talk its way toward an intellectual bullseye."
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C
February 16th, 2017

"It’s one the main pleasures of the work, which can be alternately maddening, terrifying and a bit boring, that we’re never quite sure where we’re traveling – or where we’ll end up...Too much of the play is devoted to inside-baseball chatter about fictional theatrical and television figures. But every now and then, the subject abruptly changes to the geopolitical, and one sits up, pricks up one’s ears, and wonders how much of the dialogue Shawn wrote since January 20."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
March 2nd, 2017

"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."
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DC Theatre Scene
February 16th, 2017

"'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."
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Times Square Chronicles
February 20th, 2017

"'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."
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The Guardian (UK)
February 16th, 2017

"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."
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The Clyde Fitch Report
February 20th, 2017

"'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."
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B
February 16th, 2017

"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."
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The Huffington Post
February 16th, 2017

"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."
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The Wrap
February 16th, 2017

"Broderick is especially good at never losing his benign cool while delivering wicked character critiques that savage like an assassin’s bullets. And Shawn and director Scott Elliott are especially adept at scene-setting in the play’s first few minutes. Where he goes off the rails is with his twist...The 100-minute 'Talk House' meanders on and on after the big reveal, with characters being alternately nonplussed and nonchalant."
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Wolf Entertainment Guide
February 20th, 2017

"Director Scott Elliott achieves an ambiance of casualness that conveys a clubby atmosphere of intimacy before the audience that is seated on each side of the playing area...Although the dialogue and interaction doesn’t really add up to the intellectual level that author appears to be seeking, the caliber of the acting grips our attention and makes the work seem deeper than it is."
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T
February 20th, 2017

"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."
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Theater In The Now
March 1st, 2017

“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."
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Broadway & Me
March 11th, 2017

“It's a Wally Shawn play and so it's a talky play but under Scott Elliott's solid direction, an expert cast brings it almost to life…Playing against type as a bitter former theater director who has found a refuge in doing what sounds like a tacky TV series, Broderick shakes off the lethargy that dragged down so many of his post-‘The Producers’ performances. Shawn isn't given to idle sentimentality."
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Newsday
February 16th, 2017

"Hadn’t quite come together when I saw Scott Elliott’s eclectically cast New York premiere...We are casually folded into a world where the theater is dead, blackouts are common, authoritarians rule the world and conversation centers on who’s in and who’s out of inane entertainment...The finale is suitably macabre, but a bit anticlimactic. Missing is the way the best Shawn works tighten the knot that connects our comfortable life to our complicity with cruelty. That thrilling awfulness is lost."
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BlogCritics.org
March 2nd, 2017

"Insidiously brilliant, humorous, sardonic play...The production, finely tuned and directed by Elliott, has a stellar ensemble whose spot-on performances bring a number of chilling messages to us in the 'here and now'...An excellent Matthew Broderick as Robert unfolds the complexity of his character, an ironic, insightful, equivocal, caddish, diffuse, emotionally disaffected playwright...This is a terrific must-see production that makes for thrilling, terrifying entertainment."
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Financial Times (UK)
February 19th, 2017

"Becomes increasingly meandering over the course of an interval-less hour and 40 minutes...Broderick offers a characteristically engaging blend of charm and diffidence early on but soon begins to seem lost. The same goes for the rest of the ensemble whose interactions generally feel robotic. It’s as if Shawn and Elliott have tried to replicate the estranged, heavily stylised approach of Pinter’s later political drama, but the results are too stagy to convey any real sense of menace."
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Off Off Online
February 18th, 2017

"In spite of occasional slow spots, Shawn is masterly at writing literate, even poetic, dialogue...If at times his points are familiar, the leisurely world he puts on stage is both relaxed and deeply unsettling...Ultimately, though, what makes 'Evening at the Talk House' so memorable is less the shock of ordinary people blithely engaging in murder, but the prospect of an entire civilization facing its demise."
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TheaterScene.com
March 1st, 2017

"Shawn has no compunctions about letting his characters talk on and on and on…A lot of the chatter is amusing, quite innocuous at first, but as might be expected with Shawn, it evolves into something rather ominous…Scott Elliott has put together a stellar company that gives validity and vibrancy to Shawn’s tricky writing…The talk at the ‘Talk House’ threatens to become toxic, with an intelligence and perspicacity that, while sometimes unwieldy, demand our attention."
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DC Metro Theater Arts
March 14th, 2017

"It’s a stunning piece of theatre, one that resonates long after you leave it behind...It ends tragically, but I found the journey through it absorbing and provocative; words that suggest a beautifully written and performed very dark comedy that informs us, entertains us, and succeeds in making us more keenly aware of how united we must be in order to resuscitate what we once thought of as the best of all possible worlds."
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scribicide
March 6th, 2017

"​It feels as if Mr. Shawn has not fully fleshed out his ideas; there is something ultimately unfulfilling about this dystopia. Of course, I have no problem with vagueness, so long as the author has a firm hold on his material. But the gaps in 'Evening at the Talk House' feel unintentional, as if even Mr. Shawn does not know what is going on outside of these walls."
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Epoch Times
February 21st, 2017

"The most insidious societal changes don’t occur through quick or violent means. Rather they are so quiet and unobtrusive one never notices them until it is too late. This chilling point is brought home in 'Evening at the Talk House'...The cast is excellent...Scott Elliot’s direction is nicely restrained, allowing the power of the text to take hold and turn a simple premise into something sinister."
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Z
February 17th, 2017

"As compelling as the tale is, it unravels patchily, and revelations lose their impact due to an emotionally confused response from the characters...Of particular note for his lack of character (in both senses) is Matthew Broderick...He opens the evening with a long monologue, and his numbing singsong delivery is only prevented from inducing sleep by his occasional bumble and stumble. It’s a disturbing combination of anxiety and boredom. Kind of like the play itself."
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Reclining Standards
February 17th, 2017

“The good part, unsurprisingly, is the theater stuff…Shawn the playwright has a wonderful ear for theatrical badinage...The second half of ‘Talk House’ is a blunt, tedious political satire…I’m not sorry I saw ‘Talk House.’ There’s considerable pleasure in the early scenes, and on some level, it’s enjoyable to watch these terrific theater actors talk about pretty much anything. But it is certainly a lot of talk—and ultimately, not much heat.”
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Paste Magazine
February 19th, 2017

"Few plays begin with more gracious verve than Wallace Shawn’s achingly brilliant 'Evening at the Talkhouse'...To go into specific detail would diminish the wondrous thrills to be had in this endlessly fascinating play. Suffice it to say: when the actors take their bows, mysteries linger, along with Shawn’s persistent haunting vision of world that may be closer than we think."
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Edge New York
February 18th, 2017

“The cast is stellar...At first, the play seems like an investigation of sophomoric indulgence regarding older, white, privileged, rich folks...But as the platters of shrimp cocktail and towering cheese trays are consumed, a quiet dystopian trope invades…The evening is neither uplifting nor a place to forget about the horrible swirl that is our personal political caldron of late, but as usual Shawn's work does provide grist for every brain cell you have and then asks you to look for a few more."
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A
February 17th, 2017

“While Shawn is commenting on the state of theater and government, not to mention audiences and the general public, this is not a pleasant ‘Evening.’ There are some decent performances on stage, but the pacing of the show, especially at the beginning, is sleep-inducing. Director Scott Elliot does better as the play moves on, although the sudden ending is confusing. All in all, this is an odd show that is more irritating than thought-provoking."
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The Theatre Times
February 16th, 2017

"Shawn is not so starry-eyed as to believe that the theater can save us from the increasing social isolation and economic precarity...Shawn is perhaps the most cynical American playwright working today, and also perhaps the most important. He specializes in splattering the tastefully appointed habitats of the haute bourgeois with blood, making rudely visible the violence undergirding the broad-mindedness, compassion, and refinement cherished by the likes of us East Coast liberal elites."
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