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Evening at the Talk House

From 46 critic and 163 member reviews
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.  More…

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.


"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." Full Review

Paste Magazine

"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." Full Review

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

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


"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." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"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." Full Review

Edge New York

“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." Full Review


“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

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

Theater Pizzazz

"'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." Full Review

Epoch Times

"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." Full Review


"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

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

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

Off Off Online

"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." Full Review

The Theatre Times

"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." Full Review

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

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


"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


"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." Full Review

Broadway & Me

“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." Full Review

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

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

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


"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." Full Review

Ambitious, Great acting, Edgy, Great writing, Quirky

See it if You like provocative theater at a slow burn You like Wallace Shawn's writing You like talky pieces

Don't see it if You like more action less talk. You like fast pacing

Clever, Great writing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound

See it if you enjoy Wallace Shawn and a show that is all talk. Profound and uncomfortably relevant. Great writing and acting!

Don't see it if you don't enjoy shows that are slow and thought provoking.

Ambitious, Dizzying, Great singing, Great staging, Intense

See it if A very entertaining circus The plot is thin But the staging lighting talent More then makes up for it

Don't see it if You don't like special Effects and noise and some chaos

Absorbing, Edgy, Entertaining, Intelligent, Quirky

See it if You enjoy ensemble talk drama, interesting talk about theater and odd punishment for vague crimes.

Don't see it if you don't like very talky plays and sometimes confusing lines of thought.

Thought-provoking, Interesting.

See it if You want to see a talented cast in a well-staged poignant play.

Don't see it if You don't like weird scripts with a morbid message.

Also Although I like Mattbew Broderick, his opening monologue was much too ... Read more Read less

Funny, Intriguing, Well-acted, Thought-provoking, Minimal plot

See it if you're a listener--it's not for nothing that it's "Evening at the Talk House." Not much happens, yet challenging and disturbing ideas emerge

Don't see it if you want physical action, song and dance, or action-packed plot

Also Playwright Wallace Shawn is an artful writer. My wife and I agreed tha... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Resonant, Slow, Thought-provoking, Disappointing

See it if if you are looking for a challenging evening of smart, intense theater.

Don't see it if you are looking for a light evening of entertainment.

Intelligent, Profound, Thought-provoking, Ambitious, 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++

Banal, Disappointing, Excruciating

See it if you don't need an energetic cast.

Don't see it if you dislike listening to a monotone dialog.

Absorbing, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if You don't mind talky dramas with deep thoughts. Shawn is a brilliant mind and I liked where he took the story.

Don't see it if You need more action and pace in your narratives. This is a heady show that requires a lot of active listening.

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

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

Absorbing, Great writing, Intense, Profound, Relevant

See it if you like social criticism that isn't above connecting with a good sucker-punch and sense our culture is on the slippery slope to hell.

Don't see it if you're afraid to take an unflinching look at yourself, your friends, your secret bourgeois fantasies... and your nightmares.

Absorbing, Great writing, Intelligent, Intense, 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

Absorbing, Great acting

See it if The cast and the set

Don't see it if Depressing

Edgy, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You appreciate dystopian visions subtly presented by an excellent cast. Wonderful writing by Wallace Shawn. Disturbing and timely.

Don't see it if Don't like to see downers and don't want to think of what we can sink to while maintaining a civilized facade. Warning -- it's depressing.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Intelligent, Profound, Relevant

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.

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

Also Broderick uses the 2 sided seating to perfection. Some others do as we... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Intelligent, Clever, Relevant, Quirky

See it if you are looking for an intelligent evening at the theater. Cleverly addresses a futuristic America that is actually closer than we think.

Don't see it if you don't like plays that are fairly talky and lack action.

Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if If you woud like an insider's look at theatrical folk. An intimate, casual look at life in a dystopian future. Great for fans of the leads.

Don't see it if If you don't like very talk-y shows (it's aptly titled), this is not for you. A bit heady at times and ultimately dark.

Comical, Silly, Deliberate, Stuffy, Self-assured

See it if you're a fan of Wallace Shawn and his work.

Don't see it if you have no idea what Wallace Shawn's work is like.

Confusing, Slow, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intelligent

See it if You want a show that has several interesting - albeit confusing -layers. It is definitely a thought-provoking experience.

Don't see it if You're expecting a delightful night of theatre. Very talented actors but the characters don't pull you into their world.

Enchanting, Disappointing, Confusing, Great acting

See it if You want an intimate experience with great actors; you feel like you are in the living room with them.

Don't see it if Not a great play, wanders...

Clever, Confusing, Edgy

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.

Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if you want to see some great actors addressing timely, relevant issues in an entertainingly dark and funny show.

Don't see it if you do not want to think.

Entertaining, Intelligent, Profound, Slow

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

Cast & Creatives (14)