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. 

... Read 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.


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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

95
BlogCritics.org

"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

90
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

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

85
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

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

85
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

85
TheaterScene.com

"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

80
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

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

80
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

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
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

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

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

75
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

75
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

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

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

70
NY1

"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

65
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

60
scribicide

"​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." Full Review

60
Wolf Entertainment Guide

"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." 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

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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

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

86
Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Great writing

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.

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
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.

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.


Cast & Creatives (14)