Members say: Clever, Thought-provoking, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent

About the show

Signature Theatre presents the world premiere of Obie winner Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' new drama, a modern riff on one of the oldest plays in the English language.

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Directed by Lila Neugebauer, this exploration of the 15th-century morality play 'Everyman' follows Everybody (chosen from the cast by lottery at each performance) as he or she travels down a road toward life's greatest mystery.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"Much painstaking rehearsal and synchronization of cues, for the tech crew as well as the performers, has gone into 'Everybody.' Yet it still feels like a work in progress, waiting to be sharpened into focus...Mr. Jacobs-Jenkins has made a virtue of his anxieties about identity in meta-theatrical plays that turn traditional forms inside out. Here, though, such self-consciousness curdles, despite some amusing 'who’s on first'-style circular dialogue on weighty subjects." Full Review


"At turns ambitious, witty, and a bit dull...Solid performances still don't fully rescue the play from its didactic origins. Dress a medieval morality play up in 21st-century slang and it comes off sounding like a skit for incoming college freshman performed by the resident assistants of purgatory...Nothing in director Lila Neugebauer's high-design production quite rises to the tone set in those austere first 10 minutes, but it is often very impressive." Full Review


"Something is inevitably lost in adapting the material for a modern audience that has outgrown its fear and awe of hellfire and damnation. But the story retains some power on a human level...Except for a dramatic appearance by two giant skeletons working the side aisles of the house, no serious attempt has been made to adapt medieval theatrical conventions for modern times — although God herself knows that we mortals are just as selfish and greedy as our medieval ancestors." Full Review


“A fun and breezy new play…Not that this is mindless fluff, but there's a tad of zaniness here and there, involving meta-theatre moments…If Love doesn't actually save the day at the end, he does provide amusement by showing how he gets his kicks by humiliating people…In director Lila Neugebauer's slick and irreverent production, Jacobs-Jenkins seems content with riffing on old-time religion by replacing the fear of God with the humorous acceptance of life's disappointments." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Despite clever moments, 'Everybody' proves a trial to sit through...For all its artistic ambitions, 'Everybody' turns out to be confusing and disjointed, filled with stylistic diversions that more often than not prove underwhelming...The revolving casting feels like a gimmick and has some unfortunate results...Ultimately, 'Everybody' fails in its goal to make its themes universal and its centuries-old inspiration feel contemporary." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

“A terrific production…The play is trenchant, certainly, and often quite moving…By the end, despite Jacobs-Jenkins’s tricks and Neugebauer’s staging savvy ‘Everybody’ offers only its destabilization, and a decidedly weak-tea moral…That’s the problem with genre writing: Most of what can be said meaningfully in a form has already been said by those who needed to invent it. It’s not so much that Jacobs-Jenkins has crashed the party, fun as it may be; it’s that he’s arrived too late.” Full Review

Time Out New York

"Apart from the cast’s charm and visual coups engineered by director Lila Neugebauer, the 100-minute experiment feels overlong and talky...Lord knows we don’t need a 'faithful' revival of this theatrical fossil, but I’m not sure this slangy, digressive gloss adds much substance. Stranded between cosmic earnestness and a collegiate urge to interrogate weird old texts, 'Everybody' has trouble holding onto a fixed identity." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"This is theatre rather unlike anything you might have seen...'Everybody' tells the same tale, with equal emotional heft; but it is not only provocative and involving, it is also funny...Lila Neugebauer does a wonderful job of spreading 'Everybody' across the Signature’s Irene Diamond Theatre...Perhaps because of this necessarily thorough immersion in the script, the cast does wonderfully well...'Everybody' is very good indeed." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"The first surprise is how Jacobs-Jenkins approaches the material so playfully, in such good humor, without being in any way derisive of it…'Everybody' sends a message we all need to hear, especially in these fraught times: What are you expending your life on? Does it really mean something? If not, why are you doing it?...These are weighty matters, indeed, yet there is nothing preachy or sententious about the text or Lila Neugebauer's delightful production." Full Review

Theater Life

"An intense meditation on modern mortality and morality...Jacobs-Jenkins gives this relic a modern twist and adds the somewhat gimmicky element of having five of the roles assigned at random at every performance. This could have come across as a shallow parlor trick, but director Lila Neugebauer and her sharp company endow these abstract concepts with weighty detail, as does the playwright, making an intellectual exercise into a visceral experience." Full Review

New York Theater

"The idea here is inspired, and the world premiere production can be inspiring...'Everybody' can also be very funny. But both the playwright and director Lila Neugebauer seem hell-bent on deliberately 'destabilizing' the story, making it less accessible...The playwright’s shrewdly observed moments apparently seemed insufficient to the creative team, who insisted on lots of extra fiddling...The playwright also gives his characters too much to say that is digressive, repetitious or overlong." Full Review

Front Row Center

"This ensemble is consistent and tight, and soon we forget about who is whom and simply follow the tale. The tale itself turns out to be unremarkable, which is disappointing. There comes a point in the narrative where the entire journey collapses under its own weight...Elements feel unnecessary and border on being gimmicks...They only serve to make the piece too clever by half and thus dilute the proceedings." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"Overall, Jacobs-Jenkins’ update is fair to middling. The author has fun with his contemporary tweaking, but slowly, very slowly, the air is let out of the party balloon...He’s trading in the profound, even as he inserts a palpable laugh-line from time to time. But as 'Everybody' goes along on his obsessive journey, the playwright succeeds not at being profound but at being profoundly shallow. Indeed, it’s tough to be profound when a gimmick propels the production." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"'Everybody' just left me cold. Maybe it's because the actors who were chosen to play the leads were not that great and hard to hear. This surrealistic approach to theatre based on the Medieval morality play 'Everyman' loses something in its adaption...There are 120 different casting possibilities so maybe I had an off night, because I found it hard to connect to this piece and wanted to drift off...Neugebauer does some interesting staging...but for 90 minutes this show drags." Full Review

New York Daily News

"Five actors, of various race and gender, rotate in the part that is assigned in a pre-performance lottery. It’s an interesting gambit, though more so for the cast than theatergoers...Goofy glow-in-the-dark 'Jason and the Argonauts'-style skeletons energize the talky, sometimes trying show." Full Review


"This gifted and uncategorizable playwright’s spin on 'Everyman.' And spin it is, with the 10 actors being assigned roles according to a lottery near the beginning of each performance. They are great company. The show, on the other hand, is sophomoric nonsense and quickly wears out its welcome. My own mind wandered to Salzburg, where a new interpretation of the 15th-century fable is performed each summer under the hot hot Austrian sun." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"A original and unique experience...I had a hard time staying attuned to the dream-like experience...The gimmick is interesting but slight and definitely not thoroughly intoxicating...The cast does an impressive job engaging in all those roles...It made sense and was witty and funny at times. But I wish I was more fully engaged with my mind and my heart, as the journey that 'Everybody' takes is huge in topic and scope, but this play just didn’t feel big enough. Or deep enough." Full Review


"With the help of Director Lila Neugebauer and eight versatile actors, 'Everybody' manages to be a very much 'now' production...There's no denying that this is all very clever and audience involving...It should be said, however, that this whimsical sort of satire isn't everyone's coup-de-comic-riff. For this viewer the humor ran thin early on, picked up with Burke's arrival, but ultimately left me less satisfied with 'Everybody' than the author's previous plays." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

“Burke’s version of Death is so delightful that it was hard to remember that one should be frightened. Bioh is also a treat as God…The emerging moral seemed muddled. I also think that a lot depends on who is playing Everybody; one reacts differently to the fate of a pregnant woman vs. a white-haired man…Neugebauer directs with assurance. There is cleverness in abundance, but I was not moved. I suspect that those in the production were having a better time than those in the audience.” Full Review

The Wrap

"Jaded theatergoers in the mood for something completely different should check out Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s new play...It’s remarkable that Jacobs-Jenkins’s wit and invention flag only at the very end...'Everybody' creeps up on you, and you will be charmed — or simply annoyed...Jacobs-Jenkins may not have a lot to say that’s new about life and death and everybody in between, but one thing is for sure. He knows how to create whimsy." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"It’s a meditation on life and death to be sure, but for much of its 95 minutes, it’s also a pretty raucous comedy that can remind us just how foolish, selfish, and childish people can be...Executed superbly by director Lila Neuburger...As much as I enjoyed most of the play, it can feel long even at 95 minutes...But there’s no denying that Jacobs-Jenkins isn’t just anybody; he’s a playwright with a unique voice that begs listening." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"A free-wheeling staging that has an entertaining sweep but somewhat defuses whatever messages are intended by an effort to be extra showy...The production is consistently entertaining given the collective enthusiasm and skill of the cast and the inventiveness of the direction. The theater is alive with action...'Everybody' is an entertaining production, with loads of implications about human behavior communicated by solid performances, but the play needs sharpening." Full Review


"The notion of chance echoes a theme of the play, and it must be an interesting challenge for the actors, but it comes across as an 'in' thing, of little matter to the audience...There’s wit, humor and inventiveness in the play, directed by Lila Neugebauer, but pure allegory, with actors portraying generic figures and abstract ideas, is tough to keep aloft. 'Everybody' descends into tedium well before it ends." Full Review

Broadway & Me

“Jacobs-Jenkins and his terrific director Lila Neugebauer heighten the universality of it all by staging a lottery each night that determines which members of the cast will play the central and supporting roles…It's an incredible challenge for the actors to play different parts each night but they pulled it off with such aplomb when my theatergoing buddy Bill and I saw the show that we couldn't imagine anyone other than the wonderful Lakisha Michelle May as Everybody.” Full Review


"What can a fifteenth-century morality play say to twenty-first century audiences? 'Everybody,' Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins' take on the Medieval 'Everyman,' makes an earnest but not quite successful effort to communicate the play's message, one that boils down to one sentence: Everyone dies and has to make an accounting with God...Although a tad too long and obvious, 'Everybody' is a rich theatrical experience." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Funny, Ambitious, Epic, Confusing, Dated

See it if you want to see a modern epic retelling of one of the oldest plays. A fascinating and ambitious attempt at the most basic morality play.

Don't see it if a basic morality play with some confusing moments and many passages performed in complete darkness can bore you easily.

Also It doesn't all work but it's an ambitious retelling in a modernized tw... Read more Read less

Dizzying, Banal, Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating

See it if you must, but I suggest that you tear up your tickets, then burn them, and then bury the ashes somewhere out of site and mind.

Don't see it if love the theater. Seeing it will darken your soul FOREVER!!!

Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if Really interesting play that plays with the boundaries of theater. Very well written and thought provoking.

Don't see it if You want a traditional play

Absorbing, Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking, Profound

See it if you like plays that deal with the deep questions and that are truly original

Don't see it if prefer to avoid the harder questions in life and like your theater lite

Enchanting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you appreciate the old being made new again. It really is great writing.

Don't see it if you like big productions that spell everything out for you.

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

See it if you want to behold a casting feat: 5 actors in any of 5 different roles selected via lotto during the show. Solid performances.

Don't see it if you don't care for heady subject matter and centuries old parables dealt with in a light, non linear way.

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Confusing, Unconventional, Not great staging

See it if you are a follower of the author

Don't see it if you enjoyed the author's previous work; you may be disappointed

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you love innovative thought-provoking theatre. You will think about it for weeks afterwards.

Don't see it if You don't like plays that remind you of your own mortality.

Ambitious, Banal, Disappointing, Cliched, Overrated

See it if You wish to see the latest work of an accomplished and gifted playwright. Sometimes it doesn't work and misses.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy a disappointing riff'on an old and significant play.

Delightful, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if Man I just love Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and would pay to see him expound on all sorts of topics.

Don't see it if You're looking for an answer from the play.

Funny, Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Meta

See it if you want to see a fresh and bold play based on an old morality story that will make you ponder, laugh, and be overall entertained.

Don't see it if you hate unconventional staging which forces a lot of head turning and self-referential/meta elements. Preachy depending on interpretation.

Intelligent, Must see, Relevant, Riveting, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy theatre that is deep, and incredibly universal. This piece is brilliant on so many levels - one of my new favorites.

Don't see it if You can only appreciate conventional, lighthearted theatre. This is certainly new, and so very refreshing.

Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Refreshing

See it if You enjoy your play like a choose-your-own-adventure book! How incredible for the cast & audience to have a different experience each show!

Don't see it if You aren't willing to listen, pay close attention to detail and allow your self to be a part of the experience of Everybody.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great staging

See it if You're in the mood for something that is less of a story and more of a thoughtful meditation on life.

Don't see it if You're easily distracted or have trouble listening as much as watching. There are several scenes in pitch black so you need to pay attention

Also The version of the performance I saw had everyone playing the roles I ... Read more Read less

Funny, Ambitious, Clever, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if you enjoy somewhat experimental theater. It's definitely a show you need to let go of your expectations and enjoy the show. Meaningful.

Don't see it if You are looking for light standard entertainment that is linear in plot and easy to follow.

Clever, Dizzying, Edgy, Entertaining

See it if You want to see a unique play with many visual effects.

Don't see it if You are afraid of confronting Death.

Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Riveting

See it if you are looking for a new interpretation of older plays, like immersive theater, want something unexpected.

Don't see it if you like traditional plays, need a story that doesn't involve thinking.

Also Everybody is a modern take on the "Everyman" plays of centuries ago. T... Read more Read less

Boring, Disappointing, Excruciating, Overlong, Poor writing

See it if you want to see a Playwriting 101 project (that should have received an "F") given a full-blown production.

Don't see it if you have admired some of Jacobs-Jenkins past work like "An Octoroon," or "Gloria."

Also "Everybody" only runs 90 minutes, but you feel as if you have been in ... Read more Read less

Funny, Clever, Great acting, Indulgent

See it if you want to see a modern twist on an old story...mostly told with success via a somewhat gimmicky method. Oh, and Mary Louise Burke!

Don't see it if you're looking for a deep, insightful plot/story.

Ambitious, Clever, Quirky, Resonant, Good acting

See it if You like reconceptualization of morality play where art imitates life and art. Inventive instant casting of roles challenges cast each perf

Don't see it if Stylized examination of life and death and meaning of a life well lived isn't of interest.

Great acting, Intelligent, Profound

See it if You want to see one of the great upcoming playwrights exercise his writing chops in a thoughtful provoking play

Don't see it if you are looking for a laugh riot comedy

Ambitious, Clever, Dizzying, Great acting, Great writing

See it if you like to see plays that take really large swings and writers who know how to make messiness entertaining (instead of stultifying)

Don't see it if you don't have tolerance for imperfection in the pursuit of originality. You can't bear gimmicks, even when expertly deployed.

Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if you like BJJ; you want to see an experimental, challenging reworking of a very old theme: how to live while facing death.

Don't see it if you like only traditional, predictable theater. The staging is unusual and mostly very successful, but the show is overlong.

Clever, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if you want to experience a quirky take on "Everyman." It's creatively stage and directed and very well acted.

Don't see it if you are not willing to go with the flow of a modern spin on an ancient play and don't want to watch someone realize the true value of life.

Gimmicky, overlong unique

See it if You get a kick out of inventive stage business that is somewhat repetitious by a wunderkind playwright

Don't see it if You want something that is NOT platitudes wrapped up in silly stage business

Cast & Creatives (17)