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. More…
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.
"Still, what is most impressive about 'Everybody' is that it has taken the goals of the medieval morality play and successfully translated it for the modern viewer. I doubt spiritual self-improvement has been a concern for most playwrights in the last five hundred years—certainly not of most major playwrights—and it was thrilling to find myself responding to theater on terms that are both ancient and somehow still relevant." Full Review
"Playwright Branden Jacob-Jenkins has a deft touch for contemporary discourse, allowing the dialogue of epic characters to land with humor, poignancy and depth. Supported by a tremendously talented ensemble under the wonderful direction of Lila Neugebauer, Jacob-Jenkins reminds the audience that there may come a time where their life choices are called into question...'Everybody' is a truly insightful and thought-provoking play which should not be missed." Full Review
“As ‘Everybody,’ Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ playful, jazzed up politically correct and quite as politically incorrect theatrical version, it remains a concoction of glancing modern morality1 brilliantly staged by director Lila Neugebauer...Neugebauer runs with the playwright’s profoundly wonderful brainstorm…You have to see it...My dears, you have much to look forward to.”1 Full Review
"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
"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
“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
"Ambitious and overstuffed, bristling with both ideas and narrative experiments...It’s messy and multilayered and constantly surprising—which makes it an enormously exciting, or perhaps especially, when the shifting layers bounce awkwardly off each other...Jacobs-Jenkins’s work is consistently original, weird, and thought-provoking, and it’s a pleasure to see a play where you genuinely don’t know, not only what’s going to happen next, but where the action is going to occur." 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
"'Everybody' is an absolute delight, which is something said of 'Everyman' by nobody ever...Jacobs-Jenkins’ love of bold theatricality is amply evident here, including some quite marvelous visual wizardry in Lila Neugebauer’s staging...Raucous, edgy humor abounds in 'Everybody,' but what’s more impressive is that some of the somber, introspective heart of the original play is preserved. On the other hand, what’s lost here that is central to 'Everyman' is a sense of shock and awe." Full Review
"The casting seems a gimmick, but, thematically, historically and meta-textually the choice is a canny one...The cast are all remarkable...Directed expertly by Lila Neugebauer...The result is a rare play that uses theater, both its history and its practical reality, to make theater. Though it risks becoming a 'theater in-joke,' I contend 'Everybody' may be all things to all people, but I can't imagine anybody not enjoying themselves and thinking a lot about it after they've been ushered off." Full Review
“This production is updated and bursts at the seams with innovative staging, salty language, and plenty of humor…An old classic, 'Everyman,' has been twisted, spun, and deconstructed into the mesmerizing ‘Everybody.’ Through language, casting, and director Lila Neugebauer’s imaginative use of theater space, Jacobs-Jenkins' new adaptation meditates, with a peculiarly modern wit, on friendship, meaning, and mortality.” 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
"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
"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
"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
"At each performance, who will play which role is chosen by lottery…It gives the play an impromptu, seat-of-the pants energy that's combined with a meditative, repetitive quality that adds heft and makes ‘Everybody’ feel almost like a religious ritual…We're guided through the show by the Usher (a sparkling Jocelyn Bioh), who tells us about the lottery and helps us understand what's going on. There's a sketched-in plot, based on the morality play." Full Review
"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
"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
"I did find the play less successful in some places than in others. The production is very meta-theatrical, with lots of in-jokes and seemingly off-the-cuff humor...All of the actors were really terrific and put in quite physical performances as well as smart and funny ones. 'Everybody' can be riotously funny at times and it can also be very heady and esoteric...I think Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has a lot of things he wants to say and I think he's worth listening to." 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
“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
"Intriguing, moving, and sometimes disappointing...Jacobs-Jenkins's experiment — transforming a fifteenth-century morality play into contemporary drama — is a bold one, and he updates 'Everyman's' theme in moving ways...At the same time, though allegory is always self-aware, repetitive self-conscious gestures suggest Jacobs-Jenkins felt some anxiety about our patience and imagination...It's hard not to wish Jacobs-Jenkins had trusted his material, and his audience, a little more." Full Review
"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
"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
“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
See it if you appreciate theatre that makes you think, you like immersive staging, and you are a fan of the playwright
Don't see it if you are unwilling to listen or like traditional plays that don't make you think
See it if you enjoy new work, especially from Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, and/or enjoy adaptations of classic plays.
Don't see it if you do not enjoy the experimental, or have a deep hatred for the source material, "Everyman".
See it if You like being challenged and entertained at the same time. Enjoy a modern twist on a classic play. Enjoy the works of Thornton Wilder.
Don't see it if You prefer naturalistic, traditional theater. You are uncomfortable in environmental theater.
See it if your ready for an unforgettable evening. A most unusual story of a persons journey to death. Funny, smart, intelligectually challenging.
Don't see it if you prefer to be just "entertained"rather than enjoy an amazing intellectual and spiritual journey.
See it if You'd like to see an intelligent (yet often breezy and funny) exploration of one of the oldest plays and genres in the English language.
Don't see it if You don't have an interest in postmodern theatre or in spiritual/philosophical questions.
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
See it if you'd like to see a successful attempt of an experimental theater concept.
Don't see it if you wouldnt enjoy twisting your upper body from your seat to keep up with the action.
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.
See it if you think you've seen it all. You've likely never seen a show quite like this. The method of storytelling is fresh and not formulaic.
Don't see it if you don't like to be preached to (heavy moral here about how to live life) or have a bad neck (the action happens all around you).
See it if you are looking for a unique masterful rewriting of an ancient tale accompanied with unique staging and presented untraditionally.
Don't see it if you don't like to see ancient tales rewritten in contemporary language.
See it if you appreciate modern takes on older works; you appreciate the spontaneity of an actor lottery every night and surprises throughout the show
Don't see it if flashing lights or moments of complete darkness bother you; you are looking for a show suitable for children; you hate surprises
See it if you want to see riveting, relevant theater tackling eternal human issues with humor, intelligence and curiosity.
Don't see it if you don't like non-linear, somewhat unpredictable theater.
See it if you like to be surprised by theater, want to see a very clever update of the medieval play EVERYMAN, r open to considering the big questions
Don't see it if u prefer a more conventional evening in the theater, don't like working a bit to figure things out, either personally or w/ an audience.
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.
See it if you want to see a new version re:" the meaning of life" There are some nice lighting effects and set design.
Don't see it if if you wish to avoid a dark, dark play fear of death fear of the unknown etc. Note; playbills distributed after the performance
See it if If you love theatre that is thoughtful and playful and ABOUT theatre, you'll enjoy what Everybody has to say.
Don't see it if If you don't want your understanding of live performance to be challenged.
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