Closed 1h 40m
Everybody
Midtown W
78

Everybody NYC Reviews and Tickets

78%
(176 Reviews)
Positive
81%
Mixed
15%
Negative
4%
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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Member Reviews (176)

80
Delightful, Quirky, Clever, Funny, Refreshing

See it if Medieval morality play redone as a 4th-wall breaking comedy. Questions about how death gives meaning to life are presented brightly.

Don't see it if You would not enjoy characters that represent abstract ideas. You want something deeper. This is a light fun time.

88
Absorbing, Resonant

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

Critic Reviews (37)

February 21st, 2017

"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."
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February 21st, 2017

"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."
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February 21st, 2017

“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.”
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February 21st, 2017

"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."
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February 21st, 2017

"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."
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February 28th, 2017

"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."
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February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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February 21st, 2017

"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."
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February 23rd, 2017

“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."
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March 1st, 2017

"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."
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March 4th, 2017

"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."
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February 23rd, 2017

"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."
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February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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February 21st, 2017

"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."
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February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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February 21st, 2017

"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."
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February 21st, 2017

"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."
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February 23rd, 2017

"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."
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February 23rd, 2017

"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."
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February 26th, 2017

"'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."
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February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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February 28th, 2017

“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.”
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February 21st, 2017

"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."
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February 21st, 2017

"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."
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February 24th, 2017

"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."
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February 26th, 2017

"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."
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March 11th, 2017

“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.”
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February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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February 21st, 2017

"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."
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February 25th, 2017

"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."
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February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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February 23rd, 2017

"A disappointment...I found it to be quite a despairing play...As a person of faith, I found the play amusing but sad and empty. An adaptation of a play about faith without any faith...As usual with Jenkins, the play is imbued with a great sense of theatre...Lila Neugebauer has used the space effectively but I felt that the actors were left to their own devices. The rhythm overall was a bit slack...This should be a frightening play. It wasn't."
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February 23rd, 2017

"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."
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March 1st, 2017

“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
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March 4th, 2017

"'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."
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March 10th, 2017

“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.”
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February 20th, 2017

"Neugebauer’s direction has truly raised the bar. Her broad strokes are only exceeded by her eye for effective detail...This skillful ensemble exceeds any expectation of this wild concept...The timing of their dialogue and the depth of their connections are masterful, especially given the fact that they have each memorized practically the entire script...It is unique and profound, and brilliantly achieves the purpose of the historic morality play for a modern day audience."
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