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New York | 2h 0m | Ends Jan 06

Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine

From 14 critic and 54 member reviews
Members say: Funny, Great acting, Entertaining, Clever, Great writing

About the show

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage's satirical tale follows successful African-American publicist Undine, as she stumbles down the social ladder after her husband steals her hard-earned fortune. More…

Broke and now pregnant, Undine is forced to return to her childhood home in the Brooklyn projects, where she must face the challenges of the life she left behind. The first show of Nottage's Residency 1 at Signature, "Fabulation" is an exploration of how difficult it is to outrun where we come from. Obie Award-winner Lileana Blain-Cruz directs.



90
Front Row Center

"Nottage brings razor edged clarity to everything she writes, and undeniable truth. In ‘Fabulation’ she also has a gleam of fun in her eye. Despite the serious questions she raises, she also allows us to laugh without feeling guilty about it and imbues all of her characters with humanity and a saving grace or two. Cruz has done a masterful job staging this complex piece smoothly and elegantly.” Full Review

85
New York Stage Review

"The episodic and escapadish manner of Undine’s un-fabulation is well handled by director Lileana Blain-Cruz...Yes, this return visit of Nottage’s early 'Fabulation' is worthy and highly enjoyable. The playwright’s unrestrained humor sparks the play with flashes of lightning; but by the time of 'Vera Stark,' she had developed the skill to display wild humor in a more sustained and controlled manner." Full Review

80
The Hollywood Reporter

"The play earns big laughs with its cheeky, audacious humor...Telling its picaresque fable via short, snappy episodic scenes, 'Fabulation' occasionally feels too sitcom-like in its approach. It's also overly reliant on narration. But the play is often very funny indeed, delivering sharp observations about social and racial identity that feel even more relevant today than when it was written...Most of all, it's the performers who truly sell the material." Full Review

80
Theater News Online

"Above all, though, Undine is forced to wrestle with two even bigger obstacles: her mixed feelings about having the baby and allowing herself to love again. Boothe's stunningly multi-layered performance, in which she exposes Undine's toughness and fear in equal measure, helps us to root for what could come off, in other hands, as a very unsympathetic character." Full Review

80
Time Out New York

"On the surface, at least, Nottage’s 2004 satire of NYC's black bourgeoisie is a delectable treat. But it leaves a serious aftertaste...Lileana Blain-Cruz's whirlwind staging of 'Fabulation' puts humor first, helped by a versatile cast of seven with a knack for sketching broad new identities at the drop of a wig...You may be cackling too loudly to take it all in as it unfolds but, like a good fable, the play has a message that lingers past its scrappily-ever-after finale." Full Review

80
Financial Times (UK)

“’Fabulation’ never lurches into miserabilism and remains consistently hilarious...But there’s no mistaking its central point about how easy it is to fall through the cracks of a society with a threadbare safety net. As Undine, Boothe anchors the play with uncommon wit and charisma while other actors playing two dozen supporting roles help spin a satisfyingly picaresque yarn. At once mordant and cheerful, ‘Fabulation’ is melodrama with a method to it.” Full Review

80
New York Stage Review

"Undine happens to be quite an astringent character, but in Cherise Boothe’s wry, spirited performance, she seems as deliciously dry as a martini. Seven other capable actors neatly portray an array of different people...Lileana Blain-Cruz confidently spins out Undine’s tribulations with a quick and easy hand. Living up to its mission, Signature Theatre nicely educates audiences about the lesser-known light side of Lynn Nottage’s artistry through this fine production." Full Review

80
Exeunt Magazine

“’Fabulation’ is more successful with its mordant social comedy than with its wispy romantic subplot, but director Lileana Blain-Cruz and a stellar cast find moment after moment that shines...Undine sometimes falters as a character...her gradual opening up to the aspiring fireman she meets in drug counseling doesn’t feel entirely earned...Still, the individual scenes are brilliant little comic snapshots. And the minor characters all spring to life with vividness and indelible performances.” Full Review

75
CurtainUp

"Splendidly staged and performed Nottage legacy production...Very broad satiric humor like this tends to overwhelm the underlying seriousness. But thanks to director Lileana Blain-Cruz, it all works quite well...If you leave your need for kitchen sink realism at the door, you'll enjoy seeing this cautionary play as much as Lynn Nottage must have enjoyed writing it. " Full Review

75
Theatermania

"It's fun and games for us, but at each punctuated point along this entertaining learning curve, Nottage tucks in glimpses of the generations-old baggage...While acknowledging the tragedy beneath the comedy, Nottage and director Blain-Cruz have plenty of fun...Might feel unsettlingly sloppy for those accustomed to Nottage's efficiently assembled dramatic work. And yet, there's something liberating about the play's blatant disregard for organization." Full Review

70
The New York Times

"Brantley called it a ‘busy, robustly entertaining comedy’. It still is, but the world around it has changed so much that the comedy feels...less robust...Only as Undine’s enamel shell dissolves — Boothe is especially good at rendering the change — do we begin to enjoy her and the surrounding characters fully...'Fabulation,' and thus Blain-Cruz’s production, feel most accomplished the farther away they get from spoof and closer to reality. But reality invites uncomfortable questions." Full Review

70
Talkin' Broadway

"Seems like a minor work compared with later Nottage plays...The play moves swiftly, and there are...funny bits. Because, however, most of the characters are broadly drawn and the sketch-like scenes circle around a gag or punchline, the play does not pack the wallop one might expect. The play's poignancy and fable-like morals come through in narration rather than in the actions of and interactions among individual characters...The performances are top-notch." Full Review

70
Theatre is Easy

“”Fabulation’ is a satire and social commentary on the concept of upward mobility by erasure of the past. As such, it veers from the farcical and absurd and into some deeply painful truths. Undine frequently breaks the fourth wall...Although this effect can feel jarring, it’s effective in portraying just how different Undine is from the person she once was...Although the circumstances of Undine’s life are tragic, Nottage allows Undine to aspire to something great." Full Review

65
The Wrap

"Nottage crafts a satirical, punchline-heavy riches-to-rags story that plays like the opening episodes to a network comedy — one that would not feel out of place following a Tyler Perry jam...Director Lileana Blain-Cruz keeps all of Nottage’s comic balls in the air, swiftly changing scenes as the eight-person cast take on multiple roles...In the end, though, 'Fabulation' feels both slight and abbreviated, like the pilot for a promising but canceled-too-soon series." Full Review


82
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Quirky, Great writing

See it if A wildly entertaining play.The lead actress,C. Boothe, gives a terrific performance. Each of the other actors excel in playing many parts.

Don't see it if The subject matter is not to your liking or if you don't appreciate the wonderful talents of playwright Lynn Nottage.

80
Ambitious, Clever, Edgy, Resonant, Great staging

See it if Early Nottage's sardonic, funny quirky drama about upward (& downward) Afro-American mobility Snappy staging by Blain-Cruz & 1st rate Boothe

Don't see it if Satire often edges towards stereotype (on purpose?) & humor can be a bit offensive Act II set in rehab doesn't gel & gets a little frantic

75
Funny, Great acting, Relevant

See it if You like satire or modern fables. The acting ensemble is strong, A funny evening of theatre.

Don't see it if The plot strains credulity at points. The ending is corny.

69
Funny, Great acting, Disappointing, Uneven

See it if you want to see a satire by Lynn Nottage

Don't see it if you are expecting something weighty such as Sweat or Ruined.

60
Funny, Quirky, Disappointing, Cliched

See it if You want to see an early work by a great playwright that is not at her usual level of insight and depth. There is some humor, but not enoug

Don't see it if You expect this play to be on a level of, or similar in quality to, Ruined, Sweat, or Intimate Apparel (written 1 year earlier).

94
Funny, Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if You like biting satire and fantastic acting.

Don't see it if You only like very serious theater (even though it’s by Lynn Nottage!)

97
During previews
Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Resonant, Great writing

See it if you want complex and layered story about blackness and 'strivers.' And you want it set in contemporary times.

Don't see it if want the typical black play that's just tragedy porn or a civil rights story or slavery.

Also I honestly laughed and cried at this show. It is so truly funny and re... Read more Read less

95
During previews
Funny, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Hilarious

See it if Absolutely one of the best things I’ve seen this season. Its incredibly funny and touching at the same time.

Don't see it if If you want the same seriousness nottage brought to sweat.

94
During previews
Funny, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if I enjoyed the characters especially the lead character.I will say that i laughed continuouslly throughout the play.It was funny and i just

Don't see it if If you don't enjoy laughing out loud.This play dealt with stereotypical characters but it was comical rather than racist themed.

Also enjoyed each and every moment.That is the type of play that when you h... Read more Read less

92
During previews
Funny, Clever, Great acting, Relevant, Great writing

See it if You like a contemporary, clever, gritty look at trying to escape your past only to realize you never really can.

Don't see it if You want an emotional gut punch. The play brings up deep issues but in a mercurial way that keeps it rolling around in your mind, not tears.

90
During previews
Must see, Relevant, Smart

See it if You like smart shows that use satire to make a point.

Don't see it if You aren't interested in thinking about why you are laughing.

89
During previews
Delightful, Great acting, Must see, Great writing, Hilarious

See it if One of the best things you’ll see this year, go to this and what the constitution means to me

Don't see it if ..

88
During previews
Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if Nottage's work is always worth seeing; this is an early satire. It's social commentary [of course] laced with humor, cleverly staged.

Don't see it if you want only fluff, or are uninterested in a theatrical examination of racism, sexism & class.

87
During previews
Funny, Ambitious, Delightful, Enchanting

See it if you want an entertaining spin on the African-American and urban experience with a very talented cast and relevant satire.

Don't see it if you are unable to enjoy looking at the foibles in our society, justice system and ethnic sensibilities.

87
During previews
Great acting, Intelligent, Refreshing, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you enjoy intelligent comedy with a sharp edge of drama.

Don't see it if you dislike plays that look at race and addiction with tongue-in-cheek.

Also Lynn Nottage never disappoints. I wasn't sure I'd like her comedy as m... Read more Read less

85
During previews
Insightful, Great acting, Entertaining, Humorous, Witty

See it if if you like to laugh even about tough current realities. if you like good acting (C Booth!) & insights. if you like Lynn Nottage's work.

Don't see it if if you only like Nottage's heavy drama, as this will make you laugh.

85
During previews
Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if I would see any play by Lynn Nottage. And, she never disappoints. Nor did she.

Don't see it if This is hard for me - I'm too much of a fan

85
During previews
Delightful, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if You want to have a fun experience. See an actress , Cherise Booth,totally inhabit a role. Love black theater and Lynn Nottage

Don't see it if Don’t like any of the above . Want a serious play

83
During previews
Funny, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if a story of a black woman, once financially successful, returning to her upbringing in the projects after financial ruin; satirical look*

Don't see it if if you are expecting the slice of life of the playwright's "Sweat", don't want to laugh; actors in more than more than one role. If you**

Also * at stereotypes of black women & black experiences (housing projects,... Read more Read less

82
During previews
Funny, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You want to see a well produced and acted comedy that is funny and has just enough bite to make it satire.

Don't see it if You are expecting a serious drama of the type Lynn Nottage is famous- here she is working in a different, lighter style.

82
During previews
Funny, Enchanting, Great acting, Refreshing, Great writing

See it if If you are interested in a different twist on the story of a successful Business person, riding high on top of the world,falls to the bottom

Don't see it if You are not interested in satire, role reversal, and African American stereotypes. Be prepared for some heavy hip-hop music before the play

Also Lynn Nottage creates a carload of interesting characters in a satirica... Read more Read less

81
During previews
Funny, Thought-provoking, Masterful, Cliched

See it if Lynn Nottage play where issues of social class and being black are challenged. funny and brooklyn centric play in small theater. good cast

Don't see it if Material can be sterotypical. very Brooklyn centric so if you are not aware of black culture of brooklyn middle lower class.may be confusing

81
During previews
Funny, Ambitious, Masterful, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if Very funny exploration of the ways African-Americans can get caught up in the system through no fault of their own, with no clear way out.

Don't see it if Cherise Boothe gives a great performance. But at times, she is so over the top that she’s annoying. The end is unsatisfying.

81
During previews
Funny, Great acting, Enjoyable

See it if For great versatile performers, fast pace, lots of laughs and, of course, great staging. It's the Signature-need I say more.

Don't see it if You've seen the Hollywood white girl version of this story a dozen times but this is a a different take and a very fun ride.

Also This is very lighthearted for Nottage but it also has its moments. The... Read more Read less

81
During previews
Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if You are a fan of Lynn Nottage. After seeing Sweat I will see anything she writes. This is thought provoking and wise.

Don't see it if you only like musical comedies


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Cast & Creatives (15)