Closed 1h 40m
Fire in Dreamland
East Village
67

Fire in Dreamland NYC Reviews and Tickets

67%
(120 Reviews)
Positive
46%
Mixed
41%
Negative
13%
Members say
Great acting, Disappointing, Slow, Confusing, Absorbing

About the Show

Set in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the Public Theater's new drama breaks the boundaries of time and narrative to explore the astonishing things we create in the face of devastation.

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Member Reviews (120)

60
Ambitious, Cliched, Confusing, Disappointing, Slow

See it if Jones' captivating performance goes a long way to ease the tedium of this messy, enervating drama w/ Beltran a cipher & Gjokaj a gifted user

Don't see it if Groff's roller coaster of a script Is all dips & turns but no thrills Too many forced metaphors & unexplored themes leave one exhausted

82
Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Great acting, Relevant

See it if you're interested in Coney Island history & the creative process in making movies, honest look at how someone can be scammed and rise again

Don't see it if Coney Island, making movies and misbegotten love affairs don't interest you, don't like stories that hint at denouement out of sequence

Critic Reviews (29)

July 16th, 2018

"Rinne Groff’s shaky parable of art and love and licorice...Affectionate, but never especially persuasive...The play borrows from the current template of the rom-com, in which love allows a childish man to grow up and an uptight woman to loosen up. But there’s something uglier and yet not ugly enough operating here...The play takes a more compelling turn just at the end, exploring what we do after a calamity and how we might, with care and pain, rebuild our boardwalks and our hearts."
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July 16th, 2018

"Faltering but beautifully performed dramedy... Director Marissa Wolf does strong work, and Groff’s script includes a number of elegant touches, like time hops and flashbacks...The play’s weakness comes from its lack of a serious central conflict...Its main tragic moments, told in monologue, concern animals that have been dead for more than a hundred years. For a drama that's about focusing on reality and present suffering, there's more sentimental smoke than emotional fire."
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July 16th, 2018

"If 'Fire in Dreamland' falters a bit in its tale—which remains compelling overall thanks to Groff’s humor and sensitivity and the production’s game trio of actors—it does so by never quite grabbing us fully by the throat. It has us firmly and kindly by the hand, and it leads us on a largely lovely journey, but there’s pain and shock and betrayal along that path, and in Wolf’s rendering we’re kept largely insulated from these gut feelings."
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July 16th, 2018

"This fascinating and funny new play...Jones makes an appealing and instantly relatable everywoman...Director Marissa Wolf has tightly staged this play with jump cuts, denoting a shift in scenes using only a slight pulse in the lights...Groff makes a persuasive argument: That dishonesty exists because we want it to — because we prefer beautiful dreams to depressing reality."
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July 17th, 2018

“A play that is marked by persistent vagueness of purpose...Jones's presence is effortlessly compelling, her delivery authoritative...Kate, as written, isn't sufficiently engaging, and her willful blindness to her circumstances becomes increasingly grating...Wolf, can't bring any clarification to this skittish tale, her overall handling feels professional...An unpersuasive drama about art and love. A great drama about this terrible event has yet to be written.”
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July 16th, 2018

"Choppy but nonetheless intriguing and well-acted play...One of the strengths the playwright brings to the table lies in her ability to take a familiar trope and provide it with unexpected twists and turns. None of the three characters is merely a stereotype...Under Marissa Wolf's direction, all three actors leap fearlessly into their performances...There definitely are times when the play would be well served with the trimming away of superfluous elements."
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July 16th, 2018

"Marissa Wolf directs Groff’s opus creditably, and Jones, Gjokaj and Beltran perform it well. Though perhaps ultimately unable to make Kate completely sympathetic, Jones does her attractive utmost...As Groff spun her unsatisfying tale, I knew what every word meant, but more and more I stopped caring."
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July 16th, 2018

"It’s an interesting and beautifully staged play, directed by Marissa Wolf, with a fantastic central performance from Rebecca Naomi Jones, that’s less than entirely fulfilling only because Groff tries to squeeze quite so much into its 90 minutes...Here, there’s real-world tragedy, too. But the experience ends up being, perhaps, a bit like that fire: thrilling and exciting, and just too much to take in."
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July 27th, 2018

"Played out on a wooden boardwalk evoking Coney Island--the simple set and costumes have been designed by Susan Hilferty--'Fire in Dreamland' begs for any connections to be drawn between the Dreamland fire and what's happening between Kate and Jaap and Lance a century later. If there are any connections, they are never made clear...Director Marissa Wolf has not found a way to bridge the enormous gap, or vacancy really, between the two different periods."
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July 16th, 2018

"The essentially straightforward through-line is clouded by film script-like jump cuts via sudden lighting changes...It's an unnecessarily foggy device serving only to draw attention to itself… Each of the three actors offers a determined performance but…their characters never come to life…Groff seems to be trying to connect Kate, Joop, and Lance's struggles…to the hopes for recovery of Sandy's victims. Unfortunately, her playwriting smoke and mirrors quickly tamp down those fires."
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July 16th, 2018

"Wolf has done her best to help it achieve the timeliness and meaningful depth to which it aspires. Thus, the problem is in the fault line that permeates Groff's plot...The way the script jumps around makes the way this all plays out become increasingly muddled and weighed down by lengthy metaphors and monologues. What's more, it's difficult for the audience to become as fired up about the images in Kate's discovered material about the fire, since it's more tell than show."
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July 17th, 2018

“Jones owns ‘Fire In Dreamland’...She makes you believe she is Kate...A complicated tale, spinning out competing narratives, occasionally forcing the audience to pause and take stock...Wolf makes the most of a talented cast. She pushes them to execute even the silences with power. She uses a small audio device to pace the action — a clapperboard — a filmmaker’s artifact to mark scenes in a powerful stage play about filmmaking...Remarkable script, and deft direction.”
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July 16th, 2018

"It’s a powerfully dynamic and funny new play directed with a detailed perfection by the specific Marissa Wolf...Exciting, clangy, and fast, this tale, that starts out with loss and disillusionment, finds its pathway through devastation into salvation, much like that heart-pounding feeling when we know we have survived the wild ride of a roller coaster ride, and we return to the safety of the platform edge."
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July 17th, 2018

“Never seems to find firm footing...Characters feel shallowly unpleasant rather than compellingly flawed. And its story never feels fleshed-out...There is something intriguing, if underdeveloped, in the ideas underpinning ‘Fire in Dreamland’...I don’t think the play successfully builds these ideas into a compelling whole, even though many of the production and all of the performances, are wonderful."
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July 23rd, 2018

"Rinne Groff has created an engaging extended metaphor based on the 1911 fire that destroyed the iconic Dreamland on Coney Island...Director Marissa Wolf and the three-member cast grapple successfully with Rinne Groff’s demanding script which results in a sometimes mind-spinning tumble into the playwright’s wonderland of fractured realism laced with magical realism and 'theatre noir'...Rebecca Naomi Jones’s Kate is multilayered and believable."
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July 16th, 2018

"There is such innate drama, such elemental power, in fire and flood...But, for all the potentially great metaphors at play, and a competent production that features a meticulous minimalist design and some fine acting, there are too few moments in 'Fire in Dreamland' as engaging as Kate’s monologue about the fire, and too much that gets in the way of a satisfying drama...There is too little about the 1911 fire, and there is way too much about the movie they want to make about it."
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July 16th, 2018

"Like many plays, 'Fire in Dreamland' might benefit from a more expansive production than the one provided here, although director Marisa Wolf does guide her three-person cast to authentic performances, and makes good use of Hilferty's clever, minimalist set...And Groff deserves bonus points for providing audiences with a history lesson about a particularly horrible moment in our city's past that I suspect most of us were unaware ever took place."
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July 16th, 2018

“In ‘Fire in Dreamland’, two people are obsessed but the conjunction of history and art only changes one: Kate. And yet, she never quite acquires a fully rounded personality, instead remaining a sketch of a character in search of purpose — or, motivation. As for that potentially intriguing Sandy connection, it is so underwritten as to feel arbitrary...For a story about the extremes of being consumed, ‘Fire in Dreamland’ is oddly lukewarm."
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July 16th, 2018

"Under its forced whimsy, Rinne Groff’s new play offers odd messages about immigrants and abortion...Marissa Wolf’s direction is very flashy and relies heavily on dazzling work from scenic and costume designer Susan Hilferty. Kate’s fantasy life, unfortunately, is a lot less absorbing than the occasional glimpses Groff gives us of Jaap’s real self...In Wolf’s production at the Public, 'Fire in Dreamland' is an oddly reactionary work."
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July 17th, 2018

"It would seem that Groff is trying to draw a parallel between the historical event and the romantic fire...There is an awful lot of not very interesting dialogue in the not very convincing relationship and outcome. But mostly the problem seems to be the effort to link the fire and the romantic problems in some sort of equation...Wolf struggles to keep up interest with swift scenic interplay. The best elements that she and the playwright have going for them are the performances."
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July 30th, 2018

"The convergence of history and art, and the way stories can capture us, are explored impressionistically in this funny, heartfelt, but ultimately emotionally-thin and mysteriously-drawn play...Often funny, and occasionally transporting, this quirky tale remains as diffuse as Jaap’s film, lacking grounding and fully-articulated characters to give content to its drama."
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July 16th, 2018

"Intriguing if uneven play...The play breathes easiest in its witty and sometimes silly moments of linguistic misunderstanding between the three characters, and in its visually arresting symbolic immersions in those raging flames and wild animals in peril during the 1911 fire...Quite what that night of flames and terrible animal suffering can teach the squabbling and challenging characters of 'Fire in Dreamland' remains a little opaque."
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July 19th, 2018

"For starters, the conceit of writing a play about someone making a film is under-developed here. The story of the fire itself, which led to the deaths of dozens of circus animals, sounds fascinating. But, as recounted through a series of monologues, it feels tacked on to the action...Compared to the epic chaos of the Dreamland fire, 'Fire in Dreamland' fizzles out in run-of-the-mill romantic intrigue."
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July 22nd, 2018

"Overstuffed narrative...Groff packs the script full of ideas: she tries to draw unconvincing parallels between the devastation after Sandy and the destruction of the fire; she wants to talk about grief and betrayal; and she wants to re-evaluate the American dream...Her writing is funny and lovely, but both characters feel barely sketched in and the stakes for Kate simply aren't high enough...As authentic as a carnival side show."
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July 23rd, 2018

“Groff has written a fascinating piece that shows both the passion and danger dreams can bring...Wolf’s direction is excellent throughout. Her efforts help to make sure that every moment—be it dramatic or humorous—is played for maximum effect. At the same time, she makes sure that no scene in the play overstays its welcome. Powerfully presented and completely absorbing...Poignantly recalls a tragic event in history worth knowing about.”
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July 19th, 2018

“Groff’s script is exceedingly clever, and her characters are vivid, animated easily by the charm and talent of Jones and Gjokaj...The show is a bit lackluster, perhaps because the bones of the story feel played out. Beyond the fascinating crux that is the Dreamland fire, the ‘girl meets boy’ and ‘whirlwind romance’ tropes fail to captivate...But that isn’t to say that the show isn’t wholly enjoyable...Fun, clever dialogue and the charisma of the actors certainly make this worth seeing.”
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July 16th, 2018

“Groff certainly demonstrates a commitment to fill her love story with lots catches. In fact, the play itself melts down in the face of its complications...Groff brings in a set of complications that defy credibility and lack any perceptible insights into love, art, or the death of animals...Underdeveloped...Mishmash of a play...The actors and director do their best to make the play’s 90 minutes tolerable...The play’s the thing and this one has just too many unconnected things.”
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July 17th, 2018

“New York City has a rich and fascinating history. Plays that examine this history frequently can be compelling, and ‘Fire in Dreamland’ perfectly fits the bill...Brilliant dialogue...written with passion...The characters movingly examine the tragic plight of the animals in the Dreamland fire...All three cast members are impeccable in their roles...The play’s center is Kate, perfectly performed by Jones."
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July 21st, 2018

“At the end, I was excited about the caliber of performance that I just witnessed, but the plot just doesn’t stick...This show was an absolute whirlwind from beginning to end—some parts were moving and deeply captivating (i.e. all of Jones’s monologues) while some were just confusing. The calming ending was a nice touch, but this was too much to be packed into ninety minutes. Life is confusing, yes, but our stories shouldn’t be quite as confusing as life itself."
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