Closed 1h 40m
Fireflies
Chelsea
79

Fireflies NYC Reviews and Tickets

79%
(169 Reviews)
Positive
87%
Mixed
11%
Negative
2%
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Ambitious

About the Show

In this world premiere from Atlantic Theater Company, somewhere in the Jim Crow South, the sky is on fire. "Fireflies" is the second part of Donja R. Love's trilogy that began with "Sugar in Our Wounds."

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Member Reviews (169)

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69
Absorbing, Relevant, Overstuffed, Wildly changing tone/plot, Strong acting

See it if you're interested in race relations in South 1963. Preacher and his wife struggle as world blows up. Fine acting can't save unfocused script

Don't see it if you dislike crazy veering from funny to tragic. There's material for 5 plays in 90 mins. Focusing on 1-2 issues w have been more effective.

66
Cliched, Disappointing, Banal

See it if If you want a show that goes in all directions. One that goes deep into melodrama.

Don't see it if You want a show that stays focused on what the story is about. This one goes from Gay Blacks to abortion, misogyny, a lot of other subjects.

Critic Reviews (21)

October 15th, 2018

"I was moved by Mr. Love’s willingness to imagine, amid the terror of the times...other kinds of lives than the ones that history books offer. And as embodied by the fine performers here, those lives really do seem alive...But every time the play began to engage me through character it disengaged me through plot contrivance...What the actors can overcome, the story often cannot...The language, too, can seem awfully rich, perhaps deliberately in a play about oratory and faith."
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October 15th, 2018

"Love may have a lot to say about black queer resilience and God’s bounty, but he hasn’t worked out how to gracefully deliver information...Both characters are stuffed with qualities that only emerge when they’re mentioned...It’s not the actors’ fault that they’re unable to make coherent characters out of this chaos of impulses and characteristics; it’s impressive, therefore, whenever they make an isolated speech ring with confidence. This happens in fits and starts."
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October 15th, 2018

"Its language and design create a fearful panorama...'Fireflies' aims for an emotional forte early on and doesn’t often vary its pitch...It’s like a very rich meal, eventually dulling the very senses it seeks to sharpen and satisfy...Part of me wanted to see the play that comes after 'Fireflies,'...That’s a play I haven’t seen. Despite the fine performances that drive 'Fireflies' forward, its tone and trajectory ultimately left me feeling like it was one that I had."
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October 15th, 2018

"One seriously overstuffed 90-minute drama...The work barely has room to breathe, with the playwright delivering an emotional whiplash-inducing series of plot revelations and reversals that stretch credibility to the breaking point...It's no fault of the actors, who deliver persuasive performances that are all the more impressive under the circumstances...While there's no denying its noble intentions and theatrical and thematic ambition, 'Fireflies' fails to take flight."
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October 15th, 2018

“Jaw-dropping and explosively dramatic...The second part of a trilogy...’Fireflies’ stands up on its own as a powerful tale of love flashing its light in the dark... All cuddles and kisses, Wise and Davis convincingly play a young couple...Director Saheem Ali artfully unveils the dynamics of this relationship...A drama of extraordinary depth and complexity...Love thrillingly crafts an intimate story that comes to feel cosmic in its enormity by the end. I can't wait to see the third installment.”
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November 1st, 2018

“A lot to pack into a ninety-minute two-hander, and I'd be lying if I said that Love has managed the task elegantly and seamlessly; he seems to be aiming for a hybrid of magical realism and kitchen sink domestic drama, a match that doesn't totally take...But Love is a talent...who knows how to create bristling, wounding confrontations...Love wins for originality, too: He composes a dark but compelling countermelody to the standard anthemic account of the Civil Rights movement."
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October 15th, 2018

“The second offering in 'The Love Plays'...‘Fireflies’ is a powerful exploration of a marriage filled with secrets...It packs a wallop in its oblique allusions to the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and boasts two superb performances...Love's skillful script uncovers secrets the way a great chef peels an onion, and Ali directs with subtlety and understatement...The two plays come thrillingly together. It will be exciting to see Love's conclusion to the trilogy."
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October 15th, 2018

"In light of the explosive material with which he concerns himself, I’m inclined to wave away a reviewer’s standard concerns. His dire authorial concerns are that pressing...I take the position that if Love is overdoing it, it’s because he wants to be certain that no one is tempted to dismiss his conviction that the wages of racism remain too high to be paid by contemporary society...Directed fiercely by Saheem Ali and played with mounting ferocity by Davis and Wise."
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October 28th, 2018

"Donja R. Love's overstuffed play is compelling at the same time that it attempts to cover too many topics. However, under Saheem Ali's assured and tight direction, Khris Davis and DeWanda Wise give dynamic, mesmerizing performances which command attention for the play's entire length, not an easy feat in a two-character play. And 'Fireflies' will make you want to see the third and last play in the trilogy, 'In the Middle', which is set in more recent times."
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October 18th, 2018

"A two-character emotional roller-coaster set in an unsettling era of political unrest...Although rigorously directed by Saheem Ali, there are a few too many plot twists to make it credible or resonate more broadly. To add to this, the artificially neat, bright kitchen and hyper-dramatized flashes of explosive projections don’t add nuance to the story...Love builds our intrigue to know more about that development, but then immediately drops the topic for the next sensational reveal."
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October 16th, 2018

“Lovely and lyrical...Love’s ‘Fireflies' is disarmingly powerful...Wise is wonderful as Olivia. She maneuvers through the play’s twists and turns with understated grace, going with the flow...As Charles, Davis provides an excellent foil...Ali’s direction is concise and exact...’Fireflies’ is more haunting than exciting. It’s the kind of play that stays with you after the curtain goes down, even though you may not realize it."
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October 24th, 2018

"’Fireflies’ depicts with great verisimilitude the angst and pain incurred by leaders in the civil rights movement for their commitment to social progress...Under Ali's sensitive direction, Wise and Davis are compelling as characters who are conflicted, flawed and believable. Wise, superb throughout, makes Olivia's final monologue — a tour de force of dramatic writing — a theatrical moment likely to stay with audiences indefinitely. Davis is equally forceful here."
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October 17th, 2018

“Khris Davis and DeWanda Wise give impassioned and emotional performances, with many beautiful moments between them staged by director Saheem Ali, including one particularly entrancing dance sequence with choreography by Raja Feather Kelly, and the themes Donja R. Love is exploring within the play sadly feel as relevant to 2018 as they were in 1960s America.”
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November 2nd, 2018

“Directed with an emotional preciseness, Ali teases out the layers with a delicate thoughtfulness as the winds swirl around the two spectacular leads wrestling the demons of revolution and frustration of inequality...Surprising and intensely satisfying...The writing is intricate, layered, subtle, detailed...This spectacularly deep piece of writing feels as connected to the heaviness of the world as one could hope for.”
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October 16th, 2018

“Lewis and Wise burn brightly, matching well in their depictions of two vibrant, intensely physical people who do feel genuinely for each other but are also unable to be fully honest...In its portrayal of the larger world in which Charles and Olivia exist... ‘Fireflies’ feels rote and unevolved, lacking all the nuance of the relationship between them...It’s a credit to Love, Ali, and Wise’s rich performance that ‘Fireflies’ never loses sight of her journey and struggle."
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T
October 15th, 2018

"Wise and Davis are electrifying in their roles. Under Ali’s poignant and surgically precise direction, Ms. Wise and Mr. Davis explore every nerve, every synapse, every heretofore unexplored thought, every previously unanticipated action of their complex characters...This is a tale that needs to be heard, needs to be reiterated, and needs to find as many other iterations as possible."
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October 19th, 2018

“For all the pile-up of sorrows for the characters, audiences themselves can find some joy in the production of 'Fireflies'...thanks to the lyrical design and especially to the splendid performances...The abrupt climax offers what feels like one tragedy too many, and too quickly, without preparing the audience, or allowing us to share in the reaction...Still, the two performers manage to grab our attention, and keep our sympathy.”
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October 20th, 2018

"An overwrought domestic drama…The characters leap from emotional highs to emotional lows, arguing fiercely one minute, dancing erotically the next...Too often, the scenes seem more about themselves than their connection to what comes before and after. Similarly, Love's mingling of lyrical and naturalistic language occasionally misfires, with some speeches too enthralled with evangelical purple platitudes. Most disturbing is the clumsy exposition."
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October 22nd, 2018

“Love’s work seeks to fill in an otherwise erased history, giving unheralded people of color the dignity of their stories...Wise offers a staggering performance, ferocious and captivating...The language is sweeping and lyrical, but the plot is too thick with action and issues for two characters to explore in 90 minutes...This results in several wild dramatic swings and a bluntly gratuitous closing monologue that explains the central metaphor of the play’s title...Nevertheless painful and sad.”
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W
October 21st, 2018

"This is a compelling premise for a play, but it's buried under a mountain of melodrama...'Fireflies,' the second in a three-part look at black, gay relationships in history, also clumsily wrestles with domestic abuse, homophobia, misogyny, abortion, alcoholism and infidelity...Very quickly, it devolves into a soap opera. Yet both Wise and Davis give grounded, heartbreaking performances. I can't wait to see them together, but in another production."
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October 22nd, 2018

"Few mainstream plays have centered the experience of a black queer woman, much less one depicted with such clarity.​..Ali’s direction can sometimes seem needlessly arch, particularly for a play that deals so heavily in symbolism and lyrical, rhythmic language...The pacing sometimes slackens as the play moves toward its affecting denouement. But nothing can dim Love’s singular voice. I hope to see work from this talented native son on local stages in the near future."
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