Members say: Great acting, Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Relevant, Funny

About the show

Manhattan Theatre Club presents this world premiere drama about four lonely people longing for fulfillment.

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In the New Mexico desert, a down-on-her-luck folk singer takes a job at a giant online retailer’s shipping center. Her young manager struggles to connect with his girlfriend newly relocated from New York. And a drifter living at a local campground dangerously links them all. 'Fullfillment Center' stars Deirdre O’Connell ('The Affair,' 'Circle Mirror Transformation') and is directed by Daniel Aukin ('Fool for Love.')

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

“A quietly shattering new play…The director, Daniel Aukin, and his perfectly mismatched cast find the resonant meaning in the battle between hope and cynicism that infuses these characters’ every word and gesture...Though you’re likely to feel the pressure of unshed tears when the play is over, ‘Fulfillment Center’ is also an unexpectedly inspiriting work…The production is steeped in a luminous and illuminating empathy that feels both uncommon and essential right now." Full Review


“After an enticing windup, ‘Fulfillment Center’ fizzles out into a series of two-character scenes in which competent actors are asked to interrupt each other's lines in a vague approximation of real human dialogue…Lack of detail makes it hard for us to invest in the drama, even though we know something crucial is at stake. Buried in Koogler's highly stylized patter lurks a much-sharper play…At least O'Connell leaves us with something to chew on with her brave and vulnerable performance.” Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

“Unfortunately, ‘Fulfillment Center,’ while featuring many evocative moments, fails to cohere into a satisfying whole. Despite terrific performances from its four-person ensemble, the play just spins its wheels before ending so abruptly that we’re not sure it has…The performers do as well as can be expected with their ill-defined roles…But their efforts are not enough to make ‘Fulfillment Center’ remotely fulfilling.” Full Review

Time Out New York

“One of the work’s keen pleasures is the way it feels like a carefully wrapped package: everything precisely contained, each of its two-person scenes assembled with the least padding possible. There’s a strictness about the staging, too...This simplicity accentuates the way director Daniel Aukin and his cast melt into naturalism simply by using a wealth of beautifully realized behavior…O’Connell is playing a part that could have been written for her. She is one of our theatrical nonpareils.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“Much of the success of Aukin's production is rooted in four first-rate performances…'Fulfillment Center' is as spare and elliptical as a 'New Yorker' short story, but each scene is loaded with unspoken tensions, and its unsparing view speaks to the moment we're in…A small, tightly focused drama, and Aukin's direction makes it compellingly taught. Even more compelling is its depiction of people trying to get by in a system where the only metric of their value is how much they can produce.” Full Review

Theater Life

"The emotional lives of all four seem as blighted and empty as the nowhere town of the setting. But Koogler and director Daniel Aukin inject this sad quartet with a desert-dry humor...The dialogue and staging pop and fizz like freshly opened summer sodas...Though it runs less than 90 minutes, 'Fulfillment Center' is stuffed with meaty moments and is a filling offering." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"There is something incredibly uncomfortable going on, and I mean that as the greatest of compliments...It’s tragic and surprisingly engrossing as we watch these four fine actors strive but rarely meet...Unique, funny, and disturbing. Much is left unsaid or unexplained, but the need and the reactive pushback is clear...My guess is that each audience member will find connection with one of these four characters on some deep and emotional plane." Full Review


“A formidably talented cast to forcefully flesh out their characters' hopes and insecurities…Smartly written and often funny dialogue…The alternating one-on-one interactions tend to become repetitious and short of strong dramatic heft...Though there's not a whole lot of drama, Kooger does have a good eye and ear for the nuances of these relationships...Unfortunately it becomes increasingly clear that none of these situations will take us anywhere." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

“For the first 30 minutes or so, I thought it was heading confidently to an interesting destination. Unfortunately, as it progressed, the playwright seemed to lose control of his material and the play ended up at a dead end...The writing weakens, the play meanders and it finally grinds to a halt…It’s always a pleasure to see Deirdre O’Connell...With more work, the play might have amounted to something better. As is, it’s a missed opportunity.” Full Review


“If you’re seeking an exploration of the downtrodden in today’s economy, you will be severely disappointed…While Koogler gives his well-drawn characters some development, and even a bit of closure, not all that much actually happens. Conversely, if all you need is to spend time with a company of accomplished actors bringing their A-game to an admittedly slight script, you’re in luck. Any evening spent watching the brilliant O’Connell in action is the rare opportunity to view a master class.” Full Review

Front Row Center

“An intense ninety minutes, during which the emotional alienation of the characters manages nonetheless to create an absorbing connection with the audience. Each performer embodies their character with such great empathy and skill that by the end we are left with a disquieting sense of dread, as if we soon might learn that something horrible has happened to them." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"This new play about loneliness and desperation features brilliantly drawn characters played by four magnificent actors...The play’s weakness is in its structure...For ninety minutes we experience their terror with great clarity. But Koogler offers no structure for their condition. His story lacks a beginning, middle and end...What makes 'Fulfillment Center' a fulfilling evening is the actors...Life may fail to offer us redemption, but these actors work overtime to redeem this play." Full Review

Act Three - The Reviews

"The play...falls flat, is empty, and the characters, all but Suzan, were UN-fulfilled and UN-fulfilling in their development and arc. Suzan was the most deeply fleshed out character and, as played by Ms. O'Connell, the most juicy and emotionally satisfying of the lot...Overall, this 80 minute-play needs a bit more work to have any sort of impact. The characters are ill-defined and by the time you get to the end, much like Alex, you realize the failure that just unfolded in front of you." Full Review

Village Voice

"In its quietly distraught manner, 'Fulfillment Center' makes a true portrait of today’s Americans...That you feel a helpless sense of pitying affection for them all comes partly from Koogler’s terse, astutely turned dialogue...An equal amount of your feeling is roused by Aukin’s four actors...Each of these performances alone would be an impressive achievement; the four of them together give this low-down, plainspoken play the transcendent effect of a great string quartet." Full Review


"Koogler has the playwright’s great gift of writing character into every line. Even if these performances were not as flawless as they are, you would know these four very different people from the words on the page...This is a production that would benefit from a smaller, or perhaps shorter, space. Despite the neck ache, it’s gripping drama, and Aukin creates a tension and sense of desperation that keeps you riveted." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

“The sad outweighs the funny in ‘Fulfillment Center,’ but my gosh, there's plenty of both…They're rich characters, and Daniel Aukin's direction, rife with overlapping dialogue, mines their quirks expertly...And he knows comedy. So many exchanges that might read as so-so on paper reverberate and land beautifully, helped by actors who know how to subtly reveal and amplify character contradictions. Booth is really spectacular…So is O'Connell." Full Review

Reclining Standards

"At its best, 'Fulfillment Center' moves almost imperceptibly between realism and a poetic alternate reality...For me, 'Fulfillment Center' was most satisfying as a vehicle for its actors, all of whom were ideally cast and excellent...There’s some lovely moment-to-moment communication, funny and heartbreaking. Yet, in the end, I found 'Fulfillment Center,' well, not entirely fulfilling." Full Review

Stage Buddy

“A skillful balance of depth and humor…Moreno nails his portrayal of Alex…Booth’s bossy Madeleine is the perfect counter in their relationship, and Weller wows as John…But it’s O’Connell who really steals the show. O’Connell hits all of her serious and comedic notes with equal power…Though the play doesn’t neatly tie up every loose end it creates, we still walk away having thoroughly enjoyed the journey -- making ‘Fulfillment Center’ a fulfilling experience.” Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Great acting, Disappointing

See it if you want to see a play dealing with modern life and the disappointments of work issues.

Don't see it if you wanted to see a feel good play.

Quirky, Relevant, Slow

See it if You want a look into the life of Trump's America. How the blue collar worker copes with underemployment.

Don't see it if You want to see beautiful sets and costumes. This is as bare bones as it gets. Also the ending is abrupt and unsatisfying.

Great acting, Quirky, Disappointing

See it if you'll be content just watching glimpses of everyday people in everyday lives.

Don't see it if you want plays to have strong message. It was thoroughly enjoyable but I have no idea what the playwright wanted to do with it.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Refreshing

See it if You like fresh and interesting dialogue that explores the complexity of relationship and personal trajectory. You admire fine acting.

Don't see it if You dislike stripped down productions that just focus on the language and relationships. Are easily offended by unfair jabs at New Mexico.


See it if People struggling to survive in middle America make this a real drama for our age. It has,a modern day Grapes of Wrath feeling.

Don't see it if Not a feel good play and if your down yourself this will not help matters.

Ambitious, Great acting, Disappointing, Cliched

See it if you enjoy the actors in the production, contemporary issues such as the economy & mental health, or indecisive, ineffectual characters

Don't see it if you need to relate positively to all characters, uncomfortable being left with questions about characters, trouble following a long stage

Disappointing, Good acting, Emotionally unsatisfying

See it if Want to look at disparate lives trying to get by. 4 people in same town circle around each other (sometimes literally) but fail to connect.

Don't see it if Want more than an empty set, actors often on opposite ends of platform. Neither good nor bad, but wondered what was the point throughout.

Also Saw this at MTC in July 2017.

Edgy, Great acting, Relevant, Disappointing

See it if you want to witness four characters share aspects of their lives that show them as vulnerable and unfulfilled.

Don't see it if you are offended by cursing; prefer something with more plot development rather than slices of life revealed; looking for something upbeat.

Also The acting was very good; typically, there were only two characters on... Read more Read less

Intense, Confusing, Excruciating

See it if you like seeing a confusing plot with wasted acting. I felt like going on stage and knocking some sense into the characters.

Don't see it if you like characters you can enjoy watching develop or if you enjoy an ending that makes you say, Is that it?

Exceptionally well-acted drama of left-behinds.

See it if An always intriguing, relevant look at four souls on the margins of Corporate America slipping under the wheels of progress.

Don't see it if It's not happy or hopeful. I think I'm going to score it higher.

Dizzying, Banal, Disappointing, Insipid, Slow

See it if You have interest in lonely people who constantly make the wrong decisions.

Don't see it if Actually, don't see it. Depressing.

Great acting, Banal, Confusing, Disappointing, Cliched

See it if You need to see another play about failures

Don't see it if You want to see something thought provoking

Great acting, Banal, Confusing, Disappointing, Cliched

See it if You like quirky, funny theater in the round that starts really strong but dies halfway through the play with a few irredeemable characters.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy confusing stories some of which don't really go anywhere or seem to have a reason for existing.

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Disappointing, Cliched

See it if a play that is a series of 2 character scenes about 4 people unfulfilled in work and relationships; interesting staging with minimalist set

Don't see it if some funny lines but full of characters that are depressing; some of the scenes & story lines are developed but not all - some are cliched

Also Ms. O'Connell's character was the most developed and her performance w... Read more Read less

Funny, Relevant, Cliched, Great staging, Emotionally fraught

See it if You like character drama, fully realized people, charged dialogue, and staging that highlights the joys of live theatre.

Don't see it if You're turned off by lots of talking; awkward, violent sexual scenarios; or the indignities of economic deprivation in America.

Also My favorite aspect was the staging -- a long runway with the audience ... Read more Read less

Funny, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing

See it if you enjoy relevant new plays with sharp writing, witty dialogue and great acting. Deals with serious human struggles, but also funny.

Don't see it if you don't like shows with a barebone set/prefer full-scale staging, you don't like head-scratching endings that leave things unresolved

Boring, Great acting, Relevant, Indulgent, Banal

See it if You enjoy plays about sad characters trying desperately to connect with each other but ultimately failing. Costumes + sets are unimportant.

Don't see it if You're looking for an upbeat show that won't leave you feeling depressed. There are bits of comedy but not enough to lift the overall style.

Funny, Edgy, Intense, Thought-provoking, Profound

See it if Characters who are lost in their lives seek fulfillment outside of themselves making matters worse. Exquisite dramatic ironies.

Don't see it if You don't want to experience painful characters interacting with other painful characters. You don't like dark comedy.

Absorbing, Quirky, Resonant

See it if You don't mind taking a meandering, quirky ride with some very interesting - and real - characters

Don't see it if You need a straight forward narrative and a tidy resolution

Disappointing, Slow, Empty, Under-developed, Un-fulfilling

See it if you like modern staging (read empty stage, no set), like quirky plays; like 'em short (80 Min).

Don't see it if you like developed characters, you like substantial plots, you hate filling in all the blanks in the script.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Slow

See it if you appreciate good acting and interesting staging in an intimate setting.Play is a bit slow, but characters are fully fleshed out.

Don't see it if you are looking for something flashy or uplifting.This is an interesting look at blue collar workers & their supervisors.


See it if you like a well acted play about human struggle. The actors do a lot with a bare set. Although, it gets a bit muddled in the end.

Don't see it if you don't like relationship exploring plays.

Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Relevant, Riveting

See it if you are game for an elliptical, character-driven tragicomedy; if you want to catch stunning performances by O'Connell & Weller

Don't see it if you can't with a raw portrait of contemporary despair that refuses resolution; if you need realistic sets to match the realistic acting

Ambitious, Intense, Well acted, Unusual staging, Somewhat romantic

See it if you'd like good actors performing in a new drama relevant to today's economy. Topics include age discrimination and women's empowerment.

Don't see it if serious subject matter turns you off. Depressing, notwithstanding good acting.

Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if Want to see another show very relevant to today's economic situation with good acting. Deidre O'Connell is great as always.

Don't see it if Wish for something fluffy.

Cast & Creatives (11)