New York | 2h 55m | Already closed

Good for Otto

From 39 critic and 152 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Slow, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Disappointing

About the show

Through the microcosm of a rural Connecticut mental health center, Tony-winning playwright David Rabe conjures a whole American community on the edge in the New Group's New York premiere starring Ed Harris. More…

Like their patients and their families, Dr. Michaels (Ed Harris), his colleague Evangeline (Amy Madigan) and the clinic itself teeter between breakdown and survival, wielding dedication and humanity against the cunning, inventive adversary of mental illness, to hold onto the need to fight – and to live. Inspired by a real clinic, Rabe finds humor and compassion in a raft of characters adrift in a society and a system stretched beyond capacity.

The Wall Street Journal

"One of the best new plays to come along in recent seasons. What’s more, it’s being performed by the very best ensemble cast in town...The results remind us that in the hands of the finest writers, there’s no such thing as a cliché, since human life is always the same—and always new...Impeccably true to everyday life...I’ve never seen a show that was as realistic in its portrayal of therapy and crisis intervention...Our attention never wanders." Full Review


"From the evidence presented in Rabe's 'Good for Otto,' his 2015 play now having its New York premiere, there is a good deal wrong with the mental health system. Unfortunately, the play at three hours is overlong and delivers a great deal of undigested material. Inspired by Dr. O'Connor's book Undoing Depression, 'Good for Otto' tries to tell too many stories and wastes the talent of six major stars: husband and wife team Ed Harris and Amy Madigan..." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"A masterwork about the care and treatment of mental illness, written by a playwright at the top of his game and being presented in a commanding production...Filled with richly portrayed characters...This production is being helmed with an appropriately unobtrusive touch by The New Group's artistic director Scott Elliott and is blessed with a collaborative ensemble of 14 excellent actors who allow David Rabe's richly-wrought words to tell the story through them." Full Review


"Epic, impassioned study of the mental gymnastics...Despite its lack of a central plot, the NY premiere production captivates with sustained force, fully realized characters, and a cornucopia of pathos and humor...However beautifully scripted and acted are the good doctor’s work-life struggles, the play’s emotional core lies with his patients. A stellar cast spans the cycle of life from childhood to old age...A long play that doesn’t feel long." Full Review

Epoch Times

"The drama offers a penetrating look at those who suffer from mental illness and at those who try to help them...Abraham offers what amounts to a masterclass in acting with his performance as Barnard...Direction by Scott Elliott is masterful; he keeps the story moving smoothly throughout. From almost the first moment of the play, we feel a violent situation may suddenly erupt...Rabe has crafted a very affecting tale. Intense, touching, and at times heart-wrenching." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"A wide-ranging exploration of mental problems with an excellent cast...Harris is excellent here as a dominating force in Rabe's unusual drama...Madigan is effective in illuminating the concerns the playwright raises...Rabe gives Abraham colorful lines and he is commanding...It is to Rabe's credit that he manages to cover so much territory, and it is to Elliott's credit that the various threads are illuminated clearly as they are woven into the play's overall psychiatric portrait." Full Review


"The cast is an incredible, cohesive ensemble and they all shine...Elliot makes sense of a script that is at times hard to comprehend, especially the scenes with Dr. Michaels and his dead mother...It is not an easy task, but Elliott helps us see the patients, the doctors, bureaucracy, and the pitfalls...The play is not an easy sit-through. However, the storyline is always compelling, the characters are engaging, and the ensemble acting is glorious. This is good theatre but not for the faint o... Full Review

Scene on Stage

"Acted by a superb 15-member ensemble, directed by New Group's artistic director Scott Elliott and overlong by just a few minutes at three hours, including intermission, 'Good for Otto' is fascinating theatre...As enacted by Harris and Madigan and their 'patients,' the therapy sessions have the ring of authenticity...Under Elliott's direction, the play's separate threads mesh into a cohesive unit, with few wasted or unnecessary exchanges." Full Review


"A stellar cast...The play is ambitious and at times unwieldy. However, its subtle, matter-of-fact brilliance becomes endearing by the second act. Rabe's characterizations intrigue...Kudos goes to the acting ensemble who effect this individuality with rigor and graciousness...May not be everyone's cup of tea. But I enjoyed how Elliott and the actors approached the characterizations and the idea of reality as a fluid, unsteady state." Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

"Rabe is not digging deep into Sigmund Freud territory but merely exploring what ails everyone...The madhouse is inside us as we watch various characters deliver long monologues — and the rest of the excellent cast watches as well...Dr. Michaels’s penchant for singing old songs, which he introduces by playing a pitch pipe, feels frivolous, but otherwise 'Good for Otto' hits its mark...It’s about the pain of being human and the little quirks and imperfections we all have." Full Review

Show Showdown

"There's a lot going on in 'Good for Otto's' three hours: basic storytelling, an indictment of the treatment of mental health issues...Rabe's presentation of the quotidian pressures of being alive, with the sense that simply surviving takes heroism and is heroism....Although 'Good for Otto' occasionally feels dated, as in Rabe's treatment of autism and homosexuality, it is largely a loving, moving piece that honors the struggles of everyday life and everyday people." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"A tale for and about therapists and the brave souls that want and attempt to repair themselves through treatment...What a lovely piece of writing this gift is, especially in the way that the story is directed with an easy but exacting eye for engagement...Rabe has crafted a finely sculptured piece...filled with thoughtful and authentic interpersonal engagements...Beautifully enacted by the gifted actors...The big picture that should envelope 'Good for Otto' is never quite clear or in focus." Full Review

Village Voice

"Elliott's fluid, transparent direction gives the affair an agreeably psychiatric 'Our Town' vibe...What prevents 'Otto' from becoming a predictable parade of case studies or medical-show clichés is Rabe's vivid, punchy prose, but also the outstanding cast...So, the script could use a few cuts, and a crucial role is miscast. However, the cumulative force of Rabe's deep, searching empathy, combined with the sheer variety of human experience on view, is impressive." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"A prime example of the frustrations, complications and realities of dealing with mental illness. But find humor Rabe does with an all-star cast...The takeaway, it takes a lot to be brave, especially those under mental siege, to fight the battles, to seek wisdom, help and climb the ladder of survival." Full Review

Theater Time

"Very well written and, at times, quite affecting, the major reason to see it is the superlative cast. The actors are so accomplished in their roles that it is one of the best ensembles I have seen this season...While the play is absorbing and should keep your full attention for the nearly three hours, the problem is that it never really develops into a full fledged play mainly because there is no interconnection between the characters...Despite my is most definitely worth a... Full Review

The Playfixer

"While there is not much in the way of plot, the various character threads are very compelling, and there are wonderful performances by the likes of Abraham, Esterman and, especially, Linn-Baker...and, as you might expect, Harris and Madigan are superb." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"Has some wonderful performances entangled in a play that seems sad, melancholy, wistful, and lost...I wanted to sob when the play was over. 'Good for Otto' touched me, but I haven't a clue as to why...Actors sit onstage next to audience members. It seems as if we are all in group therapy...If we could understand the whys of these snippets of cases or just concentrate on one or two of these, this play might have more of an impact." Full Review

Front Row Center

"There are numerous sparkling performances to be found here, but unfortunately they often get lost in a work that is fractured, overly long, and saddled with more than a few bouts of navel-gazing...Elliott and his team throw in a variety of odd tricks to punctuate the action...Outbreaks of song, a highly random use of snow, and seating a couple dozen audience members on stage...Still and all, a cluttered Rabe play is better than no Rabe play." Full Review


"Targets the U.S. mental health system, and it's not a pretty picture...Powerful performances from the star-studded cast are led by the real-life husband and wife Harris and Madigan as the therapists...At three hours, the play, directed by Elliott, could stand some tightening, with too many interminable monologues and frequent musical interruptions, as the cast breaks into chestnuts like 'Let Me Call You Sweetheart.' But the questions it poses are clear." Full Review


"A sprawling monologue-driven foray into a spectrum of psychological, emotional, and social disorders...Harris leads a top-notch ensemble of thirteen other actors...Three plays in one, which is probably why it runs a hefty three hours, and why its overall impact is diluted...Rabe seems to try and tie all these threads together. He would have succeeded more effectively, however, if he had tightened his focus as he did with earlier powerful plays." Full Review


"The grim overall realism is further brightened with some lovely fantasy imbued musical interludes. Unfortunately, while Mr. Rabe has taken on an important subject, and managed to include the problems of funding committed caregivers, 'Good for Otto' tries to do too much...Fortunately, Scott Elliott has assembled an excellent cast that includes enough charismatic performances to make 'Good For Otto' good enough to see despite the longueurs in this uncut version." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Director Scott Elliott hurries our emotions along with bathetic piano arpeggios every time something sad happens. Rabe’s intentions are wonderful; he’s taking inspiration from an actual clinic, and as a paean to the real world’s heroic therapists, 'Good for Otto' flourishes like a trumpet. But three hours of trumpeting grows tiring. Over the play’s considerable length, there are several false notes, and even the right ones start to wear on the ear." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"Delivers a scathing critique of US health-insurance bureaucracy...As drama, 'Otto' is less successful. For while therapy might be good for you, watching half-a-dozen motley patients talk to their shrinks eventually becomes rather maddening...Despite generally excellent performances, Elliott struggles to maintain a sense of momentum and cohesion over the course of three hours...Some of the disconnected stories are genuinely moving." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"A large, dazzling cast of talented and well-known actors helps to compensate for a bloated script...Attempts to follow the threads of many characters and the intricacies of their disordered thinking...Taking up further stage time are many musical numbers...While these certainly do serve to lighten the looming darkness of the characters' lives, Rabe could have cut a few and devoted more time to his patients finding resolution...Eschews standard plot structure, and lacks a clear climax." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"The meandering plot and three-hour running time diminish the potency of its striking performances...Although the play touches on difficult and complex is also incapable of picking a central thread to pull the audience along...If viewed as a montage of exceptional actors and characterization, 'Good for Otto' is a treat, but if you're expecting a transcendent theatrical experience, you'll be left feeling...on your own and a bit disappointed." Full Review

Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Thought-provoking, Clever

See it if You enjoy plays that are thought provoking with an amazing and talented cast

Don't see it if Are easily confused

Great acting, Great writing, Absorbing, Resonant

See it if You're interested in the lives of many hurt souls who come to their psychiatrists to tell their tales. Musical interludes + great cast too!

Don't see it if You're not in the mood for a 3 hour show. But the time really flies by! Highly recommended.

Great acting, Profound, Masterful, Resonant, Relevant

See it if You won’t see a better cast- ever. Just so many award winners onstage reveling in masterful content and brilliantly delivered. Gr8 message.

Don't see it if Have a short attention span. It has great story arcs that are disturbing so if you want a 90 minute spoof like others here this isn’t for u

Also Having read the 2015 script I have to strike fiercely back at the peop... Read more Read less

Riveting, Relevant, Refreshing, Profound, Intense

See it if you want to be affected. This play was intense; it deals with the agony of mental illness many deal with and helps the audience empathize.

Don't see it if it may be too intense. Lots of weeping. Despite its' heavy, intense subject, perhaps because of its humor, the show was so refreshing.

Also Part of the story deals with child sexual abuse, it wasn't graphic but... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Magnificent acting, Brutally honest, Entertaining, Edgy

See it if you want to see a master's class on acting, as everyone is spot on. The story is deep and at times unsettling, but extremely worthwhile!

Don't see it if you don't want to invest three hours into an emotional rollercoaster of a show, you are triggered over mental health issues.

Also One of those productions where you leave going, "WOW!". I've seen revi... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Delightful, Relevant, Great acting, Resonant

See it if you love great ensemble works with wonderful writing and insightful moments of compassion for people struggling with life's challenges.

Don't see it if Plays that have a large cast and multiple stories.

Great acting, Intelligent, Must see, Relevant, Great writing

See it if I believe this show reveals the unfortunate climate our country country faces in the field of inadequate mental health care.

Don't see it if You have absolutely no interest in the gaps of medical care our country is embroiled in. What a wake up call to us all.

Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Spectacular performances, Thrilling, Absorbing

See it if seeking a well-scripted and performed ensemble drama that asks you to question how we treat those with mental illnesses--or ourselves.

Don't see it if you get upset by darker dramas; are trigged by suicide, gunshots, child-abuse, depression, anxiety, and other mentally-involved themes.

Also I’d the fortune of sitting on stage for Good for Otto. Being part of t... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Edgy, Thought-provoking

See it if you like plays made up of a few mini personal stories and monologues and are interested in mental illness

Don't see it if you need a strong overarching story with a clear resolution or if mental illness is a topic that does not interest you.

Also I was impressed by the way the writers and actors portrayed the compli... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you want to see great acting from theater elite and a an attempt to tackle the Mental Health issues of the time. Great use of the stage

Don't see it if Mental problems will upset you. Also at times the projection (early in run) does not reach beyond a few rows.

Funny, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Absorbing

See it if You can sit still either on stage or in the audience for 3hrs, want to see an ensemble cast of actors you've seen in movies and TV rock live

Don't see it if want to think about mental illness and how the world is effected by it

Also run b4 it closes this week

Important insightful intelligent

See it if u want 2 c fantastic ensemble acting/ a meticulous evaluation of mental health in USA/Rabe magically show what patients & therapists endure

Don't see it if u don’t want 2 b depressed about the pain everyone feels/ can't understand music as pain relief/can not envision dealing with mental anguish

Also excellent direction/ Ed Harris is perfect as a therapist tormented by ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful, Profound

See it if An excellent ensemble performance about mental health services. I found it personally tremendously engaging. Will see it a second time.

Don't see it if If you perfer light musicals or dramas.

Entertaining, Masterful, Intense, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you like shrinks lives and great acting

Don't see it if if you get bored easily

Absorbing, Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great acting

See it if you like great acting in an up-to-the minute show about difficulties in mental health care, curious as to how such clients will be depicted

Don't see it if you're not interested in mental health issues, too upset by lack of treatment funding or depiction of difficult cases, don't have 3 hours

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

See it if you appreciate a cast of renown actors handling all the problems of mental disease and its remedies.

Don't see it if The play is three hours long. It over does the subject

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if You enjoy thought provoking stories about the reality of the mental health. Also see it if you want to see five veteran actors at once.

Don't see it if you want a play with a lighter theme.

Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if You want to contemplate the complex nature of the human mind in an almost poetical manner

Don't see it if You lose interest after 90 minutes or want your stories linear

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Very long

See it if you enjoy dramas and are a fan of any of these amazing actors. For a really special experience, get one of the seats on stage!

Don't see it if you can't sit through a 3 hour drama. Are not interested in seeing a play about mental health issues

Also I had a seat on stage for this production and it was truly a once in a... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Resonant

See it if You like good writing, excellent acting, and serious topics.

Don't see it if You dislike plays about mental illness.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Intelligent

See it if You like intense plays and appreciate commentary on the broken healthcare system in America... get a stage seat if you can

Don't see it if You don’t like plays about mental illness you prefer lighter plays rather than intense ones

Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant

See it if Stellar cast, with F. Murray Abraham, Ed Harris, Rhea Perlman, Amy Madigan, Mark Linn-Baker, Maulik Pancholy. Fragility of the human mind.

Don't see it if Long 3 hours.

Great acting, Ambitious, Relevant, Slow, Great casting

See it if You want to see a brilliant ensemble of actors in a timeless production centering around therapy sessions.

Don't see it if If you do not like “talky” productions, or if you are not interested in hearing from people with mental health issues.

Ambitious, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you like ensemble pieces

Don't see it if mental illness/sad shows upset you

Great acting, Ambitious, Intense, Moving, Thought-provoking

See it if I was deeply moved by this depiction of a small town mental health clinic, it's 2 psychiatrists, and the patients they treat. Superb acting.

Don't see it if Play is LONG - over 3 hrs. Subject matter is mostly dark, disturbing, sad. Various short musical moments were strange, confusing.

Also I thought Mark Linn Baker gave a particularly moving performance as a ... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (22)