Good for Otto
Closed 2h 55m
Good for Otto
72

Good for Otto NYC Reviews and Tickets

72%
(153 Reviews)
Positive
68%
Mixed
25%
Negative
7%
Members say
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Slow, 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.

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Member Reviews (153)

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50
Dark, Dull, Devoid (of meaning), Disappointing, Disturbing

See it if you want to see a stellar cast, but they're mostly wasted. GFO runs over 3 hrs w/barely any insights. Intimate setting; don't sit onstage.

Don't see it if you want a strong script. There's no story arc, no character development. Feels like documentary, except for brief parts in doctor's head. Read more

39
Slow, Disappointing, Interminable, Soporific

See it if you want to see what would happen if Our Town, Spoon River Anthology & One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest had a dull, tedious, laborious child.

Don't see it if you want to see a play worthy of this all-star cast; you expect a satisfying play about the important topic of mental health in America. Read more

Critic Reviews (39)

The New York Times
March 8th, 2018

"Mr. Rabe is not usually so squishy...But 'Good for Otto,' in which the battleground is the disturbed human psyche, is structured as a series of gassy monologues...The problem of mental health coverage wants a fuller, more serious treatment than that. But the play uses the issue as topical bait...At nearly three hours, 'Good for Otto' is a long and shapeless slog...Here, under Scott Elliott’s direction, it is unconvincing and overacted."
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Time Out New York
March 8th, 2018

"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."
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The Hollywood Reporter
March 8th, 2018

"A big, meaty, monologue-driven drama...It's performed by a mostly first-rate ensemble...It's laced with poignant passages...But it's also baggy and structurally monotonous, not to mention didactic and dated...Moments of intense dramatic impact but overall feels too diffuse...This shapeless play loses rather than gathers steam, ultimately seeming more like a docudrama patchwork with messy stitching than a satisfying, fully realized theatrical work."
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The Wall Street Journal
March 8th, 2018

"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."
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The Observer
March 8th, 2018

"Densely populated with dull case histories, frustratingly slow, and entirely too long (three hours of tedium)...This is one of the gifted playwright’s weakest efforts...The actors are very good. Too bad Rabe has given them so little to do of any real theatrical consequence...You leave with the wearying impression that Rabe hasn’t quite finished his job. This is a work in progress, still struggling to come alive in its unpolished infancy."
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Theatermania
March 8th, 2018

"Snooze of a play...Regrettably, not even an all-star cast can enliven this meandering stroll past a vitally important topic...Individually compelling storylines emerge from the play, buoyed mostly by the acting...Unfortunately, the format of therapy doesn't easily lend itself to drama, which is most powerful when its characters are in dialogue. It is difficult to get that jolt of dramatic electricity when one character pours his heart out and the response from his scene partner is a silently scribbled note."
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Lighting & Sound America
March 9th, 2018

"At times, 'Good for Otto' seems bent on going wrong in every way imaginable...The patients crowd each other out, never holding the stage long enough to grab one's full attention...The first act of 'Good for Otto,' it is the opposite of drama...Second act picks up a bit...Scattered, skittish collection of scenes...Loaded with good actors, all of whom perform as well as their roles will allow...It's hard not to feel that the actors are having a better time than the audience."
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Talkin' Broadway
March 8th, 2018

"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."
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TheaterScene.net
March 12th, 2018

"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..."
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Theatre is Easy
March 20th, 2018

"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."
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Theater Pizzazz
March 8th, 2018

"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."
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CurtainUp
March 8th, 2018

"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."
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Front Row Center
March 9th, 2018

"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."
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Stage Buddy
March 19th, 2018

"The meandering plot and three-hour running time diminish the potency of its striking performances...Although the play touches on difficult and complex subjects...it 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."
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Front Mezz Junkies
March 9th, 2018

"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."
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Exeunt Magazine
March 19th, 2018

"An intriguing but uneven play receiving an intriguing but uneven production...Some of the best moments of the long, vignette-laden play allow us to see how the central figure brings his life experience to his work...In attempting to offer a wide scope of a complicated topic, Rabe often bites off more than he can chew. Characters and conditions remain underdeveloped while the playwright spends an inordinate amount of time focused on facile aspects."
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Broadway Blog
March 12th, 2018

"Scheduled to run for six weeks. Coincidentally, six weeks is approximately the length of time you’ll feel like you’ve been trapped in your seat once the lights dim...Could someone please find a good editor for Mr. Rabe?...One ultimately wishes for fully realized humanity...For all of the poignancy in his language, there exists a void of relatability and connectedness in the material and towards these disparate characters. The result feels clinical and unemotional."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
March 23rd, 2018

"The play is little more than three tedious hours of an interweaving set of brief therapy sessions introducing the problems of a series of disturbed persons…Only in one scene, when Dr. Michaels engages in a frustrating phone call with…an insurance agency bureaucrat, does 'Good for Otto' suggest the stronger play it might have been, one that more directly exposes and lambastes the inadequacies of our healthcare system and its inability to serve the people fairly."
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Times Square Chronicles
March 8th, 2018

"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."
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The Guardian (UK)
March 8th, 2018

"The roles are well played and sometimes there’s a symphonic richness to the ways in which characters and themes appear and fade. Elliott’s staging, with its melding of actors and audience suggests that we all experience pain and that we would all benefit by coming together to discuss it. And that’s laudable. But it also suggests 'Good for Otto’s' unwieldy ambition...The play resolves too few of these cases to seem entirely satisfying and too many of them to seem entirely believable."
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The Clyde Fitch Report
March 9th, 2018

"Anyone hearing that The New Group is mounting a Rabe play can be excused for getting their hopes up...The hotsy-totsy cast that Elliott has assembled for this venture could easily raise such hopes, even higher. But the playwright dashes them...The play revolves around depictions of shrink sessions and it lasts for three hours...Painfully repetitive as real-life analysis can be...Stuffed with terrific parts for actors...What's good for Otto may not be good for audience."
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Village Voice
March 9th, 2018

"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."
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The Wrap
March 8th, 2018

"Good for Otto' features not one but two therapists, played with great charisma and easy style by Ed Harris and Amy Madigan...Dr. Michaels’s repertory of 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat' songs is pure cornball, as are most of the villagers who visit his clinic...The folksiness of their completely white world is cloying, at best, and unbelievable outside a Frank Capra movie...Scott Elliott’s direction wrings out every dollop of schmaltz in the script."
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Wolf Entertainment Guide
March 9th, 2018

"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."
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T
March 17th, 2018

"Rabe offers a more ambitious and sobering view of mass suffering...Elliott’s staging and the performances of the large cast are appropriately realistic, but at nearly three hours, the stories blend together and the play loses focus. Rabe needs a ruthless editor to separate the excess from the essence. The shorter vignettes work best...Sterling actors like F. Murray Abraham, Rhea Perlman, and Maulik Pancholy are trapped in overdrawn storylines."
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BlogCritics.org
March 21st, 2018

"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."
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Financial Times (UK)
March 9th, 2018

"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."
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BlogCritics.org
March 9th, 2018

"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."
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T
March 14th, 2018

"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."
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Newsday
March 9th, 2018

"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."
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Epoch Times
March 11th, 2018

"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."
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StageZine
March 9th, 2018

"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 of heart."
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Show Showdown
March 8th, 2018

"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."
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Philadelphia Inquirer
March 9th, 2018

"The play is far more philosophical than psychological...Largely narrated and so only partially dramatized, adding to its leisurely quality, piling on details that only sometimes pay off. As is obvious from the list of 14 characters, there is too much stuffed into this rambling, overlong play. Scott Elliott's direction doesn't find a way to make it taut and give it more punch, leaving us awash in human gloom, despite Otto's motto: 'Fortune favors the brave.'"
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Theater Time
March 8th, 2018

"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 reservations...it is most definitely worth a trip."
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Scene on Stage
March 19th, 2018

"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."
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Reclining Standards
March 9th, 2018

"In several touching vignettes, we get a visceral sense of the pain, frustration...Whether this makes for a workable play is another story. Vignettes are one thing, but cohesiveness is another...Directed with a fluidity and visual panache that sometimes undermines the script, 'Otto' emerges as rambling and episodic, feeling both unfinished and overlong...Focus gets lost amid too many storylines...Stellar cast...Both not enough and way, way too much."
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The Playfixer
March 31st, 2018

"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."
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TheaterScene.com
March 17th, 2018

"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."
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