Closed 0h 50m
He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box
Brooklyn
68

He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box NYC Reviews and Tickets

68%
(36 Reviews)
Positive
61%
Mixed
31%
Negative
8%
Members say
Confusing, Great acting, Absorbing, Ambitious, Thought-provoking

About the Show

This world premiere from Theatre for a New Audience is a memory tale of segregation, theatrical yearning, and doomed love, set in Georgia and New York City in 1941.

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Member Reviews (36)

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86
Dizzying, Ambitious, Resonant, Relevant, Great acting

See it if you want to experience how a system of racial segregation wounded people & communities in the southern US, & better understand its legacy.

Don't see it if you do not like a theater in which the logic operates not by sequential plot but by image & association. Read more

71
Annoying declamatory mode, Arresting visuals, Deliberately obscure, Driven by theme rather than plot or character

See it if you wouldn’t be bothered by a jigsaw puzzle w/ missing pieces; will overlook frustrating stylistic devices to remember an important history

Don't see it if you don’t need a series of disconnected declamatory monologues to convince you of the sin of Jim Crow segregation Read more

Critic Reviews (23)

January 30th, 2018

"Because it has been created by Ms. Kennedy, this landscape is as ugly as it is beautiful...Only Tennessee Williams, an early influence, summons a cultural past with such a plangent mix of rhapsody and disgust...Directed with haunting lyricism by Evan Yionoulis...Occupying a mere 45 minutes...it nonetheless seems to stretch and bend through generations of conflict...The physical production may be the most ravishing and organic that a Kennedy dreamscape has ever been given."
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January 31st, 2018

"Starts on a murky note but resonates powerfully in Yionoulis's artful production...The effect is disorienting at first. But once past the puzzlements of the opening scene, the story moves forward with impressive concision and impact."
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January 30th, 2018

"This fragmentary new one-act is so brief and intangible...Feels fascinating but unfinished...Yionoulis does first-rate work with her two young actors: they show a commitment to nuanced, sincere character work...But it's not quite enough to anchor us...A play full of ache and anger, but its exploration of the monstrous national heritage that has helped to bring us to our present moment is so fleeting and fractured that it often feels unmoored."
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February 5th, 2018

"Smaller than her previous plays but is shaped like the shimmering and original scripts that made Kennedy’s name...The new work is too short and thin to thrive on its own, especially for audiences who haven’t seen Kennedy’s work before. How marvellous it would be to experience Kennedy’s new work alongside another version of her parents in love and at war, spinning together and separately as their daughter tries to be if not a divided self then entirely herself."
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January 30th, 2018

"This brief, poetic effort must have great personal resonance for its 86-year-old playwright, but it's the sort of willfully obscure drama that should be accompanied by a syllabus...Yionoulis certainly stages the opaque, dreamlike proceedings gorgeously...Pecinka and Canfield give affecting performances...But even running a mere 45 minutes...the fragmented work is for the most part tedious and uninvolving...Designed more to be studied than appreciated in performance."
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January 31st, 2018

"The play offers no straightforward answers...Still, under the direction of Evan Yionoulis, the obliquity isn't off-putting - it's entrancing...The acting is fittingly hypnotic...Kennedy understands how language can be used. She and Yionoulis take different idioms - those of the South, Elizabethan drama, and 1940s films - and use them to tell a mystery story that speaks to various times and places...Let's hope this story proves intelligible to audiences."
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February 5th, 2018

"It is dreamlike, yet disturbing; simultaneously memorable and evanescent; a wisp of a text with unsettling, revelatory undercurrents. It is, in equal parts, stunning and unsatisfying, and anyone interested in this writer's career will not want to miss it...At times, the staging could do more to clarify the text, which remains stubbornly elusive, even confusing at times...Kennedy remains one of the American theatre's true originals and nobody else has explored this dramatic terrain so boldly."
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February 6th, 2018

“Evan Yionoulis has given Adrienne Kennedy's first play in nine years, ‘He Brought Her Heart Home in a Box,’ an exquisite production at Theatre for a New Audience. Kennedy's most accessible play, it tells a charged story of the Deep South in 1941 and its tragic aftermath, based on her personal experiences and family history. Exploring the topics of race relations, bigotry, the Jim Crow South, and the rise of Nazism in Germany, ‘He Brought Her Heart Home in a Box’ has a hypnotic quality.”
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February 7th, 2018

"Arresting and haunting...Like the fragments of a Chagall painting, the elements of Kennedy's story coalesce into a kind of wondrous dream - beautiful and terrible...Under Yionoulis’s skilled direction, Canfield and Pecinka offer heartwarming, heartbreaking portrayals of two young souls with their lives ahead of them, who cannot shake the specters of the past...Kennedy makes magic from memory - of her own haunted, deeply moving past from which this poetic play has sprung."
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January 30th, 2018

"As poetic, mysterious, and intricately structured as one might expect from Kennedy's past work...Made up of narrative fragments...The bits and pieces, which seem unrelated at first, blend into narrative that inspires awe and pity...Yionoulis imbues the playwright's harrowing material with tenderness while keeping the action on the move throughout. Despite the rambling, reflective nature of Kennedy's monologues, Yionoulis's production is a swift, emotionally intense 50 minutes."
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February 9th, 2018

"There is enormous economy in this script...Kennedy haunts her characters with the thundering violence of history...The two actors never leave the stage, though for the bulk of the drama he is away and they are writing to each other. Very little of what they say is dialogue. He speaks, even sings, while she is a presence, there-but-not-here, visible but apart...Kennedy maintains a poet’s frugality with words...I’d expect to see it produced again and when it is…go see it."
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February 5th, 2018

"Director Evan Yionoulis handles the production tenderly and incisively, drawing out the play’s central yearning by erasing and abruptly widening the distance between our lovers...Kennedy does not offer us a rosy lens with which to view our nation’s past or present. She seems to posit, in a voice a firm as ever, that though we must, as Chris and Kay so feverishly attempt to do, acknowledge the rot at the core of our nation’s past and present, acknowledgment alone will not provide salvation."
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February 2nd, 2018

"Kennedy transcends the normality of plot and character through radical restructuring and experimentation, messing with linear depictions of standard storytelling to get to the emotional core of race, kinship, and the violence swirling around this time...One of the most visually intoxicating productions seen at Theatre For A New Audience, and one that will haunt my memories and dreams for some time to come."
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January 31st, 2018

"Kennedy's hallucinatory, haunted, and hazy romance...Only 50 minutes long, but so fragmentary and impressionistic that it feels longer...There are dark hidden truths in Kennedy's play, which are easy to miss...Yionoulis turns this unforgiving memory play into a compelling aesthetic experience...The two characters turn in credible performances, no mean task. And the show even makes the most of a chilling manikin."
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January 31st, 2018

“Audiences…should be prepared to experience various states of mind. Some will be poetic, elegiac, dreamlike, and reminiscent. Others…will be lethargic, monotonous, confused, and cloudy…Issues of racial identity, segregation, male sexual malfeasance, the children born of such behavior, the obstacles to biracial romantic relationships, and violence…are embedded in a mostly undramatic, disjointed narrative…This production does as much as any to make the heart of Kennedy's work accessible.”
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T
February 10th, 2018

"'He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box' recounts tales of violation and despair, but there is no reprieve of joy or connection...Kennedy’s poetic script has several intense images and concepts, but ultimately it’s too slight to stand alone...Yionoulis creates a number of gripping stage pictures as Switser’s videos blend with Kennedy’s hypnotic words...It gets a bit confusing at times...but the final result is a fascinating intellectual exercise rather than a visceral drama. "
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February 2nd, 2018

"The obscure mindscape occasionally yields poignant details of everyday racial division...Yionoulis struggles to create a coherent dramatic structure to tie together Kennedy's disjointed flights of bleak poetry...Canfield somehow rises above those limitations in a performance that displays a remarkable blend of self-assurance and vulnerability. Pecinka's Chris is less engaging...But the pair nonetheless conjure a heart-rending sense of romance blighted by irredeemable hatred."
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January 30th, 2018

"An elegiac wisp of a memory play...As in most of Kennedy's work, naturalism is eschewed in favor of a more roundabout form of exposition...Mood is given primacy over plot...Canfield and Pecinka bring a sense of flirtatious playfulness to their roles at times - and then pivot skillfully to the weightier themes...Yionoulis gives this slight show a lavish physical production...This 'Box' deserves to be unpacked - in every sense - on a stage."
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February 4th, 2018

"A 45 minute experience unlike anything you have ever witnessed before. It is somewhere between a wonderful dream and a terrifying nightmare, a reverie and a fantasia, a set of monologues and a lyric poem; it is equal parts tragic and beautiful...Somehow Kennedy, the director Evan Yionoulis, and the two actors make it seem more like a Greek tragedy than a one act play...Kennedy’s bold new work forces us to reconcile the past while looking hopefully towards the future."
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January 30th, 2018

"Details of her own rich biography are fodder for Kennedy's new, poetic theatrical work...A miniature version of...town is on view in the theater...It subtly theatricalizes the idea of a patriarch's plaything...Live camera work is projected...taking us further into a world of segregated waiting rooms and restrooms...Kennedy's world in the hands of this director, these designers, and this pair of delicate performers is mysterious and poetic - soft edges in a sad story of social engineering."
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February 5th, 2018

"Kennedy’s first new play in a decade, may be her most narratively straightforward work yet, but even at a svelte 45 minutes it is no easily digestible scrap...Evan Yionoulis directs with a fluidity born from experience with Kennedy’s work...Both actors speak in a languorous molasses drawl, which makes it all the more astonishing that the play is able to say so much in so little time. If anything, 'He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box' may be trying to say too much."
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February 11th, 2018

"The long-range repercussions of trauma, oppression, and the structural buttresses of racist America are explored through the letters between a pair of lovers...Directed with lyrical restraint by Evan Yionoulis, 'He Brought Her Heart Back In A Box' is memory that is the primary action of this play, as the two characters only share two short scenes together, and even these brief bookends are focused on the gulf of history that separates these tragic young lovers."
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February 1st, 2018

"The period play does not exploit racial violence...The director, Evan Yionoulis, allows the audience to listen to the young actors, to want to listen and watch their fine abilities, which include Tom Pecinka’s splendid singing...Kennedy, fortunately, continues to hope, for what can be found in 'He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box,' is the aspiration to live side by side...What theatregoers will observe is how such complex subject matter can find this kind of formal clarity and simplicity."
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