Help NYC Reviews and Tickets

(21 Reviews)
Members say
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Ambitious, Great acting, Great staging

Acclaimed poet and playwright Claudia Rankine examines the nature of white male privilege.

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Member Reviews (21)

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891 Reviews | 259 Followers
Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Clever

See it if you want to think about the topic as it is examined from many points by a great cast on a nice set with good choreography, lights & humor.

Don't see it if Not a traditional play but rather a narrated review with interaction with 11 characters in tight spaces. Some sound drowned out dialogue.

543 Reviews | 133 Followers
Theatrical, Too long, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intelligent

See it if interested in innovative staging and story telling; theatrical; well performed, informative, ambitious.

Don't see it if Were we sitting through a lecture or a play? I would have liked more interaction between writer, ensemble & audience in relaying the pain & Read more

484 Reviews | 130 Followers
Journal theatre dance amalgam, Uncomfortable, In your face, Needed, Ambitious

See it if want to confront uncomfortable truths, experience a change-up in staging techniques, ready 2 accept some responsibility in race relations

Don't see it if can't or won't confront umcomfortable truths, not ready to listen to anyone or anything that threatens our current power structure

469 Reviews | 54 Followers
Refreshing, Relevant, Edgy, Great staging, Great acting

See it if a non-traditional take on being a black female today. more questions than answers. well staged and acted. good conversation starter

Don't see it if tired of shows that expose problems in society without answers. no plot, just observations. non-traditional staging.

394 Reviews | 70 Followers
My black audience member experience is, you had my attention, you didn't sufficiently deliver the message, and i walk away feeling disappointed by this experience. it's a missed opportunity for one hour and forty minutes of pure "greatness"!

See it if and only if you are white and are feeling the need to be schooled about what YOU are doing wrong in the world.

Don't see it if you were hoping for a life lesson served up with a side of humor because that is NOT what this play is, but was in desperate need of - HUMOR Read more

279 Reviews | 53 Followers
Relevant, Thought-provoking, Slow, Great acting, Great staging

See it if I mean if you read the synopsis than you’d know it’s a political & racial play, so that’s that. It’s a long 90-minutes; they are slow parts

Don't see it if There isn’t much cussing or N-word usage, though there are references to it. The 4th wall is broken. It’s more of a performance piece. The Read more

266 Reviews | 80 Followers
Relevant, Resonant, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if It's a challenging piece by a great thinker. Rankine boldly asks more questions than can possibly be answered, and Mathis is perfectly cast.

Don't see it if If you think you've solved the answer of white privilege or you have all the answers, it might not be as resonant.

180 Reviews | 25 Followers
Great set design, Beautiful lighting, Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if you haven't spent much time thinking about racism and white supremacy -- this show is (surprisingly and bafflingly) a gentle introduction

Don't see it if you're expecting deep insights about racism and white privilege -- the show edges up against insights here & there, but backs away too soon

Critic Reviews (12)

The New York Times
March 24th, 2022

"The playwright also resists including herself as a character onstage, despite casting herself as its Narrator. The result is an exercise in performance more academic than it is an unwavering orator, both determined and persuasive as Rankine’s stand-in. But she has little emotion to play beyond simmering frustration...Directed by Taibi Magar, the production has a clinical slickness that holds its subject — the fictions people create to distance themselves from one another — at a chilled remove."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
March 25th, 2022

"This pattern of brief-chat-followed-by-rhetorical-questioning repeats throughout without changing much — certainly not enough to solve the 'what will we look at' problem... Late, late in the play’s hour and 40 minutes, the piece takes flight when Rankine dramatizes a conversation between the narrator and the narrator’s white husband. Matthis puts the microphone away, and the two characters simply speak with one another. It’s lovely and difficult and useful. For a show about dialogue, 'Help' sure makes us wait a long time for an actual one."
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New Yorker
March 25th, 2022

"The politics of the play rankle—it’s offensive to place the deaths of people like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd on the same level as upper-middle-class air-travel discomfort. But blunt essentializing—flat caricatures of white men and Black women—works better here, as art, in a beguilingly Brechtian way meant to suss out truth from archetypes, than it does in a newspaper."
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New York Theatre Guide
March 25th, 2022

"5/5 stars...Rankine astutely wrote about whiteness there, not as a skin color, but a learned mindset...It's empathetic without being unduly soft on the ugliness of whiteness and those who perpetuate it. Lest you think that, you can look to Taibi Magar and Shamel Pitts's fluid direction and choreography...Every element of 'Help' coheres to create something you can't look away from. (Of course, that's the mark of any great theatre.)"
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March 24th, 2022

"April Matthis plays this central role with an appropriate mixture of professorial authority and dour self-reflection...'Help' is based on a 2019 article Rankine wrote for The New York Times Magazine, which is a much better read than it is a watch...One of the more striking aspects of 'Help' is its sheer extravagance...Despite the high production costs (I won't say 'value'), 'Help' joins the ever-expanding buffet of spinach theater — you know it's good for you, even if it leaves a foul aftertaste."
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Lighting & Sound America
March 25th, 2022

There's nothing stunningly new here. Rankine's ideas have been articulated by commentators ranging from James Baldwin and Isabel Wilkerson to David Brooks and Ross Douthat. But the text of Help is an elegant piece of synthesis, informed by the playwright's personal experience and enhanced by an unfailing ear for the absurdities and prejudices buried in everyday speech.
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March 28th, 2022

It is difficult to know how to classify The Shed’s production of Claudia Rankine’s “Help,” inspired by her controversial New York Times article, “Brief Conversations with White Men,” which appeared on July 17, 2019, or its online version, “I Wanted to Know What White Men Thought About Their Privilege. So I Asked.” Is it a docudrama, an illustrated lecture, a polemic? In any case, Taibi Magar’s imaginative and innovative production helps make this riveting theater, though probably a bit too long as it is only about the one thing, thoughts on white male privilege.
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Theater Pizzazz
March 24th, 2022

"If a play is plotless and devoid of characters, is it a play? It’s a question you might ponder while watching Claudia Rankine’s 'Help'...By not following any sort of linear plot, the challenge is to bring substance to those voices filtered throughout the storytelling...And yet, even with the distancing this involves, there is still plenty of intelligent and provocative dialogue, aided by a first-rate staging from director Taibl Magar."
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