Hold on to Me Darling
Closed 2h 0m
Hold on to Me Darling
78

Hold on to Me Darling NYC Reviews and Tickets

78%
(63 Reviews)
Positive
86%
Mixed
11%
Negative
3%
Members say
Funny, Great acting, Great staging, Entertaining, Great writing

About the Show

The Atlantic Theater Company presents this world premiere from award-winning writer Kenneth Lonergan, about a country-western singer who tries to find his way by returning home.

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Member Reviews (63)

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75
Entertaining, Great staging, Cliched, Self-indulgent, Slow

See it if Charming cute story, Great staging. Entertaining. All other characters but the "hero" are realistic and well acted.

Don't see it if Main character seems to have been written by a different author than all other characters. The inexplicably pedantic melodramatic hillbilly.

88
Thought-provoking, Great writing, Great acting, Funny, Absorbing

See it if you enjoy plays that make you look at your darker side, question your motives but in an entertaining often funny way. The set was excellent!

Don't see it if You're looking for a quick easy night without having to think.

Critic Reviews (29)

The New York Times
March 14th, 2016

"You might expect Mr. Lonergan to have a natural affinity for obsessive, self-sabotaging people. And so it proves with 'Darling,' a poignant comic study of the bad faith and bad behavior of a narcissistic celebrity and those around him...all given vibrant life by the director, Neil Pepe, and a cast that finds the individual quirkiness in everyday stereotypes...Although this production could still be trimmed by 10 or 15 minutes, the strength of 'Darling' is in its loquacity."
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Time Out New York
March 14th, 2016

"'Hold on to Me Darling' is almost defiantly overwritten and leisurely in its handling of character and plot...But even when Lonergan’s not sure of the way, he’s so damn fun to follow. His dialogue is sharp and funny, and his characters slip easy judgment...Neil Pepe’s perfectly balanced production on a revolving set by Walt Spangler makes virtues of the script’s woolier byways, and he gets rich, firmly grounded work from the ensemble. Strung out though you may feel, you won’t want to let go."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
March 14th, 2016

"Very little of 'Hold On to Me Darling' is funny, though, and not just because these subjects are so well picked over; the tone is too wobbly, and the pace too languorous, for its teeth to gain any purchase on skin...Olyphant has the requisite charm and muscles but spends most of the play leadfooting the accelerator, trying to make it go. Despite this, and the valiant work of the rest of the cast, it doesn’t. I can’t think that’s because the play needed more thought; probably it needed less."
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The Hollywood Reporter
March 14th, 2016

"There's a much better play nestling in the almost three hours of 'Hold On to Me Darling', but Lonergan seems unwilling to find it, leaving most of the poignancy buried between his disjointed scenes...The chief compensation in this premiere is very funny dialogue performed by a fine cast. Neil Pepe's direction brings a light touch to the material that maximizes the laughs, but it also confines this portrait of a crossover country superstar's existential crisis to shallow depths."
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Entertainment Weekly
March 14th, 2016

"With Timothy Olyphant anchoring a pitch-perfect cast, and with Lonergan’s absolutely uproarious script, it’s the farthest thing from tragedy...Olyphant exudes palpable charisma...Act I carries the audience on such a grand wave of laughter that the momentum slips a little during a slightly too long Act II—and the ending feels a bit anticlimactic. But the only real downside of this utterly delightful show is that C.J. Wilson’s Duke doesn’t have enough stage time."
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Variety
March 14th, 2016

"If he wasn’t played with such honeyed charm and awe-shucks sincerity by Timothy Olyphant, this show, clocking in at 2 hours and 45 minutes, would be one long, achy-breaky night. But Olyphant’s return to the stage is a stunner, striking just the right notes of guilelessness, obliviousness and narcissism...The play is entertaining and engaging, performed by a top-rate ensemble and directed with finesse by Neil Pepe, but its long reach for political and social resonance is a stretch."
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The Wall Street Journal
March 17th, 2016

"Exceedingly well directed by Neil Pepe, in which Lonergan blends satire with strong, straightforward emotion to complex and poignant effect...Mr. Lonergan knows what he’s doing, and by evening’s end he has successfully negotiated the tricky transition from raucous comedy to total sincerity...Lonergan’s ear for dialogue is, as always, eerily true, and so is his knack for leavening dead-serious moments with touches of dry comedy...Beautifully performed."
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Deadline
March 17th, 2016

"Remember the scene in Robert Altman’s 'Nashville' when Keith Carradine sings 'I’m Easy' and the camera cuts to the faces of every woman in the audience certain he’s singing it to her? That’s Strings...Pepe has staged the longish evening with an ear for the nuance of Lonergan’s speeches that keeps the whole thing from collapsing. It’s all very funny, but Altman accomplished much the same impact in that single, memorable sweep of another unwitting Nashville fan base."
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New York Daily News
March 14th, 2016

"His new Off-Broadway comedy-drama 'Hold On to Me Darling' about a rudderless celebrity is flecked with laughs and some terrific acting but the nearly 3-hour play suffers from aimlessness of its own...Also nagging is Olyphant’s lead performance. He’s an actor with impressive credits but radiates such little star power as Strings. Between his acting, the script and direction by Neil Pepe, this singer is one-note and the play loses sharp focus...Wish Lonergan’s new play gave us more to hold onto."
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Theatermania
March 14th, 2016

"This laugh-out-loud comedy about a narcissistic country singer is undeniably hilarious at points. It also has a tendency to drag, with the plot often wandering away with our patience...The laughs start to sputter as the second act circles the runway...This is despite the best efforts of director Neil Pepe, who has a talent for comic timing. While it doesn't completely compensate for a script in need of trimming, great performances and first-rate design help smooth the journey."
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BroadwayWorld
March 24th, 2016

"Can satire retain its bite when played as naturalism? 'Darling' comes off as an attempt to find out. But the story of a country music superstar ditching fame to search for a meaning in life seems to be searching for a meaning to be on the stage for nearly three hours...It's a simple story that's drawn out at a lethargic pace, with rarely a clue of the talent or charisma Strings must have that allows people to put up with his narcissistic nonsense. 'Darling' offers little to hold on to."
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Lighting & Sound America
March 23rd, 2016

"So enjoyable is everyone, and so tasty their dialogue, that it is well into the second act before you realize that Strings hasn't been at all affected by the play's events and Lonergan has no apparent plan for ending the play...Scene by scene, 'Hold On To Me Darling' entertains; in its total effect, it disappoints...If he has once again found his gifts for character and dialogue, his sense of structure is still missing in action. Still, it's good to be excited about Kenneth Lonergan again."
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Talkin' Broadway
March 14th, 2016

"The only real stumbles you'll find, in fact, come from Lonergan. The shape and scope of 'Hold On to Me Darling' could not be better, but it does tend to wander into 'too much of a good thing' territory...Were it lighter and more streamlined, the play might not come as close as it does to running out of steam at the very end, just everything needs to be strongest...Lonergan hasn't quite found the ideal rhythm for every beat yet. But he's close."
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TheaterScene.net
March 31st, 2016

“In the hands of someone other than Timothy Olyphant, Strings McCrane might be a self-pitying monster too extreme to take seriously. However, this brilliantly accomplished actor has just the right amount of blarney to make Kenneth Lonergan’s ‘Hold On to Me Darling’ one of the most satisfying plays in town. And you will learn a good deal about the lives of the rich and famous and how they get away with the antics they commit.”
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Theatre is Easy
March 25th, 2016

"'Hold Onto Me Darling' is a fun time, and—despite a very long running time and oddly miscast leading actor—is worth a look...It arrives at its main singular idea too quickly—the death of Strings' mother pulls the country-western star into an existential crisis...Lonergan never pushes past this initially amusing concept and, at times, without a lead actor with necessary comedic chops and nuance, the dialogue and jokes feel repetitive. Nonetheless, Lonergan is kind of a one-liner genius."
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Theater Pizzazz
March 15th, 2016

"Kenneth Lonergan’s often uproarious comedy…Admittedly, Strings is as self-indulgent as Lonergan’s overlong, shaggy-dog story…But Olyphant’s sheer magnetism practically draws you to him, and the knowledge that Lonergan might unleash a priceless comic line at any moment is likely to keep you glued to your seats…What we have here is comedy-as-character study. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk, but Olyphant has the sure footing that allows him to never take a misstep."
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CurtainUp
March 14th, 2016

"Lonergan's laugh filled world premiere about a hilariously needy serial womanizer is self-indulgently long. However, Strings' attempt to finally live his life according to his mama's wishes is easy to take thanks to the cast...Neil Pepe makes full use of the superb cast and design team...'Hold On to Me Darling' returns Lonergan closer to the top of his game with fully rounded characters and a script with serious issues edging their way through all the laughs."
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Front Row Center
March 16th, 2016

"A v-e-r-y long two plus hours. The first act was literally painful to watch. Mr. Olyphant went through the motions in his portrayal of Strings with such effort that he appeared to be uncertain of his lines, his blocking or his intention. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the second act. One scene in particular revealed Lonergan’s writing to be much smarter than the first act indicated...Excellent performances were not quite enough to rescue this play."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
March 15th, 2016

"Lonergan’s dialogue has never been more richly humorous...it constantly makes unexpected shifts that hit your laughter buttons and cause you to explode. ‘Hold On to Me Darling’ has a serious theme, but I wouldn’t bother my head about it. I advise you to enter the Atlantic Theater with only one thing in mind: you’re about to watch nearly three hours of some really funny people saying really funny things in a really funny way. Hold on to this, darlin’, and you’ll have a damn good time."
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The Guardian (UK)
March 14th, 2016

"It’s a fine premise, but Lonergan and the director, Neil Pepe, are not quite sure what to do with it...Too many scenes seem to do the same narrative work and the abrupt ending, another tonal swerve, seems as yet unfinished. But Lonergan’s dialogue is as effervescent as ever and his wry, sympathetic sense of the ways in which we lie to each other and to ourselves remains unmatched. If only he had a tighter hold on the play itself."
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B
March 14th, 2016

"It’s good to see Kenneth Lonergan get his playwriting chops back in this new comedy...The satire is broad and the dialogue, frequently hilarious...The actors are uniformly excellent. The play could benefit from some trimming as it’s a bit too slight for its length. The second act loses steam and the final scene does not seem to fit very well...Neil Pepe’s fluid direction keeps everything moving smoothly. It’s a little too much of a good thing, but I’m not complaining."
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The Wrap
March 14th, 2016

"Kenneth Lonergan has written a terrific new comedy...'Hold on to Me Darling' is great, fun theater because 1) Lonergan has real talent, and 2) he takes that extra hour-plus to develop not only a truly inspired principal character but surrounds him with five other characters, each of whom exudes enough backstory to spawn five other plays...'Hold on to Me Darling' doesn’t ramble so much as it takes its time, and director Neil Pepe keeps all the comic moments percolating."
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Wolf Entertainment Guide
March 27th, 2016

"Some of the smartest, most perceptive and amusing dialogue of the current theater season can be found in 'Hold on to Me Darling.' What’s more, the entire cast can be lauded for terrific acting that entertainingly and flawlessly illuminates the characters...The dialogue that the author has provided Strings is masterly...On the heels of all of the comedy that abounds in Lonergan’s writing, the situations he creates and the acting by the excellent cast, the play delivers one poignant sequence."
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Broadway & Me
April 2nd, 2016

"The actors who bring these folks to life are so all-around terrific…Timothy Olyphant is pitch perfect as Strings, radiating sensual charisma one minute, pouting like a five-year old the next…This all makes for great fun, even though there are all kinds of holes in Lonergan's plot...The play is far too long...I began to wonder how Lonergan was going to wrap it all up. The answer proves to be through an abrupt tonal shift and a literal manifestation of the title that didn't quite work for me."
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Newsday
March 16th, 2016

"Sprawling, marvelous Lonergan play about celebrity...This should be a cartoon...Yet Kenneth Lonergan’s major new play keeps pulling us back from the edge of smugness. He makes his characters say something so wise, so funny or so heartbreaking that they leap from rural comic strips into individuals fascinating and fully formed...Olyphant is irresistible...This is all directed with gentle mercilessness by Neil Pepe. And the cast is spectacular."
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Epoch Times
March 27th, 2016

"It is a biting satire of self-centered celebrities and the culture that allows them to flourish...The actors all do a fine job. Olyphant in particular comes off as the sort of fellow you really want to root for...Softened with humor as it may be, the play pulls no punches at the end when it shows who holds the ultimate responsibility for the life a person has led, and the life they someday hope to lead. It’s a compelling tale satisfactorily told."
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Act Three - The Reviews
March 1st, 2016

"Playwright Kenneth Lonergan is verbose. Scenes are long, wordy, and themes are repeated over and over...I believe his talents are best suited to film - a place where character development and story can be told at greater length in different scenes...Overall an entertaining and poignant evening in the theatre. A fine cast. A great playwright. Just a little too heavy on the dialogue and exposition."
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Reviewing The Drama
March 14th, 2016

"While there's plenty of humor along the way, Lonnergan and director Pepe mine the emotional turmoil, building to an ending that is not only sincere and sensitive but one that feels earned. Along the way, I appreciated the great writing...And I loved Olyphant...He gives an engaged and engaging performance in this great, original American play."
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The Associated Press
March 14th, 2016

"A smart, light-hearted production...Lonergan's gift with deceptively simple dialogue allows the characters to unintentionally reveal their flaws...The play is too long, partly due to Neil Pepe's lingering direction. Strings' poor decision-making and 'moral dilemmas' take time to come home to roost, and watching a spoiled, rich celebrity mess up his life for over 2 1/2 hours can become slightly tiresome, no matter how comical the dialogue or how likable the lucky ingrate may be."
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