Medium hungry
Already closed

HUNGRY: Election Year in the Life of One Family, Play One

Members say: Great acting, Relevant, Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

About the show

Tony Award-winning playwright and director Richard Nelson returns to The Public Theater with 'Hungry,' the first in a new three-play cycle introducing us to the Gabriels of Rhinebeck, New York.

... Read more

The first installment in a three-play, real-time cycle tracking the lives of the Gabriels throughout the coming presidential election year. To the rhythm of peeling, chopping, and mixing, 'Hungry' places us in the center of the Gabriels' kitchen. The family members discuss their lives, disappointments, and the world at large. As they struggle against the fear of being left behind, they attempt to find resilience in the face of loss.

Find tickets from $30

Box office

Direct from box office

The most selection and price points
In-house box office
$30 - $90

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"The wonderful new play written and directed by Richard Nelson...'Hungry,' a work in which nothing much happens beyond some contemplative pre-dinner chatter, may well be the most resonantly topical and emotionally engaging play of this presidential election year...Mr. Nelson finds the weave of momentous history in the fabric of the quotidian. These works are as personal as they are political, and you cannot separate the two any more than you can in your own life." Full Review


"There's a sense through the piece that Nelson is just offering a feel of the characters and setting them up for more interesting matters in the coming chapters...But trust seems to be a major issue this political season and judging from his past record, we can probably trust that Nelson and his crew have made this first visit with the Gabriels just the appetizer for a satisfying meal to come." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"The evening delivers the sort of intimacy rarely encountered on the stage, even if it has its longueurs...Narratively speaking, little happens in these plays...The evening, then, is not about action, but rather the casual interplay among the extended family members. As with the first trilogy, this installment seems mainly designed as an introduction to the characters. All of them seem vitally real thanks to both the precision of the writing and the superb performances by the ensemble." Full Review


"The characters are so affable, so friendly, so genuine, that it's almost like we're eavesdropping...Nelson's major gift here is the way he captures, in a way no other contemporary playwright yet has, the all-too-real fear among members of the Democratic Party: What if it collapses...Directed with sharp precision by the author, 'Hungry' features a company of actors whose work is so authentic we forget they aren't actually their characters." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"Its thousand acts of extreme daily realism, from chopping vegetables to the constant dance of interpersonal negotiation, amount to a kind of human politics, dramatizing the historic conflicts and consolations of living in our country right now...Superbly performed, under the playwright’s invisible direction, 'Hungry' may abjure cheap theatrics but nevertheless provides the occult kick of a thriller. You watch it thinking, 'Hey, don’t I know you?'" Full Review

Time Out New York

"The compression of the project has taken a toll. Characters speak in undifferentiated voices, with similar tics, and despite a host of touching moments, certain narrative choices sour even in the play's short running time...Haste has disrupted his delicacy, leading to the show's worst technique: constant reference to the deceased Thomas, who turns out to have been a Nelson-esque playwright...We see the hand of the playwright, and—all too often—that hand is patting the playwright's back." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"The only distressing element about 'Hungry', the initial installment in Richard Nelson's new trilogy about the Gabriel family, is that the author makes the whole thing look so effortlessly easy...We have been so impressed by Nelson's work on the 'Apple Family Plays' that we tend to overlook his direction, which is precise and perfect...Everything is beyond just right." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"One of the great things about Richard Nelson's plays is that they force you to listen -- hard...This is one case where the author is the perfect director of his own work, working with his cast to forge a style of acting so naturalistic that it barely seems like acting at all...Whatever comes next, 'Hungry' is an expertly etched panel in the author's increasingly impressive mural of classic liberal culture in decline." Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

"'Hungry' is realistically acted, with a subtle craft that invests the characters’ seemingly random comments and everyday activities with thematic weight...It helps to assume that 'Hungry' sets up characters and relationships that will pay off in more compelling plays to come." Full Review

Front Row Center

"Nothing is sorted out or resolved...To be sure, the event of scattering a beloved’s ashes is nothing to be sneezed at. However, this event, in and of itself does not set off any fireworks or even mild frost heaves...The Gabriel family, unlike the pot of water on the back of the stove, is set at simmer and never achieves a level any deeper than mildly interesting." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Like the ratatouille prepared on stage, ‘Hungry’ is an appetizing but meatless dish. It’s satisfying principally because of how expertly its realistic dialogue and behavior is directed by Nelson himself and acted by the superb ensemble...One assumes—or, at any rate, hopes—that the play’s tentative political content is the appetizer for the more nutritious courses to be served up later in the year. More meat, please!" Full Review

AM New York

"Very little occurs in these plays...The casual, subdued acting from the six-person ensemble is ultra-realistic, but it’s hard to stay interested in 'Hungry' for 100 quiet, uneventful minutes. But taken together with the upcoming two segments, 'The Gabriels' will provide another up-close and in-depth portrait of a struggling American family at this specific moment in time." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Nelson has captured this alienating zeitgeist with such accuracy in this play that it almost seems indecorous to discuss the idea of whether it is a fulfilling drama on its own terms. Spoiler: It isn't...The stumbling block (for now, anyway) is that almost all of the characters are pretty drab. This is not the fault of the performers who craft magnetic, almost impossibly real personalities...If not all the pieces come together, they do offer the hint of a picture we desperately need to see." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"Nothing much happens except the conversations most people are having about this coming election...We spend an hour and forty-five minutes in conversation about the present state of the political circus...No insight, no conflict, so nothing gets resolved. Honestly how is this a play? Where is the arc? Where is the emotional commitment? Where is the entertainment?...This play left me starving for something, anything, and I was left unfulfilled." Full Review

New York Daily News

"Anxiety, thick enough to cut with a knife, is what author and director Richard Nelson is really exploring in this gorgeously acted portrait of American lives in limbo…Performed by a flawless ensemble, 'Hungry' always goes down very easy even if, as in the Apple plays, this production isn’t action-packed. It’s about conversation — talk that’s freighted with plainspoken eloquence, humor, remorse and anger. The acting is so natural it delivers a fly-on-the-wall voyeuristic thrill." Full Review


"Nelson’s quietly incandescent 'Hungry' feels as fresh as if it was written this morning...Everything and nothing happens in those 100 minutes...Nelson again directs his work with assurance and the cast is fine; the standouts are Plunkett and Sanders...'Hungry' will be followed in September and November by the last two Gabriel family plays, which are certain to be more civilized and civilizing than the surreal events unfolding in the world around them." Full Review


"'Hungry' indicates that Nelson has refined and perfected his inter-linking of major national events with the major and trivial events of an intelligent, liberal-minded group of American characters...Nelson deftly steers his cast through all the physical and verbal business...Real smells of the dinner being prepared actually waft through the theater and will leave you hungry for a repast of your own—and hungry for more time with the Gabriels." Full Review


“‘Hungry’ is both an occasional play (written for this moment in time) and a chamber play. Not much happens but a great deal is implied. It will not please all theatergoers. However, it will be interesting to see how Nelson develops the next two plays in the series, ‘What Did You Expect?’ and ‘Women of a Certain Age’, with the same actors. Demonstrating their expertise, the cast is real enough to make you think they are not performing.” Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"Nelson’s skill at incorporating feelings about events in the larger world into naturalistic family conversations is even more seamlessly realized here than in the 'Apple' plays. The cost of this seamlessness is a lessening of drama and traditional plot, a trade off I can readily accept...If you demand fast-acting drama, you will be miserable, but if you enjoy leisurely conversation by intelligent people, you will be quite content." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Great acting, Relevant, Disappointing, Overrated, Slow

See it if You wouldn’t mind a play that’s simply a bunch of upper middle class white people sitting around a kitchen table chatting.

Don't see it if You saw The Apple Family plays and weren’t keen on those either.

Absorbing, Great acting, Riveting, Great staging

See it if you enjoy subdued family dramas with minimalist staging that pack an emotional punch.

Don't see it if you're going in on an empty stomach. Their cooking made me HUNGRY.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if Want to be transformed by a drama. We are in the kitchen with the Gabriel family in Rhinebeck New York.

Don't see it if You no longer have the ability to immerse yourself, empathically in theater, rather you just want to be entertained.

Funny, Absorbing, Relevant, Intimate, Strong acting

See it if you like realism. Hungry feels like an edited film of a real family. Still, Nelson's hand is evident in its humor and intelligence.

Don't see it if you want something bold and theatrical. Hungry has a small focus, used to spotlight our times especially women's roles. Strong ensemble!

Also I attended the three play marathon and thoroughly enjoyed the immersio... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Great writing

See it if You want to see incredible naturalist acting. It's a very moving play. All the actors were terrific. I loved it!

Don't see it if You want to see a big musical or a play with a lot of action.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if You enjoy slow-burn stories with no real conclusion, just the "day in the life of" plays. Beautifully acted.

Don't see it if You go to the theater to forget your problems. This play puts real world issues to the forefront and doesn't solve the issues. Very real.

Confusing, Disappointing, Insipid, Overrated, Fluffy

See it if You want to pretend that you understand what is happening to the actors.

Don't see it if If you are looking for a real portrait of a family during election time

Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Slice of life

See it if you're interested in watching a slow-burn slice of life play with great relevance to the 2016 election, you like real, relatable characters

Don't see it if you want high drama, high stakes, fancy sets and earth-shattering cliffhangers.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You like great characters, rich deep content so full and real that their lives could be yours. I felt like I was eavesdropping!

Don't see it if You're looking for fast paced and lots of action. This is gentle beautiful scents of these people's lives.

Great acting, Indulgent, Disappointing, Hollow

See it if You fancy yourself a modern-day Gladys Kravitz, spying through your neighbor's kitchen window. Or if you intend to see the entire trilogy.

Don't see it if you are hungry. (A whole meal is cooked on stage.) Or if you're searching for insight. Nothing of any substance is discussed in 110 minutes.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Relevant

See it if You like shows that make you think more than entertain you.

Don't see it if You like to be entertained a don't like wordy plays

Ambitious, Great acting, Indulgent, Slow

See it if You have a lot of time on your hands and are good watching a fine ensemble of actors at their trade

Don't see it if You are not willing to come back two more times over the year before learning the whole picture

Great acting, Banal, Slow

See it if You like the actors and the last plays by the playwright featuring the Apple family Do not expect to be as entertained

Don't see it if You expect to be really invested in the plot

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if you enjoy intelligent dialogue, flawless acting, and dialogue interspersed with wit, wisdom and humor.

Don't see it if you absolutely can't stand a show where nothing really happens.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing, Great staging

See it if You're not looking for plot. . This is a well acted ensemble piece about relationships, changing times and political views of the present

Don't see it if You're looking for action and high intensity.

Great acting, Relevant, Great writing, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You need to be reminded that smart, intimate theater based on great writing and acting will keep you company in the dark and make you laugh

Don't see it if You are seeking dazzle or distraction. You'll need to accept the family dynamics and go with the flow to enjoy - as in life.

Intelligent, Masterful, Not as political as the apple plays, Filled with hilarious and sometimes risqué references, Great acting all around, terrific ensemble

See it if You like thought-proving theater.

Don't see it if You need lots of action onstage to keep you interested.

Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Human

See it if A play that sticks to your ribs. A "Big Chill" for our time. Like getting together with smart relatives who have been around the block.

Don't see it if You dislike naturalism.

Boring, Disappointing, Slow, Sloooow, Eh.

See it if You have nothing better to do.

Don't see it if You desire an engaging theatrical experience - there are flashes of good writing but on the whole this was a very boring family drama.

Clever, Quirky, Disappointing, Overrated, Slow

See it if You want to see a true to life scene of a family conversation around the kitchen table. It's well acted & realistic.

Don't see it if I've experienced more interesting & entertaining dinner conversations at countless friends or family get-togethers. Hungry left me hungry.

Absorbing, Delightful, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Sensitive

See it if You want to feel part of the family, join them in the kitchen for a meal, a cry, a discussion of our changing times.

Don't see it if You do not have the patience for a show that is about conversation, family relations. Show is greatl conversation, not much action, beware!

Boring, Overrated, Slow, Talky, Good staging

See it if you like naturalism, conflicted relationships, seeing literal kitchen scenes (with cooking).

Don't see it if you like to be on the edge of your seat in the theater, or if you don't enjoy thrust staging.

Relevant, Indulgent, Slow

See it if Dialogue a bit boring....while feeling your are eavesdropping in some old friends at dinner time . That can Be awkward. Truth be told....

Don't see it if Quiet dialogue little action but terrific dialogue.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you love kitchen table conversations.

Don't see it if you don't like the smell of baking bread.

Great acting, Relevant, Resonant, Great writing, Realistic

See it if You like realistic plays that are staged so that you feel as if you are looking through a window at an ordinary family.

Don't see it if You need high drama and raised voices and lots of action to enjoy a play. This is NOT that play. A literal kitchen sink play !

Cast & Creatives (14)