New York | 1h 45m | Already closed

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

From 19 critic and 55 member reviews
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. 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.

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


"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

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


"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

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

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


"'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

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

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

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

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


“‘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

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

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


"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

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

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

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

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

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Profound

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, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if you love kitchen table conversations.

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

Resonant, Profound, Original, Masterful, Great acting

See it if you feel like overhearing a family gathering with the spontaneous give and take of everyday conversation. A gift to theater lovers.

Don't see it if you are impatient, you prefer neatly tied up plot points or have no interest in current economic or political issues

Perfection, Absorbing, Great ensemble acting, Literate script, Intelligent

See it if you enjoy intelligent theatre and do not mind a lack of plot. Also, if you enjoy excellent ensemble acting from this cast of six.

Don't see it if you do not like to listen closely to what is being said or if you need a strong plot line in order to enjoy a play.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking

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.

Intelligent, Masterful, Resonant

See it if You like talkly plays that hit close to home.

Don't see it if You didn't like the Apple family plays.

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!

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, Profound, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you like big gifts in very small packages. The power of the piece could fail to impress people who don't appreciate subtlety.

Don't see it if you don't like talky plays.

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

See it if You like thought-proving theater.

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

Absorbing, Entertaining, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Original

See it if you need art to help you through the election year. It's no Apple Family...but the Gabriels are worth watching!

Don't see it if You aren't already a fan of the playwright.

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

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.

Great acting, Great staging, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if You recognize and appreciate first rate truthful ensemble acting,

Don't see it if You don't like quiet, slice-of-life plays with no dramatic events.

Riveting, Refreshing, Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you like family dramas about regular people with regular problems. Absolutely see it if you liked the author's Apple family plays.

Don't see it if you like a lot of action.

Great acting, Absorbing, Relevant, Resonant, Great staging

See it if You like character more than plot; if you like the Apple plays and Chekhov plays; if you want to feel a little sad without quite knowing why

Don't see it if You don't hear well (or get the headset); you are sleepy going in; you don't have patience for slow theater.

Great writing, Great acting, Masterful, Insightful, Satisfying

See it if you want to feel like a fly on the wall.

Don't see it if you have trouble with shows where "nothing happens."

Absorbing, Entertaining, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, 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.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Original, Relevant

See it if you want total naturalism in acting, writing and direction. this too-current family drama follows today's politics almost day-to-day.

Don't see it if you want flashing wit and over-the-top production values. This is simple and deceptively so.

Absorbing, Funny, 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.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Relevant, Resonant, Great acting

See it if you like intimate, realistic family stories, have seen Richard Nelson's Apple Family plays, like up to date theater relevant to today

Don't see it if the mechanics of everyday family life bore you on stage, you don't want to think about how this intimate story relates to you!

Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing

See it if you like family interaction. The play is lovely.

Don't see it if can't imagine not liking it

Great acting, Resonant, Relevant, Realistic, Great writing

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 !

Dizzying, Great acting, Relevant, Slow

See it if A very honest and in-depth portrayal of today's milieu through a family's personal loss. You'll also need enough energy to concentrate.

Don't see it if you'd like to stay away from private conversations

Also It doesn't have much to do with the election, so it's understandable t... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Riveting

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, Intimate, Strong acting, Relevant, Funny

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

Cast & Creatives (14)