I Was Most Alive with You
Midtown W
77

I Was Most Alive with You NYC Reviews and Tickets

77%
(172 Reviews)
Positive
73%
Mixed
23%
Negative
4%
Members say
Great acting, Ambitious, Intense, Absorbing, Thought-provoking

About the Show

In Craig Lucas’s new play, Ash has a blessed life, thankful every day for the gifts of his family, his addiction, and his son’s Deafness. But on one fateful day, everything is taken from him. 

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Member Reviews (172)

60
Indulgent, Preachy, Repetitive, Scattered, Excruciating

See it if Book of Job set in modern times with deafness & addiction issues. Theological discussions about faith. Good acting.

Don't see it if Explicit biblical quotes followed by lengthy enactments. No subtlety. The idea repeats and gets annoying. Depressing and humorless.

77
With rich stew of characters of all stripes, deaf/hearing, homosexual/not, religious/not so, and parade of modern ills including addiction shows relevance of "book of job," for us today

See it if magical stagecraft esp music 2 tell rich modern day Jobian tale/reading passages from Book of Job shows relevance 2 today’s chaos; fine cast

Don't see it if by 2nd Act know where tale is heading, so loses much of its power; at end central issue remains: why terrible things happen to good people

Critic Reviews (28)

September 24th, 2018

"Chaotic yet profound...Aside from the beauty of the signing actors’ delivery, they provide, even for a hearing audience, a channel of information that sometimes feels deeper and more direct than the spoken one. Supertitles provide yet another. But it’s a lot of information to process, and the play’s fracturing of time does not make it any easier...It has always been Mr. Lucas’s gift to reveal the awfulness behind things that look charming and to make that awfulness compelling."
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September 24th, 2018

"It should be no snub to say that 'I Was Most Alive With You' does indeed juggle many ideas and aspirations, and that as with many an expansive project, some moments shine while others are less finely polished...Harvard anchors the production, giving its big ideas, which can at times feel rhetorical...a compelling human center...Ultimately, 'I Was Most Alive With You' feels like half head and half heart...the elements themselves are less alchemically merged than laid out side by side."
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September 24th, 2018

"The playwright deluges the audience with so much relentless misery that we come to feel as victimized as old Job. Although the drama has admirable qualities, 'I Was Most Alive With You' is a trial to endure...It's an awful lot to pile into a single evening, and the playwright doesn't manage to finesse it into palatable form...It's a shame, because the production is elegantly staged...and superbly acted by an ensemble of hearing and deaf actors."
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September 24th, 2018

"A sensitive synthesis of ancient wisdom and modern sensibilities...The result is a drama that is about as messy as real life, but infinitely more interesting to watch. Director Tyne Rafaeli's sleekly staged production reels us in and keeps us hooked...A shadow cast of actors signs the script from a mezzanine...Dennison has choreographed this interplay with impressive synchronization...The beating heart is Harvard, who gives one of the most electric performances of the year."
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September 25th, 2018

"Somber and overstuffed drama...This reviewer and his ASL fluent guest (who was focused more heavily on the signing) was unable to see the principal cast and the shadow cast simultaneously, thus shining far greater attention on the company performing with a full set and denying those relying on the shadow company the experience of seeing the full staging...While there is fine acting throughout, the play appears overwritten and purposeless."
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October 3rd, 2018

“Lucas’s exhilarating and risk-taking new drama, an iconoclastic and thoroughly original probing of the meaning of tragedy in contemporary life...The rock upon which Rafaeli's production is built is Harvard as Knox..He makes scene after scene crackle...Signing is part of the play's central coup de theatre; each member of the cast is shadowed by another actor...It is a gracious gesture typical of a play that embraces the audience while forcing it to consider scalding truths.”
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September 24th, 2018

"Inclusion! Here's to it. Only that doesn't quite happen...If you're hearing-impaired and following the American Sign Language upstairs, you won't see any of the action below. If your eyes wander below to follow the action, you'll miss the signed dialog. Which, given some of the dialog, may not be a bad thing...Lucas's program notes suggest that he feels deeply about this play; it's a shame that he's so unable to convey a clear message."
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September 24th, 2018

"The playwright’s point for unleashing such a tsunami of misery upon the characters—as well as over the audience—is not tangible...The play/production’s experiment with the shadow performers lends gravity to this event. Director Tyne Rafaeli’s actors help to moor the drifting themes with generally solid performances. These positive components at least manage to rescue this unfocused and terribly lugubrious drama from turning laughable."
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September 26th, 2018

“Of course, wondering why a supposedly loving supreme deity does nothing to help you through your earthly pain, is well-trod dramatic territory, which to be compelling either requires a playwright with a serious theological grounding or someone capable of turning the entire subject on its head. Unfortunately, Lucas takes a decidedly reductive route, turning the Abrahamic religions into more than two hours of tired platitudes for his thinly drawn characters to mouth.”
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September 24th, 2018

“Lucas voices his source material’s universality through an array of social, cultural, and linguistic perspectives, and the show’s powerful cast strengthens this effect...The play’s focus on the Deaf community highlights its issues of exclusion, communication, and personal choice...It is the capacity for storytelling that separates us from other creatures, and ‘I Was Most Alive With You’ reveals the inherent strength and folly in this ability.”
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September 24th, 2018

"For all its karma of catastrophe, 'I Was Most Alive' doesn’t seem grim or heavy. Lucas has often displayed a talent for deflecting tragedy in the darkest of situations with dialogue, characters, and attitudes quirky enough to distract from the bad news. So while this play is less comic than some of his other work, it’s still hard to take completely seriously...The gears shift from black comedy to high drama and present to past frequently and smoothly...Often riveting and never boring."
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September 24th, 2018

"This unusual casting and text delivery form makes for a provocative, refreshingly new if not fully satisfying theatrical experience...However, this format has the downside of having us more taken with the innovative way the story is presented, than fully losing ourselves in it. Still, this production does have the benefit of a fine ensemble of actors...An interesting and idea rich experiment that fails to be out and out memorable."
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September 26th, 2018

“The production is startlingly original and creative...Incredible cast. They were all spectacular...The action flowed seamlessly...The use of sign language by all the actors was fully integrated and harmonious...But most of all, it is a damn fine play. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, it’s moving, it’s thought provoking, it’s relevant, and I can’t stop thinking about it. If that isn’t worth seeing, nothing is.”
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September 25th, 2018

“The level of conceptual thought and emotional storytelling align perfectly in Lucas’s new devastatingly good play...It leads you down a twisting and emotional road attempting to make sense out of chaos, holding your hand tightly but keeping the upcoming vista out of sight just enough that the ending remains unknown...This vehicle, that is so well constructed that it drives as smooth as one could hope...The only thing one can say when the lights come on...is ‘Wow’.”
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September 24th, 2018

"Director Tyne Rafaeli’s staging is brilliant. She moves the cast into and out of the present and past with clarity and a seamless majesty. Arnulfo Maldonado’s scenic design, Annie Wiegand’s lighting design, and Jane Shaw’s sound design further enhance the fluidness of the transitions from scene to scene...'I Was Most Alive with You' explores the complex ways we communicate with or without speaking and hearing."
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October 2nd, 2018

"A sincere but overwrought and dreary exercise…Its take on the ancient story struggles to find traction, requiring Job-like patience to endure its two hours and 15 minutes…Too little of this mélange of troubled persons, tenuous human connections, substance abuse, disabilities, and catastrophes is particularly moving. Lucas…succeeds more in getting these important issues off his chest (he admits in the program to an autobiographical impulse) than in crafting compelling theatre."
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September 25th, 2018

"One wishes that Lucas, a remarkably talented writer, had chosen a less heavy and heavy-handed approach to this subject matter than this modern-day version of The Book of Job (used here both metaphorically and quite literally). For much of its two-plus hours, as it piles on disaster after disaster for its characters, the work feels almost like an exercise in cruelty, if not downright sadomasochism, redeemed partially by the excellent acting of its highly committed cast."
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October 6th, 2018

"An ambitious undertaking that doesn’t make all of its points...The problem here is the shadow versions...don’t always sign...This show asks a multitude of questions and never answers them, because not one character has been fully fleshed out. The actors do the best with what has been given them, but seem schizophrenic from scene to scene, but I blame this on the direction and script...Lucas is a talented playwright, but has missed the mark here."
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September 24th, 2018

"There are so many interesting issues revolving around D/deafness that there would seem to be rich material for a play with that as the main focus. Unfortunately, the playwright has chosen to harness the plot to the Book of Job, which is an uncomfortable fit...The result is a play that is overstuffed and unfocused. As a further complication, the story is framed as a play within a play that the writers are developing. On the plus side, there are strong performances."
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September 24th, 2018

"Lucas makes sure that every other disaster in the Good Book shows up to test them. What should be wickedly absurd is merely mechanical as the playwright moves the characters about like stick figures in a miniature madhouse...The complete lack of subtext might explain why most of the actors give such broad performances under the often awkward direction of Tyne Rafaeli. The simplest gestures and facial expressions appear geared for an audience that is visually challenged."
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September 25th, 2018

"At first one not hearing impaired may find the double portrayals a curiosity, but one can soon be acclimated to the procedure and concentrate primarily on the prime cast members, not their shadow characters geared to those who rely upon signing. As for the plot, it is a very complicated one, and the play gains more from the quality of the acting, which is excellent, than from the drama being intensely worked out on stage...The play is more admirably ambitious than successful."
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October 9th, 2018

“This production marks an important step forward in acknowledging the hearing bias embedded in nearly all live performance...A seismic drama of Biblical and mythic themes....An archeological dig of family trauma, love, and loss, and a thoughtful examination of the power of the human heart...Lucas purposefully sets out to tackle an abundance of strife in this tautly written drama, but poignant moments throughout fail to amount to a satisfying whole.”
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September 30th, 2018

"Tonally, the story bounces between the biblical, metaphorical, and everyday. Lucas’ writing is gilded in the language of therapy and recovery, which can sound didactic and overwrought, especially when added to the trickiness of the play’s construction. But it is also welcomingly waspish...The play, for all its meta-parlor games, feels sharpest and most humane when its characters directly connect."
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September 26th, 2018

“The play is tragic, dense, and, at times, perplexing. You want to cry from how many bad things are happening to everyone...Everybody in this play has a perfect reason to enter fetal position. Addiction, hand amputation, crashing careers...This is a lot to absorb as a viewer, but, in a way, that is Craig Lucas and director Tyne Rafaeli’s point...Trauma and misery fight to be each characters’ friend, which makes these exceptional actors go through an emotional Olympics.”
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September 24th, 2018

"Only a few of the characters are fleshed out; the others are mouthpieces rather than people...In a show where the audience is receiving information through many channels, the direction sometimes fails to make sure the information is received...'I Was Most Alive With You' is turbulent and tiring without being affecting. The characters are thin. The plot is awkward. The play keeps telling us that it's significant without letting us feel the significance."
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September 27th, 2018

"Its title inspires love, connection, loss, hope, fear: the work itself stirs in its audience all these ideas in the most unrelenting, heart-breaking, and powerful ways until its gut-wrenching conclusion...Lucas puts his characters and his audience through the ringer...Ambitious, but deftly and tactfully explored by this terrific ensemble and director Tyne Rafaeli’s steady direction...Count yourself lucky if you are there to witness its profundity."
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September 28th, 2018

"This modern variation on the biblical story of Job means to stir the heart and soul of the audience. For both believers and atheists this play is nothing short of gut wrenching in its impact...The philosophical ideas within the play are played out in ever more complex ways as the inevitable darkness descends on the main characters...Rafaeli manages to crystallize each moment with subtle scene changes and fluid pacing."
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September 28th, 2018

"The utilization of a second cast of ASL actors...both positively served the D/deaf community and added complexity and meaning to the play...The structure of the play was at times, linear, and at other times, not, which mostly worked for the story, but was also the cause of some issues and oversights...The lack of exposition made the first act confusing...Thought-provoking and heartbreaking with (mostly) dynamic characters who clearly undergo many transformations."
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