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I Was Most Alive with You

From 28 critic and 170 member reviews
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.  More…

How can he see this unexpected test that threatens to cast him and his loved ones into darkness, as the ultimate gift? The play will be simultaneously performed in American Sign Language by a shadow cast of Deaf actors.

Front Row Center

“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.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“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.” Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

“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’.” Full Review

Plays to See

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

“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.” Full Review

The New York Times

"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." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Tim Teeman

"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." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"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." Full Review

Diandra Reviews it All

“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.” Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"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." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"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." Full Review

The Theatre Times

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"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." Full Review

Stage Left

“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.” Full Review

Show Showdown

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"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." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"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." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"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." Full Review

Absorbing, Masterful, Must see, Riveting, Great writing

See it if You are ready for some good drama filled with intense subjects and witty absorbing dialogue. You want a real theater experience!

Don't see it if You avoid intense topics like addiction, cancer, car crashes, suicide ..yada yada

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Great writing

See it if You love great acting and writing and understand that life and loves are complicated.

Don't see it if You want something simple and easy. You are homophobic. You want everything tied up nicely.

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful

See it if You want to see a playwright at the top of his game - powerful and engaging

Don't see it if you do not want to explore the issue of suffering

Ambitious, Intelligent, Intense, Beautifully staged

See it if you want an epic story with many twists and turns, based on the story of Job. The shadow cast who act the show in ASL is amazing.

Don't see it if you want a light, fluffy night of theater. Also, if you're not comfortable with themes like same sex relationships and drug use, stay away

Clever, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Interesting staging

See it if you loved Spring Awakening done by the deaf company, like clever, intense writing with the complexities of Deaf, Same-sex-loving characters

Don't see it if you are confused where to look when ASL is spoken - you need a happy light ending

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You love great acting, and Craig Lucas writing. A fantastic experience.

Don't see it if If you don't handle tragic stories.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting

See it if Intense integration of sign language and deaf world view with suspenseful deeply human dilemmas.

Don't see it if You are looking for light entertainment and escape

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Profound, Great staging

See it if You liked Children of a Lesser God or Deaf West Spring Awakening. This is incredible theater that gives a voice to those who can't speak.

Don't see it if You like ultra-traditional plays with a linear plot.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to see extremely good actors discussing difficult topics with aplomb and dexterity.

Don't see it if You don't want to see sign language actors displayed in the background.

Absorbing, Clever, Masterful

See it if I thought that the idea of having two sets of actors - with one signing the words very clever.

Don't see it if I thought the story line a little too predictable.

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

See it if you wish to see creative drama at its best. The show requires a lot of concentration but this modern retelling of Job is worth it.

Don't see it if you do not like topic of deafness or drama involving religion. There is signing on the stage and on the level above the stage.

Also I loved the creative way that signing was used in the telling of the d... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Epic, Great acting, Indulgent

See it if you like your shows big, dense, metaphoric, and gorgeous.

Don't see it if You're not into big, messy, ambitious plays over well-made clock plays.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Profound

See it if extremely moving play is performed by a stellar cast in an ambitious format; simultaneous storytelling in ASL by shadow cast is brilliant

Don't see it if this is an emotionally challenging piece of storytelling - don't go if that's not what you want

Also the theatre is my church and this production was like high mass; i wal... Read more Read less

Great acting & staging, Must experience, Many leveled, Don't know where to look, Will be an asl classic

See it if desire theatre experience unlike any other, unity of storytelling, religious beliefs, ASL plus visual aids intrigues U, like Craig Lucas

Don't see it if don't want 2 engage in puzzlement, gay & family themes, Book of Job, religious beliefs, addiction or ASL, need spelled out ending

Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Profound, Riveting

See it if you want to see an emotionally intense play with excellent writing and acting

Don't see it if you want to see something light-hearted

Also Really interesting and creative narrative structure

Absorbing, Ambitious, Epic, Thought-provoking, Refreshing

See it if deeply felt, rich and complex. Russell Harvard is outstanding.

Don't see it if the play sometimes bites off more than it can chew, but that's part of its appeal.

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

See it if Questions about family and faith and what constitutes a gift or a curse intrigue you; you appreciate unusual stagings of works

Don't see it if You need a linear plot or a happy ending, you can't deal with supertitles for some dialogue

Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Great staging

See it if you like a good family drama - meaning a true-to-life family story of pain and love. Also, if you have any interest in sign language.

Don't see it if you prefer a light, easy to watch show. You're homophobic.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense, Masterful, Great staging

See it if ... you want to see great theater. It's a great concept; the staging is phenomenal. ... you don't want things spelled out for you.

Don't see it if ... you can do without a latter day born again story. You want a clear idea who the protagonist is.

Also I'm not sure about the play, but the staging, and a couple of the perf... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if you want to be MOVED by great acting and surprised by relevant thoughtful issues

Don't see it if don't want to see complicated, dizzying and violent interactions between humans

Also There are so many things to say about this powerful and moving play, n... Read more Read less

Enchanting, Great acting, Resonant, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you enjoy seeing disabled actors onstage or enjoy stories about family, disability, and addiction.

Don't see it if you have absolutely no knowledge of ASL or Deaf culture, or are triggered by graphic depictions of attempted suicide.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Must see, Riveting

See it if you want to see something unique and different. Signing, talking and captions were amazing. Realistic storyline.

Don't see it if you have a problem with depressing and real life happenings to individuals in the real world

Deaf gay addict seeks recovery through family, spirituality and a pretty boy

See it if Meaningful plot that Lucas wanted to make a "Deaf" play, so the characters are shadowed by ASL translating actors on an above stage platform

Don't see it if Lois Smith is luminous as the matriarch. Russell Harvard is excellent as the deaf gay son troubled with self-doubt and addiction.

Also The bi-level staging is innovative but it dilutes the impact of the fa... Read more Read less

Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if Biblical story of Job (upstanding recovered gay deaf) loses it all and falls back into addiction. Will faith remain or will he curse god?

Don't see it if Tragedy porn: suicide (w/ blood), opioid addiction, alcoholism, or addiction relapse are triggering. Catastrophic family drama is too heavy.

Also Young member ticket for $25.

Ambitious, Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if want something challenging and imperfect. The play has a lot of flat points, but it also tries some new things and succeeds dramaturgically.

Don't see it if you want a well-made play.

Cast & Creatives (24)