Already closed | 1h 40m | East Village


From 129 member  reviews
Members say: Slow, Great acting, Disappointing, Intelligent, Absorbing

About the show

Tony Award-winning playwright and director Richard Nelson returns to the Public to reveal a forgotten chapter of the Public Theater’s own history. More…

It is 1958, and New York City is in the midst of a major building boom; a four-lane highway is planned for the heart of Washington Square; Carnegie Hall is designated for demolition; entire neighborhoods on the West Side are leveled to make room for a new 'palace of art.' And a young Joe Papp and his colleagues face betrayals, self-inflicted wounds, and anger from the city’s powerful elite as they continue their free Shakespeare productions in Central Park. 'Illyria' is a family drama about a different kind of family–one held together by the simple and incredibly complicated belief that the theater, and the city, belong to all of us.

Member Reviews (129)


Slow, Great acting, Disappointing, Intelligent, Absorbing

Excruciating, Slow, Indulgent, Disappointing, Missed opportunity

See it if you liked the Apple & Gabriel plays (tho this is Nelson's weakest work by far) & want a cursory (at best) glimpse at the Public's origin.

Don't see it if you want to learn anything valuable about Papp or the the Public Theatre. This boring play, spoken by insufferable low-talkers, is a waste.

Also What a huge missed opportunity! A play about the origins of the Public... Read more Read less

Confusing, Indulgent, Overrated, Slow, Quiet

See it if You love everything about the Public and Joe Papp. You want a cursory look at how the Public began.

Don't see it if You are hard of hearing, they don't project AT ALL.You don't mind a play that goes NO WHERE, with characters that are unmotivated and boring

Disappointing, Banal, Indulgent

See it if You want to eavesdrop on early Joe Papp meetings with the nascent Public Theater staff.

Don't see it if You like to see plays that are a slice of life and you don't care whether you understand what the context is or what is going on.

Banal, Cliched, Confusing

See it if you are interested in some back stage drama

Don't see it if you don't even know shakespear in the park

Disappointing, Slow, Indulgent, Cliched, Dated

See it if you like talky plays and are interested in the times of Joseph Papp

Don't see it if Neither the play nor acting was vibrant.

Disappointing, Excruciating, Slow, Long

See it if Like slow paced stories, monotoned speech patterns, interesting base story, patient, you like The Public theater in general

Don't see it if You don’t like slow stories, dull sounds, unnecessarily long plays, want to run out before the end of the play


See it if you just have to see all the Public shows

Don't see it if you like engaging shows

Slow, Excruciating, Disappointing

See it if you’re okay with really slow-moving plots.

Don't see it if you don’t like slow-moving, long plots.

Slow, Boring, Disappointing

See it if You wanna waste your time and money, & feel like sleeping in a theater.

Don't see it if You wanna watch a good/entertaining show.

Insipid, Disappointing, Confusing, Banal, Slow

See it if You want to see a show about Stuart Vaughan (sp?)

Don't see it if You're a Joe Papp fan. Here he's so ordinary that he's boring! I'm certain the real Joe Papp would hate this production & script. Blaah!

During previews
Excruciating, Slow, Boring

See it if If you have a relative who is acting in it and you want to be supportive, the acting isn't bad just a very boring, uninteresting play.

Don't see it if just don't see it, why waste your time.

October 30th, 2017
"If you don’t know much about the real Joseph Papp, you may wonder what the heck’s going on and why you should be interested. If you do know a lot about Papp and his associates, you may be a bit exasperated by the liberties Mr. Nelson has taken...But 'Illyria' also affords distinctive if fleeting...
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October 30th, 2017
"The play may be unpleasant, but at least it isn’t puffery...Dull drama...It’s dramatically inert, though the characters talk about important issues like civic space and the corrosive power of government ideologues...Nelson wants his work to be naturalistic and unfussy, but winds up with enforced...
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October 30th, 2017
"Actors in 'Illyria' are doing delicate, absorbing work conjuring very real people. The play is quite literally understated...I might even call it navel-gazing — but perhaps that’s all right when you have, admittedly, a very interesting navel...Almost feels more like documentary or museum recreat...
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October 30th, 2017
"More frustrating than edifying, more obscure than enlightening...I sat in the third row and still couldn't make out much of the dialogue...The dialogue is so low-key and matter-of-fact that it fails to engage our attention...Subject matter so potentially fascinating makes it all the more frustra...
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