Fuzzy important hats
New York | 2h 0m | Already closed

Important Hats of the Twentieth Century

From 24 critic and 23 member reviews
Members say: Quirky, Funny, Clever, Original, Entertaining

About the show

Manhattan Theatre Club presents a fantastical tale about the hottest fashion designer in 1930’s New York and his rival, who starts releasing strange new pieces like The Sweatshirt and The Skater Pants. More…

Sam Greevy is the toast of 1930s women’s apparel, until the maverick fashion designer Paul Roms springs his radical creations on the world. The Sweatshirt, The Track Suit, Skater Pants: the clothes he comes up with seem to be from another dimension...and maybe they are. As Greevy tries to adapt to rapidly changing fashions, a parallel drama unfolds in Albany, circa 1996: a teenager stoner keeps losing articles of clothing, and a man keeps bursting out of his closet to take them.

The Huffington Post

"Nick Jones's 'Important Hats of the Twentieth Century' is probably 15 or 20 minutes too long, should probably be played in one act instead of two and goes a bit wilder than it needs to in the second half. None of that, however, detracts significantly from one of the most delightfully original comedies to show up in these parts for far too long a stretch." Full Review

The Wrap

"Nick Jones tries something completely different in his often hilarious, always hallucinatory new comedy, 'Important Hats of the Twentieth Century,' which opened Monday at MTC’s Studio at Stage II...This mash-up of ideas is ingenious...Jones’ 'Hats' is a brilliant take-down of modern culture, from the trend of 'blue jeans in restaurants and T-shirts in the theater' to the total pretentiousness of Fashion Week." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"A charming farce that feels more like a zany cable-TV sitcom episode than an old-fashioned stage comedy…Part sci-fi parody, part Ayn Rand spoof and 100% screwball comedy, 'Important Hats' covers a stageful of bases in a way that is less than ideally disciplined but never anything other than funny. Sweetly uncynical and fueled by a steady stream of how’s-that-again non sequiturs, this is millennial comedy at its most engaging...The cast leaves no punchline unpunched." Full Review

As Her World Turns

"This farce of epic proportions is a hysterical journey from beginning to end; it induces belly laughs and chortles in frequent intervals...Carson Elrod and Matthew Saldivar lead a cast of nimble ensemble members taking on multiple roles as they tell an epoch tale that runs the gamut from cavemen to Elizabethan royalty to hipsters. Director Moritz von Stuelpnagel earns kudos for pacing such whirlwind action." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Though this play is unapologetically over-the-top, it will leave you thinking as well as laughing...The ensemble of excellent actors could be having more fun on stage together...Jones’ script has a wonderful feeling of improvisation, allowing the skilled actors to really dive into the outrageous comedy of the piece. It is the mastermind of director Moritz Von Stuelpnagel, that brings this all-over-the-place comedy together while remaining surprisingly simple and focused." Full Review


"The fashion background gives Jones a chance to air some smart social commentary. Since the wild and wooly situations do come with a whiff of a 'Saturday Night Live' skit, especially in the overly long and second act. Consequently, 'Important Hats' isn't quite the trenchant satire it wants to be. However, it is a lot of fun. Though falling short of its ambition for depth as well as hilarious, director Moritz Von Stuelpnagel and the talented cast wrest every ounce of fun from the wacky plot." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"They all know that, substance-free as what they're saying and doing may be — having and making fun can often be its own reward. The play could be funnier still if it were even more tightly knitted, but what's the point in arguing too much? When the clothes fit and are right for the person, little else really matters. And in all the places where it counts most, 'Important Hats of the Twentieth Century' is impeccably tailored." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"Nick Jones’ 'Important Hats of the Twentieth Century' has so many subplots, characters and parallel timelines going on at once, that to try summing them up for a synopsis would make anyone’s head spin...a delightfully absurd romp...While the play can seem as if it will explode on itself, Stuelpnagel keeps it as tight as the stitches on Greevy’s designs, which makes for a perfect allusion to how truly great fashion defies gravity and physics while looking absolutely effortless." Full Review


"Irreverent and imaginative, 'Important Hats' takes a critical question and sends it through the ringer...It's unapologetically silly fun, given an appropriately fast-paced and cinematic staging by von Stuelpnagel...Unfortunately, Jones has a tendency to rely on non sequitur as a punch line...Still, the actors sell the absurdity of each situation and bring us through the shagginess of Jones' script with a minimum of cringe-worthy moments." Full Review

Reviewing The Drama

"'Important Hats,' directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel is a funny and entertaining play, which sometimes is all you want. You could argue that it delves a bit into fashion’s place in society, and while the differences between Greevy and Roms do bring about some such discussions, this is not a message play. It’s meant to make you laugh and forget your cares for a couple of hours. That it succeeds is a feather in its cap, an important hat, don’t you think?" Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"Witty, inventive, yet antic to the point of exhaustion, this two-hour evening embeds weighty cultural discussion in the folds of its silk bodice...By Act Two, the play’s thematic parallel gives way to a special-effects-laden staging. As the time-hat spins out of control and the actors whirl through the centuries, the story’s effectiveness begins to slip too. Yet the melding of Cole Porter sophistication with boys’ serial narrative has a daffy charm, and the actors are winning." Full Review

The New York Times

"The plot of 'Important Hats' has stray bits poking out here and there, and while undeniably inventive, it isn’t exactly wearable...By which I mean coherent...While it’s amusing for a while to imbibe the perplexity that contemporary fashion might cause for ordinary folk from decades past, the novelty wears off, and Mr. Jones’s play rattles along waywardly, spinning into a confused quasi-farce. But while the play may lack substance, the production has style to spare." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"This play is often very, very funny. There's a profusion of laugh-out-loud one-liners; the expert ensemble is consistently hilarious. But as the plot synopsis suggests, the evening also is wildly overstuffed and self-indulgent, with the playwright throwing so many subplots and gags into the mix that weariness eventually settles in. Overlong by at least a half-hour and losing comic momentum with its intermission, 'Important Hats' feels increasingly strained in the second act." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Flexibility, velocity, the instant pivot: These are all hallmarks of the farceur, and the first parts of his wackadoodle sci-fi frolic 'Important Hats of the Twentieth Century' whiz by. Unfortunately, the speed runs out before the show's quite over...But without a dramatic engine the show already seems long at intermission. Jones might take Greevy's attitude about tailoring to heart: The show is comfy fun, but might fit better with some judicious cuts." Full Review

The Associated Press

"Jones provides many genuine laughs in the first half as he gleefully mocks fashion, science, law enforcement and journalism...Unfortunately, the second act sinks into predictability, with deliberately cheesy time-travel effects and the presence of vulgar, annoying yeti-type creatures. However, substance is not the point of 'Important Hats.' Just enjoy the sense of frivolity, the goofy sci-fi riffs, and the exceptional comedic talents of the cast." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"A mass of plot points that barely cohere as the story lurches from crisis to crisis...Somewhere inside 'Important Hats of the Twentieth Century' is a parable about the challenges of being an artist and the struggle to please oneself as well as one's public, but it's hard to get at, what with all the shouting and general running around. In the frantic pursuit of any available laugh, Jones undermines his own often-imaginative conception." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"You’ll take your hat off to the concept – a time-travelling fashion designer – but the execution is less impressive in this zany but uneven comedy...the inciting idea is notably better than the execution. Character is Jones’s thing as is tone and the nifty one-liner. Plotting is not...There are about 20 minutes in the second act of 'Important Hats' that are zanily brilliant. But then there’s the rest of the play to consider." Full Review

Village Voice

"The first act is laced with laugh-out-loud lines, but things flag in the second, when the play's pivotal twentieth-century hat — a time machine in the form of a futuristic helmet equipped with an antenna — takes center stage. The comedy's fabric unravels during the ensuing chaos, as various characters dart in and out of history — from the Roman times to the alien future (complete with mutant monsters) — and the snappy humor more or less disintegrates." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"Imagine a very, very long 'Saturday Night Live' sketch or a class play whipped up by stoned students at some fashion school...Prepare yourself to be traumatized by the sight of masturbating yetis. And did I mention that mysterious glowing space balls are attacking New York? What were the folks at MTC thinking when they decided to subject us to this drivel? Honesty demands that I report there were a few in the audience who expressed their approval loudly and often." Full Review

Front Row Center

"There are some very very clever scenes dotted here and there, and these actors know exactly what to do with every minute they are on stage. Their skill, and the work put in by the director Moritz von Stuelpnagel is not enough to pull this material up from the level of college skit to a grown up Off-Broadway show. Jones falls somewhere between the Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers. Somewhere between idiotic and brilliant. Call it No Man’s Land, and save your shekels." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"The problem is inherent in the concept, or lack of one. No one involved seems to have operated from the understanding that satire is a pinpoint form of criticism, not a clown car in which irrational characters with funny lines get taken for a ludicrous spin...This confusion isn’t just the result of the chaotic plotting, though Jones’s idea of tying up loose ends resembles what would happen if a cat did macramé." Full Review


"I've never before seen a play that combined high fashion in 1930s New York with a sci-fi spoof. Written by Nick Jones, the comedy is fast, frenzied and, unfortunately, dreadfully unfunny. The two halves of Jones' split-identity plot don't fit together very well, but given his errant ear for humor, it's hard to believe that if he'd chosen to focus on just one, the result would have been much better...Ultimately, 'Important Hats' seems unfinished, a collection of undigested fragments." Full Review

Act Three - The Reviews

"It appears to have been written by someone with the mind of a 13-year-old...Let me be clear here - the actors were magnificent...The play itself is a poor rip off of 'Back to the Future...' The story goes on and on like a Saturday cartoon and really ends up nowhere...Don't waste your time on this silly play that never should have made it to a stage - unless of course you want to travel back in time to one of your high school productions." Full Review


"Just about everything in 'Important Hats' falls flat, starting with the self-satisfied tone; Jones and von Stuelpnagel commit to neither the lunacy required for farce nor the daring needed for absurdism...You feel as if you're watching not a professional theater company, but a college comedy troupe intent solely upon amusing itself. Chalk it up to a low point for the talented folks involved, and hope they move on to new projects very soon." Full Review

Funny, Delightful, Quirky, Great staging, Fluffy

See it if You like madcap comedy and want a good laugh, and are relaxed enough to not take things seriously.

Don't see it if You want some serious and thought-provoking, or are not a fan of the ridiculous and over-the-top comedy.

Original, Quirky, Hilarious, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You like offbeat plays.

Don't see it if You don't like to laugh.

Funny, Delightful, Great acting, Quirky, Great staging

See it if bizarro time travelling hilarity festooned in the most outlandish headpieces is your jam. Solid ensemble. Very different. Very memorable.

Don't see it if the above alarms or confounds

Clever, Delightful, Great writing

See it if You like somewhat cheesy, overdramatic jokes. It's a very fun show with lots of great bits and an extremely talented cast

Don't see it if you don't like cheesy humor. The whole show is much like an SNL skit

Funny, Original, Clever, Dizzying, Quirky

See it if you enjoy light-hearted quirky comedies and easily suspend your disbelief

Don't see it if you are a stick in the mud that can't enjoy farce, puns and topical humor

Funny, Original, Ambitious, Quirky

See it if you like the zany and bizarre. Just give over the to strange and ridiculous and you could have a very good time. Go for the throw away lines

Don't see it if you need to grounded in reality. This is for those that find the absurd funny and entertaining.

Delightful send-up of 1930s radio programs but looses way with sci fi plot

See it if you want to see fun satire of noirish 1930s radio productions (e.g., the Shadow) delightfully performed by group of hammy actors

Don't see it if you are put off by play that tries to do too much, combining radio satire, sci fi elements, fashion industry send-up, unfocused second act

Original, Quirky, Confusing

See it if You want to see a silly, totally unique show.

Don't see it if You don't like confusing plots.

Original, Clever, Quirky, Great staging, Manic

See it if you enjoy zany, energetic, funny, weird theater. This wild romp is often engaging, but the plot is a mess. Funnier idea than execution.

Don't see it if you want theater to enlighten. This is purely entertainment. Very well staged. Chaos is come again.

Funny, Nice, Well-intentioned, Overreaching, Miss the mark

See it if funny repartee, outlandish stories. First act starts well, funny and well done for the venue size and play theme.

Don't see it if you want to know what the title has to do with the play. Second act takes the play in a different, not as good direction.

Disappointing, Over the top, Silly, Stupid

See it if You enjoy over the top silly comedies. The actors do a good job of wearing multiple hats by playing many roles.

Don't see it if You don't like silly slapstick shows with lots of overacting. Due to poor blocking the side seating is incredibly inferior to the center.

Indulgent, Banal, Disappointing, Excruciating, Insipid

See it if you like childish humor

Don't see it if you value your time.

Confusing, Excruciating, Overrated

See it if see it if .... well, don't see it

Don't see it if you don't like confusing, poorly written, hard to watch shows

Confusing, Disappointing, Insipid, Idiotic, Moronic

See it if you like a Saturday Night Live sketch stretched out to two hours. Also if you enjoy works in progress—in dire need of its next draft.

Don't see it if you are smart.

Original, Clever, Thought-provoking, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if you want to be immersed in a new dimension. It' set's up their own fully functioning world.

Don't see it if you don't like farcical humor that is highly dramatized, this ain't no living room drama.

Funny, Original, Ambitious, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if you are curious

Don't see it if you are easily bored

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Exquisite, Entertaining

See it if Important to have knowledge

Don't see it if If it didn't continue to give me informative information knowledge

During previews
Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if you want to laugh incredibly hard, liked The 39 Steps, like irreverent period pieces, like old school sci-fi.

Don't see it if You can't handle the deliberately exaggerated, satirical acting style, can't keep up with fast-paced jokes, want something at all serious.

During previews
Funny, Clever, Quirky, Refreshing, Entertaining

See it if You liked Hand to God or Something Rotten. Quirky humor.

Don't see it if You need big production value or don't like nerdy tongue in cheek humor.

During previews
Great acting, Hilarious, Fun, Fluffy, Wacky

See it if you like a wacky farce with super broad comedy.

Don't see it if you need a show to really have something important to say.

During previews
Quirky, Indulgent, Disappointing, Insipid, Fluffy

See it if you are a masochist.

Don't see it if have a better way to spend two hours like visiting the dentist or cleaning out your closets.

During previews
Confusing, Insipid, Fluffy

See it if You get a free ticket. It's always good to see live theater even when the play is bad. There are some laughs.

Don't see it if There's something good on TV. Really a bad play. Makes no sense, it's frenetic and directed to get audience response at all costs.

During previews
Quirky, Indulgent, Confusing, Disappointing, Insipid

See it if Overreacting, with a confusing plot and terrible staging are your thing.

Don't see it if This play was simply awful. I couldn't figure out what it was even about until nearly the end of the 1st act. I walked out.

Cast & Creatives (16)