New York | 1h 15m | Already closed

In a Word

From 14 critic and 51 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Intelligent

About the show

Lesser America presents this absurdist new play about the power of loss and how to get over, around, and through what haunts you. More…

Today is the two-year anniversary of the disappearance of Fiona’s son, and still, nothing makes sense to her. Not her blasé husband, the incompetent detective, or the neighborhood kidnapper who keeps introducing himself in the checkout line. As Fiona delves back into her memories of that fateful day, hoping to uncover that crucial missing piece, grief and comedy collide, and ordinary turns of phrase take on dangerous new meanings.

Theatre's Leiter Side

“A quality performance under Tyne Rafaeli's delicate direction…Lines of dialogue with words bearing particular resonance are woven through the script as markers, often serving to trigger recollections that instantly shift us from the present to the past…Rafaeli's production unfolds in a sleek West Elm-like living room designed by Oona Curley…Curley also did the evocative lighting, with one particular moment showing a ghostly Tristan staring through the doors…The effect is, in a word, haunting.” Full Review

The New York Times

"A sad and breathless and often pretty funny play...Yee and Rafaeli tilt the play toward surrealism, keeping horror at bay with quick-fire dialogue and bad jokes...'In a Word' emphasizes metaphor and repetition in ways that sometimes feel dramatically potent, at other times self-consciously writerly...The play ultimately suggests that even if loss on this level can’t really be understood, it can be survived. That’s reason enough to see 'In a Word.' Here’s one more: the remarkable Mr. Mark." Full Review


“Lauren Yee's ‘In a Word,’ winner of the 2016 Francesca Primus Prize and a finalist for the ATCA/Steinberg Award, is a powerful drama delineating the journey of a couple Fiona (Laura Ramadei) and Guy (Jose Joaquin Perez), whose adopted son Tristan, age seven, has gone missing. It is the second anniversary of his disappearance and Fiona is reviewing the events of the previous two years. Is it time to let go?” Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"This engaging play connects deeply with the emotions and raises rich and enduring questions...Under Rafaeli’s steady hand, the action moves forward with clarity and precision...The cast is uniformly believable, delivering authentic performances, exhibiting real conflicts that drive the intriguing plot. Although the issues raised here are not new, Yee’s handling of these important concepts gives them a freshness and a mystery that is agreeable and worthwhile." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“This three-hander offers a trenchant look at situations that raise painful questions about the family dynamic…An interesting, innovative and Pinteresque production…The power of the play is in its linguistic word constructions and in the scenes which shift realities much as Fiona’s memory shifts from past to present and at times merges the two…The performances by Laura Ramadei, and Justin Mark as the son are deftly portrayed…Justin Mark delivers an incredible performance.” Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"An immensely clever, well-written work that explores grief and memory, creating a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience...An immensely clever play from start to finish. Lauren Yee's intelligent script is matched by the production's staging ...The actors help to pull off a script that requires a lot of skill as time and characters shift constantly and quickly...The sort of innovative, well-written play that one hopes to find in Off-Broadway theatre, so see it before it closes." Full Review

Reviews Off Broadway

“‘In a Word’ is an emotionally raw, true, painful and often funny new play. It accomplishes a great deal in 80 swift minutes. It tells the story of Fiona and Guy, a couple that lost their son two years ago, and they haven't been able to really talk to each other about it. Anger, guilt, frustration and self-preservation have thrown up a wall of silence between them. Lauren Yee has written a wonderful play where the words are important and critical and yet still not always enough.” Full Review

New York Theater

"It’s Yee’s sharp perception that loss is often accompanied by uncertainty and confusion; and that at such times words can change their meaning and lose their power...Both the playwright and director Tyne Rafaeli seem more interested in driving home those feelings in us than solving the puzzle of the story for us...I suspect that what I’ll most remember from 'In a Word' is not the hint of a cogent story, nor even the semblance of psychological insight, but Lauren Yee’s use of language." Full Review

Stage Buddy

“Yee’s highly stylized language creates the world of Fiona’s mind…Some moments felt overwrought, particularly in the beginning, but Yee succeeds in bringing those moments together by the end, helping to make sense of some of the play’s more overly poetic instances. The result is powerful, and gives the play a poetic structure that externalizes the inner workings of memories viewed through a screen of trauma and grief…Laura Ramadei’s stricken performance grounds the show.” Full Review

The Reviews Hub

"The script takes off at breakneck speed in Lauren Yee’s new play, and Tyne Rafaeli’s direction keeps the dialogue flowing with technical precision...Lesser America has produced a show that evolves with every moment, and moves like music. Perez and Ramadei keep us guessing at their true intentions, living distracted lives searching for each other. Rafaeli leaves us with a final image that we won’t soon forget." Full Review

Off Off Online

"It is a satisfying experience to listen to the wordplay, and link scenes, sentences and phrases together to understand the story...Director Tyne Rafaeli has kept the transitions tight, and the result makes the show easier to watch...All three leads create complex relationships within the short time frame...Although the actors take a minute to settle into the world of the play, once they are there, 'In a Word' is an engaging and quirky piece of theater, and definitely worth seeing." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"'In a Word' is a compelling and emotional idea wrought with an alienating risk but also impenetrable connection. Yee succeeds, on both counts. Pushing us aside unintentionally at moments of overreaching complexity, but also grabbing our hearts quite purposefully. I only wish director, Tyne Rafaeli, were half as brave, allowing the phenomenal trio of actors to slow down and play a bit more in the abstract dimension Yee has placed them in." Full Review

Applause! Applause!

"This play delivers an introspective of what it can be like to work with and raise a mentally challenged child. At first, we are confronted with the heartbreaking situation of parents who have had their adopted son kidnapped and a mom who seems unable to move on with her life. As the play progresses, we become less empathetic as we get a clearer picture of the circumstances of the household and of the mother's true relationship with her son. The play is well-written, fluid, and makes you think." Full Review

Time Out New York

"The Dead Child plot has become a familiar way to give a woman a dramatic arc through guilt and grief...Yee has chops, but she has trouble here in making something that doesn't seem like an echo of plays that have gone before. 'In a Word' does boast some genuinely fresh moments...What saves the day is Yee's demand that the whole thing be played at warp speed, which director Tyne Rafaeli accomplishes with wit and panache." Full Review

Riveting, Resonant, Exquisite, Masterful, Intelligent

See it if Powerful drama with virtuosic use of language and superb acting. Intense from start to finish.

Don't see it if You won't like a non-linear fragmented storyline that represents the characters' shattered world.

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

See it if you enjoy great writing performed by a superb cast (Justin Mark nails multiple parts) with scenic and lighting design that wows.

Don't see it if you are bothered by the challenges of loss, guilt and autism that explode throughout this production.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if Great writing and creative directions. The show has an excellent lighting design. Remarkable acting.

Don't see it if you don't like drama or suspense.

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

See it if If a psychological drama about an adoption gone wrong and a disappeared child's effect on a couple's marriage and sanity will grab you.

Don't see it if If quick scene changes and time shifts plus multiple characters played by the same actor would confuse you or tricks with words lose you..

Also Disturbing but fascinating drama. It grabbed me right at the start and... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Ambitious, Great staging, Great writing

See it if you enjoy a very powerful drama in a small space with excellent acting. The intensity of the action is amazing. Do not miss this show.

Don't see it if you prefer comedy or light hearted plays. I was so impressed with this play. I will check out more from this playwright.

Also I hope a bigger company will notice this play like MTC or Roundabout. ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Enchanting, Entertaining, Funny

See it if you enjoy watching the complexity of a woman's mind that feels guilty for the loss of her child.

Don't see it if you aren't interested in how we process loss and the complexities of a marriage after losing a child.

Clever, Poetic, Edgy

See it if enjoy the combination of heartfelt drama and surreal wordplay

Don't see it if think that there is no place for humor in the story about a missing child.

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

See it if You enjoy great acting and witty dialogue. You have parented a special needs child.

Don't see it if You can't abide a comedic take on a heart breaking subject: child abduction.

Great writing, Great acting, Refreshing, Exquisite, Intelligent

See it if you are interested in wordplays and memory theatre.

Don't see it if you do not like stories that focus on a very specific topic from the beginning until the end.

Clever, Entertaining, Great staging, Quirky, Refreshing

See it if You enjoy family dramas told in an interesting & new way. You like stories that are told out of order. You like clever staging & playwriting

Don't see it if You prefer more traditional storytelling. You don't like absurdism.

Intriguing, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Clever staging and deft direction, Interesting word-play

See it if you like absurdity w your psychological dramas, exploring effects of loss/grief. Sad subject, but play's not devastating or too emotional.

Don't see it if Don't want to work a bit to follow the story & creative turn-of-phrase. 1 actor plays multi-roles (really well!) It's a fresh, modern take.

Also I was intrigued with this production and stayed interested throughout.... Read more Read less

Great writing, Great acting, Intelligent, Refreshing, Intense

See it if you want an interesting dialogue, which keeps you intrigued till the end, when the story finally reveals itself. Justin Marks was great!

Don't see it if you don't like intense plays about a families loss.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Riveting

See it if enjoyable show. excellent wordplay within a touching story. well acted by all 3 performers. really well staged too.

Don't see it if you are sensitive to a story about a missing child. you want simple straight forward dialogue

Good writing. good acting. good show.

See it if You want good theatre

Don't see it if You only like musicals!

Clever, Great staging, Great writing, Masterful, Must see

See it if You like family drama told in a unique and quirky way. Great writing and acting.

Don't see it if You don't want thought provoking drama.

Intelligent, Resonant, Intense, Quirky, Thought-provoking

See it if you can deal with a non-linear and non-realistic plot; this show involved make-believe characters which existed only in the mind of the mom

Don't see it if you want a totally realistic plot and characters; you don't care for non-linear plots; you don't care to think too much.

Ambitious, Dizzying, Great acting, Edgy, Quirky

See it if you like challenging pieces in a unique theatrical language involving sound and action, an excellent performance by a recent Julliard grad

Don't see it if you don't like plays where secrets are only hinted at until final moments, deliberately confusing style that keeps one wondering

Great staging, Ambitious, Indulgent, Intelligent, Confusing

See it if You appreciate non-linear storylines, clever language, darker themes, small cast shows

Don't see it if The subject of autism or losing a child is hard for you to watch. You want something light with straightforward plot. Wordplay confounds you

Also I am very conflicted about this play. Loved the inventive staging. Thr... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Slow, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if You like dark psychological stories with fantastical twirls (I'd call it more fabulism than absurdism)

Don't see it if You're bothered by small-scale, sometimes confusing productions. You prefer straightforward narratives or musicals.

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Edgy, Good acting, Well written

See it if Yee's award-winning drama about the aftermath of a child's disappearance. Written with a dizzying command of language well handled by actors

Don't see it if Fragmented & disjointed plotting reflective of mother's state of mind can be confusing. Raw emotions, situations compelling but not for all

Absorbing, Confusing, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to see great acting and interesting writing and like to play with words.

Don't see it if you are looking for a straightforward comedy or drama.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Edgy, Confusing

See it if you enjoy new work. It's not a typical causal plot and nothing works linearly. If you liked Stop Kiss or Animal you'd likely vibe with this.

Don't see it if you like things to be straight forward and immediately honest.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if You like intense plays. The acting was very good by all 3 cast members. Clever use of the set. If you like small venues

Don't see it if If you don't like the intense subject matter of "losing" a child. If You don't like small venues.

Ambitious in content and form, Great staging, Uneven, Quirky, Thought-provoking

See it if you like experimental plays about difficult subjects (autism AND disappearance). More complications fr wordplay that obscures & fascinates.

Don't see it if you want lite stuff. Well-staged, tho. And protean character is well-written, well-acted. Even w sad plot, little emotional response.

Also Both the staging was impressive. Lots of imaginative touches and seaml... Read more Read less

Intense, Resonant, Great staging

See it if Well-executed, well-acted, yet mercifully short piece on conflicted parents rearing an autistic kid. Tough to take but worthwhile.

Don't see it if The non-linear structure and unconventional language may confuse some, but it makes for a more interesting experience.

Cast & Creatives (9)