Closed 1h 30m
In the Body of the World
Midtown W
81

In the Body of the World NYC Reviews and Tickets

81%
(139 Reviews)
Positive
90%
Mixed
6%
Negative
4%
Members say
Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Profound

About the Show

The Tony Award-winning author, performer, and activist Eve Ensler ('The Vagina Monologues') comes to MTC with a powerful new solo-play based on her critically acclaimed memoir.

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Member Reviews (139)

90
Intense, Relevant, Funny, Moving, Disturbing

See it if Woman devoted to helping Congolese rape and torture survivors gets stage IV cancer. Harrowing yet hopeful. Powerful delivery and staging.

Don't see it if You don’t want to confront real horrors both far away and nearer to home. Stark descriptions of bodily mutilation.

70
Ambitious, Disappointing, Thought-provoking, Intense, Uneven

See it if you're a fan of Ensler or have an interest in cancer care or the atrocities of the 2nd Congolese Civil War & steps taken to heal from them.

Don't see it if you do not love solo shows, or 1st person narratives that conflate personal pain with world events. Read more

Critic Reviews (37)

February 6th, 2018

"This is grim stuff...Ensler laces her tales with humor, gallows or otherwise...The play's intensely autobiographical self-focus will come off as liberating or oversharing...Rather than using Ensler's illness to illuminate the world's, it too often borrows from the world's suffering in an effort to legitimize her own...Ensler's disease would have been compelling enough on its own...The play itself, though, still ails; like most one-person shows, it needed a second opinion."
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February 6th, 2018

"The story moves through a passionate study of the horrors of disease. Ensler feels everything keenly, and she conflates her different pains: a sister’s slight is described in the same tone of shock as her horror at mass incarceration...It’s simultaneously appalling—surely she can hear the narcissism?—and true. This really is what it means to be stuck in a body. It’s the center of your universe, all the time."
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February 11th, 2018

"'In the Body of the World' is nothing if not self-satisfied and problematic...While the connection Ensler is attempting to draw between the disease of a single body and the ills of the world isn’t in itself troubling, the fact that all her stories also seem to bleed together — into a kind of showy solipsism masquerading as impassioned vulnerability — is...There’s almost a feeling of torture porn in her descriptions of the atrocities she’s witnessed or had recounted to her."
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February 6th, 2018

"A harrowing evening, alleviated by the writer-performer's frequent doses of mordant humor. Unfortunately, the evening also comes off as self-indulgent, lacking the thematic depth that would elevate it into something more than an account of personal suffering...The piece is more effective when it strains less for poeticism...At times, the piece feels like an extended therapy session...Would have been more effective as a simple lecture."
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February 6th, 2018

"Ensler is smart, funny, mostly fearless, empathetic - an engaging if sometimes tangent-plagued raconteur...Parts of 'In the Body of the World' are hard to hear...With a piece this intimately personal and politically significant, it feels churlish to take Ensler to task for stylistic shortcomings. Yes, the show is a mishmash of worthy concerns. But Paulus is comfortable with chaos, and helpfully reigns in the tangents, presenting each segment in a well-defined space."
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February 6th, 2018

"An intimate, shocking and touching tale...A bold, political work that is as personal and global as her signature work...Ensler connects the cancerous attack on her body with those women suffering from afar...Ensler presents it in a thoughtfully laid-out narrative quilt, made up of engaging frankness, measured sentiment, and disarming humor...It’s her knack of mixing the serious with the flip that keeps the air charged with sudden surprises and unexpected richness."
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February 6th, 2018

“Ensler adapted her harrowing, revelatory 2013 memoir into an equally harrowing, revelatory play…Paulus has drawn an astonishing, and astonishingly anti-maudlin performance from Ensler…Some of it is blessedly hilarious. Most of it isn’t. And yet ‘In the Body of the World’ is tough love, harsh medicine, a tonic...I came out rattled as I have rarely been rattled by any theater experience, devastated and blissful at the same improbable time.”
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February 6th, 2018

"Ensler doesn't tiptoe around a topic. She doesn't mince words. That unblinking, even brutal, bluntness is a strength in her solo play...Humor is another plus...She's not shy about revealing her scars - physical and psychic. It makes for anguished howl of a play...It's also a show that can meander and turn indulgent, even for a memoir...Directed with sensitivity by Paulus and enhanced by vivid projections, the play reminds that connection can arrive when and where it’s least expected."
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February 6th, 2018

"Her latest monologue, "In the Body of the World,' is metaphorically all over the map. It's fueled by a manic energy and stuffed with a myriad of issues...At times, it feels like performance-art-as-therapy in stream of consciousness fashion as she tries to come to terms with her illness and dysfunctional family...Peppering even the worst moments with pointed humor...Paulus's direction is a huge plus, tying together the disparate elements with clarity and sensitivity."
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February 6th, 2018

"Ensler's acerbic humor is one thing you get a feel for during her solo piece...Aside from a quick wit, Ensler proves her talent for building subtle emotional dynamics that give us the opportunity to laugh, not in spite of empathy, but because of it...When her body is engaged with the story, so is her audience. She's a warm, charming, grounded narrator...Like a mirror image of her own life, the story is choppy and off-roads more often than it stays any particular course."
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February 14th, 2018

"In her emotionally uplifting new solo work, it is both body and soul that are placed center stage...Particularly poignant is the way she describes Rochester, Minnesota as a cancer town...While Ensler's story is a unique one, what is thoroughly relatable is her demonstration of the charitable side of humanity, and the downplaying of one's own suffering in order to use your experience to ease the pain of others."
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February 9th, 2018

"This solo show is beyond criticism...And yet I can't escape the nagging feeling that Ensler has created a piece that is profoundly unhelpful...Ensler has uncanny descriptive powers and an eye for the outrageous, telling detail, often informed by her oddball sense of humor...Ensler's determination to see her suffering as a vast, enveloping metaphor for all forms of violence against women, her need to merge her illness with the ills of the world, comes off as weirdly grandiose."
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February 6th, 2018

"Surprisingly lively and even jocular in moments...Ensler tries, not altogether successfully, to merge the suffering of the Congo victims with her own...But those women get pushed aside a lot...She indulges in rhetoric that feels affected...She has an uplifting and often riveting tale to tell, and she tells it sharply and movingly...She can be guilty of self-overindulgence, and sometimes she tells us more than we want to know. But it's a story very much worth the telling."
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February 20th, 2018

“Ensler keeps the play afloat with her frankness and humor, even when she unabashedly displays her wounds and describes parts of her body removed or mangled. We accompany her to New York City where she first tries Memorial Sloan Kettering, but settles on Beth Israel, where her doctor treats her like a real, living, breathing person. She rallies in a room with the view of a tree. Images of the tree and rallies of brave women in the Congo illuminate her experiences.”
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February 10th, 2018

"Frank, fierce, and surprisingly funny...Although it is not for the squeamish, it is both inspiring and savvy...The script takes great pains to veer away from self-blame or pat conclusions. Instead, since there can be no definitive answers, Ensler zeroes in on activism as cure...It’s an empowering example of the necessary balance between self-care and care of others...Ensler’s triumphant recovery and return to writing, acting, and advocacy leaves us feeling buoyant and uplifted."
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February 6th, 2018

"A one-woman show that blows through like a tsunami. And what a wondrous storm it is!...Ensler has expanded and deepened the themes of her seminal work, speaking with a fierce focus and a renewed purpose...Paulus delivers a production that brilliantly illuminates the landscape of this visionary work...Ensler is among the rare, gifted monologue artists who are able make those deep connections between the personal and the political...connections that bring hope for change in the world."
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February 6th, 2018

"Ensler doesn't soft pedal her trajectory from diagnosis through treatment, and some scenes detailing her own and the Congolese women's experiences are too painfully graphic...Under Diane Paulus's direction, this isn't one of those solo shows with a narrator sitting on a chair with no or minimal props, but one of the most theatrically effective examples of this genre…Ensler has aptly made her personal story tie in with global issues, so her humor is at its best when topical.”
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February 6th, 2018

"Bearing her scars, figuratively and literally, Ensler explores how the disease, and its poisonous treatments, violated her body...Ensler entwines these observations with the stories she heard in her trips to the Democratic Republic of Congo...So compelling is this cancer-Congo-nature triangle, the show sinks a little whenever Ensler steps outside of it. She cannot help but throw some political barbs, but her tribulations make even Trump seem inconsequential."
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February 16th, 2018

"Ensler is fearless, smart, and filled with overflowing confidence and power...Some of the stories are devastating, saddening, infuriating, but also she treats us to tales of love, compassion, and humor...I can’t say that I was completely drawn in...If you are drawn in, you’ll be held tight, but if not, you’ll walk out, like I did, bypassing the invitation, feeling that you did truly experience something powerful, but just not the internalized connection you might have been hoping for."
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February 7th, 2018

"Eye-opening, entertaining, and one of the most satisfying works of theater so far this year. With humor and passion and jaw-dropping candor, Eve Ensler riffs and rants (about various injustices), rhapsodizes (about trees) and rages (about uncaring doctors, about her parents, about…many things) – and in the process reveals Eve Ensler, take her or leave her...Director Diane Paulus pulls out all the stops, in what could be a lesson in how to turn a monologue into a full-fledged play."
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February 6th, 2018

"Ensler's new one-woman play that uses her diagnosis, treatment, and recovery as a framework to explore her connection to the world...Ensler does have a brilliant wit, an unflinching determination to stand up for humanitarian causes, a terrific sense of humor, a gift for the dramatic, and the ability to command an audience...Ensler knows how to craft a story...A physical culmination of Ensler's emotionally charged journey within and beyond the confines of her own body."
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February 6th, 2018

"Eve Ensler’s riveting solo show...It rarely feels self-indulgent; the play is less an act of catharsis or even bragging than a continuation of Ensler’s two decades of activist work...Directed with enormous grace by the great Diane Paulus...This is a more traditional monologue. But it's never boring. Ensler is a master keeping an audience engaged, whether through passion or self-deprecation. Above all, there is an unmistakable air of honesty throughout."
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February 10th, 2018

“Ensler, disarmingly forthright…uses powerfully descriptive words…The pixyish, youthful-looking…Ensler has had quite a life, and you'll find out a lot about it in her…scary, funny, informative, moving, occasionally grisly, but scattershot docudrama…whose centerpiece is her battle with uterine cancer…It's understandable that Ensler would want to introduce some welcome wisecracks into the horrors…but is it really necessary for us to be asked to rise so we can dance during a hospital room party?”
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February 9th, 2018

“A bold and brave solo performance…Ensler has dug deeply into her personal experiences...There is a stretch in trying to tie the personal problem of her cancer with world problems...The link is the basis of her play, and one has to make the leap with her in order to appreciate her concept...Yet the passion in Ensler’s performance glows with sincerity and dynamism…It takes talent and excellent direction to hold one’s attention, which Ensler mostly does.”
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February 11th, 2018

"Ensler hastens to show she’s struggling, fallible, one of us...One can only admire the example she sets...The show includes grim details, but is pointedly not a deluge of suffering. Extremely deft, Ensler weaves humor through her story like a couturier...Both powerful and entertaining; beautifully written in fluid vignettes and marvelously acted. One forgets Eve Ensler is also a highly skilled performer...Gestures can shock or amuse. Manipulation is invisible. Pacing is perfect."
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February 8th, 2018

"Ensler weaves the narrative of her medical issues with world issues...At times, the parallels are a tad heavy-handed, but the author-performer quickly balances self-deprecating humor and cutting observations with her social commentary...Paulus’ measured direction seamlessly guides us through Ensler’s multi-stage journey of horror and triumph...Ensler is a passionate advocate, sprightly comedienne, and friendly host...It’s an intense, inspiring encounter."
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February 25th, 2018

"I'm sorry that Ensler had to go through such a harrowing experience but I'm also sorry that her show dragged me through it...A show about Ensler's efforts to help women in the Congo...But the body that gets the most attention is Ensler's own...What I resented most was Ensler's attempt to draw parallels between her experience and that of the Congolese women...Equating the ordeal comes off as the kind of cultural imperialism that Ensler herself usually abhors."
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February 7th, 2018

“Ensler’s frank vulnerability and synthesis of the personal and political reaches thrilling new heights in director Diane Paulus’ striking production…Among the play’s most impressive qualities is Ensler’s ability to draw such symbolic parallels between her own illness and the ills of the world in such a way that illuminates both without distortions of scale...A gifted and natural storyteller…Ensler has rarely seemed more exhilarated or full of life — just when we need her most.”
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February 20th, 2018

"Ensler centers her new play in the core of her body. Political and personal...With precision and snaps of wit, she traces her painful journey...There is no straight road in this solo performance but Ensler is a likable, sharp-talking guide through her excruciating tour through hell. Segments are quick, brash, honest although the numerous metaphors can be tiresome...Ensler lightens her visions with black humor, and the journey with her is depressing, to be sure, but worth the visit."
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February 6th, 2018

"Ensler’s daring, delightful one-woman show is bursting with the affirmation of life and the celebration of joy...She honestly and often poetically talks about her childhood and her family and relates her cancer to things much bigger than herself...Ensler reexamines her place in the greater world, continually working to teach people to stop sleepwalking through life and start taking responsibility for themselves and others, using this stage as a wake-up call for all of us...Warm and very funny."
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February 6th, 2018

"The powerful and ultimately uplifting stage version of Ensler's memoir...Paulus allows a little self-indulgence to creep in, but who could blame her? Ensler does not falter, sparing none of the gritty, gruesome details, even as she tries to inject some humor into her own personal horror story...Ensler makes sure we feel, at times intensely, the presence of so many others...Throughout all of this, amazingly, Ensler never loses touch with what was happening in the Congo."
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February 8th, 2018

"Throughout the emotional turmoil Ensler finds moments of bracing humor and is always searching for some deeper meaning to what she is going through. The result is a compelling if often self-indulgent evening that frequently feels like a therapy session...Ensler is not the most natural performer to take to the stage, although she acquits herself nicely, the staging also accentuates her limitations...The brave evening may be more therapeutic for the performer than the audience."
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February 7th, 2018

"Delivered with wry self-awareness and brutal humor...A raw, deeply personal and powerful account of how Ensler found her connection to the body of the world...She can be strident and brutal and confrontational. But she is also funny and self-deprecating...Paulus keeps the pace lively and provides a forward movement to Ensler's monologue, preventing it from becoming a TED Talk...The play is at its very best when it exists in her real world instead of the metaphorical one."
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February 6th, 2018

"A critical piece of art. It's achingly funny, raw, real, heartbreaking, and healing. The script and Ensler's performance supersedes the production in all senses, but it's hard to stage a solo piece without falling prey to the pitfalls of one-person shows. Director Paulus handle the piece well, but some of the production choices often feel forced or uncomfortable...The most impactful moments are when Ensler is simply, beautifully communing with the audience."
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May 24th, 2016

"Ensler holds the audience rapt for 90 minutes. She and her visionary director, Diane Paulus, prove to be a powerful storytelling team...While storytelling is at the center of the performance, sometimes it is not left to stand on its own as it should...If ever there were a stage performer who matched emotions to her message, it's Ensler. But she needs only the boards and her passionate voice to move an audience."
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May 24th, 2016

"Ensler doesn't so much tell us of her journey through cancer as use it as a metaphor to dramatize the visceral connection between our bodies and our world...Ensler seamlessly weaves her individual experiences and recollections into the fabric of political theater. There is no lecturing, only truth telling, and the impact is often stunning...Ensler's own charismatic presence and willingness to bare her own body and soul make this production that much more electric."
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May 19th, 2016

"Precisely defined direction...Each transition seamlessly moves the action forward while keeping us riveted on Ensler’s delivery. While the jungle setting is lovely to look at, the play’s 'gorillas in the mist' moment felt a bit overdone. Ensler’s poetic realization of the importance of connection and community is powerful enough on its own, and her voice and investment in the body of the world are more than enough to bring the audience along on her journey."
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