Members say: Great acting, Intelligent, Clever, Thought-provoking, Absorbing

About the show

Manhattan Theatre Club presents the American premiere of Nick Payne's play, which examines whether our memories and identities exist only in our minds.

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A pathologist steals the brain of Albert Einstein; a neuropsychologist embarks on her first romance with another woman; a seizure patient forgets everything except how much he loves his girlfriend. These mysterious stories are braided into one breathtaking whole that asks whether memory and identity are nothing but illusions. Directed by Tony Award winner Doug Hughes, 'Incognito' takes us into the last uncharted realm: the mind.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"A lively, self-examining drama of ideas…The script’s diverse figures are embodied by an exceptionally supple ensemble of four…Remarkable for the clarity with which it graphs its various forms of confusion and delusion...'Incognito' doesn’t achieve the raw emotional force of 'Constellations.' But as befits a work about the vagaries of memory, Mr. Payne’s multilayered works remains in your mind, challenging our most fundamental notions of autonomous selfhood." Full Review


"Director Doug Hughes and movement director Peter Pucci run themselves ragged moving 20 lifeless characters (played by four hard-working actors). But for all that work, Payne’s treatment of his philosophical subject remains leaden in theatrical form...Whatever emotion might be squeezed out of this dry piece can be found in the bittersweet scenes in which Henry, who is in no way in touch with reality, manages to retain the memory of his love for his wife." Full Review


"Nick Payne's ambitious, but somewhat muddy new play, admirably performed by a hard-working quartet of actors…Directed by Doug Hughes, the actors divide 20 roles in short interwoven scenes that snap directly into each other, frequently making transitions from story to story unclear…While 'Incognito' may very well provide some fascinating observations about the workings of the brain, some clearer storytelling is required to get them across." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"It's an extremely challenging assignment that the ensemble cast executes with admirable skill and precision...'Incognito' exerts a certain fascination, but it's also deeply frustrating...Despite its brevity, the play feels bloated, padded with such extraneous scenes...Payne tends to concentrate on the cerebral, with the result that watching 'Incognito' feels like working on a particularly difficult crossword puzzle. It's satisfying up to a point, but we're rarely emotionally engaged." Full Review


"'Incognito' confirms that Payne is in a class of his own as a contemporary writer…’Incognito’ never once feels like a stolid post-grad lecture on neuroscience. Through and through, it is a compelling, humane story, featuring absorbing characters with whom we feel a kinship...While there are points where Hughes' staging tends to lag, his work impresses here for its decision to let the audience conjure the world of the play ourselves." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Doug Hughes directs a solid cast (Cox is especially brilliant as the sweetly tragic Maison) in what is an impressive acting workout—if not completely revelatory drama. For all the engaging tidbits of information, the notion that personality, love or even genius are not hard-wired into the brain so much as accidents of chemistry and sociology probably won’t blow anyone’s mind." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"Doug Hughes puts an adept four-person cast through this convoluted-by-design brain-teaser which is likely to send you out of the theatre working out the puzzle. And keep you thinking for days after. 'Incognito' is brainy, all right…The good news of the day is that Payne pulls it off…It should be stated that folk in search of light entertainment might do well to go elsewhere; 'Incognito' could overwhelm people who aren’t looking for an evening of intellectual stimulation." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"Clever and poignant…Payne can be too clever for his own good though, and some of 'Incognito’s' formal notions don’t entirely succeed. But one of his great gifts is the ability to poignantly meld complicated philosophic and scientific tenets with simpler human struggles. Molaison’s condition and its implications for human identity are fascinating, but more moving is his love for his wife, whom he greets anew every minute." Full Review

Theater Life

“Nick Payne’s multilayered exploration of neurological phenomena...The four-person cast of Nick Payne’s ‘Incognito’ get a workout in Doug Hughes’ fascinating and challenging production. Each plays a variety of roles in three separate story lines concerning the effect of the brain on personality and memory. At first, they seem unconnected but by the end of 90 intriguing minutes they are bound inextricably together like strands of DNA.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“Payne is better at posing questions than answering them, and his handling of all these narratives leaves much to be desired...The cast of four navigate Payne's intricately constructed script so nimbly...Hughes' immaculate staging is more assured than Payne's often messy script...If it results in a whirring top of a play, spinning off ideas without regard for an overall point of view, it offers many dazzling moments and a prodigious cast. Your brain will be teased--and even sometimes satisfied. Full Review

New York Theater

"Any one of these strands might have made a satisfying and intriguing drama about the mysteries of the mind…But deliberately jumbled together, they make at best a challenging drama, at worst a pretentious one…The playwright seems more interested in confounding than enlightening his audience…Despite these juicy morsels, my brain rebelled...My mind started working out different narratives than the ones on the stage, such as where we might eat dinner afterwards." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Payne did the same thing last season with ‘Constellations.’ That play, like this one, paid enormous theatrical dividends if you were willing to stick with it. But what it offered that 'Incognito' doesn't, at least to the same degree, is a rigorous depth of feeling...It's still gripping in how much it does attempt and how much of that it achieves. And one suspects, even during the sags, that it wouldn't take much to make this intellectual triumph into an emotional triumph as well." Full Review

New York Daily News

"Nick Payne’s brainy but murky mind game of a play is probably more fun to be in than watch...The actors give colorful performances as they switch instantly from one character to another. But like the round bare stage, the play goes in circles. As a husband with recall gone haywire, a sweet Charlie Cox makes the show hit the heart and not just the head." Full Review


"Geneva Carr, Charlie Cox, Heather Lind and Morgan Spector handle the to and fro between characters and story lines with great physical as well as emotional and verbal dexterity…If you liked 'Constellations,' you'll be glad Mr. Payne is back with another clever brain teaser. And given this excellent production and acting ensemble he's sure to win some new fans. That said, however, 'Incognito' isn't quite as emotionally engaging as his 'Constellations.'" Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"What happens to Einstein’s brain, Thomas Harvey’s marriage, Martha and Patricia’s romance, and Henry’s memory – including his ability to remember how to play the piano – makes up the engaging ninety minutes of Mr. Payne’s important play. Each actor gives their multiple characters distinct characteristics, mannerisms, and speech patterns. This results in authentic and believable performances throughout." Full Review

Front Row Center

"'Incognito' explodes onto the stage and there you are on this incredible ride. Hughes’ direction of Payne’s brilliant script is so spot-on, so meticulous and moving at the speed of light, that there is no room for you to exhale...It is a tour de force for these incredibly skilled performers. They’re jaw-droppingly good...This is why we have theatre...This is the off-Broadway scene as it should be, intimate and at the same time expansive, thought-provoking, exciting and surprising." Full Review


"This is heady theater and demands concentration. However, the excellent cast of four made of Geneva Carr (Theatre World Award winner for 'Hand to God'), Charlie Cox (Netflix’s 'Daredevil'), Heather Lind (AMC’s 'Turn: Washington’s Spies'), and Morgan Spector (Drama Desk Award nominee for 'Russian Transport') make this an unforgettable evening in the theater." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"As in any pastiche, some stories are better than others. I wished that some had been prolonged and others had been attenuated or even eliminated...The actors are wonderful...Director Doug Hughes skillfully juggles the many strands so that the audience can usually find its bearings without undue difficulty. I admired Payne’s ambition and intelligence even when an occasional scene misfired." Full Review

The Wrap

"One half of 'Incognito' is a mash-up of plots from a few Joan Crawford movies..It’s sentimental, but it’s doubtful Payne wants to be saccharine...The play is pretty middle-brow stuff...The third act, 'Retrieving,' comes chockablock with aha moments of resolution that don’t illuminate much of anything. The fractured structure merely obscures to allow for delayed and meaningless dramatic surprises. Playing multiple roles, only Morgan Spector manages not to overact." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"Make sure your brain is in good working order if you go to see “Incognito,” as it will undergo demanding exercise as you strain to follow the clever, intricate interplay...The acting is consistently admirable, as the cast members slip in and out of a variety of characters at a rather rapid pace...Payne is especially creative and demanding in this Manhattan Theatre Club presentation. And there is just the right cast to make the most of his head trip." Full Review


"It’s not as compelling, or as cohesive, as 'Constellations,' but, vividly staged and acted, it’s quite diverting…'Incognito' does sometimes seem fitted together, a combining of information rather than a fully imagined whole…These tales are sort of tied together at the end, but in a contrived, not very revelatory, way…Four fine actors play a total of 20 characters…'Incognito' is an ambitious and intelligent play, but it’s in its presentation that it’s most engrossing." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"Carr and her three co-performers, Charlie Cox, Heather Lind and Morgan Spector, play 20 parts between them with remarkable dexterity, seamlessly switching between British and American accents and barely pausing to draw breath…The ending comes across as a little bit Hollywood, but 'Incognito' is that rare thing: a piece of theatre that really forces us to think." Full Review


"Payne ties things together by the end, and the fragmentary episodes emphasize the point that 'the self' is not a unified entity. But the play’s notice-me structure also tends to pull attention away from the primary theme he’s exploring: namely, that trying to figure out how the mind works just by slicing it up is a pointless endeavor. Scenes that clicked most were incidental to main proceedings...The subjects Payne is toying with should make us feel a sense of wonder, which is lacking here." Full Review

Broadway & Me

“The last two minutes are the only fully satisfying ones...The problem is that while they really are terrific minutes you have to sit through the other 88 to get to them...The only thing that ended up resonating with me were those final moments with the amnesiac, beautifully realized by Cox, because they played to the heart as well as the head...I don't think watching a play should be the equivalent of taking a GRE.” Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Payne’s dialogue is quick and clever, adding an unexpected humor to a play largely about science…'Incognito' is very engaging, with compelling characters and plot…A satisfying intellectual experience, if not an emotional one. I wonder if all this neuroscience really adds up to a satisfying story. It’s entertaining to watch as all four excellent actors fire on all cylinders, but I’m not sure what Payne wants us to take away…'Incognito' feels like an exercise more than a fully formed play." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Moving, Dynamic

See it if you are interested in quick but thoughtful takes on the very human experiences of existence as defined by the state of one's brain.

Don't see it if you don't like somewhat minimalist staging and conceptual choreography (which i really enjoyed btw!); if the topics are upsetting/triggery.

Also the play is ambitious and at times feels open-ended, though i suppose ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if you like an intimate play with actors who transform into different characters before your eyes; if you like thought-provoking theater

Don't see it if you're easily bored; if you are bothered by nonlinear plot structures, if you're easily confused.

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

See it if You enjoy interlocking stories & fast paced changing of roles

Don't see it if You want traditional narrative

Also by Nick Payne ( known for the hit Constellations) Four actors who are ... Read more Read less

Clever, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Offbeat, Quirky

See it if You like riddles. You're interested in cerebral, intellectual stories. You don't need a large-scale production & prefer minimalism on stage.

Don't see it if You can't keep track of the same actors playing various roles who interact with various other characters throughout. You only like musicals.

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

See it if you liked Constellations, and If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet

Don't see it if you are looking for a big, showy, fluffy production

Absorbing, Clever, Dizzying, Confusing

See it if you can follow the many characters played by the same actors with just a change in attitude or accent.

Don't see it if like linear stories.

Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy nonlinear storytelling and want to see an outstanding acting performance from Heather Lind

Don't see it if you find it confusing when actors play multiple characters or the sequence of events is not linear

Ambitious, Dizzying, Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if You are interested in intertwining stories with multiple characters played by a few actors

Don't see it if You are looking for something light, sweet, and perky

Dizzying, Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating

See it if you want to work hard, the show is impossible to follow. You really have to focus and pay attention but not in an enjoyable way.

Don't see it if if you want to sit back and relax. you will get no enjoyment from this show. It's 4 actors playing way too many parts

Also The show is really really bad. I really can't think of anyone who woul... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if you enjoy fast-paced, thought-provoking, interwoven, non-linear narratives.

Don't see it if you're easily confused and like to talk about your confusion loudly during the performance, like so many of the irritating MTC subscribers.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Dizzying, Difficult to follow

See it if You like a well acted, thought provoking, confusing drama. Acting was wonderful. Story line and changing characters not easy to follow.

Don't see it if You cannot/ will not grapple with intellectual challenge. I admit, was hard to figure which part actors were playing and what it meant.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Intelligent, Confusing

See it if you liked Payne's Constellations. Ambitious play about the mind and memory and ourselves. Fascinating but ultimately a bit confusing.

Don't see it if you're not going to pay attention. This play requires constant attention The actors change characters and time within seconds. Not light fun

Original, Ambitious, Dizzying, Disappointing, Slow

See it if You are an avid theatre goer who would enjoy watching 4 competent actors tackle 20 characters while contemplating how the brain works

Don't see it if Wouldn't enjoy watching actors do what amounts to the robot between scene breaks or hear actors butcher foreign and regional accents.

Cerebral, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Pretentious

See it if You enjoy virtuoso acting performances, like nonlinear plots, and can tolerate some gratuitous avant-gardeness

Don't see it if You need a linear plot, are looking for depth about Einstein or the brain, expect it to be as good as "The Effect" because that had feeling

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

See it if you love incredible acting, thought-provoking theater that is accessible and engaging.

Don't see it if you are close minded to new ways of approaching stories, or are looking for a traditionally linear story line.

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

See it if You love science. Its one you have to see many times.

Don't see it if You get confused easily.

Absorbing, Great acting

See it if Thought the acting was good, stories flowed and it was just the right length.

Don't see it if The transitional choreography was cringe-worthy. I overheard several people who shared that opinion while I was leaving the theater. Ugh!

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

See it if you want an out of the box play. Story line is a little complex, but interestingly enough, the plot is easy to follow.

Don't see it if you want something light. The 4 actors play multiple characters and the transition is instantaneous, so it requires your full attention.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Masterful, Profound

See it if you want a thought provoking experience that is extremely well acted.

Don't see it if sit-coms are your thing.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Edgy, Great acting

See it if enjoy actors playing multiple roles, Pinter, absurdist theater, great performances

Don't see it if like linear story telling, can't follow complicated plot lines

Absorbing, Intelligent, Intense

See it if you like plays which go back and forth from on subject to another and back again.

Don't see it if want straight narrative.

Absorbing, Dizzying, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You are up for a nonlinear tale that weaves together science, memory, intrigue and heartbreak performed exquisitely by a stellar cast.

Don't see it if You don't like Nick Payne's other work/you need a straightforward plot/you aren't willing to work for it as an audience member

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging

See it if You are into powerful, taut drama that breaks traditional narrative rules by requiring an effort on the audiences part.

Don't see it if You go to the theatre to sit back and relax.

Original, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if you like challenging, occasionally difficult to follow plot lines performed by four extremely gifted actors on a stark but utilitarian set

Don't see it if you're not interested in the brain or mental health, or have difficulty following rapidly ever-changing periods in time, place, and person

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

See it if You love riveting and captivating meditations on life, humanity, and the mind. The performances are masterful and the script is impeccable.

Don't see it if You prefer lighter fare, more ostentatious theater and escapism. Don't see if you don't like minimalism and thought-provoking theater

Cast & Creatives (11)