India Pale Ale
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India Pale Ale

India Pale Ale NYC Reviews and Tickets

(113 Reviews)
Members say
Relevant, Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Ambitious, Quirky

About the Show

In MTC's new comic drama, a tight-knit Punjabi community gathers to celebrate the wedding of a traditional family’s only son, just as their strong-willed daughter announces her plans to move away and open a bar.

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Member Reviews (113)

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Confusing, Disappointing, Resonant, Quirky, Thought-provoking

See it if Backhaus' quirky memory play has it's moments via Davis' fluid handle on cast & staging but never coalesces into a solid drama Clever choreo

Don't see it if Edgy, diffuse only sporadically moving Backhaus' does herself no favors with a bizarre plot twist near the finish; begetting a maudlin close

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Funny, Refreshing, Slow

See it if interested in work by Indian-American writers & actors, like family sagas about tradition vs. new culture, relevant yet heartwarming tale

Don't see it if Don't care about Indian-Americans culture & assimilation, don't like large family sagas, don't want reminders of tragic current events

Slow, Quirky, Disappointing, Indulgent

See it if you enjoy history of different cultures with a dash or two of fiction, as well as the assimilation of cultures in the US & family dynamics.

Don't see it if you want a well written play with fully formed characters; has potential but needs a few more drafts to give it some weight and dimension. Read more

Disappointing, Banal, Excruciating, Insipid, Slow

See it if you know someone in the cast, otherwise stay home.Story has no focus, no through line.I loved that it was about Punjabis & prejudice. But...

Don't see it if you want an honest, clear, thoughtful, entertaining look at life for people of color in America.This ain't it. Pirates? Really?

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Absorbing, Intelligent, Slow

See it if Touching exploration of the Punjabi-American Sikh community in Wisconsin. Gives a look at a little-understood group.

Don't see it if The storylines don't completely make sense. Things are dropped, never to be picked up again. The shocking event may seem contrived.

Ambitious, Indulgent, Quirky, Relevant, Fluffy

See it if you enjoy a brief look into the American-Punjabi-Sikh culture. Treacly ending works in light of recent tragedies

Don't see it if a playful look into American Punjabi Sikh metaphors doesn't appeal, the ending is a bit sappy

Ambitious, Slow, Disappointing, Relevant

See it if you want to see a slow, didactic depiction of an American family seen through a loud, colorful Punjabi lens. I'm glad I went.

Don't see it if you are not interested in a talky, did I say slow, story with a Pirate metaphor that really never works. Read more

Disappointing, Cliched, Dull

See it if You like simple plays, easy to follow, feel good message at end.

Don't see it if You want a significant plot. If you don’t want to be preached at and lectured to, don’t go. Not much in sets. Very repetitious. Read more

Critic Reviews (20)

The New York Times
October 23rd, 2018

“A cheerfully instructive work...Even in its bleakest moments, the dialogue is punctuated with the wholesome teasing and perkiness of a family sitcom. The supporting characters, drawn in the same vein...They’re a likably peppy lot, although all that matey ‘yaaargh-ing’ can get a bit tedious. I’m assuming that Ms. Backhaus deliberately shaped her characters in the mold of familiar domestic comedies to underscore their universality...But they seldom register as fully dimensional beings."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
October 24th, 2018

“It’s not fun to criticize a play like 'India Pale Ale,' which so badly wants to be a model of good citizenship and generosity, and falls so dismally theatrically flat. But from its very opening moments, the sketchily drawn story of the Batra family feels confused about everything from tone to intention to narrative focus...It wanders and hiccups and fails to get any sort of real emotional foothold, then latches onto a tragedy in order to catapult its engineless plot forward.."
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The Hollywood Reporter
October 23rd, 2018

"Badly in need of further development...There's very little plot to speak of...There are some amusing moments...But the relentless quirkiness and didactic speechifying reveal a playwright trying much too hard, and neither director Will Davis' amateurish staging nor the ensemble's uneven performances help matters. ‘India Pale Ale’ concludes with a lovely offering to the audience but it's not enough to compensate for the otherwise empty feeling this ‘promising’ work leaves.”
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October 23rd, 2018

“A play that has more "teachable moments" than genuine ones...This urgency to moralize only keeps us at arm's length from the family with which we're supposed to be breaking down barriers...The events that unfold neither support each other nor carry their own tension...You feel Backhaus hint at the friction between Americanization and Punjabi tradition, and then immediately withdraw as if to avoid the implication that those two things are incompatible.”
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Lighting & Sound America
November 9th, 2018

“’India Pale Ale’ is all exhortation and no drama. The family relationships are not explored, and most of the characters are one-dimensional: The women gossip about relationships while making food, and Boz's brother and ex-boyfriend are a pair of stereotypical bros...In many ways, the play turns on Boz's relationship to her father, but the character barely exists...Everyone is fine, but nobody makes a strong impression...Davis' direction is pacey but lacking in nuance.”
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Talkin' Broadway
October 25th, 2018

“What ‘India Pale Ale’ isn't good at is exposition. That, and organization. Jaclyn Backhaus's drama, an immersive plunge into the deep end of Punjabi culture as transplanted to the present-day U.S., has some rewards down the pike, specifically in the handsomeness of MTC’s production and the revealing to us mainstreamers of an unfamiliar, singular subculture. You just have to take some unprepossessing side roads to get to all that...You just wish it were laid out more clearly.”
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New York Stage Review
October 23rd, 2018

“Often lively, certainly sincere but ultimately lightweight play, which is well directed by Will Davis, and obviously produced by Manhattan Theatre Club as an antidote to today’s promulgated-from-the-oval-office divisiveness and its too often-homicidal repercussions...Despite the rather sizable complication, the play slides to a likable and conciliatory but not sufficiently deep, conclusion...There’s no arguing with the cast’s performances or Davis’ overseeing them."
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November 8th, 2018

“Jaclyn Backhaus' ‘India Pale Ale’ is a revealing window on a world not usually seen on our stages. Unfortunately, the play often feels like it is written in a private language and that this family story is of things we are not privy to like the son Jol who no one will talk about but we eventually find out that he moved to India where he died young. As a result, the play seems longer than its actual running time. Backhaus may still be too close to her material to have had an objectivity.”
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October 23rd, 2018

“A vibrant and authentic portrait of a modern American family. It's magnetically staged...Some exuberant Punjabi dances are as much a part of ‘India Pale Ale's’ authenticity as the Indian foods prepared in the scenes that bookend its first and final act — the first is a celebration, the final one is a more somber attempt to heal the pain of a terrible fact-based event that leaves us to contemplate a poignant and all too relevant message...A first class production.”
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Front Row Center
October 25th, 2018

“Touches the issues of hate crime and terrorism in an entertaining and fun manner...The music and choreography were lively and fun. The writing is humorous, witty and reflects the happy-go-lucky attitude of Punjabis. All the actors were strong in inhabiting their characters with a lot of humor...An ambitious play with a lot of potential, albeit not as impactful, in its current version. There is too much going on in the play,..An entertaining and important play."
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Front Mezz Junkies
October 30th, 2018

"Ffar too earnest and desperate in its socially conscious narrative to permit any sense of ease or pleasure in its indulgence...Needs a stronger and more personal narrative that didn’t feel plucked from a handbook...I feel the playwright trying to grab hold of our hearts and although my fond affection stays strong and caring, my engagement is stalled. Too many issues tossed my way, left me feeling dizzy and disconnected...I believe in the cause but not the product being sold.”
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November 2nd, 2018

“A collection of ‘teachable moments’. Some of the lessons are rather unimportant though interesting...The play itself bears responsibility for disengagement from its thematic development...The intra-family dysfunction distract from the primary dramatic arc...The cast fiercely inhabits their characters...That said, ‘India Pale Ale’ remains a stalwart attempt to ‘see’ and ‘understand’ and to stay woke to the social injustices extant outside the doors of the theater.”
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New York Theater
October 28th, 2018

"Much of this is fascinating, as are the delightful scenes that glimpse that culture — the family preparing a meal after services; their lively, elaborate dancing...The paradox of the play is that, in its effort to make the case that none of us are The Other, it assumes that is how the audience will treat the characters...Yet, if there’s an unfortunate pedantic undertone to 'India Pale Ale,' there is ultimately a hopefulness to the play that we couldn’t need more right now."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
October 29th, 2018

"The play...for all its occasional charms, will remain memorable more for the occasion of its performance than for its contribution to dramatic literature…A high-energy blend of heightened realism and bold fantasy…The actors are all good, Shazi Raja being especially promising, but everyone works a little too hard at being amusingly appealing…I smiled more than I laughed but was consistently entertained, even during the more contrived and awkward parts."
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Wolf Entertainment Guide
October 26th, 2018

"It is at once educational about Punjabi-Americans, including their culture and heritage, and also a plea for understanding and peaceful relations between people...While the play is best when showing intimately the Batra family members and their lives, the playwright also goes in for fantasy numbers attempting to show the heritage linking to pirate ancestors...At moments the ploy becomes downright silly...The interplay between visiting Tim and the Batra amusing and hopeful"
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Stage Left
October 28th, 2018

“The characters are lovable, if mostly two-dimensional...At turns humorous, magical, musical, and poignant, ‘India Pale Ale’ feels too self-consciously tooled to educate its mostly-white audience about a subgroup of Americans they might not know—a noble cause in this time of increasing division and discord that ultimately makes for a rather flat and didactic emotional experience. I wish the play hewed more toward its fantastical impulses than its literalism."
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Daily Beast
October 23rd, 2018

“This...production comes to us less in anger than understanding; this uneven and unfocused play wants to reach out...The play moves in odd currents...The act of violence...feels imposed...Tonally, there is no lead-up...It feels inserted for incident, and the portraits of grief and reconstruction afterwards feel bitty and incomplete...A similar lack of coherence haunts the direction...A tangle of good intentions and cultural politics do not always a good play make.”
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City Cabaret
November 7th, 2018

"Backhaus' discerning 'India Pale Ale' takes place in the middle of America where the third-generation Batra family lives...Through her performance, Shazi Raza's portrayal of Boz is inhabited with energy, determination and ferver...Although 'India Pale Ale' is more lightweight than heavy drama, it is sincere and brimming with good vibes, delivering an evident message at this divisive time, especially coming after the Pittsburgh attack on worshippers only days before."
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Diandra Reviews it All
October 25th, 2018

"Beautifully directed by Davis and poignantly written by Backhaus, 'India Pale Ale' may present itself as a comedy but, in truth, it is a drama with a few laughs...While the first act of the play charms with legends of pirates and a langar/ Engagement Party that makes you adore the Batra family, Act Two leaves you in complete mourning, which is the point. You have to love someone to truly be saddened for their loss, and through elements of magical realism...Act Two pulses through your heart."
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October 24th, 2018

"It’s crammed full of everything...You are constantly taken by surprise with a narrative that keeps expanding and evolving...Davis’s direction and choreography is lush, adventurous, and captivating. The staging is inventive and he inspires a sense of urgency in the performers to grapple with the text and make it fly...Davis has crafted a highly entertaining yet deeply rooted, emotionally intense production."
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