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Kunstler

Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent
81
Critics
78
16 reviews
Members
83
36 reviews
 

The Creative Place International in association with AND Theatre Company present a biographical drama about radical attorney and civil rights activist William Kunstler, played by Jeff McCarthy.

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Famous for defending the Chicago 7 and his involvement at Attica and Wounded Knee, Kunstler had an outsize personality and a tremendous appetite for life. In this two-character play, tensions flare when he arrives on a college campus to give a seminar. The brilliant young law student assigned to introduce him objects to his appearance. Has Kunstler finally met his match?

 

Cast & Creatives (6)



Reviews (52)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
78
Avg Score

90
BroadwayWorld

“A compelling portrayal of the high-profile trial lawyer…This fascinating production provides a unique insight into Kunstler's life and times. With superb staging, this two-hander features the impeccable acting talents of Jeff McCarthy and Nambi E. Kelley...McCarthy's stunning performance brings William Kunstler and his bombastic personality to life right before your eyes....Regardless of your opinion of Kunstler, you will find 'Kunstler' to be a captivating and entertaining show.” Full Review

70
Lighting & Sound America

"The best thing about Sweet's new play is McCarthy...He is thoroughly convincing...For much of the running time, Sweet is content to follow the Dead Celebrity Playhouse method, allowing Kunstler to review his judicial greatest hits...All of this is engaging, but because 'Kunstler' tries to cover so many cases, each ends up receiving cursory treatment, and...the stories begin to pall...Still...I imagine that plenty of people will thrill to stories from the days when liberalism was on the rise." Full Review

90
Theatre's Leiter Side

"Kunstler is the subject of Sweet's mesmerizing play of that name, sharply directed by Fay...brought to life in a strikingly magnetic performance by McCarthy...McCarthy electrifies the audience with Kunstler's brilliance, his passion, and his ability to recount his inside and outside the courtroom antics with verve, commitment, and humor...It's simply excellent theatre, with a magnificent central character given a splendid performance in a consistently engrossing tale." Full Review

80
CurtainUp

"McCarthy nails the man's overall persona with an almost uncanny authenticity...A well-crafted and smartly organized script that's infused with generous dollops of humor...The narrative is detailed enough to serve as a colorful history lesson for the younger generations. For older viewers, the play will rekindle their own memories of the Civil Rights days, the Vietnam protests and Watergate scandals. Mr. Sweet's vivid integration of so many of these historic events is remarkable." Full Review

45
Theatre Reviews Limited

"The primary difficulty with 'Kunstler' is playwright Jeffrey Sweet’s script itself...Mr. McCarthy’s performance energy seems to rise and fall with the irregularities in the script and Meagen Fay’s direction is apparently not strong enough nor consistent enough to keep the action moving forward on an even keel...'Kunstler' does provide moments of interesting narrative: one just needs to lower one’s overall expectations to appreciate those moments." Full Review

45
TheaterScene.net

"A strangely miscast lead actor is the chief flaw of this unsatisfying bio-drama...Director Fay emphasizes the vaudeville elements of the play and has McCarthy in full throttle, but does slow the pace down for the serious portions. Sometimes it’s too slow as tedium periodically sets in...Kunstler was a formidable and colorful figure who was involved with a number of historic incidents. He is certainly worthy of dramatization, but 'Kunstler' is overall a missed opportunity to do so." Full Review

80
Talkin' Broadway

"'Kunstler' stars Jeff McCarthy, masterfully exuding charm and a kind of shaggy elitism...For much of the 90-minute production, you are in the hands of a master storyteller...Under Meagen Fay's direction, the production is a lively exploration of the celebrated lawyer...It's these more subtle elements that elevate and give depth to the proceedings and make it a worthy evening of theater, whether you are a Baby Boomer, a Gen X-er or a Millennial." Full Review

85
Woman Around Town

"Playwright Jeffrey Sweet’s portrait of Kunstler is as entertaining as it is riveting...Jeff McCarthy lopes down the aisle, white mane in permanent flight. Inhabiting Kunstler like a second skin, the actor delivers tirades as credibly as ba-dump-dump jokes...Director Meagen Fay gives us a living breathing man, humanity and idiosyncrasies intact. Stage business is subtle, pacing is pitch perfect." Full Review

90
Front Row Center

"'Kunstler' excels at every level, bringing alive not only a famous character, but the era in which he lived and the controversies in which he played so lively a part...In the hands of the playwright, Kunstler’s compelling eye-witness account of five tragic days in Attica prison in September of 1971 in itself makes this theatrical experience worthwhile...It is a fitting compliment to 'Kunstler' to say that Kunstler, the theatrical iconoclast, would approve. So will you." Full Review

80
Theatre is Easy

"A riveting, if rambling, 90-minute trip down memory lane…McCarthy beautifully channels Kunstler's tendency to blur the line between self-deprecation and arrogance. It’s a warts-and-all production and Kunstler acknowledges both the compulsive womanizing that ended his first marriage and the innumerable personal and political gaffes that he made." Full Review

95
BlogCritics.org

"Much of his character is revealed, indeed uncannily inherent, in the profound and inspired performance by Jeff McCarthy in the title role...'Kunstler' is superb primarily because of McCarthy’s incisive portrayal and because of the playwright’s selection of the groundbreaking moments in Kunstler’s life...Very fine direction by Meagen Fay...The play is vibrantly drawn...I cannot praise this production enough. It is a walk through history that evokes today’s political and social climate." Full Review

75
Off Script with Dan Dwyer

"Sweet smartly eschews a one-man show...The most informative, fascinating, and yes, entertaining, 90-minute trip through the Vietnam era...Sweet’s character study is most remarkable for saying what it says without being didactic. Besides playwright, Sweet is an author and journalist. It shows. Sweet lets Kunstler and the record speak for themselves. And in so doing, 'Kunstler,' gives renewed voice for the fight for civil rights that still needs to be fought." Full Review

60
Off Off Online

"After a strong beginning, 'Kunstler' settles down into a wandering monologue, and leaves some vital questions about its subject insufficiently answered. Still, this Kunstler-at-law is lively company...Encouraged by director Meagen Fay to break down that blasted fourth wall, McCarthy keeps wandering into the audience, hugging people, handing them fragments of speeches he’s written down. It’s a showboating performance...It’s more of a lecture than a play." Full Review

90
Theater Pizzazz

"Quick! Don’t dally!! Race to get tickets for 'Kunstler,' the splendid play by Jeffrey Sweet featuring a dazzling, the-sky’s-the-limit performance by Jeff McCarthy...The work is inventively and most effectively directed by Meagen Fay...This work could easily have become a shrill screed. But thanks to the skill of the author and the charm of the actor it’s a fascinating theater experience, as well as being educational." Full Review

85
Stage Buddy

"Playwright Sweet offers up a clever script exposing a fascinating behind-the-scenes account of what really went down during these high profile cases...McCarthy plays Kunstler with passion and vigor, seducing the audience with his colorful portrayal of the often misunderstood man...Director Meagen Fay makes excellent use of the space, allowing her actors free rein to channel the energy of the auditorium, keeping the flow and pace always interesting and spontaneous." Full Review

90
Andy B Sports

"It is not that big a stretch to say Jeff McCarthy IS Kunstler, as his riveting performance in 'Kunstler' transformed me back in time...Both McCarthy and Kelley, alone and together, give us great insight and revelations about events, many seminal, in which Kunstler was an integral part. There is much I learned and there is a terrific, revealing, heartfelt conclusion to this superb play, about a man that truly engaged on behalf of causes." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
83
Avg Score

85
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if you want to see Jeff McCarthy give the performance of his career!

Don't see it if you want to hear about some of Kunstler's well-known cases given a cursory treatment.

86
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Relevant

See it if You like dramas that remind of us recent history, particularly of icons who influenced a dark era in a positive/negative way.

Don't see it if You don't care to know anything more about William Kunstler and the history of liberal movements of the 60's & 70's.

100
Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Thought provoking, Contemporary

See it if Serious theater goers who like to see realistic drama.It is engrossing.You can relate to the characters.It will be playing in Pittsfield Ma

Don't see it if You only like musicals or happy endings.

88
Great acting, Great writing

See it if You are of the 60's, and remember the headline lawyer. McCarthy completely embodies Kunstler. Younger, you may enjoy learning some history.

Don't see it if You want action, a story, progress. What you get is a re-enaction of an invented event. No drama, but tension and compelling performance.

90
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant

See it if You are old enough to remember who Kunstler was and the huge part he played in American legal history i.e. Vietnam Nam era, civil rights era

Don't see it if You don't like small cast shows. There are only 2 actors. You need costumes and scenery to enjoy a show. You have no interest in legal event

Also I loved this show ! I was right in the midst of all the legal history ... Read more Read less

57
Intelligent, Resonant, Fine

See it if You are older and enjoy reliving the history and learning some interesting details. Humor was attempted and sometimes successful.

Don't see it if You aren't interested in seeing a high energy lecture on many of the cases Kunstler was involved with. Format of play was lazy and spare.

70
Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You enjoy what is largely passionate storytelling, exploration of the highs/lows of due process/our legal system and mechanisms of change

Don't see it if You want rich interactions among the characters or a large production; it is not memorable and didn't spur discussion afterwards

91
Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant

See it if A very interesting look back at the life and times of noted and controversial activist lawyer, William Kunstler, mostly in the form of ...

Don't see it if a lecture to law students, from civil rights movement, to Chicago 7, to Central Park 5; gives a real sense of the man and what he did.

81
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant

See it if Excellent character exploration of a remarkable and principled civil rights lawyer. Terrific performance by McCarthy.

Don't see it if You want a more ground-breaking play or dislike memories of a fading but hopeful liberal era.

88
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if It was educational and, absorbing.

Don't see it if You don't like think pieces.

85
Clever, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if You want to be entranced by a brilliant portrayal of a brilliant man. You like small, spare, and essentially one-man shows

Don't see it if You don't care about interesting New York characters from another era.

Also Despite the gum-chewing armrest-hogger to my left, I was still riveted... Read more Read less

84
Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you are interested in history and enjoy a two-person play.

Don't see it if you want to see more interaction between the actors, more dramatic or challenging play

85
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant

See it if You like plays based on actual people and events. You are given a history lesson as well as an explanation of morality for different people.

Don't see it if You don't like watching essentially one person monolaguing explaining his career and past.

95
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful, Relevant

See it if You like theatre based on real-life people and real problems.

Don't see it if You prefer theatre where helicopters land on stage or cats dance for your amusement.

100
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Profound, Relevant, Great writing

See it if DOn't just go to see it - run!

Don't see it if You're an elderly person who can't hear well. There is a lot of information coming at you and you need to be able to follow

97
Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense, Relevant, Riveting

See it if History lovers

Don't see it if You don't want to listen to the words

91
Funny, Absorbing, Delightful, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You are interested in history, biography, social issues.

Don't see it if You are bored by intelligent things

100
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing, Great staging

See it if Solid professional theatre - the real deal, especially at these prices!

Don't see it if If you are politically conservative

100
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if Great

Don't see it if You want mindless entertainment

80
During previews
Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if you're interested in the career of William Kunstler.

Don't see it if you're not interested in the career of William Kunstler.

80
During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if you like intense drama, mostly a monologue, based on historical/criminal incidents, reenactment of a lawyer's courtroom actions

Don't see it if you don't enjoy mostly monologue in a small theater setting, topics involving race, liberal points of view. you want a happy uplifting show

Also "Kunstler's part was well played. Supporting actress- minor character-... Read more Read less

86
During previews
Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if You enjoy strong one man shows with interesting content.

Don't see it if You don't like one man shoes or civil liberty content.

88
During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You have any interest in the law, particularly movement law, or the events Kunstler was associated with.

Don't see it if You dislike stories about court cases or civil rights.

90
During previews
Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you want to be challenged as well as entertained. It's a masterful and intimate performance, and the material is timely and complex.

Don't see it if you want fluffy entertainment or a big Broadway spectacle. It's in dramatized lecture format; be prepared to pay attention to every word.

75
During previews
Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Riveting, Well acted

See it if you want to hear Wm K tell his best war stories. Painful reminders of major missteps in Amer History....extra important to remember now.

Don't see it if you're bothered by a lecture format. This is barely theater, altho the content makes up for the form. Starts out slow, but picks up speed.