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The Layover

Members say: Great acting, Disappointing, Absorbing, Great staging, Clever
68
Critics
61
26 reviews
Members
69
142 reviews
 

Second Stage Theatre presents Leslye Headland's new play about strangers connecting during an unanticipated layover.

... Read more

Ever wonder who that stranger is sitting next to you? What's their story? What are they hiding? Shellie and Dex dare to answer these questions after their flight is delayed on a snowy Thanksgiving night. What they discover about themselves, and each other, sends both of their lives into upheaval. From the darkly funny writer of 'Bachelorette,' 'Layover' asks the question: Can you ever really get to know somebody when you're hiding so much yourself?

 

Cast & Creatives (13)



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Reviews (168)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
61
Avg Score

35
The New York Times

"Has anyone ever enjoyed a layover? Either it is nerve-janglingly short or grindingly long. 'The Layover,' a disappointing new play by Leslye Headland, achieves the novel feat of being both at the same time. Running a little more than 90 minutes, it doesn’t succeed in bringing us deeply into the lives of its principal characters. And yet we don’t exactly leave pining for more of their company...Ms. Headland has muffled her comic verve almost completely in this play." Full Review

85
Theatermania

"A beguiling and unsettling new play…By adopting and then slowly subverting this well-worn genre, Headland slyly exposes just how toxic our societal narratives of ‘love at first sight’ and the grand gesture can be…Headland asks some very important questions about the incongruity between reality and the stories we tell ourselves…These questions will nag you as you leave the theater and beyond." Full Review

55
Variety

"Leslye Headland’s attempt to write a neo-noir erotic thriller comes up lame in 'The Layover.' Despite the fine sexual chemistry generated by Annie Parisse and Adam Rothenberg, the play can’t overcome the scribe’s clumsy reworking of the vintage formula. Lacking those generic plot thrills, this half-baked erotic teaser is no more than mildly entertaining." Full Review

60
BroadwayWorld

"There's the thrill of meeting an attractive stranger, the hint of an erotic encounter that develops more into sexual mind games, and, most effectively of all, crackling good dialogue that keeps the characters on their toes...The first third of her 90-minute play is by far the best…If the muddy remainder of 'The Layover' never lives up to the intrigue of its setup, Cullman's slick production is swift and well-played. But alas, some one-night stands are best ended after one night." Full Review

35
New York Magazine / Vulture

"The plot becomes etiolated as it scrambles after excuses for itself, and, worse, the characters, constantly reshaped to support a crumbling conceit, wind up resembling, despite the best efforts of the actors Adam Rothenberg and Annie Parisse, no human form. Under Trip Cullman’s direction the supporting cast, given some truly vile material to carry off, doesn’t...The Hitchcockian concept, compounded by its weak execution, reveals a problem: a greater interest in ideas than in people." Full Review

40
Village Voice

"The first few scenes of 'The Layover' are its best. There's heat and promise, aggression and suggestion. If the play had ended here, a swift erotic encounter between strangers on a plane, it would have been a welcome diversion from the workaday world...But it's not hardboiled stylization that follows: just poorly written realism. Once the pair parts, Headland's ear deserts her; Parisse and Rothenberg, too, turn strangely wooden. The ease of the play's first section turns flat." Full Review

85
Time Out New York

"Trip Cullman’s gorgeous-looking and boldly acted production delivers the play in optimal form: racy laughs that suddenly trail into passages of eloquent pain and loss...True, the character contrivances required by her plot may rankle afterward—and might have been mitigated by retroactive exposition or a more fragmented performance by Parisse...But with Headland, even when the roof caves in, that seems part of the design—and the fun." Full Review

45
Lighting & Sound America

"The darker and more twisted the action becomes, the more 'The Layover' loses interest...As suspense builds, then dissipates, 'The Layover' feels like an aimless walk on the wild side, a clinical study of psychosexual dysfunction that doesn't convince and never compels...Headland is a clever writer...But she never gives us a plausible reason for getting involved in Shellie and Dex's dangerous dance. They are at their most intriguing when we know nothing about them." Full Review

55
Front Row Center

"The first half of this play is filled with intrigue. Once Shellie and Dex turn up in their own lives, the intrigue falls flat as a pancake...The script spreads the story so wide that it is difficult to keep track of the proceedings...Ms. Headland tosses in layers of plot twists that spin out of control and take way too long to become so. We are left exhausted and orphaned. And not believing 99% of what we just saw." Full Review

35
The Hollywood Reporter

"The author's ambitions slip out of her grasp as she attempts to riff on the kind of adulterous intrigue that was the domain of Patricia Highsmith...The result is a play that resembles a hijacked flight, taking too many jerky detours before crashing…The play's logic has begun to crumble well before its misjudged final scene...Nothing that comes before suggests that was the story Headland set out to tell, making 'The Layover' seem both ill-conceived and thematically incoherent." Full Review

55
Broadway Blog

“Once the setup is clear, the play is unable to maintain its footing; neither leading character’s life is interesting or unique enough to keep the dramatic cauldron boiling. (The theme of lies vs. truth is far more compellingly evoked in ‘Caught,’ at La Mama.) The several moments of steaming sensuality between the lovers simply aren’t enough to compensate for 'The Layover'’s multiple implausibilities...if you visit ‘The Layover’: fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be a bumpy night.” Full Review

85
The Huffington Post

"An irresistibly intriguing new play...If Parisse and Rothenberg are to 'The Layover' what Roman and Granger are to 'Strangers on a Train,' they’re just as effective as their celluloid predecessors. They’re decidedly sexy in the sex scenes, and the emoting in the later sequences is equally effective. Trip Cullman is the director getting them down and dirty...He also reaps plenty from the other four cast members who might easily have come off as two-dimensional but don’t." Full Review

80
Talkin' Broadway

"Her blackest and probing work yet...She plumbs this scenario for all its confused morality and emotions...Cullman has rendered this with terrifying clarity, emphasizing both the passionate heat and the chilling dangers that result from the assignation and its aftermath...Rothenberg and Parisse are perfect in their roles...If this play occasionally wants to be too droningly talky for its own good, it's difficult to imagine much better questions than the ones Headland so arrestingly asks." Full Review

60
Deadline

"Headland writes snappy, caustic dialogue—the repartee here is pretty great—yet I found much of what was being said defied credibility...Shellie and Dex seem, ultimately, more like an author’s conceit than actual characters. The abrupt shocker that concludes the play only confirmed my sense that Headland wasn’t in control of the story and, by the end, simply threw in the towel. Or maybe I just didn’t get it. Still, the show was never boring." Full Review

65
CurtainUp

"Ms. Headland has applied her knack for smart and often funny dialogue to her own twisty 'Strangers On the Train' spin-off...'Layover' becomes flat-footed once the initial interchanges predictably evolve from strangers-on-the-plane chatter into a bedroom scene. It does regain its footing at the tense beginning of the final scene, but not long enough to avoid a too contrived, unsatisfying crash landing...That said, the entire cast is outstanding." Full Review

50
Front Mezz Junkies

"The film noir concept has a driving force, playing with our, and their desire to believe in the fantasies of another that are concocted based on first impressions and storytelling…But sadly, Headland loses sight of where to take this, and how far to run with it. Parisse is brilliant in the last scene…But ultimately the play falters here...We are left feeling the same as Dex, disappointed and confused, wondering how all of this lead to this final mise en scene." Full Review

87
TheaterScene.net

“Leslye Headland’s latest play, ‘The Layover’, is a taut psychological thriller told in an updated film noir style. Trip Cullman, who has directed all of her New York productions, has made the play a tour de force of tension and unease. As acted by Annie Parisse, Adam Rothenberg, Amelia Workman, John Procaccino and Quincy Dunn-Baker, the tone is marvelously sustained. The only fly in the ointment is the ending which will take you entirely by surprise and may feel unmotivated.” Full Review

85
The Wrap

"The opening scenes of ‘The Layover’ recall Nichols and May at their most inspired. Our expectations keep being subverted in hilarious ways that say much about men and women and how they mate. And why they lie to each other. 'The Layover' ends in scenes that hark back to Brecht’s observation that it’s a perverse God who made the organs of lovemaking and excrement the same. That’s quite a journey to take in only 100 minutes, and no theatergoer should miss it." Full Review

85
CitiTour

"A dark-hued, thoroughly unsettling drama...Headland has a very sharp ear for dialogue, a keen eye for detail, and a nose for getting at the heart of human relationships in all their complexities. Trip Cullman directs the 100-minute work with smart pacing and an enviable flair for not telegraphing what comes next…The ever lovely Parisse naturally engenders sympathy (or at least empathy) no matter what her circumstance or action, which goes a long way to making the play work so well." Full Review

80
WNBC

"A taut and twisty psychological thriller…'The Layover' takes a bit long getting to its payoff, a problem that might be resolved by trimming back some detail on the secondary characters. By and large, it’s a sophisticated, sad story about how well we can intimately know someone. One wonders if Headland, whose own wedding is at hand, was exorcising demons." Full Review

45
Broadway & Me

"Leslye Headland may have written 'The Layover' because she wanted to see if she could recreate a film noir onstage. Maybe she did, but she didn't make a good one...The borrowed atmosphere just serves to underscore what's missing...As happens so often, the actors ride to the rescue and almost save the evening—but not quite. Annie Parisse seems incapable of giving a bad performance no matter what she's given to do...And Adam Rothenberg is equally appealing as Dex." Full Review

55
NY1

"This is a case of style over substance...While Headland is clearly a smart writer, it feels as if she's over-reaching with this story, contriving more depth than the narrative can handle...Cullman’s compelling staging compensates for the play’s weaknesses with excellent technical designs and a splendid cast. Annie Parisse and Adam Rothenberg engage us from start to finish, even as the play veers off course. Bottom line: it’s a first class production of an economy class play." Full Review

45
Act Three - The Reviews

"The first 30 minutes were engaging, absorbing, and mysterious; the second 30 minutes were dull, directionless, and meandering. The last 30 minutes were flat-out bizarre, culminating in a most unexpected and incongruent ending...It was the equivalent of reading a Mary Higgins Clark mystery on the beach. Starring the always engaging Annie Parisse (Shellie) and the dashing Adam Rothenberg (Dex), this show started out with much promise but devolved into a bizarre ending." Full Review

45
Theater Pizzazz

"Thank God for chemistry. As embodied by Annie Parisse and Adam Rothenberg in 'The Layover,' it keeps Leslye Headland’s puzzling play at a more than comfortable cruising altitude...Then chemistry gives way to physics, and what goes up must come down. But does it have to come down with such a crashing thud?...For the first three scenes, writer, director, and actors shine. It’s all simple and direct. But throw a couple of more characters into the mix and watch out." Full Review

40
WNYC

"Did he want something to start? Did she? What lies are OK to tell to strangers? These are all interesting questions, made crisply exciting by Trip Cullman's sleek direction. But while Headland touches on them briefly, she doesn't look at the 'whys' in depth. Instead, 'The Layover' is part dark comedy, part murky thriller. We know something bad is going to happen because of some heavy foreshadowing. But when that something bad does happen, it's neither unexpected nor revelatory." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
69
Avg Score

64
Banal, Cliched, Entertaining

See it if you bought a subscription to 2ST in order to secure a ticket to Dear Evan Hansen.

Don't see it if there's something else to do/see

62
Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if you like mysterious, edgy, thriller relationship plays

Don't see it if you aren't into thrillers

75
Ambitious, Clever, Romantic, Disappointing

See it if You like relationship based, quirky shows.

Don't see it if Can't suspend your disbelief.

78
Clever, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if You appreciate the interesting work at second stage.

Don't see it if You are really good at guessing the end of detective novels.

75
Absorbing, Romantic, Disappointing

See it if you've ever wondered what those 2 attractive strangers across from you are talking about.

Don't see it if you need a moral. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to get from the unhappy lives that this play gives hope to and then demolishes.

64
Absorbing, Clever, Riveting, Banal, Entertaining

See it if If you like dark comedies.

Don't see it if If you don't like plays or would prefer something more original.

30
Ambitious, Clever, Thought-provoking, Indulgent, Disappointing

See it if you have nothing better to do. The premise is interesting and the first part has promise but it degenerates into melodrama and emptiness

Don't see it if you care about theater being well crafted with an intelligent point of view. This is frustrating because it is an idea that never developes

67
Dark, Absorbing, Ambitious, Disappointing, Cliched

See it if you like crime stories and trying to figure out mysteries. You like plays about affairs and their attendant drama. Fantastic set.

Don't see it if you don't like dark material. You don't like plays that try to do too much and then fail. Kernels of brilliance, ultimately banal.

Also I really wish I'd been able to see this show with Annie Parisse. This ... Read more Read less

54
Edgy, Intense, Slow

See it if You like suspense and a good twist

Don't see it if you aren't an adventurous theatergoer

81
Clever, Great acting

See it if like good acting and an intriguing plot. It certainly is engaging although the resolution leaves food for thought.

Don't see it if you are not engaged by situations which create a bit of mystery and suspense as the play progresses.

70
Ambitious, Clever, Edgy, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if You enjoy solid acting in a great linear story that keeps you guessing as to what might happen and shocks you at the end.

Don't see it if You don't like stories that feel real. Or don't feel like being taken for a ride that is going to dump you somewhere other then you thought.

66
Absorbing, Edgy, Romantic, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if you enjoy a show about a chance encounter developing into a dramatic, complicated situation

Don't see it if you don't like shows about sex and infidelity, and profanity

Also The show intrigues you from the beginning, drawing you in for most of ... Read more Read less

60
Boring, Confusing, Disappointing, Insipid, Forgettable

See it if adultery is a theme that interests you.

Don't see it if you're looking for something fresh or just generally well written (this is not).

50
Dizzying, Edgy, Intense, Confusing, Slow

See it if You don't mind waiting one hour for the real plot to show up.

Don't see it if You don't like shows about cheating or sudden violent outburst.

58
Ambitious, Great acting, Disappointing

See it if I solid first act that fizzles hard in the second.

Don't see it if Ok to skip this one.

91
Great acting, Must see, Refreshing, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if see amazing actors perform an entertaining plot. Maria and Adam had great chemistry. Me and friends were pleasantly surprised. Great Staging

Don't see it if had or victim of an affair. Can't sit still for 90 minutes. Don't like great acting and great shows.

30
Confusing, Slow, Poorly written, First section is good then it's all downhill

See it if you want to experience how 90 minutes can feel like an eternity. Why didn't the director or the dramaturge assist the writer?

Don't see it if you have other plays to see. This one is not memorable.

75
Ambitious, Clever, Profound

See it if You like an interesting mystery story that keeps you intrigued throughout

Don't see it if You don't like mysteries

69
Funny, Great acting, Slow, Great staging, Great set

See it if you want to see a fairly interesting, modern look at wanting to escape the life you lead. Some really strong acting here.

Don't see it if you want to see a show that makes a strange turn in the final scene, that just doesn't feel right.

65
Ambitious, Great acting, Confusing, Disappointing, Ending?

See it if you want to see the actors

Don't see it if you want a major zag from the first act not well resolved

60
Indulgent, Banal

See it if Are bored

Don't see it if Are expecting something edgy

66
Confusing, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if you like twist endings. Story builds to an somewhat interesting and confusing ending.

Don't see it if The story does not make much sense. Short scenes. Ending contrived. Two families are over the top.

40
Confusing, Disappointing, Slow

See it if You really love Maria Dizzia (who is now starring in place of Annie Parisse) or Adam Rothenberg. Good performances despite the script.

Don't see it if You're looking for a show that is in any way, shape or form believable, interesting or coherent. It's a bit of a mess.

Also Leslye Headland is a brilliant writer but this one is a miss. The plot... Read more Read less

16
Boring, Raunchy, Banal, Insipid, Slow

See it if you have no relationship to reality.

Don't see it if you like characters that are consistent and make sense any you like being bored.

80
Original, Profound, Satirical, Hilarious, Challenging

See it if You like dark comedy and dramatic irony. The writer pokes fun at people doing ridiculous things to take a break from their commitments.

Don't see it if You don't like satirical relationship scenes. The play rambles a bit, but is mostly witty while posing serious questions.