New York | 1h 30m | Already closed

The Layover

From 26 critic and 143 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Disappointing, Absorbing, Great staging, Clever

About the show

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

Reviewing The Drama

"Through noir tropes, and with the aid of Trip Cullman's incisive direction, Headland explores relationships and gender roles. She presents us with discussions of love and murder, leaving us to draw our own interpretations...Parisse is captivating…Rothenberg is entirely appealing as Dex…’The Layover’ is a wholly intriguing play, with plenty of Headland's dark humor providing color and commentary." Full Review


“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


"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

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

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


"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

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

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


"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


"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


"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


"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

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


"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

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


"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

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

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

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

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

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

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


"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

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

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

Ambitious, Absorbing, Great acting, Edgy, Intelligent

See it if If you like compelling suspenseful dramas.

Don't see it if You're looking for happily ever after.

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

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.

Absorbing, Intense, Great acting

See it if you enjoy "film noir" (they're calling the play "neo-noir") and you want to see some intensely good acting!

Don't see it if you want clear heroes and villains. Be ready to work hard - it's a world in which characters can tell the truth and lie at the same time.

Clever, Funny, Entertaining, Intense, Original

See it if you like things that have no intermission and are shorter than most musicals. Don't mind there being no singing. Theres a holy shit ending

Don't see it if you want singing and dancing. something light.

Edgy, Thought-provoking, Genre-upending, Murky, Slow burn

See it if u want to explore themes of projections/realities, desire/lust, blurriness of self/other in relationships, genre- esp. noir & "love stories"

Don't see it if u want to take play at face-value. Processing reveals gratifying subversive take on gender, self, predation, "love" & need/wish fulfillment.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if You want to see some fine acting in a play that will hold your interest until the end

Don't see it if You're not a drama fan

Engaging, sharp, funny, suspenseful, clever

See it if I would have given this more points, but thought the ending was disappointing. See it if you like smart dialogue &"Strangers on a Train."

Don't see it if You are looking to go to a musical or big Broadway show.

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

See it if Like couples' dramas about betrayal; have ever wanted to escape a humdrum life and seek adventure and face unexpected consequences

Don't see it if You are very moral and dislike plays with sexual overtones; Recently broke up a relationship; Cannot watch elder abuse Have trust issues

Clever, Great acting, Original, Quirky, Edgy

See it if Ignore the bad reviews if you like original plays that don't fit the usual mold with great acting that make your brain work.

Don't see it if You like things cut & dry, hate swearing and are naive enough to think that people don't have affairs and fantasies.

Clever, Great acting, Original

See it if Great writing with great acting in a play that hooks you from the beginning. It provokes some thoughts and how you deal with life.

Don't see it if you don't like surprises and sudden twists in stories.

Profound, Original, Slow, Funny, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy dark comedy, are forgiving of sections that drag on, and like shows with philosophical messages and dramatic irony.

Don't see it if You're uncomfortable with exaggerated explicitness being used for satire, or if you're looking for a happy show.

Great acting, Edgy, Riveting, Thought-provoking

See it if You like noir, suspense, and great acting. Annie Parisse was fantastic!

Don't see it if You don't like psychological suspense stories or adultery.

Great acting, Quirky, Entertaining, Dark, Absorbing

See it if You want to see a diverting and entertaining show. All of the performances were excellent.

Don't see it if You want to see a light comedic show. This is pretty is pretty serious and depressing although there are laughs along the way.

Ambitious, Involving, Indulgent, Disappointing, Disjointed

See it if you don't mind a promising, engaging play being somewhat derailed at the 11th hour by a perplexing lack of coherence between start & finish.

Don't see it if you would mind that. I don't regret seeing it, as it holds the audience's interest & is performed well. It's just frustrating on the whole.

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Intense, Must see

See it if enjoy watching suspense. The story of romanace with twists and turns.

Don't see it if Enjoying singing and dancing

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.

Entertaining, Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Intense

See it if You like shows with heavy dialogue with little visual appeal. You like plot twists leaning towards the dark side.

Don't see it if You expect glitzy dance sequences and hate having to pay attention to dialog.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if Two strangers, leading unfulfilling and dull lives, meet, one creates a fantasy life, is exposed, and they fall in love. Surprise ending.

Don't see it if are tired of the rich boy meets poor girl living their dull lives, fall in love, meet up and...... I will not spoil the ending, sorry.

Confusing, Ambitious, Intense

See it if You like film noir. If you like plays about relationships and deception

Don't see it if You are looking for comedy. If you don't like quiet subtle shows.

Original, Profound, Challenging, Hilarious, Satirical

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.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent

See it if you want to a thrilling, original and great production.

Don't see it if you doesn't like mystery

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if You are looking for a drama about how people relate to one another and the need to escape everyday lives

Don't see it if You want something upbeat, happy and family positive.

Absorbing thriller with lame ending

See it if Had me on the edge of my seat at times. Complicated set was effective. Sexy chemistry between Rothenberg and Parisse - her last perf, tho

Don't see it if Cliched ending spoiled the fun -- and Headland's twisty imagination. Overlapping scenes of two families mostly worked. Overall, a good play

Great acting, Entertaining, Clever

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.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Masterful, Romantic

See it if you enjoy great acting and suspensful theater

Don't see it if you want comedy

Cast & Creatives (13)