Already closed | 2h 40m | East Village

Light Shining in Buckinghamshire

From 103 member  reviews
Members say: Slow, Confusing, Disappointing, Ambitious, Great acting

About the show

Three-time Obie Award winner Rachel Chavkin ('Hadestown') returns to New York Theatre Workshop with Caryl Churchill's incisive 1647-set drama about the power struggles in England after a brutal civil war. More…

Amid the chaos and confusion, revolutionaries across the country are dreaming of a new future. England stands at a crossroads as food shortages, economic instability and a corrupt political system threaten to plunge the country into darkness and despair. The Parliament men who fought against the tyranny of the king now argue for stability and compromise, but the people are hungry for change. For a brief moment, a group of rebels, preachers, soldiers and dissenters dare to imagine an age of hope, a new Jerusalem in which freedom will be restored to the land.

Member Reviews (103)


Slow, Confusing, Disappointing, Ambitious, Great acting
Avg Score

Relevant, Intelligent, Absorbing, Mesmerizing, Confusing

See it if You have the patience to sit through many short scenes that often feel unrelated until you’ve seen the whole of the work. A lot of metaphor.

Don't see it if You want a plot that is easy to understand or even follow. Even though I often had no idea what I was seeing I was oddly attracted to it.

Ambitious, Disappointing, Indulgent

See it if Reformation drama from 1976 w/ 3 pop vocals feat. grey period costumes and ripped denim on a bare stage. Proprietary debate and The Rapture.

Don't see it if W/o the Churchill imprint, this period drama wouldn't be mounted. Easy parallels drawn to the relevance of today(1976), but @2:45? Slo slog

Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Ambitious, Confusing

See it if you enjoy think pieces about the state of God and the existence of heaven and hell.

Don't see it if you’re easily confused. Even after reading the contextual background provided with the program I still had a difficult time following along.

Great acting, Ambitious, Indulgent, Slow

See it if Very low expectations has its pros. I expected to hate this show, but found the acting strong and the history interesting.

Don't see it if Unfortunately, though there are many years to cover, the play is too long with too many monologues. A little action would help.

Way too talky. and too long.

See it if You're a Caryl Churchill fan and like history plays that preach.

Don't see it if You're not a Caryl Churchill fan.

Ambitious, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Listenable if you're willing

See it if Caryl Churchill, 70s agit prop, excellent company of players, political discourse, sparseStaging, constant challenge float your theatre boat

Don't see it if can't or don't want 2 listen, hate debate, cannot see parallels with today, need easy, must disparage anything U don't prelike

English drama for history buffs

See it if 17th Century English civil war given the brainy Churchill treatment. Lots of religion and politics talk. I ate it up.

Don't see it if if history, religion and political plays bore you. Nice staging of difficult material. Talented cast -- Jennings and Jeffers stood out.

Great acting, Great direction, Slow, Philosophical, Relevant

See it if you're interested in political, religious, and philosophical plays with great production design and acting. Set in 1600s, but relevant now.

Don't see it if Long, slow, and often dull script. Despite its merits in production and acting some scenes are a real bore (debates at end of act 1).

Ambitious, Confusing, Excruciating, Quirky, Slow

See it if you enjoy docudrama plays about religion and politics set in 17th Century England

Don't see it if you have a low tolerance for tedium

Indulgent, Great staging, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Too long

See it if you enjoy good staging and acting even when you can't get involved with the characters or the story.

Don't see it if you fall asleep during long plays that feel more like a lecture or news story than an interaction between characters.

Thoughtful, Provocative, Political across time, Great acting, Tight directing

See it if You love a show where the playwright has done her research & connects the past to the present in dramatic truth. What has ever changed? Long

Don't see it if but never windy, serious yet humble, bleak but humane. Not a light or funny piece, it takes political expediency to task. Amazing talent.

Boring, Preachy, Confusing, Disappointing, Great acting

See it if your enjoy a show with lots of redundant speeches that were not that interesting the first time. Some brights spots but otherwise blah.

Don't see it if you want a plot to make sense & actually tell a story or it bothers you when actors need to read their lines from a script during the show.

Disappointing, Intense

See it if you are interested in debates during the mid 1600s about the rights of the people vs the privileged.

Don't see it if you don't like being preached to about things no longer relevant,

Disappointing, Indulgent, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Great staging

See it if You are a history buff. Especially with an interest in British history. You enjoy highly stylized productions.

Don't see it if You have no interest in history. I honestly couldn't recommend this to someone who wasn't at least passingly interested in history.

Also First off. Hats off to the costume, set, sound, and lighting design. T... Read more Read less

Laborious, Ambitious

See it if you love Churchill and especially the topics covered in the play.

Don't see it if you don't think theatre should feel like homework.

Also Chavkin's reputation should not be marred by this. This really is a gr... Read more Read less


See it if You are really interested in the Great Revolution in England and debates about the rights of men (forget about women).

Don't see it if Your idea of drama is something dramatic, not didactic.

Also Caryl Churchill wrote this one over 40 years ago and it really doesn't... Read more Read less

Confusing, Disappointing, Slow, Excruciating, Ambitious

See it if I actually cannot imagine why. I happen to love the playwright's work usually but this is baffling. Academic, dry, who cares?

Don't see it if you love theater and see it for its communication and connection. there is none of that here. I have no idea what is the purpose of this

Great acting, Ambitious, Indulgent, Intelligent, Excruciating

See it if you are really curious about the early works of Churchill and have patience for a rambling piece that becomes ever more inert.

Don't see it if you're looking for something dynamic or dramatic.

Great acting, Great staging, Great directing, Great casting, Thought-provoking

See it if You know and love this play; if you’re out there, go see this. Absolutely top cast, staging, lighting, & direction

Don't see it if Or rather, unless, they cut out 15 min from the first half debates and an hour from the second act, mostly from the last scene

Also As much as I loved some parts of this production, which is so beautifu... Read more Read less

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

See it if You love British history Or, you love Caryl Churchill & Rachel Chavkin.

Don't see it if You want something fresh & absorbing.

Confusing, Disappointing, Great acting, Slow

See it if you really know the English Civil War and the Putney Debates, you know what the play is about

Don't see it if you expect to be educated, the play is very thorny, the actors are wonderful however

Experimental, Wordy, Disappointing

See it if you're a 17th century England history buff, for a passionate cast that tries its best with material that's mostly homework and little play.

Don't see it if you get bored easily, expect theater to have characters, a clear plot or be coherent, or if you're tired of modern touches on old material.

Disappointing, Overrated

See it if You wish C-Span had existed in 1649. You're ok with a lot of sifting to find bits of good in your theater.

Don't see it if You think 20 minutes of debate about 1649 English politics sounds excruciating (spoiler alert: you're right).

Absorbing, Mesmerizing, Great staging, Great acting, Monumental

See it if you've got the stamina for Caryl Churchill at her most demanding; it's a uniformly gifted cast under Rachel Chavkin's incisive direction.

Don't see it if you refuse to entertain the thought that it's easier for a camel to go thru the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven.

Ambitious, Confusing, Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent

See it if you enjoy intelligent absorbing themes

Don't see it if pedantics do not make for good theatre

May 7th, 2018
"The first of Churchill’s plays I’ve found indulgent and leaden. However wonderful it may be to perform, it’s a hard slog to sit through...An endless cycle of betrayal and hardship. When that bleak vision arises from characters interacting, it is sometimes beautifully crystallized...More often, t...
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May 7th, 2018
"Churchill has spoiled us, perhaps, with so many wonders of theatrical innovation that by contrast with them, this earlier work can seem drab and tendentious. The high point is a historically interesting account of the Putney Debates...But much of the play is weighed down in disquisitions on the ...
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May 7th, 2018
"Chavkin and her team are passionate about envisioning 'Light Shining' as a #Resistance play, and in certain ways that makes sense. In other ways, the play is actually less about the light that flared up in 17th-century England than about how it burned out...While Chavkin’s production earnestly a...
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May 7th, 2018
"Why do so many audience members appear to be struggling to stake awake? It has nothing to do with a top-notch production from a company that knows how to do this material...Chavkin brings Cromwellian order to Churchill's unruly dramatic revolution with her clear and effective staging...Despite t...
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