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Make Believe

From 207 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Clever, Intelligent

About the show

Bess Wohl returns to Second Stage after her funny and poignant play, "American Hero," with a look inside the minds of children, their parents, and the mysteries of childhood that haunt us forever. More…

When does real life collide with make believe? For the four Conlee kids, ages 5 to 10, playing house is no longer a game when their parents inexplicably disappear. Thirty-two years later, their search for answers continues.

Member Reviews (207)


Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Clever, Intelligent
Avg Score

Clever, Plot holes, Dysfunctional family dramedy, Absorbing, Strong acting

See it if you like dysfunctional family plays w strong premise. 4 siblings in trauma; re-visit as adults. Well acted. Gr attic set.

Don't see it if you want a believable plot. Lots of holes; unconvincing kids section too lg and choppy Still, MB's clever & absorbing. All white cast.

Absorbing, Lots of twists, Great acting, Great writing

See it if Great plot with lots of twists and variety. Engaging and interesting. Great actors especially the children.

Don't see it if First part has some long scene transitions that are odd especially since they don't repeat.

Profound, Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Exquisite

See it if You like stories that start slowly but build to a super insightful ending. If you liked Small Mouth Sounds you’ll probably like this.

Don't see it if You don’t like to look inside.

Also I ADORED this show. Great writing. Great acting. Great set. Great ligh... Read more Read less

Original, Profound, Great acting, Funny, Clever

See it if Abandoned kids' playtime in 1st act transitions to adult drama in 2nd. Serious themes, lots of humor & plot twists. Wonderful acting.

Don't see it if You need to take the play literally. It is half realistic, half farce. Life can be cruel, but we have to laugh, and make believe.

Clever, Great acting, Flawed, Absorbing

See it if u want to see a smart play depicting how the confluence of childhood innocence & family trauma manifests itself into heartbreaking adulthood

Don't see it if u can't abide child actors (even talented, charismatic ones); ur triggered by child abandonment; u'll get hung up on the few false notes.

Well played, Several bold theatrical strokes, Affecting, Imperfect, Insightful

See it if you might be interested in a smartly written play about that most tender of subjects: childhood trauma & its adult consequences.

Don't see it if seeing children (non-physically) abused onstage might be too upsetting for you to want to sit through.

Also I was moved by Bess Wohl’s “Make Believe,” a play that examines the ad... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Great acting, Clever, Absorbing

See it if Superb acting by 4 youngsters. How does one find 4 youngsters that can do the job. It is rare that both of us felt the same way. also

Don't see it if 80 minutes ( a problem for some)

Also 80 minutes (a plus for some.)The follow up in the 2nd half is realisti... Read more Read less

Resonant, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Clever

See it if you enjoy a well balanced play that reflects accurately the characters and the setting in 1980 and today with some twists that engage you.

Don't see it if you do not like a lot of talk and stress among family members - you need to listen carefully not to miss the surprises that are contained.

Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Delightful, Clever

See it if fan of Beth Wohl, or a play whose first act is only talented youngsters under 13, plays about impact of childhood trauma on maturity,

Don't see it if not a fan of family plays, adults acting immaturely, breakdown of a family, childhood neglect & adult miscommunication

Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Uneven, Surprising

See it if you want to see a show that does a great job of taking the audience on a dramatic ride. It's exciting to watch the show unfold.

Don't see it if you're looking for a play that will leave you with big questions to ponder. This show is intriguing but doesn't leave you with much to chew.

Great staging, Great acting, Entertaining, Clever, Absorbing

See it if Growing up in dysfunctional family and being dysfunctional adult. Hiding secrets.

Don't see it if Family drama, wanting happy and cheerful story.

Also The younger actors in the beginning are excellant.

Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if you’re interested in a show about the effects that neglectful parents can have on their children.

Don't see it if you don’t like watching children on stage, or having to wait a long period for the story to make sense.

Also Oddly, the most interesting character in the play never makes an appea... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Intense, Great acting, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if I was totally enthralled throughout. I loved the kids. I don't think I've seen kids used in that way before, with no adults to interact with

Don't see it if if you don't want to watch children "playing" onstage. The wildness of it, the rudeness and meanness sadly seemed very authentic.

Also It kept my interested throughout. Perfect length. 90 minutes, no inter... Read more Read less

Resonant, Great writing, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if Great story about 4 neglected kids (kids are excellent actors) & what happens to them as adults. Detailed attic set. 85 min flies by.

Don't see it if You don't like shows with screaming or crying or when things don't always go the way you expect.

Fluffy, Excruciating, Disappointing

See it if You don’t mind waiting around a long time to find out what the big secret is

Don't see it if You are expecting this to be a gritty family drama with substance

Also I had my mind made up before I saw this that I was going to like it an... Read more Read less

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

See it if You are interested in the powerful impact that childhood experiences have on our lives. The bonds between siblings are strong.

Don't see it if You’re still dwelling on an awful experience in your childhood, and cannot watch it in others’ lives. You do not like child actors.

Also This is an interesting play with a twist between Acts 1 & 2. The actin... Read more Read less

Slow beginning. good ending.

See it if You like new adventurous theatre.

Don't see it if You want a traditional story.

Great staging, Slow, Intense, Indulgent, Disappointing

See it if You want to see children acting like adults. And you want a show about how the past can shape the future.

Don't see it if You want to see child actors being treated like children. They might have been good actors, but you couldn't tell with the material.

Also The children acted like adults, and it was excruciating to watch and e... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Affecting, Masterful, Great acting, Clever

See it if you want to see an inventive work by one of our most talented young playwrights. It breathes new life into theatrical conventions.

Don't see it if you don't like plays about dysfunctional families or if you don't like child actors.

Also It pulls off the rare trick of being funny, suspenseful, clever and to... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Resonant, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if You like intensive family examination.

Don't see it if Don’t like plays with screaming children in it.

Too long, Great staging, Disappointing, Clever

See it if you like shows about family relationships, especially in dysfunctional families. Act 1 is way too long.Act 2 moves faster but needs trimming

Don't see it if you want a fast paced story. Set is AMAZING.Child actors are uniformly terrific.This is almost terrific, but just misses.

Children and then grown-ups enact bad parenting

See it if Masterful view of children of dysfunction - first as kids, then as adults. Surprising skill shown by child actors. Adult cast is fine, too.

Don't see it if Plot moves slowly but the transition is breathtaking. Can be uncomfortable for viewers with family hostility in their backgrounds.

Disappointing, Cliched, Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if Some great performances kept my attention. An interesting story. Cleverly done. Samantha Mathis rocks!

Don't see it if The play itself seemed more like two scenes than a whole play. Missing something. Confusing at times. Self-consciously "mysterious."

I was bored and didn't believe it at all.

See it if You want to support Second Stage.

Don't see it if You want believable characters, speaking real dialogue rather than watching real children portraying dysfunctional grown ups. Ugly.

Thought-provoking, Quirky, Great staging, Ambitious, Dizzying

See it if you enjoy "then and now" life comparisons about 4 siblings from 5-15 ish and from 35-45 ish dealing with the issues of dysfunctional family

Don't see it if you like simple linear pieces that avoid surprises

August 15th, 2019
CRITIC’S PICK "In ‘Make Believe,’ Four Children Meet Their Inner Adults: Bess Wohl’s daring, mysterious new play is a comedy of underparenting and a tragedy of selfishness. Or is it the other way around?"
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August 15th, 2019
★★★★ "It's the oldest strategy in the dramatic playbook: the 'retrospective' plot, in which a buried secret is dug up and brought into the light...That's why Bess Wohl's 'Make Believe ' has such freshness: The writer has found a new way to cut old cloth."
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August 15th, 2019
"The Unreal Land of 'Make Believe': Bess Wohl's play about childhood and its ripple effects."
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August 15th, 2019
"The latest effort from Bess Wohl, author of the acclaimed 'Small Mouth Sounds,' explores the lingering effects of a traumatic event on the lives of four young children."
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