New York | 2h 5m | Already closed

Man From Nebraska

From 33 critic and 189 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Slow, Intelligent

About the show

Second Stage Theatre presents the New York premiere of Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Letts' drama about a devout man who has a crisis of faith. Starring Tony winner Reed Birney ('The Humans.') More…

Sometimes even the most devout can lose their faith. When Ken (Birney), a middle-aged man from Nebraska, suddenly realizes he's lost his sense of purpose, he goes on a wild adventure to find it. Along the way he encounters a world vastly different from his own, filled with chance meetings and romantic encounters that shake him to the core. Written by Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Letts ('August: Osage County'). 


"If any actor can make you believe a character who says 'I’m spending time with my thoughts on the advice of my pastor' while staring at a half-naked woman on a bed, that actor is Reed Birney...It is hard to come up with anyone else who can imbue such honesty, decency and complex intelligence in the idea of an imperfect Everyman...A nuanced production by director David Cromer. But boy, does this play ever need both Birney and Cromer...Deep, this is not." Full Review


"It’s not nearly as good as Letts’ best-known work, but it’s not without interest, thanks in good measure to its lead actors. Birney gives one of his superbly real ordinary-guy portrayals as the searching Ken, while O’Toole is deeply sympathetic as a loyal, confused and increasingly angry abandoned wife...When he finally returns to Nebraska, many weeks later, Ken is a new, improved man, Letts would have us believe...The idea is provocative, even if it’s completely unpersuasive." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"Anchoring the familiar tale is a focused performance by Birney who has clearly mastered the art of portraying buttoned-up middle-class baby boomers roiled by inner torment. O’Toole similarly manages to offset her character’s dullness with flashes of brittle dignity while Mensah provides an archly vivacious counterpoint throughout the second half. But for all its humanity and wit, Letts’s play ends up feeling rather schematic under David Cromer’s polished direction." Full Review

Act Three - The Reviews

"This show is brooding, slow, vacuous, empty, hopeless, and depressing. This is not all necessarily bad…Part blistering critique of religion and America, part human condition, Mr. Letts shows us what happens when a man questions long-held beliefs, as provincial and narrow as they might seem…Frankly, Mr. Letts' play doesn't really answer the question; it merely scratches the surface and explores the topic. If you are looking for definitive answers you won't find them here.” Full Review

Village Voice

"Letts' powerfully intriguing premise, the despair of which Birney embodies so movingly, gets vitiated as the action proceeds...He makes Ken’s crisis impressively stark, and his subsequent wanderings in search of meaning amusingly entertaining, but the two never add up. Viewed as a total picture, 'Man from Nebraska' turns out to be riddled with the wrong kind of questions-not the big ones a great playwright asks us, but the niggling little ones that we want to ask the playwright." Full Review


"Much of the dialog is very simple, rarely revealing, and filled with very long pauses. It almost feels like a Pinter play without the biting double meanings in the characters’ speech...The cast is quite good, led by the reliable Reed Birney...Director David Cromer creates a dark atmosphere that seems appropriate to Letts’ tone and episodic style. But the strong performances and the evocative direction only leave the audience wondering what was the point of the play they had just experienced." Full Review

The Wrap

"Letts condescends to his hero’s dilemma by making the representation of his religion into a complete dolt...The surprise isn’t that Ken has lost his religion; it’s that he’s not already embalmed...A nymphomaniac, a dullard preacher, an angry artist. You can’t blame the actors here for performing what’s on the page, although it might have helped if Cromer had directed them to look for some subtext. Reed manages to be much more empathetic. In a few scenes, he even dazzles." Full Review

New York Daily News

"'Man from Nebraska' just goes in circles...It’s a double disappointment from Tracy Letts...Weirdly, Ken’s life-changing question of faith falls aside as he drinks, drops ecstacy and tries his hand at art. Letts raises a provocative idea but fails to follow through. And when a play turns this hollow even a fine ensemble doesn’t have a prayer." Full Review

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Riveting, Must see

See it if you like dramas about people facing a midlife crisis and how they cope, plays that blend drama and comedy, & topnotch acting by Reed Birney.

Don't see it if you can't relate to plays about a crisis of faith later in life, don't like plays that mix drama and comedy, can't relate to midwest values.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Intense, Profound

See it if you like to see great acting (Reed Birney) set against a minimalist background. An exploration into a person's belief system

Don't see it if you don't like talky plays where what isn't said is often as important was what is said.

Also Tracy Lett's Man From Nebraska is one man's (Reed Birney) search for s... Read more Read less

Satisfying, quiet steady rythem, strong performances & direction

See it if You enjoy nuanced performance & serious drama

Don't see it if You want something light hearted

Also Reid Birney is stellar as always - fantastic ability to shift emotiona... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Great staging

See it if You like simple, compelling theater that turns on straightforward, unencumbered writing and solid acting.

Don't see it if You aren't interested in a rather boring relationship where one partner goes on a small journey of self-discovery with no great revelations.

Also A simply staged play about a mature couple where the husband has a sup... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Profound, Resonant

See it if you want to see a master (Reed Birney) at the top of his game and you like familial drama.

Don't see it if you don't like existential crises or female nudity.

Great acting, Absorbing, Masterful

See it if One man's terrifying crisis of faith--or really, crisis of life, explored through small, human moments. Bravura performance by Reed Birney.

Don't see it if You like plays with a lot of plot and high drama. Much of this story is left unsaid--not that it's boring, but it's subtle and realistic

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

See it if you've ever doubted or regretted any of your life choices on a personal or religious level. Or see a deep play about the human condition.

Don't see it if you aren't ready to think--and feel--without spoon feeding.

Also This should be called COUPLE FROM NEBRASKA because Annette O'Toole is ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great staging, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if If you like serious drama that looks at loss of faith and the impact on a family

Don't see it if Looking for light entertainment

Entertaining, Delightful, Clever, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you love plays about midle age crisis and lost of faith.

Don't see it if you are looking for a light, fun and simple entertainment.

Thought-provoking, Resonant, Great acting

See it if You are patient and can stick with a story as it evolves. The beginning is slow - but for a reason.....

Don't see it if You don't want to be confronted with uncomfortable issues/moments

Absorbing, Entertaining, Intelligent, Quirky, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy a good drama with tremendous acting

Don't see it if If you don't like drama

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

See it if you know anyone who has gone through a midlife crisis or crisis of faith. This play addresses these issues with an interesting perspective.

Don't see it if you prefer fast paced or lighthearted drama and don't want to think about personal conflicts.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You are at 'a certain age'; the message will have the most meaning for you; see it if you enjoy thought provoking drama.

Don't see it if You are disturbed by themes of mid life crises, potential infedility.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing

See it if I found it deeply satisfying, could have watched for another hour or so. Great writing, direction, acting, staging. Also funny.

Don't see it if You think you might not be interested in a man having a crisis of faith.

Slow, Great acting, Intelligent, Refreshing, Enchanting

See it if you're a fan of reed birney (the part seemed written for him), you enjoy slow heady works heavy on philosophy

Don't see it if you're looking for something flashy, quick paced. A lot of the play is in silence.

Also Set design is extensive but the clouds are astonishing. Transitions se... Read more Read less

Clever, Absorbing, Refreshing

See it if You like well-written & well-acted plays and want to see what Tracy Letts can do beyond August: Osage County. Hang in beyond Act I, really.

Don't see it if Inventive staging annoys you or you're completely against any discussion of religion.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Relevant

See it if you're interested in the examined life. Tracy Letts great play is about having the courage to change a life path and establish a new one.

Don't see it if if you prefer to be entertained, rather than think about the meaning of your ife

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great staging, Quirky

See it if you are a Tracey Letts fan. Great performances by Birney and O'Toole

Don't see it if post mid-life crises are abhorrent to you

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if you want to see something that covers a variety of topics and excellent acting

Don't see it if the slower, quieter pace of a play is not what you like

Clever, Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if If you can understand where people are coming from and what they are used to RUT man can't change. Very thought provoking show and you will

Don't see it if If you are deeply religious and can't understand good acting and not interested in people who can't break habits

Also stay with you when you get home and realize how interesting the play w... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Intense, Relevant, Great writing, Great acting

See it if you enjoy thoughtful, meticulously developed, psychological explored characters on stage.

Don't see it if If you need a faster pace and something more for light-hearted or less demanding.

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great acting

See it if You like drama, Reed Birney or Tracy Letts'

Don't see it if You don't like straight plays.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Great staging, Intelligent

See it if You have patience for a play that begins slowly but explores its main character's personal crisis with sincerity, depth and humor.

Don't see it if You want a jazzy show!

Also I'm a fan of the playwright Tracy Letts. I know he will surprise and c... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Well written, Great acting

See it if You enjoy dramas that make you think about religion, relationships and your place in the world. Letts says alot with few words

Don't see it if Dont like shows with a slow pacing (like nebraska i suppose) and short bursts of scenes. Like snippets of a life

Thought-provoking, Resonant, Relevant, Great acting, Great staging

See it if You can relate to the travails of late middle age

Don't see it if You need a fast paced show

Cast & Creatives (16)