New York | 2h 10m | Already closed

Martin Luther On Trial

From 10 critic and 45 member reviews
Members say: Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Intelligent, Great acting, Clever

About the show

Fellowship for Performing Arts presents a return engagement of this courtroom drama, which alternates between witnesses speaking to the impact of Martin Luther's life, and scenes from the events that shaped him. More…

The judge is Saint Peter. And the prosecutor is the Devil. Luther’s beloved wife, Katarina, defends him as witnesses including Adolf Hitler, Sigmund Freud, Rabbi Josel, St. Paul, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Pope Francis take the stand. Even as 2017 marks 500 years since Luther ignited the Protestant Revolt against Rome, he continues to spark intense debate. The audience is the jury in this exploration of one of history’s most explosive personalities, and the religious and political controversies he unleashed.


"'Martin Luther on Trial' is a fascinating investigation of the life and ideas of the founder of the Protestant Reformation. Whatever your religious beliefs, this is a balanced and theatrical representation of one of the great thinkers and shakers of Western Civilization. It is timely in that 2017 is the 500th anniversary of Luther's break from Rome." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"A most unusual and dazzling theatrical event…Part debate, theology examination, philosophical discourse, historical retrospective, 'Martin Luther on Trial' is intellectually challenging, a play for the head. The crackling dialogue is rich with sharp observations and cutting wit. The work, by Chris Cragin-Day and Max McLean, has been meticulously researched and the cast of characters reflects this." Full Review

NY Theatre Guide

"A dramatic, theological, psychological, hilarious, and well-written back-and-forth clash of documented moments in Luther’s life, supported by flashbacks that build up a timeline that’s easy to follow…The astounding acting combined with the gorgeous set, time period costumes, lighting, and music cues make ‘Martin Luther on Trial’ an unforgettable production of documentary, historical accuracy, and effective self-awareness." Full Review


"This drama makes up for its rough edges by being consistently imaginative, intelligent, and provocative…Director Michael Parva choreographs this complex ballet of ideas with clarity and precision. He artfully employs dimension shifts and magical special effects in a way that deepen the themes of the play…’Martin Luther on Trial' offers something that has been sorely missing from the NY theater scene for far too long: high-quality, challenging theater from a Christian perspective." Full Review


"You might not expect a trial that entails controversial religious issues...would be as funnily histrionic as this one is. The authors make their case both amusingly and formidably with a text that is filled to the brim with witty irreverence and impassioned rhetoric...Under the direction of Michael Parva tension is built as the trial proceeds with flashbacks into Luther's turbulent life...Whatever your view, I suspect you will be enthralled as I by this damned (apology to the Devil) good show." Full Review

New York Critic Blog

"The concept is enormously creative, a hyper-intellectual fantasy in the genre of Shaw’s 'Don Juan in Hell.' And it’s very well executed. It’s directed by Michael Parva, who keeps an eloquent tone to the whole thing, a sort of realism within a surreal moment...McTaggart’s performance as Martin Luther is terrific, with a strong and precise internal life...The ideological point of the whole thing is obscured by some overwriting...But 'Martin Luther on Trial' is a unique accomplishment." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"A serious didactic work, leavened by regular doses of wit, that tackles multiple controversies in the life of the Great Reformer...The courtroom set-up certainly serves to get the competing arguments across. But, under Parva’s usually brisk direction, it can also feel schematic...The play could do with a little more compromise itself since they ultimately overestimate the dramatic power of obscure doctrinal debates...Faith alone cannot make up for such theatrical transgressions." Full Review

Village Voice

"The show's main problem is a side effect of its courage: It opens a door to questioning God's judgment in bringing such a man into Heaven, but then it doesn't quite walk through...When the arguments...get really heated, the play returns to the notion of salvation-just-because and lets Luther slide neatly off its hook...A bout between God and the Great Adversary can be a surprisingly watchable contest. But it loses its fun when you sense the writers throwing the game for the player they favor." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

for a previous production "Funny as hell…Spellbinding storytelling…A fascinating, dynamic, and complex portrait of the man whose schismatic reading of Scripture changed history…McTaggart’s compelling performance captures each naturalistic nuance and epic passion in a way that scales the character’s convictions and contradictions to Shakespearean dimensions…A magnificent production…’Martin Luther on Trial’ belongs among the great plays about major figures in religion." Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

for a previous production "The staging is impeccable, the acting is first-rate, the script is amusing and, to the extent you can say this about a play which has Hitler, Freud, Lucifer and Pope Francis talking to each other, historically accurate. Then why did I walk out of ‘Martin Luther on Trial’ so dissatisfied? In the end, it may be for the same reason Gertrude Stein didn’t like Oakland: there’s no there there." Full Review


See it if YES.

Don't see it if you're a racist who voted for Trump

Stoppard-esque, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intense, Profound

See it if you enjoy intense verbal gymnastics, as in Stoppard's "Travesties". Clever conceit of a trial, through which Luther's flaws are understood.

Don't see it if You don't like heavy drama that demands intellectual engagement and a certain level of historical knowledge.

Profound, Great writing, Exquisite, Great staging, Great acting

See it if you like plays that deal with historic topics and you are willing to listen to every word.

Don't see it if you have a narrow mind when it comes to religion and not willing to listen to all sides of an issue.

Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Profound, Intelligent

See it if you are interested in how history was made. It explores an excellent idea about the impact of Martin Luther's courage and historic act.

Don't see it if you don't care about religion or history.

Absorbing, Great acting, Educational, Intelligent, Quirky

See it if you like a good historical drama wrapped around a trial proceeding. Martin Luther stands trial with Lucifer as the prosecuting attorney.

Don't see it if if you don't like plays based on historical events. Something that you have to pay attention to. A bit talky but worth the effort

Also Fletcher McTaggart stars as Martin Luther, the man sometimes called th... Read more Read less

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

See it if You are a history buff and you want a personal glimpse into the life of Martin Luther. You also get insights into God and Satan's characters

Don't see it if You want a light fluffy play that doesn't require too much thinking. There is a lot of deep dialogue and controversial characters.

Mesmerizing, Incredible acting, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if You enjoy historical drama that makes you think.

Don't see it if You want something light and fluffy.

Also This play ties together many ideas. Theatre that makes you think while... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if You're interested in understanding how the Protestant reformation was defended and challenged. Great acting & fabulous set.

Don't see it if You don't like heavy thinking about how we got here and what are the critical philosophically important issues surrounding us.

Thought-provoking, Clever, Great writing, Absorbing, Relevant

See it if you want to look back at the Reformation that took place almost 500 years ago and assess the similarities of a splintered society.

Don't see it if you are looking for pure entertainment and you are not in the mood to pay attention to the script

Also I attended Catholic schools so I heard the Catholic viewpoint about Lu... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Funny, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if You wish to learn about a bit about the Lutherans. You want something to discuss and think about after the show has ended.

Don't see it if Your looking for something light and fluffy. Your not open to learning about a different faith.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You are a protestant or are interested in the life of Martin Luther

Don't see it if You are against religion

Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy being educated while being entertained.

Don't see it if you are not interested in historical figures and philosophical discusssion.

Also it was sometimes slow but worth hanging in there. Interesting insights... Read more Read less

Great acting, Edgy, Intelligent, Intense

See it if You want a fresh overview of Martin Luther described by what we know today and historical figures who add to their assessment of him.

Don't see it if You can't get past the wordiness and slowness of some of the scenes. There are also gaps in the historical picture.

Clever, Entertaining, Great acting, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if you like original theatrical concepts, political history, intense acting, historical Christian theory & themes that challenge your thinking

Don't see it if you want lighthearted mindless bubble gum theater. Or if you are offended by representation of Satan and Hitler inciting reflective thought

Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you like an imaginative, clever play about religion with good acting and staging

Don't see it if you don't like plays about religion with opposing viewpoints

Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if theology and philosophy

Don't see it if the above

Disappointing, Overrated

See it if You are interested in Martin Luther and don't know much about him

Don't see it if You want an intellectual, thought provoking play about Luther

Clever, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy thought-provoking plays about religion, and the effect religion has on history/historical figures.

Don't see it if You hate religious plays/theological discussions.

Ambitious, Well acted, Pontificating, literally, Thought-provoking, Attempts at profundity

See it if you want to consider among other things whether Martin Luther fought the Catholic Church or fought God.

Don't see it if a theatre with haze and smoke makes breathing difficult.

More a history lesson than a drama

See it if You're interested in learning a little about Martin Luther in this, the 500th anniversary of the 95 Theses.

Don't see it if You want a historical drama or even a legal drama.

Also Any play that features a trial, with not-very-clear charges being adju... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Quirky, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if you know about or are very interested in learning about Martin Luther and how his ideas 'jive' with the thinking of other important thinking

Don't see it if you aren't really, really interested in Martin Luther's life and teachings as it's not clever or interesting enough otherwise

Great acting, Intelligent, Slow, Cliched, Confusing

See it if You're interested in history and:or theology and appreciate intelligence debate in a semantic context.

Don't see it if You're looking for fast paced action or revolutionary take on the religion or the history of the Reformation.

Also Very capable actors in a production and script that tends toward heavy... Read more Read less

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

See it if You want to see a revisionist portrayal of Martin Luther

Don't see it if You are looking for a portrayal that historians agree with.

Slow, Intelligent

See it if you like shows about historical figures in general or are interested in Martin Luther in particular.

Don't see it if you dislike shows that consist mainly of academic discourse.

Slow, Overacted, Doctrine-heavy rather than dramatic, Good presentation of luther's thought, Didactic

See it if You want to learn about Luther including some very negative aspects & impacts of his ideas.

Don't see it if You are not interested in a (basically evangelical) Christian show or expect to connect with grounded emotions onstage. It's not Les Miz.

Also The actors work hard to bring a didactic play to life but as a result ... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (15)