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Men on Boats

From 72 member  reviews
Members say: Clever, Great acting, Great staging, Funny, Delightful

About the show

This joyfully anachronistic retelling of the 1869 Powell expedition, originally produced by Clubbed Thumb, transfers to Playwrights Horizons as part of its Company Residency program. More…

Ten explorers. Four boats. One Grand Canyon. 'Men on Boats' tells the true(ish) history of an 1869 expedition, when a one-armed captain and a crew of insane yet loyal volunteers set out to chart the course of the Colorado River. After 2015's hit Off-Off Broadway mounting, Jaclyn Backhaus's play transfers to Playwrights Horizons for a limited engagement.

Member Reviews (72)


Clever, Great acting, Great staging, Funny, Delightful
Avg Score

Clever, Original, Great staging, Refreshing, Broad (no pun intended)

See it if you like unusual subject matter.Based on a true story, MOB has thrilling moments. Strong cast. You'll root for the men, and google at home.

Don't see it if high concept plays don't appeal. This is not a slice-of-life, but a very theatrical piece. Well-staged, but too many cheap laughs.

Clever, Entertaining, Intelligent, Original, Quirky

See it if you like fresh new ideas presented in fun original ways. No bells and whistles but that adds to the charm. Immense story from small stage.

Don't see it if you don't like small stories. This is the kind of show that you're not really sure where it's going till you've gotten there.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if edgy, innovative, skillfully written theatre

Don't see it if preconceptions shattered

Clever, Ambitious, Great staging, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if you're a history buff, enjoy the Grand Canyon, like theatrical twists (the men are all played by women), like satire and inspired commentary

Don't see it if you can't wrap your head around gender switching satire and history bending, must have literal staging

Clever, Funny, Great acting, Great staging, Creative

See it if History made easy and fun! See it if you like to laugh, see great acting, staging, direction and creativity. I thought it was wonderful.

Don't see it if you are bothered by a show's occasional wanderings or you dislike history being presented in a very humorous fashion.

Clever, intelligent, witty, laugh out loud funny, great ensemble

See it if you want to see a gender-bending take on Powell's expedition. Ingeniously staged by Will Davis. Powerhouse ensemble acting! Do not miss.

Don't see it if your taste runs to the more conventional. Also, if you do not like historical plays.

Clever, Overrated, Cartoonish, Repetitive, Great staging

See it if you want to see a cleverly staged, somewhat satirical recreation of a great adventure

Don't see it if you don't like to see an important event trivialized as an extended, rather pointless skit

Clever, Entertaining, Great staging, Great writing, Quirky

See it if you enjoy slightly over-the-top satire and acting; witty lines; original choreography; history with a twist.

Don't see it if you are looking for a serious historical drama; dislike men's roles payed by women; don't enjoy in-your-face loud productions.

Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing

See it if you enjoy theatre that challenges your assumptions. Staging is almost as brilliant as the writing and the original concept.This is a gem. Go

Don't see it if you want a straight line, realistic history lesson. At 90 minutes, show is a bit long. Point is made early; could trim some things.

Delightful, Funny, Absorbing, Original

See it if You enjoy historical plays presented with a significant amount if humor.

Don't see it if women playing men is not for you or if you prefer large traditional productions.

Clever, Ambitious, Great staging, Refreshing, Gender bending

See it if You like original theater that is well done, thought provoking and makes you think in new ways.

Don't see it if You are put off by gender reversals or making fun of male macho stereotypes.

Original, Refreshing, Funny, Entertaining, Different

See it if A quirky, spoof-ish telling of the true story of an 1869 Wild West river expedition - macho males played by an all female cast. Very funny!

Don't see it if You're annoyed by over-the-top parody and silliness. Which is the whole point. Ensemble acting was excellent.

Refreshing, Original, Hilarious, Great writing, Great acting

See it if You enjoy strong ensemble pieces. You enjoy design that feels low budget/creates space without using exact replicas of the items.

Don't see it if You're looking for a kitchen sink drama or typical Broadway staging.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent

See it if You long to think, be challenged, and entertained by a talented cast!

Don't see it if Are challenged by non-traditional staging and casting.

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Quirky, Great direction

See it if you enjoy reenactments of historical events or if you ever explored a river in the 1860's.

Don't see it if boating accidents, anachronisms or cross-gender casting disturbs you.

Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Original, Quirky

See it if you would enjoy a half-serious half-goofy version of accurate [!] Western macho adventure history, performed [very amusingly] by women.

Don't see it if you prefer literal sets, plays with character development, or dislike shows that play with/comment on gender roles.

Funny, Great staging, Intelligent, Quirky, Relevant

See it if you enjoy plays that re-examine history and gender roles from a contemporary perspective

Don't see it if you object to gender-reversed casting.

Great staging, Intense, Epic, Dizzying, Clever

See it if u want grand staging, super casting & a large canvass. Hey, it's explorers going down the Colorado River in 1869 and the guys are girls.

Don't see it if's rather assaultive, though you do become involved in many of the characters. They're coming at you for over an hour and a half.

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Hilarious

See it if you like historical plays, play featuring a great all-female cast, humor, and fun.

Don't see it if you're not in the mood for a fun, funny show that both celebrates & pokes fun at the American myths of frontiersmen and exploration

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if you enjoy new, original, different theater

Don't see it if you need a lot of action or dialogue. But the silence says so much!

Clever, Funny, Slight camp

See it if skewing gender, historical sagas

Don't see it if slight camp, no real plot

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you are looking for a fun bit of history done with an all female cast of women actors who will knock u off ur feet!

Don't see it if You want true to form history lessons and don't want an all woman show.

Clever, Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing

See it if insightful and amusing commentaries on historical legacy and masculinity. top-notched ensemble. smart and fun time overall.

Don't see it if some action sequences got a little repetitive. the cast was unparalleled and they truly delivered though!

Ambitious, Delightful, Great staging, Refreshing, Original

See it if you're into seeing a brilliantly staged, deliciously acted & poignantly provocative show; one of my faves of 2015 beautifully remounted here

Don't see it if you prefer not to use your imagination when encountering a historical story; if you just can't with adventurous casting; if you need realism

Clever, Delightful, Hilarious, Original, Refreshing

See it if you're after the perfect summer show. Ingeniously staged and designed, featuring a strong (and hilarious) female ensemble, MOB is terrific.

Don't see it if you're looking for a traditional well made play. This show is edgy in its storytelling and humor.

August 1st, 2016
"Playwright Backhaus gender-flips her hardy crew and asks director Davis to stage the impossible: vessels barreling over waterfalls and hairsbreadth escapes from drowning. Silly? Sure. Thrilling? Oh, yes...Although Backhaus’s sly inventory of male weakness can grow repetitious after an hour or so...
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August 11th, 2016
"It’s a tricky balancing act: The anachronistic dialogue and implicit gender commentary keep raising issues the dialogue does not resolve, or even address. That’s probably a good thing, because too much earnest issue-mongering would surely sink the delicate craft of the play before its 100 minute...
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August 1st, 2016
"The rationale for casting an ensemble of actresses to enact Major John Wesley Powell’s 1869 Colorado River expedition eludes me. But as penned by Jaclyn Backhaus and directed by Will Davis, 'Men On Boats' is off-the-canyon-walls funny. A joint Off Broadway production of Clubbed Thumb and Playwri...
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August 1st, 2016
"There's no attention drawn to gender in this boisterous new comedy, imaginatively directed down to the punctuation by Will Davis. 'Men on Boats' uses the lens of the present to explore a story from our shared cultural past. The result is kind of ingenious...This perfect 10-member ensemble perfor...
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