Members say: Great acting, Clever, Funny, Absorbing, Great writing

About the show

After a hit run at The Bushwick Starr, The Mad Ones' bittersweet missive about endurance and surrender in a late '80s American high school transfers to Playwrights Horizons.

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It's 1988 and the planning committee for Garrison High School's ninth annual 'Miles For Mary' Telethon is fired up and ready to go. Across subcommittee sessions in the phys-ed teachers' lounge, Drama Desk-nominated The Mad Ones assemble an analog elegy to the camcorder 1980s, girls' track and field, and the consecrated American high school.


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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

85
The New York Times

"Passive aggression, as a sly and infuriating art, has surely never been practiced as entertainingly...Both a happy product of and a ruthless portrait of the collaborative process. It also turns out to present a most ingenious acting challenge, in which rage and resentment may be expressed only indirectly...This production slides from surface comedy into an unexpected realm of emotional substance, where laughter increasingly comes with a catch in its throat." Full Review

90
Theatermania

"The hottest comedy in New York this winter. Anyone who has ever suffered through a staff meeting will immediately recognize the passive-aggression and petty slights that dot this 110-minute howler...The troupe benefits from the leadership of Lila Neugebauer, the most skilled director of ensembles working in New York today. The complexity that she and the company bring to every moment makes this rather bland high school office a treat to behold." Full Review

85
Village Voice

"A fly-on-the-wall piece with no discernible plot, shocking revelations, or villains...The backbiting and squabbling that follows has a comically cathartic intensity...A carefully orchestrated slice of nostalgia, a bittersweet portrait of teamwork...Using low-key acting and overlapping dialogue, and avoiding traditional scene buttons, the play keeps you focused on the interpersonal dynamics...Excellent actors - all doing extremely colorful, nuanced work." Full Review

90
Lighting & Sound America

"Comedy gold in the least likely of situations...As 'Miles for Mary' finds hilarity in these petty bureaucrats and the mind-numbing minutiae of their plans, it finds a certain sympathy for them...The cast seems to know everything about these characters...Sometimes seems like the greatest Nichols and May sketch. But everything about it has been executed with an astonishing precision, and it all contributes to the overall effect...Funniest new show in town." Full Review

80
New York Theater

"Spot-on, deadpan funny look at a year’s worth of planning committee meetings for a local telethon at an Ohio high school...It’s clear that the Mad Ones collaborate better than the half dozen members of the planning committee...'Miles for Mary' might ignite memories among theatergoers who have ever worked for volunteer organizations. It could even provoke recollections of their high school years, and the realization that their teachers and coaches must have been human beings." Full Review

75
Front Row Center

"A very fine example of what ensemble work is. More than fine...They have discovered their characters inch by inch. They know who they are and whether we do or not is of no matter...We are, after all observing...We don't need all the dots connected for us...Where this play stumbles is in its structure...These actors are a pleasure to watch. They know their craft as performers. It is the story that needs some attention." Full Review

85
Theatre's Leiter Side

“I…needed…time to assimilate the circumstances and characters before the humor began to creep under my skin. The approach taken under Neugebauer's subtle direction suggests the kind of dry, straight-faced comedy you get from the best British comedy. The actors all are perfectly in tune with their roles, taking them seriously and not at all playing for laughs; once you catch on, though, you begin to notice the nuances…that betray their underlying comic intentions.” Full Review

65
Times Square Chronicles

"'Miles for Mary' plays on nostalgia, however if you are not nostalgic for that time frame and if slice of life shows are not for you, this show will bore you to tears. I was never one for group meetings and especially a series of them, no matter how well they are acted. This show is seriously well done, but the subject matter about hiding our feelings and time outs is long past." Full Review

95
TheaterScene.net

“First up is ‘Miles for Mary,’ a company project from The Mad Ones, a New York City-based troupe dedicated to creating ‘ensemble-driven highly detailed theatrical experiences that examine and illuminate American nostalgia.’ Seen previously at The Bushwick Starr during the 2016-17 season, ‘Miles for Mary’ is a brilliant satire on group dynamics in an ongoing school fundraising committee told in real time.” Full Review

80
Gotham Playgoer

"The meetings are a hilarious case study in group dynamics run amok...There is much to enjoy here. The writing...negotiates a delicate balance between realism and satire. The ensemble is flawless...It’s all well-observed and often amusing, but becomes repetitive after a while. 'Do More' may be the committee’s motto, but no one is quite sure what 'more' means. As one teacher observes, sometimes less is more. As one teacher observes, sometimes less is more." Full Review

75
The Wrap

"Surprisingly, 'Miles for Mary' never gives the impression in performance of being a bunch of polished improvisations. Although you might want to escape the theater in the opening moments of these seemingly endless telethon planning sessions, a wry humor begins to weave its way through all the verbal meandering...Neugebauer’s direction and her superb ensemble prevent the play from wallowing in its sense of superiority to the profession being skewered." Full Review

60
Financial Times (UK)

"A rich seam of deadpan humour...'Miles for Mary' ends up running in circles around a single thought: meetings are hell. The cast invests plenty of madcap energy into those relentlessly trivial discussions, but their characters ultimately seem rather interchangeable and oddly devoid of skepticism or cynicism. Teachers usually have a well-developed nose for bullshit. Here they all jump into a large bucket of the stuff. And then they barely even notice that it stinks." Full Review

80
New York Magazine / Vulture

"A meticulously observed, virtuosically performed ode to miscommunication...Director Lila Neugebauer excels at drawing nuanced, sensitive work out of her ensembles, and under her guidance all six actors turn in performances as meticulous as the set on which they move...It’s smart, it’s barbed, it revels in the wince-worthy, helplessly funny observation of human idiocy...I also left feeling wrung out." Full Review

85
Theater Pizzazz

"The winning play fulfills the company’s mission with little fanfare and much affection...Truly a case of creation by committee, rather than being pulled in different directions, it is amazingly cohesive. Director and cast are one. It’s hard to single anyone out because they’re so enmeshed with each other...Devoid of bells and whistles, 'Miles for Mary' celebrates the truly mundane with an eye for detail and an ear for humor." Full Review

85
Broadway Blog

"The production is receiving a much-deserved second viewing...Sharply crafted characterization elevates The Mad Ones from an extended comedy sketch into a great piece of theater...'Miles for Mary' will hit a nerve for anyone who's butted up against a difference of opinion. Its nostalgic 1980s throwback provides a quirky backdrop, but its themes of human validation and sensitivity are timeless." Full Review

55
Talkin' Broadway

"What I see is a slender premise, funny in spots and consistently well-played, but stretched out beyond its comfort zone, to almost two intermissionless hours, and lacking a certain eccentricity that might light a fire under it. For what's on stage here is a bloated ensemble effort...The Mad Ones are being a little condescending to this bunch...Neugebauer directs the intricate interplay persuasively, and the actors fit comfortably into the faculty's insecure skins." Full Review

70
CurtainUp

"The main comedic element lies in our pleasure of watching grownups behave like children and intelligent grownups behave like fools. The main dramatic element is anticipation of the blowup we are sure will eventually occur. Certainly, under the capable direction of Lila Neugebauer, this is ensemble acting at its best...The problem is that with nothing really at stake...The fact that many in the audience did find the play entertaining is the triumph of style over substance." Full Review

65
BroadwaySelect

"It doesn’t hit the bull’s eye on the target, but it’s only one mere circle away from it...What’s strong is that the characterizations offer many surprises...There’s lip-smacking potential here, but 'Miles For Mary' simply isn’t as constantly funny as a theatergoer would want. The audience did laugh now and then, but they didn’t for many long stretches – and yet they expected to. It’s a play that is oh-so-close, yes, but oh-so-far away, too...Here’s an ensemble worthy of an award." Full Review

95
Theatre Arts Daily

"Intensely satisfying experience...Scripted and acted with laser-precision by a flawlessly committed cast of six, along with the help of director and credited co-writer Neugebauer...One of the funniest new theatre pieces in recent memory, its deliciously nasty sense of humor spawning from the inherent comedy of seeing the most uncomfortable moments of life reflected right back onto the audience." Full Review

85
The New York Times

for a previous production "This meticulous creation from the Mad Ones theater troupe would send you bolting for the exit, if it weren’t so funny and unexpectedly touching...As directed by Lila Neugebauer, with a precision-tuned cast, the production cannily uses interactive acting to plumb the dysfunction in group dynamics...Their performances are so indivisibly linked that it would be an injustice to single one out...Neugebauer is fast establishing herself as one of the finest ensemble directors in New York." Full Review

90
Time Out New York

for a previous production "Your troubles lift from your shoulders while you're watching the show, a bittersweet comedy about high-school committee work in 1989...It's pure delight, an easy way to pay a few bucks for radiating pleasure...The company is hugely collaborative...And that collectivity has made for precision, invention, richness...Perhaps all this nostalgia doesn't apply if you don't remember the first Clinton administration. But for the rest of us, 'Miles for Mary' is being run in our honor and memory." Full Review

85
New York Theatre Review

for a previous production "The entire cast of 'Miles For Mary' is superb...The commonality of purpose among the cast is crystal clear. In a difficult play that consists of fast-paced and overlapping language they make it look seamless...The combination of actors, set and costumes comes together beautifully as integral pieces of the larger puzzle...The Mad Ones have created a thought-provoking piece not only about where the line is when it comes to getting things done but also about human interaction." Full Review

80
Culturebot

for a previous production "Stephanie Wright Thompson’s performance, and the acting across the company, is incredibly consistent and strong...A dramatic tone poem, so thick on atmosphere, I still worried toward the end about the thinness of the arc, the shallowness of its depths. Sure, I enjoyed myself but I didn’t know exactly why, or what for...Ultimately, the show’s relentless commitment to detail and unflagging performances succeeds as its own kind of marathon." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

85
Funny, Clever, Great acting, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if a talented and committed ensemble + smart writing/directing -- i really enjoyed this!

Don't see it if if any criticism, maybe the stakes were too low

90
Clever, Great acting, Masterful, Great staging, Perfect direction

See it if a masterfully written & performed '80s-set play about interpersonal relationships and goal-achievement among educators sounds fascinating.

Don't see it if hyper-realistic dialogue (often awkward, often funny) doesn't interest you or plot-heavy plays are more your cup of tea.

91
Clever, Exquisite, Intense, Dated, Hilarious

See it if you value fresh, vibrant theater; talky plays; were working in the 80s; can handle tense emotions burbling under the surface of pleasantries

Don't see it if you don't like naturalistic plays that bore into the excruciating minutiae of the mundane. Overlapping talking confuses you.

Also It's hard to describe this spectacular show, because it's less about t... Read more Read less

75
Funny, Clever, Delightful

See it if You enjoy natural dialogue and exploring the silliness of office/teacher culture.

Don't see it if You want something with consistently fast pacing.

75
Intriguing premise, Fine ensemble work, Group portrait, through a series of dull meetings, of hs teacher/fundraisers, Deliberately banal

See it if meticulously recreated 80s high school administration types and milieu appeal to you; group dynamics and the jargon that shapes them appeals

Don't see it if you have enough of the alternately boring, passive/aggressive drama and dynamics of official meetings in your life; dislike 80s nostalgia

Also What little dramatic arc there is to the evening--beyond the somewhat ... Read more Read less

70
Funny, Slow, Trivial, Repetitive, Strong acting

See it if you're into group dynamics with 80s methods used in endless meetings. Impressive ensemble, but material wears thin. Some laughs/insights.

Don't see it if you want action, not a table convo. Play re: insipidity/tedium of meetings, sometimes succumbs to same. Best at end when gloves come off.

85
Funny, Delightful, Great acting, Refreshing, Great writing

See it if you enjoy clever humor in a typically mundane situation. The cast is on fire and deliver on the laughs. Also a poignant message illustrated.

Don't see it if you don’t like dry humor or are looking for something that doesn’t take place in the same setting and situation. You prefer big staging.

90
Funny, Clever, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if Due to the brilliantly deadpan performances on stage, the laughs just keep on coming. The observational humor is king in this play.

Don't see it if Planning a telethon has never been so much fun. The play doesn't make fun of the characters but embraces them and their lives. A MUST SEE!

82
Clever, Great acting, Great writing

See it if you have been a school teacher, or have had long meeting with people who are insecure and love cliches. Great acting and script. Hilarious!

Don't see it if you’re not in the mood for a very clever play about a group of 1980s teachers, trying to be “all grown -up”, but are adolescents at heart.

80
Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Refreshing

See it if You want to spend time in a committee meeting at a high school, eavesdropping on some interesting characters

Don't see it if If meetings make you cringe , this is too spot on.

82
Clever, Intelligent, Refreshing, Great writing

See it if you enjoy a colloquial storytelling and a narrative without overflowing actions and conflicts

Don't see it if you'd like to see more action and a more active play

Also This is such a well-rehearsed ensemble piece that I cant see this bein... Read more Read less

88
Funny, Clever, Great acting, Quirky, Great writing

See it if you've ever attended a committee meeting, faculty or otherwise, and listened incredulously as the participants revealed themselves.

Don't see it if you need an action-packed script; this is all dialogue, much of it very funny

Also My only quibble is that it does go on a bit too long -- almost two hou... Read more Read less

70
Funny, Clever, Great acting, Slow

See it if you would enjoy a funny show focused on we work in groups for better or worse and attempt collaborate. Great humor and acting.

Don't see it if you want a face paced show, the show is about a group of teachers attempting to plan a fundraiser, so it's not action packed

77
Quirky, Banal, Excruciating, Slow, Entertaining

See it if You easily find humor in daily existence.

Don't see it if Normal life drives you crazy

90
Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if You have ever taken any kind of leadership workshops etc. it was a hilarious take on a low stake purpose having inflated stakes.

Don't see it if You only enjoy theatre with a strong resolved conflict. This was a near perfect slice of life piece.

66
Indulgent, Cliched, Insipid, Overrated, Fluffy

See it if You want an VERY long SNL skit. Is this really the best thing PH can produce after all these years?

Don't see it if YOu want to see a real play that says something. This is NOT very good,

58
Indulgent, Excruciating, Cliched, Overrated, Slow

See it if 2hours of meaningless banter is your thing although it might have been clever for 15 minutes

Don't see it if You get irritated by PC office meetings infused with massive amounts of pettiness

84
Funny, Clever, Quirky, Cringe-worthy, Sincere

See it if you know the painful nature of working in small committees, where every turf battle over small issues can become an epic struggle.

Don't see it if you don't like alternative comedy. This show is all about subtle moments of uncomfortable humor, not big broad belly laughs.

55
Great acting, Indulgent, Slow

See it if You like your slice of life plays to be overdone, i.e. inauthentic, not life, with the writing very exaggerated. Does no one value subtle?

Don't see it if You would prefer to see the good acting better served.

93
Absorbing, Dizzying, Great acting, Refreshing, Hilarious

See it if You appreciate the theatre of power structures and are in the mood for a seriously intense comedy

Don't see it if You like comedy that doesn't force you to use your attention span and intellect

Also Lila Neugebauer is a god

25
Boring, Disappointing, Overlong, An extended (and endless) 10 minute snl skit, Performances are very good; wish that the script was better

See it if you enjoy overlong, repetitive plays. This is an overlong skit. The performances are all very good—that is the best thing that can be said.

Don't see it if you appreciate fine theatre. This isn't it.

90
Funny, Intelligent, Refreshing, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if You like well paced and smartly observed comedy drama performed by a pitch perfect ensemble. Staff meetings made entertaining!

Don't see it if No reason not to see it!

90
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Riveting, Great writing

See it if you enjoy a well written and performed piece that translates into a stage version of an excellent Seinfeld episode

Don't see it if do not enjoy comedy

81
Funny, Clever, Great acting, Indulgent, Overrated

See it if You can imagine SNL doing a two-hour skit about planning a small telethon in the 1980s — and you’d like something like that.

Don't see it if You dislike “cute but stupid” plays. There’s not much to this but a group of good actors having fun chewing the scenery.

81
Great ensemble, Crisp, Satirical with a heart, Nicely constructed

See it if You've ever been part of a group intent on doing good. Filled with the banalities we tell ourselves & foist on others & so revelatory of...

Don't see it if the undercurrents in any group endeavor. Funny, focussed, sharply observed but never mean or patronizing. Engaging actors, as well.


Cast & Creatives (13)