Already closed | 1h 30m | East Village

Mlima's Tale

From 139 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Relevant

About the show

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage returns to the Public with a new drama, which takes us on a journey that starts in a game park in Kenya and goes around the world. More…

'Mlima's Tale' is the story of Mlima, a magnificent elephant trapped in the clandestine international ivory market. Following a trail of greed and desire as old as trade itself, Mlima leads us through memory and fear, history and tradition, and want and need. Obie Award winner Jo Bonney directs this poignant new play that explores the surprising and complicated deals that connect us all.  

Member Reviews (139)


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

Sophisticated, Relevant, Intelligent, Great staging, Ambitious

See it if you like current stories of greed/corruption, told w well-drawn characters. Mlima (eleph) is beautiful to watch, but his poetry wears thin.

Don't see it if you collect ivory. MT's staging is innovative/impressive, as are sound and light. Well-acted. I wasn't terribly moved, but I was engaged.

Haunting, Exquisite, Great acting, Relevant, Profound

See it if You can admire beauty in despair, see a tragic problem from all sides including your own hand in it and enjoy it as theatre. Brilliant!

Don't see it if You have a hard time with metaphors, have a cold heart regarding animal rights or are easily disturbed.

Clever, Relevant, Sad, Absorbing, Thought-provoking

See it if Elephant tusks from poachers make their way through corrupt officials to wealthy buyer. Informative & I liked the portrayal of the elephant.

Don't see it if Short vignettes as the tusks travel. No character development. I learned more about the issue but there were no surprises.

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Profound, Evocative, Relevant

See it if you don't want to miss another shattering indictment of the human condition by Nottage that hits close to the (literal & figurative) bone.

Don't see it if you try to avoid drama that can be unsettling & make you look inward; you prefer straightforward storytelling to representational staging.

Also One cannot comment on this production without noting the graceful, poe... Read more Read less

Stately, Handsome, Rhythmic, Not-so-dramatic, Pictorial

See it if you’d like to track a poached pair of elephant tusks on a spectacular (if not so dramatic) journey from elephant to collector’s trophy room.

Don't see it if dramatized lectures are not your thing, no matter how strikingly beautiful (& this 1 is).

Also This is a gorgeous piece to look at & listen to, but flawed. Mlima, an... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Actors wear too many hats

See it if If for no other reason, see it for the perfection of Sahr Ngaujah as Mlima; interested in the corruption and greed behind animal poaching.

Don't see it if I sometimes found it confusing watching the same actors playing multiple roles. Would have preferred focusing more on the story.

Clever, Absorbing, Enchanting

See it if You want to see something very different and interesting

Don't see it if If you have trouble with actors playing multiple parts

Also I typically don’t like plays where actors play more than one role but ... Read more Read less

Very good theatre.

See it if You appreciate a goos story welll and imaginately told.

Don't see it if You want tradional story telling.

Ambitious, Absorbing, Profound, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy Lynn Nottage's work. You want to see a beautiful and sad journey told incredibly well.

Don't see it if You want a big production and can't just sink into the slight absurdity of the production. The many roles of the actors can be confusing.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing

See it if you want amazing acting, staging and writing.This is the real deal.This is why there IS a Public Theatre.Riveting. Powerful. Relevant

Don't see it if you thought Jersey Boys and Mama Mia were the height of theatre.This will make you think, break your heart, and amaze you. Brilliant.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Surprisingly human-centric, Intelligent, Polished

See it if you’re into humankind & art, art & the manufacture of exclusivity. Not only about elephants, but about how we respect items over life.

Don't see it if you prefer sanctimonious PETA campaigns; don’t think fuller, less shrill communication is better for addressing our perspective on nature.

Also I was laughably wrong on what I thought this play was going to be. I t... Read more Read less

Poetic, Great acting, Intelligent, Absorbing, Relevant

See it if you might like a beautiful and poetic play with great performances about the sad journey of an elephant's ivory tusks after he is killed.

Don't see it if you're looking to learn a lot about the ivory trade. It's mostly corruption and greed we all know about, although presented in creative way.

Ambitious, Intelligent, Must see, Relevant, Resonant

See it if If it is put up again. This could be an exquisite play. It is too important a topic to lie fallow. MLIMA is beautifully portrayed.

Don't see it if You dont like the constant change of actor from one role to another. After awhile it actually became intrusive.

Also The staging is brilliant. The lighting and music brilliant. The moveme... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great writing, Profound, Edgy, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy poignant pieces about contemporary issues presented in a spiritual fashion

Don't see it if representational drama is not your style

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if you like new, inventive theater that packs an emotional punch. An old story of poaching told in a refreshing and compelling way.

Don't see it if you don't care about dwindling wildlife in Africa due to poaching

Absorbing, Great acting, Entertaining, Relevant, Intelligent

See it if interested in the story of animal poaching & the trail of illegal ivory from a killed animal in Kenya to an expensive piece of art

Don't see it if don't like shows where actors play multiple characters; need elephant portrayed in costume rather than by beautiful movements

Also Sahr Ngauhah was amazing as Mlima. For the most part the other actors ... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intense, Intelligent

See it if you're intrigued by the ivory trade and want to be informed through an artistic medium.

Don't see it if you aren't intrigued by the subject matter.


See it if A trail of a great elephant's blood haunting the dozen people trafficking its tusks across the globe, from the killers to the corrupt police

Don't see it if Guns or killing an animal/person is triggering. Don't like stories without traditional protagonist plot.

Also Ticket from online rush for $27.50.

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy a straight forward play that is beautifully acted and directed. Sahr Ngaujah is a very powerful Mlima.

Don't see it if You know a lot about endangered animals and the ivory trade as the play may seen too simplistic. It is still an excellent production though.

Also The ambiance is also a star of the play, the African proverbs, the min... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Exquisite, Masterful, Great staging, Great writing

See it if a well written, acted and imaginatively envisioned play is what makes you get up out of your home and come to the theater.

Don't see it if you think a interesting play about the ivory trade doesn’t affect your life in any way, shape, or form. You surprisingly would be wrong.

Also This talented cast of four actors play 10 different characters with th... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Ambitious

See it if You value fine ensemble acting and a story well and provocatively told about an important subject: ivory poaching and trade.

Don't see it if You require showy production values. This is about effactive storytelling.

Also Fine lighting and sound design are evocative and underscore the fine w... Read more Read less

Great staging, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Slow, Purple prose

See it if you like plays about how we all contribute to a wrong-doing in small ways.

Don't see it if long monologues of poetic flowery imagery aren't for you.


See it if You are interested in seeing a beautifully presented show on the subject of ivory poaching by a great playwright.

Don't see it if You are not interested in an arid expose of corruption. This is poetic and lovely to look at, but unengaging and obvious.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great writing, Riveting, Thought-provoking

See it if you, like me, are a fan of Lynn Nottage. This is another brilliant play. She is incredible!

Don't see it if You don't care for wildlife and care less about their cruel unnecessary deaths.

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intense, Resonant, Masterful

See it if You are an aspiring playwright or director. This is a masterfully staged and efficient production with an inventive script.

Don't see it if Dislike shows with a message. This is definitely a show that is not shy about making the audience face some of their own cruelty.

Also I was very lucky to have procured one ticket to the closing performanc... Read more Read less

April 15th, 2018
"Nottage’s beautiful, endlessly echoing portrait of a murder and its afterlife...Nottage and her director have shaped this story with such theatrical inventiveness and discipline that it never feels sensational, on the one hand, or pious, on the other...She packs a wealth of cultural, political, ...
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April 16th, 2018
"Director Jo Bonney’s beautiful production traces the path of Mlima’s prized tusks through the international ivory market...'Mlima’s Tale' has an exceptional cast, whose four actors of color play multiple roles (sometimes transracially). The world Nottage has brought to the stage is rich with det...
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April 15th, 2018
"While it’s not a revelatory theatrical experience, the show is tightly crafted and engagingly performed...Moves us swiftly and often effectively through its story...If Nottage’s play lacks something, it’s a sense of surprise...Bonney does crisp, uptempo work with her actors, and scores the trans...
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April 15th, 2018
"More didactic than narratively involving, the show never accumulates much dramatic force...The ensemble's frequent shifts in gender and nationality are sometimes confusing, and while there are many powerful moments, the narrative is choppy and disjointed...Clocking in at a mere 80 minutes, the p...
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