New York | 2h 15m | Already closed

Mother Night

From 9 critic and 18 member reviews
Members say: Relevant, Disappointing, Great acting, Slow, Absorbing

About the show

The Custom Made Theatre Company's new adaptation of Vonnegut’s novel tells the tale of duplicitous spies, bumbling white supremacists, and an anti-hero that served "evil too well and good too secretly." More…

In true Vonnegut fashion, "Mother Night" pieces together the story of Howard W. Campbell, an American-born Nazi propagandist and double agent, and expertly fills in the jigsaw puzzle of a life that mirrors the great events of the last century, and ones we are living with today.


“This riveting story has been superbly adapted and directed by Brian Katz. It features a talented cast that brings Vonnegut's intense tale of romance, deception, and Anti-Semitism to the stage...This riveting drama has many twists and turns...The company masters each of their roles maintaining the drama and suspense of the story..It exposes the horrors of war, treachery, and racism that have devastating effects on individuals. The story also poses ethical questions." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"Credit Katz and cast with succeeding in presenting a fascinating work in this adaptation...The drama is not only involving, but may make you want to read the novel...Vonnegut doesn’t just examine a life. He positions his characters to give meaning to what he devises dramatically...The staging is an intimate work, well-performed and directed and reminding us anew of what a creative force Vonnegut was." Full Review


"Less entertaining than it is a challenge. However, it is impossible not to relate the perplexing story of Howard W. Campbell Jr. to the moral divisiveness in our country today...Grilli carries the largely narrative play, revealing Campbell's charm and persuasiveness. His likability and sympathy are easy to see when he interacts with other characters...Brian Katz's adaptation and direction of the play is a provocative portrait of a man who can be good or evil or both." Full Review

Off Off Online

"It’s a pleasant introduction to the writer...Katz’s adaptation can’t really substitute for the novel or as a credible meal in itself...Katz’s production conveys the various episodes without seeming too disjointed...Although the script is packed with incidents, the production doesn’t really catch fire as a thrilling piece of theater...Although the eccentric characters are always welcome, Grilli’s Campbell feels bland as an Everyman manipulated by others. His story at times seems just to plod." Full Review


"Mr. Katz’s accomplished script tackles the difficult source material that’s structured as narrated flashbacks with overall success. Katz’s staging while working on a small-scale is technically resourceful but with limited theatricality. Sluggishness pervades and most crucially the show falters with its performances...Crammed with incidents and characters and merrily imparting Vonnegut’s distinctive sensibility, this incarnation of 'Mother Night' is worthy but underwhelming." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"It's a mostly faithful, heavily expository, ploddingly undramatic version…While there's a lot here that makes 'Mother Night' reflective of today's aggravated political and social concerns-think Russian espionage, white nationalism, racial hatred and anti-Semitism, hatred of foreigners, and media manipulation-relevance alone is insufficient to maintain dramatic interest…A more concise, verbally trimmed, and dramatically sharpened script would have helped, just as would a better production." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"The show desperately needs to be trimmed down as it painfully drags on. There is too much exposition, though the narrated flashbacks work. Katz’s direction is clever for this small space and he uses it well. The cast is highly uneven in their performances...Ms. Lindstrom and Ms. Gallo succeed the best with their roles, but the characters are not fleshed out enough for us to care." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“The book is a dicey proposition for the theatre. Brian Katz's adaptation struggles to master a story that jumps around in time, out of order, in fragmented fashion; even if a hugely disproportionate amount of the evening is given over to static narration, Vonnegut's singular comic voice eludes translation...Katz also directed, and his slow-moving production lacks distinguished performances." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

“Although Katz’s stage faithful to the novel, it cannot remove the difficulties of the original text...But the not the adequate adaptation, but the glaring inability of the cast to consistently deliver believable and authentic performances...The cast oddly deliver performances that portray their characters as flat or as less than interesting caricatures...One wishes the performances and direction could have been more kind to the adaptation.” Full Review

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent

See it if faithful adaptation of the novel which asks questions of morality and the consequences of one’s actions. A must see for Vonnegut fans

Don't see it if you don't like actors playing various roles

Also Having read the novel years ago it brought back the power of Vonnegut'... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Edgy, Intense

See it if you like good writing, acting, and a very interesting story;

Don't see it if you want a light drama, a comedy, or a musical; you don't want to have to concentrate; you don't want a play that deals with Nazis

Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if interested in a dramatic thought-piece on morality and the consequences of one’s actions

Don't see it if you want something light, fluffy, or funny

Also It followed the basic plot of the Vonnegut novel, but with a serious r... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Relevant

See it if a profound story line with very relevant and serious topics are interesting to you.

Don't see it if If you're a Kurt Vonnegut enthusiast who needs his overt outrageous satire in a very direct representation of his work..

Also His work was presented as a drama rather than a tongue in cheek satire... Read more Read less

Relevant in a lest we forget way, Vonnegut classic - great adaptation, Great lead and supporting actors

See it if Vonnegut’s satirical look-back on white nationalism reads like a seriously depressing documentary of the current administration.

Don't see it if You find it hard to see Nazis portrayed on stage mouthing hateful rhetoric, even in satire.

Also “This is a hard world to be ludicrous in, so many are so reluctant to ... Read more Read less

Great acting, Ambitious, Resonant, Relevant

See it if You love Vonnegut or just plain dark drama.

Don't see it if Negative subject matter is too tough for you to stomach. Nazis.

Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Slow

See it if story about an American who was a radio propagandist for the Nazis & secretly helped the CIA thru messages; white supremacists

Don't see it if want more action because this is told in form of narrative with scenes intermittently acted out; don't want stories about white supremacists

Also interesting angles about culpability & what we do to survive ... Read more Read less

Disappointing, Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if You enjoy non-linear plots and stories about WWII.

Don't see it if You expect any of Vonnegut’s satire. I kept waiting for it to appear, but no.

Also Very well acted, especially by Gabriel Grilli, but the non-linear plot... Read more Read less

Quirky, Relevant, Disappointing, Cliched, Ambitious

See it if You enjoy Vonnegut stories retold. The typical antiwar messages ring true

Don't see it if An apparent favoring of the Nazi regime and a lighthearted look at their leaders is uncomfortable for you

Underwhelming, Relevant, Slow, Intelligent

See it if you enjoy small scale intrigue & narrative format; you like your actors playing various roles and two dimensional characters.

Don't see it if The story itself is interesting enough, but the narrative telling is dull. Actors are good but nothing special, no one stands out.

Also Whatever humor/satire is in Vonnegut's writing is not apparent in this... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Confusing, Disappointing, Clever, Untheatrical

See it if you like material that is clever and relevant to our times though set decades earlier. Fans of Vonnegut might like seeing his work staged.

Don't see it if you need to see your drama shown as opposed to narrated. Vonnegut's depth and imagination are evident, but never come to dramatic life.

Also The cast was excellent, and confidently differentiated between the sev... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Confusing, Disappointing, Too long

See it if You had better be a fan of serious topics but not a Vonnegut fan.

Don't see it if This was a written satire which you could never tell from this production. Also if you hadn't read the book it is a trifle confusing.

Also The poetry reading piped in during intermission could drive you mad. I... Read more Read less


See it if You have nothing else to do with your life, at all.

Don't see it if You like good acting, good pacing, etc

Disappointing, Dated, Insipid, Slow

See it if You want to see adaptations of Vonnegut’s work

Don't see it if narrative format is not for you. It could’ve been a radio play as it was not exciting to see on stage.

Disappointing, Absorbing, Slow, Solemn, Stiff

See it if You enjoy spy/political thrillers. You are a Vonnegut fan who likes to see new adaptations of his work.

Don't see it if You are looking for a Vonnegut adaptation that carries his very unique voice and dark sense of humor from the page to the theatre.

Also "This is the only story of mine whose moral I know. I don’t think it’s... Read more Read less

Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating

See it if You are a Vonnegut fan, enjoy long hours of confusing dialogue and ensemble casts

Don't see it if you want to avoid over 2 hours of tedium, confusion, and rather poor acting.

Confusing, Slow

See it if You're a huge fan of Kurt Vonnegut and want to see his entire body of work onstage.

Don't see it if You're bothered by a messy, slow and humorless play.

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You are a fan of literary adaptations and want to see a funny and biting morality tale that has significant relevance to our times.

Don't see it if You are looking for something light and brainless.

Cast & Creatives (11)