See it if If you want a comedy about surveys
Don't see it if If you want a musical or something serious
See it if You’ve never seen a focus group. It’s like going to work. No story. Limited tension, drama that results in nothing. Felt like going to work.
Don't see it if You prefer storytelling. None to be found here. Performances were good but...
See it if you enjoy theater created by an ensemble, have ever been in a focus group, have young children, Like satire with a cutting edge
Don't see it if not interested in parents of young children, plays about focus groups or created by the actors themselves, are an overprotective parent
See it if hilarious satire of focus group from hell; fine ensemble passionately explores different views on values/character 2 instill in children
Don't see it if focus group format limiting, becomes redundant after 90 minutes; ending letdown; still by end feel as if tapped into psyche of community Read more
See it if u want to see a spectacular ensemble speak volumes about human behavior by merely playing out a focus group of disparate people in real time
Don't see it if you need a tidy ending to be satisfied; you're looking for histrionics or conspicuous conflict. Read more
See it if Natural-light mockumentary-lite observational character studies revealing panel members taking their conscientious parenting very seriously.
Don't see it if Thin on plot and heavy on talk. Appears that consensus note-taking shaped improv sessions that lead to dialogue committed to the page. Read more
See it if you want a show that believes portraying hyper-naturalistic human behavior is more illuminating than what you tend to see on stage. (It is.)
Don't see it if you're looking for a more traditional story arc with an obvious climax. This show feels more true to life, where sometimes things just end.
See it if you want to see the latest project by The Mad Ones
Don't see it if you like a strong narrative arc or if you saw "Miles for Mary" and are expecting something as funny.
"Though not quite as emotionally powerful as its predecessor, it is just as funny and, in some ways, more momentous...How such minutiae mount into a crisis is a mystery built into the company’s method. Some of it has to do with the subtle, super-sharp direction by Mad Ones member Lila Neugebauer...Nothing is handed to you or signposted. The process of exposition is rigorous and ingenious, forcing you to become an active agent in the discovery of the play’s themes."
"It’s delicate and refreshingly anticlimactic, very funny but joke-free, a seemingly unassuming but pointed example of the kind of painstaking group character study that the company has marked as its turf...Lila Neugebauer guides from the outside with her characteristic understatement and precision...It’s the unanswered questions and implications, the mountain of what goes unsaid, that give dimension to 'Mrs. Murray’s' premise."
“The collaborative troupe the Mad Ones has a winning formula...Its newest production, again under the note-perfect direction of Neugebauer, winds back the clock to the late seventies, as six parents, plied with coffee and doughnuts, participate in a focus group for a beloved children’s TV show. Under a barrage of inane research questions - they reveal more about their home lives than they realize, and understated tensions flare. Particularly brilliant is LaVoy.”
"While the company's attention to detail is admirable, their work feels like the theatrical equivalent of — go on, call me a philistine — a Frederick Wiseman documentary. The authenticity is undeniable, but it makes for tedious viewing...Although all the ensemble members deliver finely detailed, canny performances featuring welcome doses of understated humor, there's too little substance in the play to make us care about their characters."
"Engrossing, hilarious and ultimately sobering...Director Lila Neugebauer ratchets up the tension in the room, expertly layering the drone of questions and answers under the shifting allegiances...The piece invites us to play sociologists...We don’t know these people’s families or inner lives, so maybe we’re projecting our own issues. And with actors this good, the guessing-game is a nifty moving target...The Mad Ones make pressing your nose against the glass a voyeur’s delight."
"At every step, Neugebauer and the Mad Ones exhibit an attention to realistic detail that is impressive to behold — even if it doesn't add up to the laugh-out-loud comedy of the year. Instead, 'Mrs. Murray's Menagerie' is the kind of intricate, quiet comedy that grows more resonant in the hours and days following the curtain call...We expect that we will be rewarded with a spectacular foot-stomping demolition. Disappointingly, that moment never comes — although that may be the point."
"If 'Mrs. Murray's Menagerie' is a pleasure, it is an oddly muted one...'Mrs. Murray' has no underlying dramatic structure; each time it looks like something might happen, it trails off in another direction. It's never dull, but it never really goes anywhere...In all other respects, the production is solid-to-inspired...Acting students...will find much to learn from an performance style so real it is almost surreal. If its results are uneven, this remains one of our most distinctive theatrical troupes."
"An occasionally amusing study in human behavior, the point of 'Mrs. Murray’s Menagerie,' if there is one, proves elusive. Sometimes a slice of life is simply no more than a slice of life, no matter how nicely it may be executed by the designers and actors. Although some spectators (who are so inclined) can certainly admire the ultra-real quality of these subtle performances, others are likely to find this event to be a total snooze."