Already closed | 1h 45m | West Village

Mrs. Murray's Menagerie

From 69 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Funny, Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

About the show

Ars Nova presents The Mad Ones new work in which the creators of a 1970s children’s television program have commissioned a focus group to probe the parents of the show’s target audience.  More…

Over stale coffee and donuts, a group of strangers navigates the murky waters of American belief and perception.

Member Reviews (69)


Great acting, Funny, Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking
Avg Score

Delightful, Funny, Intelligent, Profound

See it if If you want a comedy about surveys

Don't see it if If you want a musical or something serious

No story, Like work, Pointless, Flat

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...

Great acting, Insightful, Refreshing, Riveting, Absorbing

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.

Also This is a smart, clever, original, meticulous, subtle, funny, disquiet... Read more Read less

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

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

Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Great acting, Funny, Clever

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.

Also Deceptively innocuous satire.

Think this is merely a play about a focus group evaluating children's tv shows? look more closely; using "rashomon"-like approach, it shows how parents focusing on the same material draw radically different conclusions about how to raise a child

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

Also Set in the 1970s, it's refreshing to see a time when people could talk... Read more Read less

Riveting, Great writing, Great acting, Refreshing, Resonant

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.

Intelligent, Disappointing, Repetitive, Great acting, Clever

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.

Imitates reality, Very different, Great staging, Great acting

See it if Focus group for parents of children who are fans of an imaginary TV show. A little tension builds then dissipates.

Don't see it if Last man to leave discards survey which no one will ever read anyway. You’d rather see a play with a more traditional arc.

Great acting, Intelligent, Funny, Clever

See it if you like clever shows with a lot of wit and humor. Great acting and interesting topic of television focus group.

Don't see it if you're looking for a show with much action or a suspenseful storyline.

Intelligent, Funny, Entertaining, Clever

See it if you enjoy insightful dialogue and an intelligent take on something that usually seems so mundane - a focus group.

Don't see it if you expect a real plot and a story line that builds up to a resolution or a reveal. This show is more of a "slice of life" vignet.

Clever, Thought-provoking, Funny, Intelligent

See it if Focus group on a child's TV show - questions are asked followed by short (often funny) responses by the individual group members*

Don't see it if need action - most of play is question-answer although sometimes participants get up for coffee and snack; don't want to pay close attention

Also *members (all parents) vary as to race, gender, occupation and that ef... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant, Indulgent, Ambitious

See it if you’d enjoy a comedy-drama that uses humor in another era (late 70s/early 80s) to show how far we stil have to go to combat racism & sexism.

Don't see it if you need a broader plot stretched out over time, instead of a snapshot of one afternoon with a focus group.

Thought-provoking, Refreshing, Absorbing

See it if enjoy non-traditional plays done well. Not much happens but one can read a lot into it.

Don't see it if Want action - then skip this. Just people sitting around talking may not be for everyone.

Refreshing, Thought-provoking, Subtle, Layered, Great acting

See it if You like inventive theatre with witty writing and terrific acting. Very subtle and yet dense and layered. Very unique and surprising.

Don't see it if You need a linear plot line and are impatient for "action."

Also Terrific, fresh, hyper-realistic performances by the entire talented c... Read more Read less

Not completely satisfying, Interesting themes and ideas, Repetitive, Has potential, Good acting

See it if you like plays with more talk than action, interested in watching a 70's focus group. Raises interesting issues but doesn't go anywhere.

Don't see it if you don't have patience to watch a 90 minute focus group. The characters are well drawn but I wanted the discussion to go deeper.

Engaging, Naturalistic

See it if you think hyper-naturalism sans plot has value; if you have any formal acting training.

Don't see it if you MUST see narrative.

Also this is the most naturalistic acting I have ever seen. Those who have ... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Funny, Entertaining, Clever

See it if Really enjoyed the 70s feel and the characters portrayed. Fun slice of life that feels like a real focus group but funnier.

Don't see it if You need music or intense drama, or even a defined ending.

Great writing, Absorbing, Entertaining, Funny

See it if I thought this was laugh out loud funny! The various types of people portrayed along with group and work dynamics were spot on. Insightful.

Don't see it if A straight focus group does not interest you. This is the literal set up through conclusion of one as it might really have gone.

Also The audience is in an "L" shape so you can see others' faces. This enh... Read more Read less

Clever, Great acting, Funny, Entertaining

See it if You like The Mad Ones or watching "life as art" - or is it "art as life". It's interesting to pick out the drama in real life.

Don't see it if You need a very clearly articulated plot with messages that are beaten over your head.

Also As with most Mad One shows, they have taken what would seem to be the ... Read more Read less

Quirky, Great writing, Great acting, Funny, Delightful

See it if you like oddball like especially creative're not afraid to explore something want to laugh

Don't see it if you're not willing to be taken on a self reflective journey... you're expecting to know everything... you're unwilling to laugh at yourself

Relevant, Intelligent, Clever

See it if you enjoy listening to regular people giving their opinions

Don't see it if you are looking for a plot, action or resolution

Also Format is limiting but it is interesting to hear how people differ in ... Read more Read less

Funny, Entertaining

See it if You are a Mad Ones fan, for sure. Peeps in market research will likely find it funny as well.

Don't see it if Talk vs. action isn’t your thing. It’s a very sedentary piece with a lot to say if you listen well.

Relevant, Intelligent, Great acting, Funny, Clever

See it if Ensemble actors directed like instruments in the orchestra. It's funny, smart and subtle.

Don't see it if You like dramatic tension resolved with a confrontation or catharsis

Also I loved this show. The characters are great and very believable, and a... Read more Read less

Quirky, Slow, Repetetive, Disappointing, Great acting

See it if You like improv. This show grew out of scenes written by The Mad Ones. Lacks structure.

Don't see it if You like shows with narrative, and a more traditional story. This show seems like it needed an Act 2.

April 8th, 2019
"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....
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April 8th, 2019
"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 precisi...
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April 17th, 2019
“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. U...
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April 8th, 2019
"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, ...
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