'My Eyes Went Dark' comes to New York following runs at the Finborough Theatre, London and the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, and was nominated for three Off West End Theatre Awards.
“Written and directed with thoughtful precision by Matthew Wilkinson...The production is a performance tour de force around which soul tragedy, self-betrayal and vengeance combine to break open an enlightened revelation by the play’s conclusion…Wilkinson’s work and this production are an intriguing mental exercise…The play’s power and dynamism are trenchant. This is an exceptional achievement in a production that is stylized and expressionistic.” Full Review
"The two-hander features the extraordinary acting talents of Declan Conlon and Thusitha Jayasundera. Conlon's portrayal of Nikolai Koslov is an evocative, heartrending performance. Jayasundera plays multiple roles that fill out the entire story...'My Eyes Went Dark' is a very timely piece of theater that examines a tragedy from a rarely seen perspective. It is an intriguing play that will surely captivate metro area audiences." Full Review
"This beautifully told tale of utter grief and sadness is slowly parceled out to us over the 90 minutes we spend with these two souls that inhabit this perfectly crafted small space. Declan Conlon and Thusitha Jayasundera, the two very fine actors that have gifted us with their presence and talent, make it feel huge though...Although Wilkinson’s deep and layered drama has moments of disconnect, the play and the performances overcome those unfocused scenes as a whole." Full Review
"Conlon is especially brilliant at signaling submerged emotions, a skill that proves invaluable here...Given the fragmented nature of Matthew Wilkinson's script, the narrative is occasionally a little confusing...Still, under Wilkinson's direction, there are many passages of unsparing power, and Conlon and Jayasundera hold the play together through a potent combination of talent and nerve." Full Review
“Performed in a small, intimate space with only a pair of chairs onstage, the play's potency is not borne solely by the Lear-like power of Conlon's performance. He is equaled by co-star Jayasundera, an accomplished actress who portrays multiple other characters who cross Koslov's path…These two finely wrought performances are honed to a sharp edge by the playwright, who also directs…A most unsettling evening that raises at least as many questions as it addresses.” Full Review
“Wilkinson's precise ear for dialogue makes his succession of brief scenes convincing, and ‘My Eyes Went Dark’ has power as a high-intensity acting showcase. But there's too little analysis of the mechanisms of revenge and forgiveness. Instead, the play offers intense, histrionic moments that we thrill to as voyeurs, not as thinkers. Actual grief and actual murder are repurposed for our dark entertainment, and there's something ugly in that." Full Review
“This should have been a powerful story, but it failed to engage me for one important reason. The character of Koslov is so unremittingly unlikable that it was difficult to be invested in his fate. Furthermore, the story is told out of sequence and is sometimes confusing. Resorting to colored lights and loud noises does not improve the material. Late in the play, it is suggested that Koslov’s rage against the flight controller was caused by displaced guilt. By that point, I no longer cared.” Full Review
“Sincere as all this is, and significant as are its concerns with vengeance, forgiveness, guilt, and responsibility, the cool, quiet, low-key, soporifically paced production sometimes almost made my own eyes go dark…Jayasundera is versatile, able to adopt a variety of British accents that usually help identify who she's playing, and she can turn on deep reservoirs of feeling when required…Conlon…is less interesting…He…seems too dryly removed for a man so consumed by sadness and anger.” Full Review
"Mr. Conlon’s Koslov doesn’t quite ever succeed in making us feel much real sorrow. His emotive range tends to be professionally efficient, but veers dangerously towards the melodramatic…Mr. Wilkinson, as the director, shares some of the responsibility for this shortcoming. More dauntingly, the action takes place over a broad range of locales...and at a pace much more suited to film or television than to the stage...Jayasundera, however, acquits herself remarkably well." Full Review
"'My Eyes Went Dark' turns out not to be particularly intellectually challenging, despite the questions it raises, because once raising them it doesn’t really do anything more with them. The premise of the play is a valid one but the play itself could use a lot more editing and fleshing out. And so my bottom line is this: the play itself is somewhat disappointing but the actors’ performances are phenomenal and those performances alone are justification enough for your seeing this one." Full Review
"The staging...effectively guides the play through hopscotching shifts in setting and time. Too often, however, the script jumps face first into scenes, then flounders as the exposition-laden dialogue tries to pick up the slack...Ms. Jayasundera moves deftly from role to role...Mr. Conlon’s Koslov is an unfinished sketch, barely shaded beyond his revenge...The peak emotional moments verge on the melodramatic...'My Eyes Went Dark' at once presents us with too little and broadcasts too much." Full Review
"The play’s short cryptic scenes are imaginatively staged on a nearly bare set, depicting Nikolai’s remorse and frustrated, finally violent search for justice. It is taut and involving and the actors are strong. The main drawback is the lack of attention to Koslov’s Russian heritage, which, because of its repeated mentions, presumably forms a large part of his motivations...That powerful and meaningful aspect of the man is merely skimmed." Full Review
for a previous production “One of the finest pieces of theatre produced this season…Wilkinson takes you on a spectacularly believable journey…The multi-talented Jayasundera who played every other character in the play could not be faulted. She had made a complete, seamless choice for each. With two such magnificent actors, this play truly shines…If I had queued overnight for this production, it would have been worth it. It would be a crime if a single seat for this production goes unsold.” Full Review
for a previous production “An extremely powerful play about justice, revenge and forgiveness...It’s a measure of the play’s success that abstract questions about vengeance and mercy are given a concrete application…It helps that the piece is performed by two first-rate actors…Wilkinson’s play provides no easy answers but poses a series of compelling questions about the nature of moral responsibility.” Full Review
for a previous production "For a supreme example of high-octane acting in a small space, try ‘My Eyes Went Dark,’ a flintily uncompromising two-hander…This piece also serves as a welcome reminder of the boundless potential of theatre…Our empathy is engaged by an astonishing performance from Jayasundera…It’s high-order work of astounding versatility; in a bigger theatre than this it would make waves and win awards…It’s some of the finest work I’ve had the pleasure to watch in a long time.” Full Review
for a previous production “Wilkinson tells this story with great pace and fascinating detail. Although based on a true case, ‘My Eyes Went Dark’ has the feel of an ancient Greek tragedy…Wilkinson’s production has a bare, dark traverse staging, with excellent performances by MacAninch (Koslov) and Jayasundera (playing a dozen other roles including Koslov’s therapist and sister-in-law). Intense, thought-provoking and intelligent, both give a very strong reading of an emotionally fraught story.” Full Review
for a previous production “A thought-provoking and accomplished new play brought to vivid life in a high-quality production…Each scene peels away a new layer of character, events and meaning, which sets the previous in a new light…It is Jayasundera’s work that staggers…Superb technical accomplishment sees her snap between roles...in a heartbeat but talent demands that she embodies them so completely and convincingly.” Full Review
for a previous production “This is not a simple play. Matthew Wilkinson’s script speaks volumes and is executed perfectly by the two actors. Jayasundera’s many characters are flawless and distinct – it is a privilege to watch this woman work. It is a superlative example of exceptional acting confined to two electrifying performances that make the script breathe life, and death. The story is uncomfortable and gritty and the production visceral and bare. Go into this play prepared; it is not for the faint hearted.” Full Review
for a previous production “Wilkinson's stark two-hander stares into the deep void of grief and despair…Koslov's numbness is beautifully echoed in the minimalism of Wilkinson's staging…Wilkinson's play might be a metaphor for Russia as a whole...However, while personifying a nation's politics makes those motives quite clear, Wilkinson risks distilling an amorphous knot of issues into a single slight. If this is a portrait of Russia, it's a simple – albeit serious – one.” Full Review
for a previous production “Full of potential…The pacing lets it down...The story line becomes quite predictable in this portion of the play, not helped by the fact that Wilkinson decides to linger on it…What saves the play is its cast…Jayasundera steals the show...She flits effortlessly through a myriad of accents and personalities, without ever taking the shine away from MacAninch. There may be some flaws in Wilkinson’s writing, but his direction is top-notch.” Full Review
for a previous production “The telephone as a device is repeatedly used until it overstays its welcome. The audience is required to work harder than necessary to make sense of what is going on...MacAninch’s interpretation of Nikolai is believable enough, but the character is portrayed as abstract and aloof…The show suffers because it is very difficult to feel any sympathy for Nikolai…The narrative is not in chronological order, making it difficult to follow quite exactly who is alive and dead at a given point.” Full Review
for a previous production “It is hard to imagine a less theatrical stage work…This piece has the feel of a long, ethereal radio play…Wilkinson has written a play that is deliberately disjointed and can be very confusing as time circles around. It doesn't help that the central figure is driven mad by his loss, such that his behavior is often irrational. ‘My Eyes Went Dark’ tries hard to get under the skin of an innocent victim but many might conclude that it misses its goal by some way." Full Review
See it if You're fine with small shows, small casts, actors playing multiple characters, intense themes, and a surprisingly good show for cheap.
Don't see it if You need big sets, linear plot, neat tidy outcomes, or a lot going on. This is a taut little show that surprises.
See it if The victim has a hard time forgiving if the perpetrator doesn't acknowledge their responsibility.
Don't see it if You are not up for an dark, intense story with a lot of grief and anger.
See it if you are up for a serious, darkly themed story which is intensely well acted. Emotions and thoughts of vengance run high. Very well done.
Don't see it if you don't want to think or feel, this is not a frivolous play. The narrative is sometimes confusing, but always becomes clear.
See it if you enjoy productions that will make you reevaluate how we view "the other".
Don't see it if you are looking for spectacle or don't like actors playing multiple characters.
See it if tragic play about the effects after one man's family is killed in a plane crash; told with two actors, one playing several roles
Don't see it if need to concentrate to understand because story can be confusing, esp. in beginning. Some time events are out of sequence. Minimalist set.
See it if Touching masterful acting. The script is about the characters' reactions to their circumstances, & the story is told in their performances.
Don't see it if you don't like to pay attention, be on the edge of your seat, cry at human loss.
See it if you enjoy thought provoking drama about tragedy and human emotions; interesting staging and lighting/sound effects; non-linear time frame
Don't see it if you hate extremely sad and intense drama, multiple characters played by one actor, non-linear plot development; are easily confused.
See it if You enjoy strong storytelling and a pair of excellent actors; minimal set and powerful lighting and sound design
Don't see it if You want to be entertained, have difficulty following actors who change characters or struggle to follow a story without props or scenery
See it if You can concentrate and skip from conversation to conversation without being confused.
Don't see it if If you like great acting, but can't keep up with the back and forth, handle confusing conversations, can concentrate!
See it if You can watch 2 actors take multiple roles as story unfolds... Revenge for the loss of a family in an airplane accident is underlying thread
Don't see it if You aren't interested in the consequences of action taken in revenge. Guilty before innocent...
See it if You appreciate seeing actors jump in and out of various characters and time frames with skill and full commitment.
Don't see it if Watching someone go through personal tragedy is not your thing.
See it if While the actors clearly gave their all, it was a letdown as the main character hadn't truly grown or changed by the end.
Don't see it if With one actor playing multiple characters (no prop or costume changes) the cues for character change and the timeline itself were confusing
See it if Strong performances don't making this confusing, disjointed show work. Very heavy work about trgedy and loss.
Don't see it if You are looking for a clean narrative or have trouble keeping track of switching roles and time periods.
See it if you want to see an intense play about a true event, that involves revenge and forgiveness, performed with great acting .
Don't see it if you don't want to see a play that is confusing, goes back and forth in time and is fragmented,
See it if you appreciate powerfully emotional and dark themes, precision timing, complex characters and relationships/realism presented by two actors.
Don't see it if violence, death, dispair, retribution, self-discovery and redemption unduly disturb/irritate you or you prefer light cheery musical/big set.
See it if You enjoy masterful acting with a cast of two playing intense; emotionally realized characters. The show is dark, but the story is worth it.
Don't see it if You are triggered emotionally by loud noises, scenes that make you anxious with unnerving anticipation, or murder/death.
See it if you want an intense two person show. Some of the best acting in a close upfront theater. Highly recommend it.
Don't see it if don't like 2 person shows. The show can be a little confusing, since the characters and scenes do jump time forwards and backwards.
See it if you like dark, deep drama that is unflinching as it looks at the human condition.
Don't see it if If you are looking for light and fun.
Also Such good acting and directing!
See it if you can appreciate stories of revenge and moral responsibility and intense stories told in interesting ways.
Don't see it if you are sensitive to representations of grief and rage, dislike plays where one actor plays multiple roles, or have a short attention span.
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