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Night is a Room

From 20 critic and 27 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Ambitious

About the show

A world premiere production from Signature's Residency One playwright Naomi Wallace, 'Night is a Room' explores the power of love to ruin and remake our lives. More…

Liana and Marcus have an enviable life and marriage. Both are successful, enjoying the fruits of their labors and basking in each other's love. When Doré, a working class woman whose life has not been as charmed, comes into Liana and Marcus' lives, things suddenly turn upside down. Doré has grown accustomed to an isolated existence in her modest flat in her working class neighborhood. After a surprise reunion on Marcus’s 40th birthday, all three of their worlds are shattered by an unexpected turn of events.

Stage Buddy

"Playwright Wallace manages to simultaneously debase and exalt the erotic impulse as she asks us to consider what absolute, unconditional love between two people means. In doing so, she makes you feel with your gut rather than your brain, indeed before you can even attempt to reason though her universe. 'Night Is A Room' is not easy entertainment. But it is rare and powerful, and will leave you, somehow, feeling both drained and invigorated when you leave the theater." Full Review

Theatre Reviews by John Clum

"The power of Naomi Wallace's gripping 'Night is a Room' is in the selection of scenes to present. Her model seems to be classical Athenian tragedy, where the scenes give the audience the aftermath of momentous events that have taken place offstage. There are also echoes of classical tragedy in the Oedipal relationship at the center of the play and the heightened emotions of the characters...rich, poetic and highly erotic. It is, after all, about the power of sexual desire." Full Review

Front Row Center

"'In Night is a Room,' playwright Naomi Wallace has accomplished that most difficult of tasks: she has written a story that is entirely new...Director Rauch demonstrates a mastery of working with powerful material, shepherding its varied elements with assured simplicity. He guides the arc of the narrative allowing it to dance on the verge of chaos...'Night is a Room' is thought-provoking, gripping drama. You are caught between Can’t. Watch. and Must. Look., but resistance is futile." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Wallace…has a great ear for dialogue and has crafted a vivid picture of the lives of the two very different women...I would tighten up the introduction or change the pacing. But as the play progresses, Rauch expertly guides the later intimacies and blow ups so that they crackle with energy and no moment seems extraneous. If you’re looking for a play with unpredictable twists and outstanding acting, you’ll be rewarded with a deft portrait of ruin and renewal." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"It’s hard for an entirely domestic drama to genuinely shock an audience in 2015...Wallace, director Bill Rauch, and stunning performances pull it off…The play’s second act doesn’t live up to the first; once the relationships are reconfigured, Wallace doesn’t quite know where to go with them...Still, its investigation into the ways in which love can utterly remake us, and our own hearts can confound us, is unsettling, emotionally raw, and finally poignant." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"The combination of all the elements help ensure that 'Night Is a Room' will be one of the year's most talked-about plays...Wallace is subverting our expectations and tolerances, daring us to question and judge people who are being forced to endure unimaginable horrors...Because 'Night Is a Room' gives us so much to chew on, the easy-to-swallow ending is imbued with a bitter aftertaste that stops just short of ruining the five-course dinner that precedes it." Full Review

Broadway & Me

"Do you have to understand a show in order to like it? I've been asking myself that question since seeing 'Night is a Room'… Aided by the supple direction of Bill Rauch, the actors in this odd triangle are excellent...Despite their impressive work, I'm still not sure what to make of the developments that unspool from Doré's surprise. Much of what follows is melodramatic and some of it borders on the grotesque. But Wallace clearly wants to draw a kind of visceral reaction from her audience." Full Review

The New York Times

"Contemporary realism predominates in Bill Rauch’s impeccably designed production...The play’s hints of the fantastical don’t quite read. There is something a little bloodless and cerebral here, too: an intellectual experiment beneath the stormy passion. So there is much to be grateful for in the excellent casting...The oddest, least satisfying thing about 'Night Is a Room' is its conclusion, which wraps things up far too neatly." Full Review


"Even with long swaths of beautiful writing mixed in amid the inescapable pulpiness, 'Night Is a Room' doesn't really accomplish as much as it wants, nor does it feel particularly substantial...The second act wraps the piece up with too neat a bow for all the messiness that has transpired...Still, it's consistently entertaining, thanks to mordantly funny dialogue and a pair of stunning performances from Dominczyk and Dowd." Full Review

Time Out New York

"The writer addresses a subject that seems positively bourgeois...'Night is a Room' faintly recalls Albee and Pinter’s cryptic, psychosexual puzzles, but Wallace carves out her own territory with rich, daring (if too often bathetic) language. Desire, genetic destiny and the destructive force of love are the topics here, ones that transcend class." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"After the big 'reveal' which I will not give away here, what follows seems anti-climactic. The final scene spins its wheels and ends unconvincingly. The production is better than the material. All three actors, particularly the women, are excellent. Rachel Hauck’s set design is simple but evocative. Clint Ramos’s costumes are well-chosen. Bill Rauch’s direction is confident. If only the play did not peak too early and then go on too long, it would have been a more satisfying experience." Full Review

NY Theatre Guide

"While the actors do the best with the material, Dore and Marcus lack the three-dimensional depth that makes Liana such a fascinating character...The first act breezes by as emotional gut punch meets emotional gut punch...While 'Night Is A Room' boasts a strong performances from its three leads and a top notch set, the second act’s lack of direction muddles it in shock value rather than meaningful narrative and character development." Full Review

The Arts Fuse

"The trio of actors take their roles seriously and as far as publicly acceptable. They are shamelessly intimate, both at a distance and when at each other’s throat. Yet there is a chill throughout this production. Perhaps those opening scene balloons let us know too soon and too clearly that this world will be blown up and apart, or perhaps the yuck factor of the catalyst elicits giggles as a cover for not knowing how or for whom to care." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"It is tautly constructed, rooted in a highly dramatic situation...And it is a first-class, 100% Grade A lulu...Wallace hasn't done a thing to make it even mildly believable. Having taken on this dubious case study, the director, Bill Rauch, does more with it than one imagines possible, aided by a cast that deserves much better...It seems rooted in theories that don't exist outside the playwright's mind, resulting in a work that feels willfully contrived." Full Review


"'Night Is a Room' feels a lot like ersatz Albee— but without Albee’s stinging language or his biting cerebral assault on the moral standards of our smugly liberal society...Wallace writes with a kind of ecstatic lyricism, a love song to the sound of her own poetic voice. But while the individual images can be beautiful, the age-old conflict between mother and wife is reduced to a single blunt and literal metaphor." Full Review

Village Voice

"Wallace's strangely overwrought play forces the viewer to wonder why exactly we are so obsessed with the question of kinship...Wallace also makes you wonder how much new there really is to say on the subject...After a while, 'Night Is a Room' becomes a prolonged exercise in abjection...Wallace's insistence on testing the taboos in spousal and filial relationships eventually begins to feel oddly normative: an exaggerated wallowing that makes us long for the way things always were." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

."One could argue that the playwright has done more to sensationalize the matter than to treat it believably, and that the problem is exacerbated by the casting...Whatever one takes away from its provocative material, the production is held together by the compelling performance of Ms. Dowd, whose ability to mingle multiple shadings of wariness and bashfulness with determination and strength creates an intriguing sense of mystery." Full Review

New York Theater

"The acting starts out so fine and nuanced that one feels excited and even comforted by the promise of an assured theatrical journey…Naomi Wallace devotes the first hour of her play to the set-up, and then the shock, letting the audience absorb what’s happened in a long, well-done dramatic scene. But after that, the playwright doesn’t seem to know where to go. The characters’ reactions are one-note; the remaining plot is uninteresting and pointlessly prolonged." Full Review


"While a deeper play that treats the subject with sensitivity could be effective, 'Night is a Room' is so heavy-handedly written and loaded with bombastically dramatic situations that at this past Saturday's matinee a great deal of the audience was laughing out loud during scenes that were surely meant to be taken seriously...The fact that director Bill Rauch's cast is so good, and so honestly committed to the material, only makes the script's clunkiness more apparent." Full Review


"Though all three actors deliver all-out, no-holds-barred performances, I can't say that their characters drew me in enough to engage me fully or make me sympathize strongly with any of them. And, given the laughs with which some of the dialogue was met, neither was the audience…Wallace is an intelligent writer...Though she knows how to navigate between the poetic and erotic, I don't think she's adding anything especially insightful to the issues she's tackling here." Full Review

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Raunchy, Riveting

See it if you enjoy deep, dark and intense plays

Don't see it if you want to just sit there and be entertained

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Edgy

See it if You like edgy, fresh shows and aren't afraid of highly sexualized discussions. Superb acting

Don't see it if You'd be offended at frank talk of sex.

Original, Absorbing, Intelligent, Profound, Riveting

See it if u crave powerful writing and acting. Your head will spin(as mine did) at the events of this play, a strong melodrama in the Lillian Hellman

Don't see it if vein of complex characters in melodramatic situations. The cast is tops w/ the women's rolls being the most rewarding. I was bowled over!!

Edgy, Epic, Intense, Thought-provoking, Masterful

See it if You love a drama about a touchy subject. I was shocked when I found out what this was about. Don't find out just see it and be surprised

Don't see it if a touchy subject which is 100% accurate bothers you

Absorbing, Intelligent, Raunchy, Refreshing, Riveting

See it if you like your chocolate dark-- strange, uncompromising, lurid and gorgeously wrought. A big brave leap from a singular sensibility

Don't see it if you would prefer something tidier or less grotesque

Absorbing, Edgy, Intense, Quirky, Resonant

See it if you like edgy drama that some may find unsettling, and you're not put off by writing that goes a bit poetic sometimes.

Don't see it if you hate edgy drama that is somewhat unsettling, or you're put off by dialogue that doesn't always sound like the way people really talk.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Hard, Unshakeable, Agitational

See it if You are ready to challenge your own understanding of societal norms

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with difficult sexual themes

Also Wallace takes on a truly taboo subject – a situation involving genetic... Read more Read less

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

See it if You enjoy a well written well performed EDGY drama. The ending drops off a bit from the caliber of most of the show.

Don't see it if non traditional sexual interaction is offensive (no nudity).

Original, Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Challenging

See it if love intense family drama you're open to hard to watch topics you value new stories and great acting

Don't see it if you are easily put off (sort of) incest topics difficult subject matters offend you

Original, Intense, Thought-provoking, Riveting

See it if Surprising shocking raw

Don't see it if Unbelievable

Absorbing, Intense

See it if you like thought-provoking theatre with stellar performances. But don't read ANYTHING about it. (Spoilers!)

Don't see it if you find "difficult" subject matter off-putting. Quite a few people left at intermission.

Play built on improbable premise but brilliantly acted

See it if you think role of theater is to provoke - even shock - audience and enjoy seeing two leading actresses acting up a storm.

Don't see it if you don't like seeing play where audience laughs in inappropriate places as nervous response to audacious premise.

Great acting, Intense

See it if want to see some great acting on stage. Subject matter is absurd and from from the norm.

Don't see it if You are easily offended and you do not like situations that are far away from the norm.

Original, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Uncomfortable

See it if you want to see a topic that is likely unfamiliar to you. Lots of drama and shock value, but unsatisfying. Well acted. Difficult material.

Don't see it if you don't tolerate non-traditional sexual themes well. There's no sweetness or sunshine here.

Great acting, Intense, Raunchy, Disappointing

See it if you enjoy good acting and provocative situations.

Don't see it if you expect an interesting premise to develop in satisfying ways.

Disappointing, Good acting, Clunky, Not-believable

See it if You support new work and women playwrights, and have enjoyed previous dark, twisted Naomi Wallace plays

Don't see it if You think a "shocking" premise deserves to be followed up by reasonably believable plot points. This felt like a Law & Order SVU rip-off

Edgy, Great acting, Disturbing

See it if you don't mind disturbing familial themes.

Don't see it if you mind disturbing familial themes.

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Banal, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if you're interested in complex plays with big ideas, and are patient with inconsistent performances.

Don't see it if the level of acting is important to you (the leading performance was quite weak), and you like your plays well crafted.

Indulgent, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if You're pretentious and confused about life.

Don't see it if You don't need to see everything.

Intense, Excruciating, Slow, Too long, Explicit

See it if you want to be shocked with a disturbing, but poorly written plot twist. You just care about plot and don't mind mediocre everything else.

Don't see it if horrendous fake British accents, graphic sex portrayals, and scenes that never end bother you. You need to be kept on the edge of your seat.

Disappointing, Excruciating, Ridiculous, Disgusting, Do not see with a family member

See it if Do not see this play.

Don't see it if You don't like very graphic plays about mother son incest.

Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Quirky, Indulgent

See it if you like provocative theater. Extremely provocative.

Don't see it if if you're squeamish.

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Must see, Great writing

See it if I have NEVER seen a play that treats this theme ! Can't say more without spoiling the incredible shock factor ! See it !

Don't see it if You can't deal with very sensitive themes played out in a very graphic way !

During previews
Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Raunchy, Confusing

See it if possibly the first time this sexual deviation theme has been explored in the theater.

Don't see it if you don't like strong sexual content, you need it to be more convincing.

During previews
Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking, Raunchy, Cliched

See it if You want to be really shocked by what you see on stage, even if it's not handled well.

Don't see it if You need more than just shock value and are seeking tremendous insight.

Cast & Creatives (10)