On the Shore of the Wide World
Closed 2h 40m
On the Shore of the Wide World
70

On the Shore of the Wide World NYC Reviews and Tickets

70%
(130 Reviews)
Positive
54%
Mixed
40%
Negative
6%
Members say
Slow, Great acting, Disappointing, Absorbing, Ambitious

About the Show

Atlantic Theater Company presents the New York premiere of Simon Stephens’ Olivier Award-winning drama, an epic story about love, family, and the size of the galaxy.

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Member Reviews (130)

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44
Banal, Slow, Excruciating, Good acting, Listless

See it if you want to see some good ensemble acting (as uninteresting characters) in a sluggish, meandering, painfully slow, derivative family drama.

Don't see it if you expect to see an original, absorbing drama à la Simon Stephens' "Curious Incident..."

73
Absorbing, Great acting, Slow, Intelligent, Poignant

See it if Stephens' generational north England family portrait seen though a Chekhovian lens Well written & acted but prepare for lengthy plot line

Don't see it if With three generations to follow, some bear more interest than others. Accents can be a bit thick & staging gets a little stodgy

68
Great acting, Great staging, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to see these actors who were all terrific. However the play wasn’t that compelling. The set was interesting.

Don't see it if You want a fast paced drama. This is fairly slow and meandering. I usually like that sort of show if done well but somehow this didn’t gel Read more

76
Great acting, Engaging, Disappointing, Intelligent, Needlessly long

See it if you like family dramas that are a few steps up from TV soap operas. Wonderful cast playing working class people in unfulfilled lives.

Don't see it if The cast is stymied by inconsistent British accents unlike anything I've heard before. 2 1/2 hours of vignettes keep the play superficial. Read more

95
Absorbing, Great acting, Beautifully staged, Profound

See it if you enjoy talky English plays. This one is long, but I felt the evening flew by. Great ensemble work!

Don't see it if you have difficulty watching a play with very little action. Read more

80
Great acting, Entertaining, Slow, Great writing, Terrific cast

See it if You like family crisis dramas across generations;British accents;multiple plots at one time;Blair Brown;marriage strife

Don't see it if Trouble with accents; dislike spousal abuse stories;slow moving

55
Confusing, Cliched, Disappointing, Great acting, Great staging

See it if You can't find an interesting magazine to read.

Don't see it if Don't have to

73
Great acting, Disappointing, Slow, Great set

See it if you like terrific acting even if the story takes over 2 hours to go nowhere.I didn't much care for the characters.Plot felt contrived.

Don't see it if you want something fast paced.I wanted to get involved with the characters, but each 1 was on for too short a time for me to identify with

Critic Reviews (29)

The New York Times
September 12th, 2017

"A stealth heartbreaker…By the end…you’ve discovered that this dribbling, homespun prose has shaped itself into patterns of profound poetry, as if words in invisible ink had been held up to a flame…The assumed Mancunian accents, which don’t come naturally to most of the cast, are initially off-putting. But by the end, every cast member has created a detailed and intimate portrait. And the final scene between Ms. McCann and Mr. Wilson is beautiful–and devastating.”
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Time Out New York
September 12th, 2017

"A long and busy family soap opera, chopped into 42 short parts, that toggles between banality and implausible melodrama. Fuzzily directed by Neil Pepe, the production suggests an acting class performing an anthology: 'Scenes for British Actors, Volume 8'...Its original London incarnation, perhaps, had some redeeming authenticity. At the Atlantic, it just seems beached."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
September 12th, 2017

“Stephens endeavors to weave threads of existential wonder and terror into the fabric of a workaday family drama. But at times…the experience can feel a bit like reading a novel in which someone has underlined a passage and written ‘THEME’ in the margin…When the play waxes poetic, we can start to see it straining to affect us…The play is at its most moving when it feels the least need to explain itself.”
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The Hollywood Reporter
September 12th, 2017

“A slog to endure, at once dramatically overstuffed and curiously lifeless…The play’s staccato, episodic style proves off-putting…Some moments do resonate…But more often than not the short encounters seem to be over before anything interesting happens…Pepe accentuates the weaknesses of the writing with his somnolent pacing and visually drab production, often shrouded in darkness, lulling you into slumber. It’s a shame because the production features a lot of strong acting talent.”
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Variety
September 14th, 2017

"The British family...is made up of stock characters, each more boring than the next...Spending almost two and-a-half hours in their company is heavy going...The problem isn’t their modest dreams; it’s the absence of poetry or passion in their expression of those dreams...The hard-working actors are not to be blamed for the overwhelming blandness of the production...The heavy-handed production work dooms them to their dull characters and uninspired lines."
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Deadline
September 25th, 2017

"Neil Pepe’s production of this earlier work, about three generations of an English family coping with a tragedy that is only glancingly mentioned, is meticulous and the cast is flawless. But it’s not a top-drawer work, and it left me wondering–especially as I struggled through the thicket of impenetrable accents on display–what compelled the Atlantic to present it."
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Theatermania
September 12th, 2017

“An inert little production...Since we're unable to forge enough of a connection with these frigid characters to ever really invest in their well-being, it is difficult to care…The cast embodies these boring people with capable, competent performances across the board. Unfortunately, Stephens does them no favors by regularly having his characters speak the subtext…With everything that is happening in the wide world, the events (or lack thereof) in this play make it feel awfully insignificant."
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BroadwayWorld
September 18th, 2017

"There's a sad sense of ordinariness to 'On the Shore of the Wide World'...Subtlety done well can be wonderful, but 'On the Shore of the Wide World' meanders about for two long acts before reaching its unsatisfactory conclusion. It's only the fine work by director Neil Pepe's ensemble that stirs interest to see where it's going."
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Lighting & Sound America
September 13th, 2017

“A long, lumbering drama…Both unwieldy and undercooked. The action is sliced up into dozens of brief television-style scenes -- few, if any, of which build to anything like a climax…The author's attention is spread so equally among his cast of characters that, individually, they are starved for development…Pepe gets good, honest work out of his cast, constrained as they are by the script's narrowness…‘On the Shore of the Wide World’ often seems to be dangerously lacking in a dramatic pulse.”
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TheaterScene.net
September 21st, 2017

“Neil Pepe's production of Stephens' ‘On the Shore of the Wide World’ will not please all. The pace is consciously slow - like the life lived by these characters. However, the wait is worth the effort. By the end when the family reunites for Sunday dinner, the play has become both powerful and poignant. The title, incidentally, comes from the next to the last line of a Keats' sonnet, in which the speaker worries about missing out love, fame and success, an apt summation of Simon Stephens' play.”
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Theatre is Easy
September 12th, 2017

“A complicated and profound family drama with a virtuoso ensemble...Stephens doesn’t allow ‘On the Shore’ to be neat and tidy for the sake of clarity. He dares to make his play as messy and chaotic as life often feels. Atlantic’s artistic director Neil Pepe counteracts the messiness by grounding it with organized and compartmentalized staging…Every member of this ten-person cast delivers pure acting gold, making every moment irresistible.”
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Theater Pizzazz
September 12th, 2017

“Stephens uses this technique, feeding us pieces of the plot second-hand and after the fact, just enough to pique our interest without making us feel cheated of the live action...Director Neil Pepe ensures that every element is aligned with and complements every other. Pacing, placement, and design couldn’t be better.. And the performances he elicits from his cast are marvelous…It is, of course, Stephens’s wonderful script that makes it all possible."
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CurtainUp
September 12th, 2017

"I found myself wishing that this overlong play had never left its home shore...More mundane than poetic. The cast...ably handle their characters' reactions to the confinement of the familial shores and the painful loss of a beloved family member. But none of these people really seem worth getting to know...Neil Pepe's largo-paced direction and Scott Pask's serviceable scenery to accommodate the ever-shifting duos don't help."
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Front Row Center
September 13th, 2017

“Not a bad play, it’s just average, and overlong…What saves this production is the fine acting by the entire cast…There’s nothing very fresh or revelatory here, although Mr. Stephens has drawn his characters very well…Although the characters are interesting, well-drawn, and superbly acted, the pace of the play is slow…Regrettably, the plot meanders and twists and turns for almost three hours and then ends with an abrupt whimper.”
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Stage Buddy
September 14th, 2017

"Tends to steer clear of the high intensity that is typical of its genre, instead opting for subtle and intricately crafted moments, delivered by a stellar team of actors and directed with delicacy and nuance...Ultimately, the beauty and the brilliance of this play is in its almost lack of climax, and the fact that every contributing element is working towards this vivid portrayal of the deeply and universally human tendency of being trapped in one’s own life."
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Front Mezz Junkies
September 18th, 2017

"Beautiful, poetic, and devastating...The family Stephens has created is steadfastly trying to deal with all of its inner demons and domestic trauma that slowly seep into our collective surface over the course of this tad too long play...At times the play meanders and elongates moments for no need. But we can feel the authentic dynamics ebbing and flowing through the poetry of the dialogue."
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C
September 12th, 2017

“Alas, this meandering, multi-generational dysfunctional family drama proves to be surprisingly tepid in Neil Pepe’s workmanlike production…Some major plot elements simply move by too quickly, while others add up to very little…Everything about the production really forces the cast to do all the heavy lifting, and thankfully, they are mostly up to the challenge...I suspect that American audiences will wish they’re sitting on a different shore, or at least in a different theater.”
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Theatre's Leiter Side
September 15th, 2017

“Stephens' screenplay-like script...is written in 42 scenes, some quite brief, and not a few ending abruptly just as you're beginning to invest in them…It's hard not to regard the play as a truncated TV miniseries…Although the characters, for all their struggles with suppressed feelings, aren't especially interesting, the talented company does its best to maintain a modicum of interest for at least the first act…There's not much…that hasn't been seen in countless other domestic dramas.”
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Village Voice
September 25th, 2017

"Stephens structures his tale in a way that brings soap operas inevitably to mind...What breadth his panoramic tactic achieves is nullified by a nagging lack of depth...Neil Pepe’s production flows assuredly on Scott Pask’s homey, two-level set, but a more minimal environment might have allowed a theatrical swiftness to offset the episodic choppiness of the script. While the cast is full of seasoned performers, none except Wilson fully slips into a persuasive Northern groove."
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Gotham Playgoer
September 12th, 2017

“I approached the present play with low expectations. They were met...The play has a seemingly endless succession of short scenes that generated very little interest for me. I don’t require sympathetic characters, but I expect to feel some involvement which was lacking here. I looked at my watch often…The fine cast, which struggles uncertainly with the accent, deserves better than this…Director Neil Pepe does his best with material that is basically inert.”
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The Huffington Post
September 12th, 2017

"An intriguing but not quite satisfying evening...The actors contribute a good deal to the evening. Rosenfield is central, as the non-expressive teen at play’s center, while Wilson and McCann offer compelling portraits as the non-expressive parents...Stephens builds his story in small steps, not unlike a television drama of the soap variety. He manages to keep us engaged—he kept me engaged, anyway—but things turn clunky on several occasions."
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Cultural Weekly
September 13th, 2017

"While this dysfunctional family drama has some arresting moments, it drags on too long and becomes predictable and cliche-ridden...Stephens’ quirky observations and plotlines turn into soap opera fodder...Fortunately, Neil Pepe provides a strong staging and the cast delivers heartfelt performances, depicting the pain of buried longings...The actors and director deliver a professional product but it’s nothing new or exciting."
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Daily Beast
September 15th, 2017

"Stephens’ play has a supple brilliance to it. However, the actors in this production speak in such a maddening hodgepodge of British and Irish accents that it makes it impossible...to take this intense drama that seriously...They certainly seem to rush at the text when more slowness and sensitive pacing is required. It became, for me anyway, a polyglottal mess, even as my brain tried to work past all the bizarre attempts at north-west England-speak into the brilliance of Stephens’ words."
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Financial Times (UK)
September 12th, 2017

“Half an hour of such melodrama can be an agreeably un-taxing way of passing a weekday evening in front of the TV. But, at two and half hours with an interval, ‘On the Shore of the Wide World’ soon begins to feel rudderless. What’s missing is any attempt to weave the story of one troubled family into a broader social tapestry…The pacing here is also anything but swift under Neil Pepe’s direction, which increasingly loses focus as the saga wears on.”
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TheaterScene.com
September 20th, 2017

"There are compellingly explosive moments, to be sure, but what also grabs you–perhaps even more–is the understated web of feeling and enduring attachments created in Stephens' writing and beautifully realized by the cast under Neil Pepe’s sure but sensitive direction...At the center of the play is C.J. Wilson’s splendid portrayal of Peter...What is clear is Stephens’ deep compassion for his characters, his artfulness in bringing them to life and making you feel for them."
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Epoch Times
September 24th, 2017

"The work covers no new ground and makes no sweeping statements, yet it succeeds brilliantly due to every moment coming across as real...Stephens has done a brilliant job in making these characters resonate so strongly...Neil Pepe’s direction is quite strong...Probing, intimate, and deliberately untidy, 'On the Shore of the Wide World' shows just what the concept of 'family' can entail. At the same time, it examines the joy, comfort, pain, and responsibility that go with it."
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The Wrap
September 12th, 2017

“A surprising misfire...A kind of truncated version of a TV miniseries…We get only the broadest outlines of his central characters and the sketchiest versions of what has happened to them, including some plot twists that are both clumsily handled and frankly hard to swallow…Director Neil Pepe and his mostly game cast do what they can with the material but Stephens’ script leaves them mostly alone on that wide-worlded shore.”
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The Clyde Fitch Report
September 17th, 2017

"A sprawling family story that’s less a careful examination of any character’s experience as a wash of themes, romances, and challenges from a soap opera...Despite some solid performances from the ensemble, the play takes so much time with characters and plot points that it moves at a glacial speed...A calm beginning yields to a calamitous, yet somehow muted explosion...A family story, burdened with extra details, finally edges into something that occasionally moves."
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T
September 20th, 2017

"Director Neil Pepe finesses the play’s intense realism, developing each scene with the utmost attention to detail, and to the ongoing life on the stage. Often the events in the characters’ lives are disturbing...Still, it all comes across as plausible, even quotidian. What could be more predictable, after all, than bad marriages and dysfunctional families? Throughout, the actors carry the action, keeping us tuned in to their sad and sordid affairs."
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