Closed 2h 0m
Our Lady of 121st Street
Midtown W
83

Our Lady of 121st Street NYC Reviews and Tickets

83%
(189 Reviews)
Positive
90%
Mixed
9%
Negative
1%
Members say
Great acting, Funny, Entertaining, Great writing, Absorbing

About the Show

Signature Theatre presents a new revival of Pulitzer Prize-winner Stephen Adly Guirgis's brash and dark comedy. A vivid comic portrait of what happens when old friends meet old wounds and how old habits die hard.

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Member Reviews (189)

90
Clever, Funny, Profound, Sad, Devastating

See it if Dark comedy that grabs you with its humor, then sinks you with regret, pain and longing. Brilliant writing and language. Brutally honest.

Don't see it if You would not enjoy a play that explores lack of fulfillment in the human condition, where life gets worse and nothing is resolved.

72
Entertaining, Absorbing, Slightly disappointing, Great acting, Insubstantial

See it if u enjoy Guirgis' crisp, biting dialog & sharply drawn, colorful characters, here in a poignant, funny, aimless story of hope, fear & regret.

Don't see it if you expect a play with the heft, substance and payoff of Guirgis' other recent works. [This is mostly a plotless multi-character study.] Read more

Critic Reviews (32)

May 20th, 2018

"A raucous, rough-edged revival...The cast offers a very rich, primary-color rendition of a complicated group of people. But good as they are, they too often seem to cut corners rather than hug the curves of the play’s contours. Rashad’s staging, blurry and amorphous, is responsible for that. It is often difficult to tell where the action is taking place...Still, no contemporary playwright is better at the long game of setting up jokes, and making them pay unexpected philosophical dividends."
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May 22nd, 2018

“The production is a curious creature: It’s powered by a number of individually gutsy performances, yet, taken as a whole, its punch doesn’t quite hit the gut. It rails and rants and gets characteristically raw, but under the actor-friendly direction of Rashad, its energy can feel diffuse and its trappings noticeably un-gritty...All in all, it often feels weirdly comfortable...I longed for the tensions of the characters to be contained and brought to boil in more of a pressure cooker.”
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May 20th, 2018

"The flimsy plotline is less important than its procession of darkly hilarious scenes...This superb production, staged to perfection by Rashad, provides a master class in how it's done...The characters unveil their hopes, fears and disappointments in a series of confrontations that are frequently as moving as they are riotously funny...Makes a strong case for the playwright as one of our most essential theatrical voices."
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May 24th, 2018

"The results, if uneven, are mostly pleasing, and the play itself, of which much the same could be said, comes through with all sails billowing. It isn’t perfect, but it’s smart and touching—and fun...In the hands of a less talented playwright, this premise would lead to a steady accumulation of gooey she-touched-my-life sentimentality, but Mr. Guirgis is hunting bigger game...The problem with 'Our Lady of 121st Street' is that it’s essentially plotless."
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May 20th, 2018

"Accomplished production, with director Phylicia Rashad building a vibrant yet subtle energetic network within her brilliant ensemble of actors...An amorphous narrative where conflicts are left unsettled, crimes are left unsolved, and goals are left extremely undefined. That essentially means the play's ending is where Guirgis abruptly decides to stop showing us the lives of his characters. If after 'Our Lady of 121st Street' we feel somewhat unsatisfied, that means we're hungry for more."
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May 24th, 2018

"This sampler of Gothamites in motion hits the ground running in director Phylicia Rashad's crackling production...The play is grounded by its most moving relationship, that of building super Edwin and his mentally challenged brother, Pinky...Skillfully gliding from sharp, scatologically-expressed humor to realistic pathos, 'Our Lady of 121st Street" is a terrific collection of genuine New York stories."
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June 1st, 2018

"If it doesn't seem sporting to introduce such an extravagant plot device with no intention of resolving it, the cast of characters, each one a profoundly damaged smart aleck, provides plenty of compensation...Rashad's production is firmly on the author's savage, usually hilarious wavelength without obscuring the terrible pain behind each ruthless takedown...The opportunity catch it in this darkly sparkling production shouldn't be missed."
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May 20th, 2018

"A play that lets fly with a constant bombardment of lunatic interactions...Don't go looking for much of a plot. 'Our Lady' is a character-driven play...The playwright, the excellent cast, and Rashad deliver the goods by bringing these quirky individuals to life as they make us laugh out loud...The playwright's finely tuned ear for dialog shapes even the most unsavory moments into a theatrical feast."
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May 20th, 2018

"Guirgis is a true and pure present-day poet. When an impeccable production of one of his plays comes your way, grasp it...What a joy is 'Our Lady'...The magic comes, in great part, from the playwright’s character skills...Guirgis seems never to have written a standardized character...The language soars, over and over again, as the playwright unravels his story with small scenes...This is a playwright to savor, and we can only look forward to wherever he chooses to take us next time."
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May 20th, 2018

"Dialogue that can make you snort with laughter or sigh with recognition as readily as it can rip your heart out...The raw, exquisite pungency of Guirgis’s language and, particularly, his insistence on looking for truth and even hope in dark corners elevate his work above those of other dramatists...The emphasis is on the individual and interwoven struggles of the characters, each of them drawn so richly and vividly that you want to follow them after the curtain falls."
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June 3rd, 2018

"The current staging of 'Our Lady' at Pershing Square Signature Center, directed by Phylicia Rashad, magically now comes across as an addled, profane sitcom. It's entertaining and at times moving, but the real magic is that the very same words can be tended by a solid director-this one obviously experienced in sitcoms-and refresh a theatrical experience so completely. Rashad has shown that scathing can be scathingly funny. This time I left laughing."
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May 20th, 2018

“Consists mostly of two or three person scenes in which our characters, intoxicated and aggressive, fight so intensely that they are sure to exhaust themselves. Guirgis' script does find delicate, complex moments, though the characters will often undercut them with a punchline, and the comedic rhythm is back to its speedy pace...Feels more like a live sitcom than a play...The dialogue rattles quickly, builds to a raunchy punchline, and then waits for the audience's reaction."
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May 28th, 2018

"All too funny, poignant, and earthy...Each of the characters are rich and ripe as they eagerly and easily throw themselves out into the unknown, unafraid and ready for battle, insults flying...This is wacky-ville like you’ve never seen it as director Phylicia Rashad takes the reins and willingly lets go allowing her cast to fly untethered...Be prepared for the unexpected and enjoy the ride! Guirgis is a genius when it comes to dark irreverent comedy."
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May 20th, 2018

"A memorably hilarious very dark human comedy...Rashad has assembled an excellent top to bottom ensemble and competently guided them to prove that Guirgis's characters do indeed have enough color and humanity... A production that may not have the intimate feel of the very first staging in the LABrynth's own modest home, but it strongly supports the fluidity of the transitions from desperately comic confrontations to down deep revelations."
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May 24th, 2018

“Missing several elements that are usually vital to a play...Resembles an uptown version of ‘Seinfeld’. Not a lot really happens in terms of plot...But the characters get under your skin, and their quiet and not-so-quiet struggles to stay afloat in a hostile world, and their ability to see the humor in the darkness, is like water in the desert. You thirst for more. Hats off to a superb cast, insightful and powerful script by Stephen Adly Guirgis and deft direction by Phylicia Rashad.”
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June 2nd, 2018

"The play itself is more a collection of wildly funny and hypnotic scenes...but if you are looking for and expecting a full arc to the story and a resolution at the end, this is the wrong place...The performances are all pretty solid...Some resonate deeply, while others leave you scratching your head a bit...It’s a solid compilation of audition-worthy scenes for actors to play with and sink their teeth into, and they do, happily and successfully, but to what overall effect?"
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May 23rd, 2018

"The short scenes unspool with heightened humor and precisely timed beats, like sitcom acts gliding toward a commercial break. But this approach tends to blunt the gritty, unspoken truths...Rashad has the most success when she allows those quiet moments of reflection to breathe...But as the play wears on, these moments feel subjugated to something hollow...Actors tend to rush from scene to scene at breakneck pace, never lingering long enough in a moment to find the emotional center."
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May 20th, 2018

"Smartly cast and competently directed...The script exhibits some of Guirgis’s familiar street energy, full of harsh, foul-mouthed humor...But 'Our Lady' is less substantive and less satisfying than many of his other plays...What promises in that first scene to be a farcical mystery quickly swerves in a different direction — or, more precisely, loses direction...The playwright’s ear can make you both laugh and think."
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May 20th, 2018

"The play’s more significant driving force is its array of colorful Harlem inhabitants. Rashad has assembled an exceptional cast to tackle Guirgis’s visceral dialogue that riffs and improvises like a great jazz set...'Our Lady' transcends time and place by exploring themes that continue to resonate: our obligation to family, self-worth, how we love, unresolved anger, regret. The heightened language...offers an emotional playground for the cast, but it also settles into reflective sincerity."
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May 27th, 2018

"A superbly acted revival…An essentially plotless two hours…Rippling, sinewy dialogue that commands attention and ignites raucous laughter…'Our Lady' has loose ends, several vaguely drawn characters,…and an uncomfortable depiction of…two gay men. Despite the play's structural problems, its characters and language are so electric that, even when the laughs subside in the more serious Act II, you remain invested in these damaged souls."
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May 20th, 2018

"This ensemble piece is more like a series of connected sketches for pairs of actors than a plot-driven narrative, but with sketches that display Guirgis’s talent for writing inspiredly raunchy urban dialogue for a variety of damaged characters, that’s enough to keep me happy...As these characters engage, the ensuing dialogue is most often hilarious, although there are tender and sad moments as well. The actors are all solid...Rashad’s direction is smooth and assured."
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May 24th, 2018

"It preserves the author’s quirky look at quirky characters and is just as entertaining and relentlessly profane. The new cast delivers impressively, and Rashad’s direction nails the play’s unusual qualities and the diverse people under inspection...The motley black and white characters in Guirgis’s play spew collective vocabulary not for those who wince at profanity—they’ll have to engage in lots of wincing in listening to these folks delivering the author’s salty and amusing dialogue."
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May 20th, 2018

"Uproariously fun and viscerally piercing...Guirgis has such a talent for how people speak and relate to one another, we instantly believe all of the characters on stage...Profanity, painful truth, confession, jokes, baiting: this is discourse at its most human...Like being caught in a brilliant, funny, invective-packed slipstream...Our time with these folks after two beautifully written and directed hours feels like it should have only just begun."
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May 21st, 2018

"The loosely connected scenes mostly serve as vehicles for Guirgis’s bawdy, rapid-fire repartee and colourfully sketched characters...Phylicia Rashad’s staging keeps the comic tempo humming along nicely. But Guirgis’s text has a narrow, overly boisterous emotional range. Only Doman, whose character lost both legs in the Korean war, unearths a moment of real pathos when he confesses his own moral failings and crisis of faith."
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June 8th, 2018

“A dark, insightful, and strangely hilarious local slice of life...The cast is colorful, verbose with earthy, profane, jivey NYC street talk...The ending is left unresolved, keeping questions unanswered, much like the characters who continue their searches of why life is like it is...Quirky idiosyncrasies imbue the characters with mixes of humor and simpatico...No problems were solved...The play ends as these diverse characters finish this part of their stories, profanity and all.”
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May 20th, 2018

“A wickedly funny adaptation...The action unfolds across ten scenes in two acts...Superbly directed by Rashad, who gives ample space to each actor to establish their character and deliver Guirgis’s incisive dialogue, which sizzles like street poetry...What shines through most...is the writing itself...The cast is exceptional, an outstanding ensemble that hits all the right notes...A ferociously funny tale about realistic people facing tragedy in realistic ways.”
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May 21st, 2018

"The acting is terrific all around; this is a truly unbeatable cast that flawlessly captures the humor and near-vaudevillian speed of Mr. Guirgis's writing."
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May 23rd, 2018

"Entertaining dark comedy...While they wait for the return of their beloved teacher, there's not much to do but rehash old beefs and start some new ones, which we see in brief scenes that Rashad keeps moving right along...A character study, pure and simple. What an odd assortment of crazy, mixed-up characters Guirgis has given us.”
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May 20th, 2018

"Guirgis demonstrates a flare for firecracker dialogue that grabs our interest and underscores his beaten-down urban characters’ capacity for hair-trigger outbursts of anger and despair...Rashad keeps most of the scenes tethered to a kind of heightened reality, allowing her uniformly talented cast to dig into the juicier disses...While the episodic nature of the play never grows tedious, it also never manages to gather much in the way of narrative momentum."
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June 8th, 2018

"An imbalanced work, but ultimately its strengths win out over its weaknesses. I wish like hell I'd known before I'd seen it that it's wonderful when it comes to affectionate, deft character analysis, but that it doesn't tie up all its loose plot threads in nice little bows by the end...Go. See it. Enjoy the very fine production and the numerous three-dimensional characters. This is a very good episodic, day-in-the-life play. It is well acted, insightful, and often genuinely hilarious."
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June 14th, 2018

"His plays are the poetry of the people – the people that most works of American culture refuse to see – and his great gift is to take the language of the streets and transform it into music...The revival of 'Our Lady of 121st Street' is a propulsive production...The music of Guirgis relies on rapid-fire dialogue and idiosyncratic monologues. They are entertaining, shocking, funny...The production has assembled an ensemble of actors that understands that the language is active."
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May 31st, 2018

"I freely admit I’m not in a position to judge its accuracy, but what I hear is dialogue that feels highly constructed, with flashes of cleverness and wit, heavily laced with Guirgis’s signature barrage of expletives. It doesn’t suggest 'authenticity' to me so much as the sassy cousin of funny TV writing, deliberately made racy for shock value...You certainly won’t find much depth in Phylicia Rashad’s flashy, shallow production, though Guirgis doesn’t help."
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