New York | 1h 55m | Already closed

Peer Gynt

From 23 critic and 89 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Confusing, Thought-provoking, Slow, Disappointing

About the show

Classic Stage Company presents a streamlined version of Henrik Ibsen's epic play about the misadventures of a farm boy. Adapted and directed by John Doyle and starring Tony winner Gabriel Ebert. More…

Watch as young Peer evolves from childhood renegade to outcast, adventurer, industrialist, and provocateur, as he searches for a life that will live up to his impossible and irrepressible expectations.

1h 55m | Already closed | Classic Stage Company (East Village)

Theater Pizzazz

"An admirable, absorbing production...To tell this richly metaphorical and philosophical tale with no set and no props is a remarkable accomplishment, requiring considerable artistic skill. Doyle is aided by an able cast, featuring Gabriel Ebert as Peer, at the center of his universe. 'Peer Gynt' is a challenging ride – and that’s what makes it so worthwhile...Expect more thought-provoking, soul-searching theatre at CSC." Full Review


"Doyle has directed Ebert in an outsized performance that meets the challenges of this difficult text and lends the role a certain consistency of style. The result is a Peer who's compelling throughout...Parts of Doyle's abbreviated account of Peer's odyssey are bound to perplex playgoers unfamiliar with the original...There's plenty to debate about John Doyle's streamlined 'Peer Gynt'. What's incontestable is that Doyle and Ebert are an explosive combination." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"As directed and adapted by the Doyle, Ibsen’s 'Peer Gynt' is the story of the quest of a young man who willingly descends to the underworld and ascends to heaven in search of his 'self'…Peer neither finds his ‘self’ at home (initially), nor at his father’s banquet, nor during his encounter with the trolls (a wonderful archetypal image)…This is pure and powerful mythos." Full Review

The New York Times

"This telling 'Peer Gynt' is both more digestible and less flavorful than usual…If this production lacks the teeming, motley exuberance that pulses in Ibsen’s text, it definitely distills the intriguing philosophical essence of a play that still seems unsettlingly relevant…By the time he comes to his tête-à-tête with the onion, we may not feel like weeping, as Peer does. But in this production, we can definitely understand why and how he’s reached this pathetic moment of communion." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"His version is directed and acted with considerable imagination, but there’s no denying that it amounts to a 'Peer Gynt' suite, a production that whets the appetite rather than sating it...What we have here, then, is something not unlike a pencil sketch of 'Peer Gynt,' one that demands an enormous amount of imaginative participation on the part of the audience. But the play, with its protean symbolism, amply rewards such participation, and you’ll have no trouble following this compressed ver... Full Review


"John Doyle has turned Ibsen’s epic 'Peer Gynt' into a kind of Everyman morality play which demands total concentration from the audience to follow this stripped down version. While Ibsen’s first four acts are drastically cut, the fifth act which seems to show Peer’s redemption is given extended play. Some will find this a fascinating reinterpretation of an unwieldy classic. Others will find that the approach is tediously too much of the same." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

“A case of too little Ibsen and too much Doyle. Up to a point, Doyle’s stripped-down version with just seven actors works, but there is so little specificity about location or identity of the characters that it all runs together into a blur...Nevertheless, Ebert is a wonder to behold. He is onstage for virtually the entire play and probably has 90% of the lines...I hope this production will not set the template for what we can expect during Doyle’s reign as artistic director.” Full Review

Epoch Times

"Director Doyle is noted for his minimalist productions...However, in the case of this production, more might have been more. I missed the section, deleted here, of Anitra the beautiful Arabian woman and her seductive dance; nor does Solveig sing her song...Performances are fine, with an outstanding contribution by the energetic and athletic Gabriel Ebert." Full Review

Time Out New York

"The spirit of austerity courses through John Doyle’s production of 'Peer Gynt.'...This slimming down has been effected though a strict renunciation of many pleasures. Gone is most of 'Peer Gynt’s' humor, gone is the pageantry, gone is the verse...The strong cast helps create memorable scenes...But even the production’s most playful bits have little sense of fun. It is elegant and thoughtful, but hampered by priggishness." Full Review

Stage Buddy

“Doyle has crammed way too much into a vessel that craves and demands expansion...It’s anchored by the larger-than-life performance of Gabriel Ebert...As it stands, it’s a production admirable for its economy, excellent performances and ambitious direction, but just like its central character it can’t help but alienate others who’d rather move on than indulge its narcissism." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"There’s so much oxygen in the room that it has displaced other key elements needed for an evening of engaging theater, such as a sense of place and emotional resonance. Gabriel Ebert throws down the gauntlet in a performance packed with physicality and vocal inflection, but it’s cast into an abyss that swallows him whole. By the end of the play, as Peer faces his final calling, I felt equally depleted." Full Review

Off Off Online

"Gabriel Ebert’s the best thing about the production. Ebert conveys the young Peer with high-kicking brio and excess of energy, yet in the quieter scenes his maturity comes to the fore...Although Doyle’s minimalist, modernist approach may force one to focus on the words, the loss of color and variety risks dulling one’s senses and resulting in confusion. To anyone who has experienced a full production, this 'Peer Gynt' seems intent on sensory deprivation." Full Review

Let's Talk Off-Broadway

"This is a shrunken version of the epic verse drama...In the role of Peer, Gabriel Ebert runs the gamut of human experience and of affect and emotion...It would be great to see Ebert in a fully realized version of this tantalizing, confusing, and iconic drama...I wish Classic Stage had brought to Ibsen’s 'Peer Gynt' a broad, determined embrace of the play’s epic scope and complexities. Without that, and in spite of Ebert’s great efforts, the play seems irrelevant, even silly." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"A company of first-rate New York thespians is unable to inject more than momentary life into Doyle’s frugal version of Ibsen’s banquet. Nor is it easy to follow Peer’s peregrinations, especially without visual or verbal markers...John Doyle's ‘Peer Gynt’ may end blessedly sooner than standard versions but it still can’t avoid seeming overlong, like so many of its more elaborate predecessors. ‘Bore Gynt’ would be a much better name for it." Full Review


“Director John Doyle serves up ‘Peer’ with his signature spare staging...Peer is played by the talented Gabriel Ebert in an inexhaustible and exhausting performance...In his challenging and fraught search for himself he twists his body, his voice, and his emotions. Ebert does what he can. But this prop-less, set-less, costume-less, several-hours-less production is also missing, in the end, a compelling reason to watch his contortions.” Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"This piece is long and it is unfortunately not interesting enough to sustain most of the audience's attention. Part of the problem is the casting of Ebert as the title role. He is just not layered enough or likeable enough for us to buy into his journey...Everything about Doyle’s production is dark. The costumes, the sound design and the orginal music do nothing to make this production watchable...'Peer Gynt' has a lot to say but this production keeps too much in the dark." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"This one runs only 110 minutes without an intermission, but it sometimes seems like five hours. By stripping the play to its bare bones, Doyle captures essentials, but the setting seems puny for a play with such lofty ambitions...Admittedly 'Peer Gynt' is an exceptionally challenging, but cutting it down to what Doyle has done doesn’t seem to be the answer...In truth I left more exhausted than enlightened." Full Review

NY Theatre Guide

“CSC’s awkward adaptation of the misadventures of Henrik Ibsen’s anti-hero...The problem isn’t extreme cutting...Rather, it is overcompensation...This production’s modernizing of Peer makes him comes across as a narcissist and spoiled brat...Gabriel Ebert does what he can. However, when the Tony Award winner must use an exaggerated stage whisper for his id/inner self, he sounds false...'Peer Gynt' didn’t have to be traditional. It only needed to not try to be everything.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Handsome to look at, well-cast, and a total bore…The production is so stripped back that it is often hard to follow...It is often virtually impossible to tell where Peer is and to whom he is speaking. Given this stark approach, the play's many mystical and/or fantastical aspects are denuded of their power. God help you if you are unfamiliar with the play; chances are, you may find yourself totally lost…Doyle's staging is a bold experiment -- but experiments sometimes fail." Full Review

Broadway & Me

"It was the cast that initially drew me to the show...They do manage to create a few beautiful moments. But there aren't enough of them to make for a satisfying whole…The meandering tale is supposed to chronicle Gynt's search for his true self but Doyle's concept left me totally lost. And since there was no scenery to orient me and no costumes to signal when the actors were assuming different characters, I eventually gave up even trying to understand it." Full Review

New York Daily News

"Doyle gets an E for effort, but the production gets a D for dull. Peer’s adventure leads him to women, trolls and, in the play’s dramatic high point, an onion — as he tries to peel back the layers to his true self. As Peer, Gabriel Ebert gives his all. So does the onion. Doyle is the incoming artistic director at Classic Stage Company. This leaves lots of room for improvement in coming productions." Full Review


"A man peels an onion live onstage in John Doyle's adaptation…Would you believe that this is the most dramatically compelling moment of the whole play? Unlike most of the other scenes, the stakes feel real and palpable — and may even bring tears to our eyes. Unfortunately, the remainder of this cleverly conceived but confusingly executed production is as sleepy as it is opaque…Doyle has reduced a messy and fantastical tale into one that is merely dull. " Full Review

Front Row Center

"Mr. Doyle’s adaptation reduces Ibsen’s sprawling opus into a pint-sized 'Reader’s Digest' version of its former self...The actors are all quite good and perform with confidence but it doesn’t amount to anything remotely coherent, either in the moment or in later recollection...As a director Mr. Doyle does not seem interested in telling a story of any kind...I would even encourage you to stop reading this review, so you can avoid wasting any more time on this pointless production." Full Review

Great acting, Clever, Intelligent, Profound

See it if I am so sad about all bad reviews but again this is not for everybody to understand. The actors are amazing, the story so is deep..loved It!

Don't see it if you like something more simple and easy to understand

Great acting, Confusing, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if you like a fresh approach to a classic

Don't see it if if you haven't read the play

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if want to see a very deep, thought-provoking play with an amazing performance by lead actor. Do you live your life as yourself?

Don't see it if if you don't like 2 hour non-stop theater experience

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Profound, Relevant

See it if If Ibsen fan. Fresh, original production of Peer Gynt. Phenomenal acting by Gabriel Ebert, Becky Ann & Dylan Baker. Bravo John Doyle & cast!

Don't see it if You don't want to see an original, fresh take on Peer Gynt. Can't think of another reason not to see.

Absorbing, Confusing, Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if you enjoy being challenged by theatre and ideas. The performances are great, especially Gabriel Ebert - he is mesmerizing.

Don't see it if you prefer plays that are linear and fully based in reality. If you can't sit for 2 hrs without an intermission - a big flaw for this prod.

Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent

See it if You like Classic theater

Don't see it if Dont like consequential stories

Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Slow, Masterful

See it if You want to see Gabriel Ebert give it all up for this part. His physicality is intricately woven into his role as Peer. To see a GREAT cast

Don't see it if U expect the action to unfold like Ibsen wrote it. U want cute little costumed trolls and dreamy music. Are not familiar with John Doyle.

Ambitious, Dizzying, Great singing, Indulgent, Slow

See it if a dynamic rock score and sprawling travelogue carries you away

Don't see it if overlong and repetitious themes. some excellent songs and sharp scenes, others just tedious

Intelligent, Profound, Masterful, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if You are an Ibsen academic and are familiar with his plays.

Don't see it if You wish to fully understand the piece without having to further research Ibsen.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Profound

See it if you are familiar with the ibsen story so you can follow the plot. (at least read the wiki)

Don't see it if you are unfamiliar with the story or dont want to read about it before. You may be confused.

Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Epic

See it if Ibsen's bildungsroman of every man Peer and his desire for greatness will show you the folly of expectations. G. Ebert fills the empty space

Don't see it if Radio play theater lacks the pageantry you desire from a show. The first rate cast is too often sitting on the side watching Peer narrate.

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound

See it if You enjoy great acting, life analysis, self criticism, plays about life decisions, mistakes & answers (hint: there are none), It's engaging.

Don't see it if If you like light subjects, complex staging, don't want to listen or think, don't like wordy plays with monologues.

Great acting, Minimalistic, Surreal, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy slower-paced, cerebral drama. It definitely took me somewhere.

Don't see it if you're tired.

Clever, Epic, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if you like a strong, clean telling of a classic work.

Don't see it if you can't sit through 2 straight hours of impressionistic storytelling.

Ambitious, Great acting, Confusing, Intelligent, Absorbing

See it if you like stripped-down productions and great acting; you want to see an innovative production of a classic play

Don't see it if you aren't familiar with the plot - some basics got lost in the editing; if you have a small bladder - 2 hours is too long without a break!

Great acting, Dizzying, Masterful, Thought-provoking

See it if you are familiar with the actual play. If you go in with no back story you will be confused. Amazing performances for something so difficult

Don't see it if you are not open to darker, existential, themes. And if you have no patience or can appreciate a piece as heavy as this.

Great acting, Clever, Relevant, Intelligent

See it if should read the background of the show to help you be less confused

Don't see it if if you need to have straight forward plot

Ambitious, Confusing, Exquisite, Excruciating, Intense

See it if You want to experience what the story or author is trying to say.

Don't see it if you don't know anything about the story or author. Also it's 2hrs an no intermission.

Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if you wish to see a Tour de Force by Gabriel Ebert, A clever reduction in time from the 5 hour original by new man Doyle.Great 4 sided seating

Don't see it if you cannot handle almost two hours without an intermission

Mostly successful, Funny, Allegorical, Engaging, Thought-provoking

See it if you're interested in classics made accessible. Solid performances, especially from Gabriel Ebert. Surprisingly funny and easy to follow.

Don't see it if you hate nonlinear storytelling and sparse staging. You don't like allegories about the self and morality/religion. Refreshed, not new.

Great acting, Relevant, Dizzying, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if you love Gabriel Ebert - much of the show plays like a tour de force monologue for him.

Don't see it if you're hoping for light entertainment or confused by minimalist stagings.

Intelligent, Dizzying, Entertaining, Ambitious, Indulgent

See it if you love John Doyle's minimalist style with all actors also being the audience; you like random philosophical musings

Don't see it if you like Ibsen as "The Father of realism"; this is a larger-than-life story that moves between realistic and surreal scenes.

Ambitious, Clever, Great staging, Dizzying, Original

See it if you want to see a surprisingly absorbing piece with innovation in character and staging, even if at the cost of plot coherence.

Don't see it if you need to be able to follow everything from A to Z and have no patience for some artistic indulgences.

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy classic theatre. Done very well, without too much compensating. Great actors being very truthful.

Don't see it if A bit slow at times, however it's beneficial to the piece, gives you time to think... Might though want to let them do that after the show.

Ambitious, Confusing, Great acting

See it if If you are a big Ibsen fan

Don't see it if 2 hours no intermission. If fantasy is not your thing

Cast & Creatives (14)