Pipeline
85

Pipeline NYC Reviews and Tickets

85%
(172 Reviews)
Positive
97%
Mixed
3%
Negative
0%
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Relevant, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

About the Show

Lincoln Center Theater presents the world premiere of Dominique Morisseau's drama about how a mother’s hopes for her son clash with an educational system rigged against him.

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Member Reviews (172)

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70
Relevant, Ambitious, Disappointing, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy of-the-moment works. This deals w/the plight of a young Black man in America. Many issues raised, but imperfect as theater.

Don't see it if you want a fully coherent, credible plot and characters. Still, show is engaging and encourages discussion of impt topic. Mostly well acted. Read more

79
Entertaining, Great acting, Relevant

See it if You want to see great performances in a well polished production.

Don't see it if Themes regarding race do not interest you.

85
Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intense

See it if You like edge of your seat dramas that could be taken from today's headlines. Very relevant.

Don't see it if You're looking for a light fluffy night at the theatre.

85
Edgy, Relevant, Refreshing, Absorbing, Tense

See it if Family drama cleverly interleaved within a social issues drama. Excellent music/sound design. Good comic relief.

Don't see it if Social issues are stereotyped. Characters are good but a bit one dimensional. Themes are preachy. Read more

84
Ambitious, Great acting, Great staging, Intense, Relevant

See it if Morisseau's indictment of society's internalized racism via education system Using Wright's Native Son as template, it's brutally effective

Don't see it if Despite Blaine-Cruz's taut staging & a fantastic ensemble led by Pittman, a tendency to speechify creeps in harming the writing's beauty

83
Ambitious, Funny, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you are concerned about the quality of inner city schools, temptations of urban youth, absentee parenting, race relations, teacher burnout

Don't see it if too many issues needing further exploration may tire you, depictions of unresolved matters and cultural misunderstandings frustrates you,

85
Great acting, Great writing, Resonant, Thought-provoking, Absorbing

See it if you want to see a very complex and incisive look at the black experience in today's America, that's deadly serious but never didactic.

Don't see it if you're looking for escapism. This holds the mirror up to our society extremely effectively and pretty devastatingly.

75
Relevant, Cliched, Disappointing, Intense, Overrated

See it if You are interested in work about black families and their struggles in society.

Don't see it if You think this is a hot-button play focusing on the ineffectual US education system. It's just the setting for a predictable family drama.

Critic Reviews (29)

The New York Times
July 10th, 2017

"Lacks the driving coherence of Morisseau’s earlier work. But it confirms her reputation as a playwright of piercing eloquence. She bravely dives into the muddled shadows of social issues often presented in cold statistics and cleanly drawn graphs...'Pipeline' is more confused in its depiction of its characters’ confusions, and not every scene is equally resonant or convincing...Where the production excels is in portraying the bleak fatalism in which its characters appear to be steeped."
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Time Out New York
July 12th, 2017

"A play that sometimes suggests a dramatized essay...Only 85 minutes long, 'Pipeline' sometimes feels thin on elaboration, and not all of its scenes are effective...But in dealing with subjects overfreighted with the weight of representation, the play leaves admirable space for discussion...In a system clogged with rot, it’s encouraging to think that hope may be somewhere in the works."
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The Hollywood Reporter
July 10th, 2017

"Feels more like a sociology thesis than a play...The show has little dramatic urgency...While there are some powerful moments, 'Pipeline' overall fails to come to life...Morisseau seems to be reaching for a profundity that 'Pipeline' never attains. The stylistically awkward drama works best in its quieter, smaller moments...The ensemble delivers first-rate performances. But their efforts are not enough for 'Pipeline' to smack of little more than well-intentioned seriousness."
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Variety
July 11th, 2017

"Karen Pittman is giving a sensational performance in the new play 'Pipeline'...Dominique Morisseau has written some quietly devastating social dramas on her way up, but now the playwright has definitely arrived with this emotionally harrowing, ethically ambiguous drama that raises barbed questions about class, race, parental duty, and the state of American education. Credit Lileana Blain-Cruz for the excellent tech work, as well as for the terrific ensemble work of a small, tight company."
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Deadline
July 11th, 2017

"With the smashing world premiere of 'Pipeline' Morisseau confirms her place in the sphere of writers not to be ignored…She has given every character genuine moments of grace with monologues that simply soar with specificity of circumstance and intensity of feeling…What’s most impressive, however, is the voice the playwright gives to the two young people...I believed every word they spoke and where it came from. That’s a rare achievement, indeed."
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NY1
July 11th, 2017

"'Pipeline' is a riveting new drama by Dominique Morisseau that specifically deals with issues of race and education. But as great plays are wont to do, it paints a mirror that reflects on all of us...Wielding her pen as if a scalpel, she slices deeply to the core of each of her characters. And director Lileana Blain-Cruz stages the simple yet powerful production with expert finesse. It's hard to imagine a better ensemble."
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Theatermania
July 10th, 2017

"Thorny debates within complex social structures are never lacking in Morisseau's work...The only pitfall is that the characters in 'Pipeline' take a backseat to the ideas they're there to present, giving the impression that we're hearing the voice of the playwright rather than her characters. However, it's hard to wish any of her monologues away— each one its own work of poetry...Blain-Cruz and her creative team lean into the lyricism of Morisseau's writing, even as plot starts to sputter."
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Talkin' Broadway
July 10th, 2017

"With empathy and intelligence, Morisseau is able to get beneath the skin of her characters, give voice to their pain and rage, and breathe them fully into life...As the narrative unfolds in the 90-minute, intermissionless production, so well acted under Lileana Blain-Cruz' tension-filled direction, the play is just about flawless. The playwright is exceptionally adroit at peeling back layer after layer of meaning."
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TheaterScene.net
July 30th, 2017

"From Dominique Morisseau, the author of the critically acclaimed 'Skeleton Crew,' 'Detroit '67' and 'Sunset Baby,' comes another powerfully provocative and riveting, but overwrought, play which investigates black rage, racial stereotyping, and parental mistakes. Just try to take your eyes off the high octane production by Lileana Blain-Cruz, which has been brilliantly cast with its six actors, all but Karen Pittman (the Pulitzer Prize-winning Disgraced) making their Lincoln Center Theater debuts."
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Theater Pizzazz
July 21st, 2017

"An intense and powerful play that is thought-provoking, but nothing new...The play doesn’t always work, albeit director Lileana Blain-Cruz does her utmost to flesh out the powerful portrayals...The cast is compelling but the choice of Namir Smallwood (an intensely brilliant actor) appears miscast as he is too old for the role of a teenager."
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CurtainUp
July 16th, 2017

"The cast is outstanding; Blain-Cruz has found a theatrically satisfying way into the social and political points Morisseau is making...The characters overall are somewhat too convenient stand-ins for the issues that inspired the play. Fortunately, the acting and staging is good enough to make us buy into seeing everyone as real flesh and blood people...I found that the author reached a bit too hard for metaphoric lyricism...Yet the lesson itself is wonderfully pertinent and theatrical."
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Front Row Center
July 11th, 2017

“The arena-style seating provides the perfect vantage point for the grudge matches, gut punches and emotional jabs of Dominique Morisseau’s poignant ‘Pipeline’…The casting of Mr. Smallwood as Omari is a risk that mostly pays off. He brings sensitivity and intensity to each of his scenes, and is no less than stunning in that climactic confrontation with Xavier. But, being in his mid-30s, there was not one moment where I actually believed he was a high school student.”
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Front Mezz Junkies
July 10th, 2017

"It’s a compelling few minutes in an equally compelling play, one that borders on cliche but doesn’t fall victim to that trap. The cast won’t let it fall...The two-character scenes are what make this piece tick with such wild lyrical poetry and abandon. They are the dynamics that mostly populate this dissertation on race, rage, and the Black American existence, and tend to be the most powerful."
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Exeunt Magazine
July 11th, 2017

"Morisseau’s engrossing but somewhat undercooked new play offers a keen character study of a mother and son whose lives are imperiled by a reckless and passionate choice, but fails to fully integrate the specifics of Nya and Omari’s situation within the broader context of the school-to-prison pipeline that lends the play its title…A finely oiled production, but I could not help feeling that Morisseau did not push the material to its limits."
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New York Theater
July 15th, 2017

"Morisseau masterfully upends the tired assumptions that might attach to such a drama, in a play that is not just smart and engaging, it is also the most literate of any I’ve seen this year...All six characters in 'Pipeline' are given their due, aided immeasurably by some outstanding performances...We are treated to Morisseau’s gifts, which include not just her compassionate portrayals and an easygoing grasp of literary poetry, but her exquisite ear for delightful everyday poetry."
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C
July 10th, 2017

"Providing insight into an important societal issue while also deftly exploring the stories of individual, well-drawn characters has quickly become the trademark of the extremely gifted playwright Dominique Morriseau. Her latest–and perhaps strongest work–'Pipeline,' now being given an exemplary production under Lileana Blain-Cruz’s nuanced direction, continues that tradition brilliantly."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
July 20th, 2017

“Sharply written, vividly acted, but somewhat uneven…The pipeline issues, while certainly real, don't seem that well connected to the family drama…And one wonders why the otherwise verbally adept Omari - with his well-educated parents communicating in excellent English - speaks in ungrammatical homeboy locutions…Blain-Cruz keeps the pace brisk and the energy fierce as her actors engage in a series of high-temperature confrontations, often abandoning naturalism for poetic realism.”
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Gotham Playgoer
July 10th, 2017

"The acting is uniformly strong...The characters are vividly drawn...The elevated, rather poetic style of speech the playwright occasionally turns to has the effect of making the characters sound more alike than they should. There are individual scenes that are wonderful, but they don’t cohere into as satisfying a whole as I would have wished...The direction by Lileana Blain-Cruz is unfussy and assured. Although I have some reservations, I found the play well worth seeing."
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The Huffington Post
July 10th, 2017

"The play addresses a severe social problem—the conditions which contribute to high rates of violence among young black men—in a fresh and smart manner. Part of what makes 'Pipeline' impactful is Morisseau’s storytelling...From the start, we are engaged with Morisseau’s characters...The glue of the play is Pittman, who is marvelous...Director Lileana Blain-Cruz once again does an impressive job...'Pipeline' showcases an American playwright in full blaze."
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The Wrap
July 10th, 2017

"Ninety minutes is just not enough time and space for all the pain, trauma, and injustice that Morisseau loads into her new play...In the play’s most harrowing scene—and there are a few—Laurie returns to do battle in the classroom...The scenes with Jasmine are the weakest in 'Pipeline.' Morisseau has the two teenage characters say things that sound like something an adult wishes she had said in her youth...Blain-Cruz’s direction puts the drama of 'Pipeline' on a grand stage."
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W
July 27th, 2017

"Though playwright Dominique Morisseau’s people are confused and greatly impotent, they’re also articulate, facilitating empathy...The firebrand piece is as angry and frustrated as its protagonists. Without an answer, Morisseau leaves both them and us in the lurch, hoping for understanding. Writing is tight and vivid. The company is terrific, each and every actor delivering from the gut. Time passes quickly with nothing less than riveted attention."
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Broadway & Me
July 19th, 2017

“Morisseau...bites off more than she can comfortably chew in 90 minutes…But the main fault in this production is less with the text than with the direction. Morisseau's work cries out for the kind of vibrant naturalism that Ruben Santiago-Hudson gave ‘Skeleton Crew.’ But 'Pipeline' has been staged by Lileana Blain-Cruz who tends to favor a more stripped-down expressionism…'Pipeline' is seriously under-pruned. And the casting is also a bit off."
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Financial Times (UK)
July 10th, 2017

"Morisseau and director Lileana Blain-Cruz opt for an over-heated, melodramatic approach that repeatedly lapses into cliché...Smallwood, an actor in his thirties, also struggles to play a convincing teenager. Karen Pittman is more plausible as his mother Nya...But their hectoring exchanges tend to sound scripted...As with Morisseau’s allusions to 'The Wire' and 'Native Son,' the weaknesses of her own play here become all the more glaring in comparison."
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WNBC
July 10th, 2017

"I submit willingly to a drama like 'Pipeline' because, for all the conflict and angst among its characters, each portrait feels true, and justified and genuine...Dominique Morisseau’s intense and poetic new play ...'Pipeline' powers through its 90 minutes under the steady direction of Lileana Blain-Cruz...Pittman is dynamic, a multifaceted and relatable character."
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City Cabaret
July 31st, 2017

"Morisseau's eloquence and Lileana Blain-Cruz’s fine-tuned direction examine an all-too familiar headline of school violence...With an excellent mother/teacher depiction of Nya by Pittman, dressed neat and hip in jeans and shirts by Montana Levi Blanco, the blue-chip supporting cast fits the bill...'Pipeline' explores the wars waging in that school world. It astutely adds the emotional urgency of one teacher...but this play is about questions. We still have to supply the answers."
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T
August 19th, 2017

“An up-to-the-minute, honest, and hard-hitting look at race, class, and the education system in the United States…Intensely intelligent and powerful…Morisseau…and Obie-winning director Lileana Blain-Cruz never allow the play to become overly preachy or pedantic…The relationships between the characters are fully believable as Morisseau steers clear of genre clichés…‘Pipeline’ is a poetic indictment of institutionalized societal constraints, a lesson we all need to learn.”
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NJ.com
July 14th, 2017

"A bit of a muddle...The play has smart things to say about what it might mean to be a young black man in a largely white environment. If only 'Pipeline' didn't also feel so preachy and predetermined -- like a play written to make a point rather than tell a story. Morisseau remains a writer to watch, especially for the deft way she engages in a cultural dialogue within her plays. Yet it seems unlikely that 'Pipeline' will be remembered as among her best work."
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W
July 15th, 2017

"This is an important topic, especially in our city...Morisseau's play doesn't tackle this subject head-on; instead, it's more oblique and focuses on an African-American mother's anxiety over the future of her son...This should be riveting...But instead, the show meanders...Not enough dots are connected here...By the end, it feels like a play that could use more development time to better zero in on character motivations and plot points."
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Village Voice
July 18th, 2017

“Morisseau’s powerful, passionate, and intelligent new play…Velazquez and Lawrence ride these characters’ wildly efflorescent outbursts with a blend of smart know-how and the raucous excitement of teens on a roller coaster…Smith and Omari give subtly shaded performances, elegantly counterbalancing the more demonstrative female roles…This is not a facile message drama about the pathway from school to prison, but a tragedy.”
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