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Pipeline

Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Relevant, Intelligent, Thought-provoking
84
Critics
77
29 reviews
Members
85
169 reviews
 

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.

... Read more

Nya, an inner-city public high school teacher, is committed to her students but desperate to give her only son Omari opportunities they’ll never have. When a controversial incident at his upstate private school threatens to get him expelled, Nya must confront his rage and her own choices as a parent. But will she be able to reach him before a world beyond her control pulls him away? 

 

Cast & Creatives (14)



Reviews (198)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
77
Avg Score

65
The New York Times

"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." Full Review

90
Variety

"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." Full Review

80
Time Out New York

"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." Full Review

55
The Hollywood Reporter

"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." Full Review

75
Theatermania

"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." Full Review

85
The Huffington Post

"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." Full Review

85
New York Theater

"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." Full Review

75
Theatre's Leiter Side

“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.” Full Review

80
Front Row Center

“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.” Full Review

90
Deadline

"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." Full Review

80
CurtainUp

"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." Full Review

85
Front Mezz Junkies

"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." Full Review

87
TheaterScene.net

"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 de... Full Review

85
Gotham Playgoer

"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." Full Review

70
The Wrap

"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." Full Review

95
Talkin' Broadway

"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." Full Review

90
CitiTour

"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." Full Review

85
Woman Around Town

"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." Full Review

80
WNBC

"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." Full Review

55
Broadway & Me

“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." Full Review

40
Financial Times (UK)

"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." Full Review

90
NY1

"'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." Full Review

60
Theater Pizzazz

"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." Full Review

60
NJ.com

"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." Full Review

85
City Cabaret

"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." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
85
Avg Score

84
Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Entertaining

See it if you like a multi-faceted story that feels as if it could happen anywhere.

Don't see it if you want a song and dance routine.

87
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing

See it if you appreciate family drama, teen angst/misplaced anger, and the hardships of single mothers.

Don't see it if you dislike relevant dramas or family based stories.

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

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.

78
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if It's gone now, I only just made it to Sat.'s matinee. Respected the play; admired the the production and acting. Play itself could use

Don't see it if more work. The scene between the boy and his father is truly gripping. Too bad Tasha Lawrence takes over the play, and not in a good way.

80
Ambitious, Relevant, Disappointing, Good acting,

See it if you want to see a new play that addresses the issue of are we a product of our makeup or can we escape it by changing our environment.

Don't see it if you don't like social or racial issue plays that examine our social and ethnic makeup and how we our influenced by it.

83
Funny, Ambitious, 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
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if An emotional family drama about race and the educational system; parents who want to avoid the school-to-prison Pipeline for their son

Don't see it if you want a play with easy answers - there are no simple solutions for raising teenagers or for teaching in inner city schools

Also The scenes involving the discussion (with video projections) of Brooks... Read more Read less

90
Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Great writing

See it if You enjoy plays dealing with family and social issues

Don't see it if You want some light entertainment

80
Intelligent, Intense, Resonant, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you enjoy intelligent, resonant family-dramas. Sometimes intense & a bit shouty, the acting is good, working off a very well-written script.

Don't see it if social/racial issues, especially in school settings, ain't your thing. As intense as it got on and off, it was also very humorous at times.

Also Had issues with how it resolves at the end.... Read more Read less

81
Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if you like an intelligent show about the educational system, racial issues and parental difficulties.Simple but effective staging. Intense.

Don't see it if you prefer comedy or don't like discussion of racial or educational issues.

Also I had a problem with the last two scenes. The ending with the mother a... Read more Read less

83
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Relevant

See it if you enjoy superb acting, honest and absorbing dialog, in depth characterizations covering implications of the race situation in the US.

Don't see it if you favor light entertainment, dislike serious drama that is pessimistic about race in the US and difficult and demanding to watch.

95
Great acting, Intense, Masterful, Must see, Resonant

See it if you like intense family drama, care about race relations, relate to concerns about kids education.

Don't see it if you're only interested in comedy, or are looking for something light.

70
Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Disappointing

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.

Also I am not a fan of theater-in-the-round. I was seated far on the side (... Read more Read less

88
Great acting, Intelligent, Necessary, Serious, Forward-looking

See it if you participate in American democracy; you’re interested in theater that offers more than frivolity and illusionism

Don't see it if you won’t engage w/ these characters as both people & archetypes. Play's good @ the literal level, but more powerful @ the metaphorical

Also Excellent cast articulates one of the defining social issues of our ti... Read more Read less

85
Absorbing, Edgy, Refreshing, Relevant, 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.

Also All the characters are basically good people but the family is still i... Read more Read less

81
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense

See it if you want to keep up with the current conversations in art and life

Don't see it if you're not interested in the problems facing so many of us today

Also This play was a beautifully written exploration of its subject. The on... Read more Read less

88
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing

See it if you want to see a great play by an exciting voice in American theater performed by a stellar cast

Don't see it if you are only into plays that are about privileged white families and their secrets

79
Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if Enjoy great acting of a subject that has been visited before

Don't see it if want any new insights

89
Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if If you like relevant powerful drama

Don't see it if Contemporary gritty drama is upsetting to you

85
Absorbing, Intelligent, Intense, Well-acted, Pensive

See it if seeking a fast-paced, performer-driven drama asking you to rethink educational systems, and parent/children & teacher/student relationships.

Don't see it if not invested in raw, natural-feeling stories of urban environments, teens in trouble, race, and the experience of teaching and parenting.

Also Pipeline takes the edginess of an urban street and resets it in what s... Read more Read less

85
Must see, Resonant, Great writing, Slow, Great staging

See it if You have interest in the realities of our school systems and/or like powerful provoking theatre. Sent me running for the bathroom in tears.

Don't see it if You have no patience for a play that takes time to make its point. The beginning is deceptively slow. You prefer happy, easy stories.

Also The relationship btw father and son was my favorite part. And the stag... Read more Read less

75
Intense, Indulgent, Disappointing, Cliched, Overrated

See it if You don't mind audience talking back to the actors as suggested in playbill insert. Very distracting. Acting from some leads was one note.

Don't see it if You want to see a play that wasn't stereotypical in plot and overly dramatic in a false way.

77
Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Engaging, Eloquent, Topically important

See it if you're concerned about the great educational racial divide in this country and how it affects the children, family and teachers.

Don't see it if you're looking for answers. Some scenes feel forced and choppy.

Also Smallwood is excellent but way too old to play a teenager. For me, thi... Read more Read less

89
Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Profound, Resonant

See it if like intelligent, powerful dramas lyrically told and portrayed by some of the best acting I've seen in quite some time.

Don't see it if four letter words offend you.

72
Edgy, Confusing, Slow

See it if you are interested in seeing a very up and coming writer.

Don't see it if you do not like shows that feature violence.