Prodigal Son
Closed 1h 35m
Prodigal Son
78

Prodigal Son NYC Reviews and Tickets

78%
(107 Reviews)
Positive
80%
Mixed
15%
Negative
5%
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great writing

About the Show

Manhattan Theatre Club presents John Patrick Shanley's world premiere starring Robert Sean Leonard about a 17-year-old from the Bronx attending a private school in New Hampshire.

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Member Reviews (107)

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65
Banal, Indulgent, Disappointing, Strong acting, Meh

See it if you're up for strong performances in a talky play. Set in an all-boy Catholic school in 1966, the play stacks the deck for the young "hero".

Don't see it if you want engaging moral and philosophical discussions. This is the playwright's show-off autobio: see how great I turned out

90
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Must see

See it if It is a must see not only for the question re: morals but to see a star in his youth. 20 year old Timothee Chalmet is superb.. Let us watch

Don't see it if you want fluff.

Critic Reviews (36)

The New York Times
February 9th, 2016

"It is filled with the sort of self-worshiping, self-flagellating self-centeredness you associate with boys tormented by their raging hormones. Even when it portrays other characters, 'Prodigal Son' is inescapably all about Jim...Jim is a character in search of an author to explain him to himself. Strangely enough, the man that Jim would become seemingly has yet to achieve the distance to make this struggling artist-in-­the-­making worthy of a play of his own."
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Time Out New York
February 9th, 2016

"A keen, passionate portrait of the author as a poetry-spouting romantic punk torn between literary dreams and his roots in the Bronx...He directs his own production with a tender hand...The play is lean and cool-headed, but it contains one or two emotional explosions that cast the previous action in a new light...The night’s revelation is lanky Chalamet as Jim, nailing the Shanley accent and swagger. He gives one of the most impressive stage debuts I’ve seen in years."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
February 9th, 2016

"Telling the story of the two teenage years he spent at the Thomas More School confirmed him in his artistic path, it displays all of his mature talents for moral inquiry, rich dialogue, and compelling scene-making — and not incidentally creates a role that the 20-year-old actor Timothée Chalamet is able to knock out of the park. But 'Prodigal Son,' like its biblical namesake, is also a mopey and vexing testament to the confusions of self-regard."
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The Hollywood Reporter
February 9th, 2016

"For a work that announces itself as highly personal, this is an opaque portrait revealing little beyond the author's romanticized self-image as an embattled hero...The writing doesn't match the elegance of the production...The chief reward is the acting, which keeps the play involving even as it grows more frustrating."
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Entertainment Weekly
February 10th, 2016

"Shanley crafts a captivating warts-and-all portrait of not only a budding artist but also an average teenager struggling to find himself...We all spent at least a few angst-ridden months (or maybe longer), like Jim, in 'a special, beautiful room in hell.' Thankfully, we have writers like Shanley to bring us back — for a brief, but intense, emotion-packed 95-minute trip."
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Variety
February 10th, 2016

"Shanley has done an excellent job of directing his own play, entrusting the role of this overindulged youth to the extraordinarily gifted Chalamet…The real but largely unexplored drama lies in the conflict between the literary Jim, who writes beautiful poetry and philosophical essays, and the self-destructive Jim, who drinks, steals, and seems determined to get himself kicked out of school."
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The Wall Street Journal
February 11th, 2016

"Finely directed by the author himself and exceptionally well acted by a five-person cast led by Timothée Chalamet, 'Prodigal Son' is a heart-sore portrait of adolescent turmoil that bears the stamp of hard-earned truth on every scene…I want to see 'Prodigal Son' again soon, and I expect I will...It strikes me on first viewing as the best thing that Mr. Shanley has given us since 'Doubt.' You can’t get much better than that."
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New York Daily News
February 9th, 2016

"Thoughtful and measured, the show takes its own sweet time to reveal itself...Shanley, who directs, skillfully guides the actors well. His production is less successful. The scene changes are slow-moving, as trees slide and snap into place. The music, even though it’s by the likes of Paul Simon, tugs too heavily on the heartstrings. But those are all quibbles with this satisfying play."
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AM New York
February 9th, 2016

"The 95-minute drama is raw and choppy, with long gaps in time between some scenes, meandering discussions of philosophy and a heavy reliance on direct narration. At times, it resembles a heavy-handed takeoff of 'The Catcher in the Rye.' But on the whole, it is an engaging and candid coming-of-age piece."
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Theatermania
February 9th, 2016

"On the whole, though, 'Prodigal Son,' both on page and in production, never completely rises to the level of curiosity we feel about its protagonist...It doesn't offer particularly new insights into the genre...The script moves slowly, and a solid half of the 100-minute running time is devoted either to exposition or to mood setting. And a late-in-the-game twist registers with more of an 'of course' than an 'a-ha.'"
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BroadwayWorld
February 10th, 2016

"Despite the central character's aggressions, Shanley directs the ninety minute drama as a soft and sentimental memory. The action is sparse, the tension is mild and the plotting always seems more or less familiar. Leonard's character describes Quinn as 'the most interesting mess we have this year,' but 'Prodigal Son' is neither interesting or nor messy enough to make an impact."
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Lighting & Sound America
February 17th, 2016

"The young actor Timothée Chalamet captures the exact temperature of Jim's fevered intellect, guiding us expertly through the logical hairpin turns and alarming mood swings that make him such a bracing, if exhausting, fellow to have around...The playwright forces a climax that tries to address this and several other key points, but it is little more than a hurried, unsatisfactory attempt at wrapping up the play in a single grand gesture."
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Talkin' Broadway
February 9th, 2016

"'Prodigal Son' is not without merit. And it describes, if in oblique terms, the perils facing this artist as a young man...But it's tough to escape the fact that, for all his high talk, Jim is not particularly interesting at the head of his own story...So formulaic is Shanley's writing (and, by extension, his direction), in fact, that there's nothing on hand to detract from it."
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TheaterScene.net
February 16th, 2016

"Shanley overloads the ending with too many revelations on the part of the faculty, secrets which have not been properly foreshadowed. Nevertheless, the play is always engrossing and the portrait of Jim is fully three dimensional…It may just be Shanley’s best play in years...Also see the play for the remarkable debut of Timothée Chalamet from whom much more should be seen in the future."
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Theatre is Easy
February 10th, 2016

"Chalamet commands the stage with incredible force for an actor his age...In both writing and directing 'Prodigal Son,' Shanley is able to construct dialogue between his characters that is not only incredibly intelligent, but delivered in such a way that it engages the audience and is never once questioned for its authenticity in execution...If the purpose of art is to make you think and re-examine the way in which you live your life, then 'Prodigal Son' passes with top marks."
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Theater Pizzazz
February 26th, 2016

"One of theater’s most lauded playwrights, John Patrick Shanley, puts forth his own life in ‘Prodigal Son’…Is 'Prodigal Son' cathartic, narcissistic? Both…We visit with Jim Quinn, (Shanley’s young rude, inquisitive self) played by an incredibly talented Timothée Chalamet…Quinn doesn’t quite fit the mold, but has been rescued from his Bronx homeland by Alan Hoffman (a not quite suited for the role Robert Sean Leonard), a lit teacher at the school who thinks he can be Quinn’s savior."
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CurtainUp
February 9th, 2016

"A compelling, well cast memory piece that benefits from MTC's as usual superb stagecraft...While packed with incident and passionate interchanges, the new play as directed by Shanley, plays out in just 90 well-paced minutes...Instead of exciting swordplay to bring all these tensions to a head, the climax in 'Prodigal Son' is fought with verbal confrontations, the most poignant and disturbing between Jim and Alan Hoffman, the always supportive English teacher."
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Stage Buddy
February 17th, 2016

"Quinn's floppy-haired adolescent angst, his constant questioning and his 'Catcher in the Rye' craftiness seem at times too fictionally familiar to be realistically credible, despite stimulating dialogue and Chalamet's riveting star-turn performance...His tenacity appears to draw weakness from the worn-out adults trying to make a living, if not a difference, at Thomas More Preparatory School. Perhaps 'Prodigal Son's' main failing is that the adults appear more deserving of our empathy."
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C
February 10th, 2016

"You could rightly argue that no one needs to see another play that is essentially a portrait of the artist as an angry young man. And then along comes John Patrick Shanley’s excellent new work to prove you wrong...Shanley – who has also deftly directed the work –keeps his canvas small, focusing on Jim’s interactions with these three adults...One can’t help but wish at times that the author had chosen to paint on a larger canvas."
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DC Theatre Scene
February 13th, 2016

"'Prodigal Son' comes off as Shanley’s strained effort to work out in public his own adolescence...If Shanley as playwright does not do his best work in 'Prodigal Son,' Shanley as director oversees an appealing production that does much to offset the flaws in the script...But it’s the five-member cast that most draws us in."
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The Guardian (UK)
February 9th, 2016

"'Prodigal Son' may be a complacent and somewhat predictable work, but it is also a savvy and often moving one...While the plotting is formulaic, it is also satisfying. Perhaps Shanley’s adolescence really did resemble a genre exercise. Life does have a pesky way of imitating art...The acting is uniformly fine."
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Upstage-Downstage
March 5th, 2016

"The writing is simply not strong enough to juggle all of these side stories...It probably doesn’t help that Mr. Shanley himself serves as the director; another eye might have helped shape things better. There is no faulting the acting, however, and Timothée Chalamet is a real find, a bundle of nervous energy with just the right mix of allure and obnoxiousness to paint the portrait of a teen on the verge of either exploding gloriously into the world or imploding into self-destruction."
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The Huffington Post
February 9th, 2016

"'Prodigal Son' is interesting and likable. It is also uneven...The overall results are more than workable, but one suspects there's a considerably stronger play in 'Prodigal Son' than what we see at City Center. The trouble with writing autobiographical plays is that the author can be overly concerned with what actually happened, the way it happened; this sometimes leads to accurate reporting but less-than-scintillating dramaturgy."
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The Wrap
February 9th, 2016

"It doesn’t have much to offer as a play, it does tell us much about this writer’s high opinion of himself...'Prodigal Son' is without conflict for most of its 95 minutes...Two scenes under Shanley’s own direction emerge as real howlers before we get to the play’s action-packed denouement."
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Wolf Entertainment Guide
February 15th, 2016

"As much as one may admire the acting of Chalamet and others, it is possible to tire of Quinn’s relentless self-exploration, as if there were no one else in the world. True, that may be exactly what a young person unsure of himself may do, but it makes for severely repetitive angst...Although the drama is only 90 minutes without intermission, much has been packed into it In the way of plot threads and revelations, perhaps too much."
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Cultural Weekly
March 9th, 2016

"The fluid and sharp script from Shanley, who also directs with subtlety, and a keenly well-observed performance from young Timothée Chalamet, rescue Jim from being seen as a self-centered know-it-all...The noteworthy ensemble is completed by David Potters as Jim’s nerdy, supportive roommate."
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Newsday
February 11th, 2016

"We are deeply in the thrall of Timothée Chalamet. The gifted actor, with his long, floppy limbs, dangerous energy and fierce dare-you eyes, is giving a breakout performance, embodying layers of the contradictions and complexities of a fish-out-of-water kid...Shanley ably directs."
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NorthJersey.com
February 10th, 2016

"In a sequence of mostly two-person scenes in this intimate, well-crafted play, which Shanley also directed, we see Jim's struggle to find validation, a center to his life...The rest of the cast is equally strong...'Prodigal Son' is obviously a play that's extremely personal for its author, but it's a work that also allows the rest of us in, to participate in his experience."
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WNBC
February 9th, 2016

"An enjoyable, if sometimes formulaic drama...All the performances are good. The writing is classic Shanley: mellifluous, easy on the ears. The story, though, doesn't break any new ground."
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DC Metro Theater Arts
February 20th, 2016

"The three central characters are complex, and Mr. Shanley has directed his play with a firm but loving hand...The small supporting cast is excellent as well...Because the play shows growth and resolution for Jim Quinn, and because it’s autobiographical, one takes double pleasure from it, knowing that Quinn is going to be all right, and that his playwright alter ego emerged from bad beginnings to make something meaningful of his life."
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Act Three - The Reviews
February 11th, 2016

"Mr. Chalamet seems to have already mastered the art of dialogue, humor, and on-stage charm that only a young boy can…For a play without much of a twist or gotcha moment, it tended to drag at points...Awkwardness aside, this top notch cast turns out an excellent story which will linger with you."
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Village Voice
February 9th, 2016

"A poignant look at the playwright's own difficult youth. Heartfelt and frequently well observed, the play — now at Manhattan Theatre Club in a production directed by the author — teeters between restraint and emotional overload, eventually (and unnecessarily) succumbing to the latter."
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Reviewing The Drama
February 9th, 2016

"By the end of the day, it's just another coming of age story, another tale of a young, white Christian boy becoming a young, white Christian man. (Can I get some Neil Simon or some women or some non-Caucasians up in here?) It was entertaining enough, but nothing special. "
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New York Theatre Guide
February 11th, 2016

"The language in Shanley’s script is beautifully crafted. Actors live their entire lives and don’t get to say such original and juicy turns of phrase. But it must be said that Chalamet does not rest on the strength of the words, he brings this tortured young boy right to you. He touches a common memory in our hearts; he’s that dangerous brilliant young man you never could have brought home to your parents and/or the young lonely person that you were at fifteen."
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Philadelphia Inquirer
February 22nd, 2016

"It's pure Shanley: big ideas embedded in lots of impassioned and sometimes funny dialogue spoken by characters you feel you know...In the central role of Jim, Timothee Chalamet is terrific—every tilt of his head and slump of his shoulders is perfectly calibrated to construct this character—a brilliant boy who reads intensely, greedy for ideas, desperate to grow up to be a hero, and tormented by adolescent angst...Nostalgia without sentimentality: a nice combination."
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Let's Talk Off-Broadway
January 28th, 2016

"A beautifully produced and inspiring play...Kindness and second chances help but these only take you so far. It’s an upsetting and disappointing confrontation with reality, and what Jim takes away from it, that puts him in throwing distance of redemption. Actually, I wish this point had been given more emphasis...The play is beautifully staged."
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