Closed 1h 35m
Radiant Vermin
Midtown E
77

Radiant Vermin NYC Reviews and Tickets

77%
(73 Reviews)
Positive
81%
Mixed
15%
Negative
4%
Members say
Clever, Great acting, Funny, Original, Entertaining

About the Show

Part of 59E59's Brits Off Broadway fest, Philip Ridley's dark comedy is about one of the defining social dilemmas of our time: the need for everyone to have a family home.

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Member Reviews (73)

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95
Entertaining, Great acting, Original, Relevant, Intense

See it if You appreciate a brilliant biting satire with incredible acting. You want to leave the theater feeling "wow".

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable having your values questioned.

86
Absorbing, Clever, Funny, Dark, Original

See it if you want to see wonderful, physical acting, you like topical themes such as the housing crisis and materialism, you have a good imagination.

Don't see it if you are not interested in dark satire, the condemnation of the consumer society, beautiful sets are necessary for your enjoyment of a play.

Critic Reviews (27)

June 8th, 2016

"Directed at a bouncy pace by David Mercatali...'Radiant Vermin' is a blithely told fable for the age of unaffordable housing...A little over 90 minutes, it is probably too long for its pithy purposes. Once you grasp its basic conceit, there aren’t too many places for it to go…'Radiant Vermin' by Mr. Ridley’s standards is unusually blunt in its moralizing and unusually direct in implicating its audience. Still, it makes for nasty and energetic fun."
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June 8th, 2016

"A witty, if overextended, black comic sketch...Johnson and Verey have the knack of creating a pair of cartoon figures who are just enough like real people to make them impossible to dismiss....Director David Mercatali has found exactly the right satirical tone...'Radiant Vermin' makes its points early and often, but Jill and Ollie make a fine pair of unreliable narrators, and their tale is presented with considerable verve and wit...It's impossible not to feel the sting."
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June 7th, 2016

"Ms. Johnson and Mr. Verey are excellent as Jill and Ollie, but, at least as directed by David Mercatali, their characters are basically cartoonish caricatures out of an ironic fairy tale. Thus, the play foregoes a sense of creepy horror that might have raised our level of concern…It is Jill and Ollie's ability to self-justify their every greed-driven decision that gives the play its only real bite, even as it all-too-gently attempts to make the audience feel complicit in the enterprise."
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June 10th, 2016

""Often hilarious and at times rather poignant, Ridley’s contemporary new play is a 90-minute frenzied fall down one couple’s materialistic rabbit hole...It’s in the performances by Johnson and Verey, and their complete physical involvement in describing every detail, that we are able to vividly imagine what each scene must look like...Director David Mercatali is a genius in his direction of 'Radiant Vermin'...A wildly hilarious, dark, and incredibly fun look into serious first-world obsession."
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June 7th, 2016

"Superb, playful writing, zany, magical plot arcs, pristine characterizations, and acutely rhythmic and cleverly paced humor throughout. Ridley adroitly manages to be paradoxical, ironic, satiric by using hyperbole and understatement in tropes that hit the bull's-eye of truth...It’s the marvelous divine comedy with all its beauty and ugliness and you won’t stop talking about it much after the lights come up at the end."
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June 8th, 2016

"Johnson and Verey nail the yuppie vibe in their chipper and tireless performances…Original, entertaining, and witty, in addition to offering what is probably a field day for its nimble performers. The play is stymied, though, as it becomes mired in contradictions. The story is so absurd that it's hard for it to have a strong, resonant emotional impact. Meanwhile, its darkness curtails the humor that could be found in this absurdity."
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June 9th, 2016

"'Vermin' is a cheeky and sanitized allegory taking aim at young parents who will do anything in the name of their new baby…Verey and Johnson convey the tale directly to the audience with ample amounts of physical comedy and high-speed patter…More a storytelling machine than fleshed-out characters, Verey and Johnson run the risk of becoming unsympathetic, or worse, uninteresting. Fortunately, Ridley gives each role one dollop of depth, just enough to be likable."
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June 7th, 2016

"It’s a superbly funny abstract comedy...I was blown away with the final birthday party scene, in full amazement of their ability to give us the rapid-fire delivery of all these characters and moments without missing a beat...My heart was racing when, magically, they stop and revert back to asking us directly, 'What do we value the most? Property or life?' And then, they ask us our verdict. My verdict was a standing ovation."
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June 12th, 2016

"Ridley’s play is not only a grotesque satire on dealing with those useless people we call 'homeless,' but on consumer excess, greed, the problems of home ownership, and the distorted preoccupations of obsessive child-raising...A serious problem, though, is that once the play has made its point it keeps circling back with very little place to go, and drags on far longer than is necessary."
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June 9th, 2016

"In order to go along with the mounting macabre proceedings, patrons have to believe that the two homemakers are extremely gullible when Miss Dee first appears, but maybe that’s easily enough done...During a lengthy prior-to-closing sequence, the actors play all the neighbors who show up for their offspring’s first birthday party. It’s a tour de force with an emphasis on the force."
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W
June 13th, 2016

“Playwright Philip Ridley’s black comedy is timely, original, and skillfully produced. Even when you realize what’s going on, small surprises and manifest reactions make taking the trip a buoyant pleasure. Ridley’s ending is priceless. Director David Mercatali straddles stylization (exaggerated, precise, sometimes incredibly rapid movement) and naturalism. The empty stage is well utilized with cogent mime. No point in analyzing. It works.”
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June 8th, 2016

"A horrifyingly humorous play…The plot is madness, but the charisma of the two leads allows you to buy the craziness with few questions. Their stunning portrayal of the moral disintegration of the two protagonists leaves you uncomfortable. Verey and Johnson are exceptional in this play…You will laugh and drop your jaw at the physical and spiritual stamina they use to keep you enthralled…Ultimately, the play is a riveting look into the power of money and greed."
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June 13th, 2016

“The outstanding cast delivers exhilarating performances under David Mercatali’s brisk direction. Ms. Johnson and Mr. Verey share a wonderful chemistry...Mr. Mercatali helps the duo achieve a satisfying balance between their use of theatrical grammar and the fact that the storytellers, Jill and Ollie, are not themselves performers. The result is a slightly less 'actorly' but more intimate and inclusive telling.”
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E
June 14th, 2016

"Bitingly droll up to a point, but after Jill and Ollie have lost their souls there’s nowhere for the plot to go...The story spins its wheels for too long before the denouement arrives. David Mercatali’s direction is clear and brisk, and it’s fun to see the normally somber Ridley exploring his comedic side. But the satire here seems unfocused. To be sure, the rampant consumerism of today’s society is a deserving target for ridicule, but that alone is not enough to fill a full-length play."
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June 23rd, 2016

“Ridley is known for examining the darker side of humanity, and ‘Radiant Vermin’ is no exception...Between Ridley’s fantastical writing, Mercatali’s direction, and Verey and Johnson’s acting, numerous neighbors come to life in a frenzy of mime, dialect, and comedic timing...Verey and Johnson are the heart of this fast-paced black comedy, delivering Ridley’s satiric dialogue...If this is the best Britain has to export, long live Brits Off Broadway.”
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Z
June 8th, 2016

"A gripping dark comedy, adroitly directed by David Mercatali...Ms. Johnson is the pick of a stellar cast, whose talent is sensibly allowed to shine unadulterated against the backdrop of an admirably spare and uncluttered set. Think of Lady Macbeth midwifing Rosemary’s Baby to get some sense of the demonic kinetic energy she summons…A play whose central message has never been more of the moment."
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June 13th, 2016

“David Mercatali’s direction is brisk and brutally bouncy...An absurdist satire, at once an indictment against not only the housing crisis, but our godless society and social indifference toward the less fortunate...Why do we find this humorous and entertaining?...A distance has been created by the playwright between the word and the reality of the action through humor, clever dialogue and the virtuosity of the actors to use pantomime to create their slow progress into hell.”
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March 25th, 2015
For a previous production

"David Mercatali’s adroit production also feels like a theatrical game, albeit a hugely pointed one...Mr. Ridley casts a sidelong glance at contemporary mores with a satiric finesse worthy of his vaunted former countryman Jonathan Swift...Mr. Ridley has a field day setting the apparent sunniness of his young lovers against their escalating misdeeds in a play that questions whether we are our brother’s keeper or his destroyer."
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March 12th, 2015
For a previous production

"It's a piquant little satire...Ridley makes it abundantly clear that social climbing implies a social cost, namely those tramped down underfoot, and he's sharp on the way one's blessings calcify into one's just deserts...David Mercatali's production has a real spring in its step, reveling in its cartoon violence and pastiching everything from 'Changing Rooms' to J.G. Ballard...Sean Michael Verey captures the quivering anxiety and wet-fish compliance of the capitalist workforce."
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March 12th, 2015
For a previous production

"A darkly funny morality play that implicates the audience without hitting it over the head…In outline, it sounds like one of those Ionesco plays of the 1950s in which an absurd premise is pursued with remorseless logic. But Ridley’s play is far subtler than that insofar as it shows how decent people are driven by desperation to stifle their consciences...Ridley suggests we live in a madly materialistic world where enough is never enough."
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March 12th, 2015
For a previous production

"It’s a hysterically heavy-handed allegory for the ravages of gentrification...But ‘Radiant Vermin’ works because it’s dispatched with such flippant glee by the writer, cast and director David Mercatali. We laugh at Jill and Ollie because they’re so exuberantly unmenacing, and because we recognize that their killings aren’t really killings but a metaphor...It’s hard to feel too indicted when the whole thing is so frothily light and loopily enjoyable; the thing is it’s really enjoyable."
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March 12th, 2015
For a previous production

"Philip Ridley’s plays tend to be grotesque and explosive. Their language is dense and their characters monstrous. Here he returns to a familiar theme — that apocalypse is imminent — but his approach is more accessible and overtly political than usual…He’s on stingingly funny form…Director David Mercatali is an experienced interpreter of Ridley’s work and infuses his production with fierce energy. There are dazzling performances from Gemma Whelan and Sean Michael Verey."
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March 12th, 2015
For a previous production

"It’s a deeply macabre, stingingly funny modern fairy tale that shows its two protagonists wading deeper and deeper into murky moral territory…It’s deliberately outrageous and surreal but Ridley pulls it off brilliantly, poking away at the remorseless temptations of consumerism and the desolate creed that 'enough is never enough.' In David Mercatali’s jaunty, precisely pitched production, Gemma Whelan and Sean Michael Verey give virtuoso performances as Jill and Ollie."
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March 12th, 2015
For a previous production

"It’s heavy-legged and obvious in places, but it is finely tuned in its way, a fable-like tale, glittering with menace and laced with the supernatural...There’s this absolutely extraordinary sequence where Whelan and Verey, recreate a garden party; they populate the entire stage with characters, and it’s the most precise, intense and breathtaking piece of performance, masterfully directed by David Mercatali, and it kicks the whole production up into the realms of the brilliant."
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March 12th, 2015
For a previous production

"Endlessly inventive…Every element of the show works perfectly, with the well-signposted birthday party from hell arriving as a suitable climax in what is an episode of bravura directing and acting. At this point, the sheer joy of the performers is wonderful to watch...Whether because of the heartbreaking testimony of a homeless woman, or the cast’s vivid representation of the temptations of consumer capitalism, 'Radiant Vermin' will shine brightly in my memory."
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T
May 14th, 2016
For a previous production

"Philip Ridley’s scathing, darkly comic and terrific play, 'Radiant Vermin', explores just how far we are prepared to go to get our dream home…His findings are bleak but the play around it is devilishly entertaining with tour-de-force performances and constant laugh-out-loud zingers…A terrific piece climbs another gear with a 20-minute section towards the end as a neighbourhood BBQ falls spectacularly apart...Brilliant!"
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March 12th, 2015
For a previous production

"I am amazed to admit that, despite some glaringly obvious moral defects, our leading couple are just plain likable...This post-show dilemma is also testament to the triple threat combination of excellent acting, writing and directing. The script is quite brilliant with some knock-out one-liners and lovely little self-aware nods...This was not an easy undertaking but the result was clear, concise and very entertaining. This was a truly earnest production and definitely worth seeing."
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