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Rancho Viejo

From 22 critic and 120 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Funny, Slow, Quirky, Disappointing

About the show

Playwrights Horizons presents the world premiere of Dan LeFranc’s new comedy about anxiety, awkward neighbors, and fending off existential despair. More…

We never meet young Richie and Lonna, whose marriage is on the rocks. But miles and miles away, in the affluent Southwestern suburb where Richie's parents live, that couple’s separation is disturbing the tranquility of a community they barely know. In this comedy, the residents of Rancho Viejo drift from one gathering to the next, wrestling life’s grandest themes—set against the lustful, yearning strains of a distant bolero. Featuring Tony nominee Mare Winningham and directed by Daniel Aukin.

New York Theatre Guide

"The most compulsive theatrical viewing that sees three hours pass by in a flash of glorious agony...There is so much meat in LeFranc’s homemade tamale that you want to eat it all over again, get the recipe, and invite all your friends over...I feel I could write a dissertation on the work and how the creative team and cast inhabited this insightful play with such self-scrutiny and tangible transformations. It’s a big work, it has a giant cerebral cortex and an urgent heartbeat." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"LeFranc’s clever and courageous point is that happiness, unhappiness and everything in between are present in the small moments of life...Three hours is nothing when a script is so funny and so true as to how most people conduct themselves...An additional boost is Daniel Aukin’s steady direction of the game cast...This ensemble rates high for its grasp of behaviors that we all catch ourselves in more often than we like to admit...I’m a total sucker for 'Rancho Viejo.'" Full Review

The New York Times

"Sweet and scary, lackadaisical and hypnotic…A melancholy and often very funny portrait of four cusp-of-Medicare couples...Life often seems to be set on pause during the three leisurely, impeccably acted hours…'Rancho Viejo' has been directed with a poet’s appreciation for rhythm and emphasis by Daniel Aukin…Only in the last section does ‘Rancho Viejo’ start to feel a little too tidy…But the show’s final scene is a haunting beauty, a perfect balance of the everyday and the eternal." Full Review


"Running three hours, LeFranc’s play doesn’t have the feel of an epic or a major opus, but it is wisely observed and engaging. The tone is simultaneously comic and somber...The dialogue is a marvelous blend of the realistic and mundane...Besides realizing such rich performances from the cast, director Daniel Aukin has also masterfully coordinated the many presentational details into a cohesive production. Aukin’s staging has successfully realized the play on every level." Full Review

Time Out New York

"LeFranc blends bold formalist tricks with deep empathy for his characters’ frailties…At times 'Rancho' feels like a deadpan suburban comedy of manners in slow motion…Semi-absurdist tactics could be deadly with mediocre actors, but Aukin’s immaculate production shines with a smashing cast. The play is consistently funny...'Rancho Viejo' may seem oddly constructed and furnished, but it’s magnificently strange and welcoming once you get through the door." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Like Buñuel but with a softer touch, LeFranc skewers the comfortably middle class, whose lives are as fungible as their houses…The usually excellent Winningham is completely believable but just a little bit whinier than one might wish…'Rancho Viejo' holds up surprisingly well given its three-hour length. Its low-key humor keeps popping up where it’s least expected. While never gripping, it never loses us either." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"The understated performances evoked by this strange, three-act exploration of suburban ennui are halting, sad, and funny…LeFranc is determined to give us an accurate depiction of people like us and is invested in the idea that we’ll discover something of meaning or use, even if there probably isn’t all that much to find. Whether or not you’re okay with the empty landscape at the end of the tunnel is – admirably on a formal level, but riskily on an emotional one – left up to you." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"This kind of comedy needs especially delicate handling, which Daniel Aukin provides; his deft touch is especially welcome, because 'Rancho Viejo' isn't without its problems. A three-act play running three hours, it is much longer than it needs to be...You have to admire LeFranc's skill at spinning a kind of philosophical wonder, mixed with a touch of existential dread, out of the kind of empty chatter that so many people indulge over drinks and snacks." Full Review

New York Theater

"One feels tempted to compare 'Rancho Viejo' to 'The Flick'...Both plays take their time to offer small details about everyday life and emotions that feel well observed, both have moments of quiet amusement, and both, despite extraordinary casts and fine direction, are probably better reads than physical excursions for many theatergoers...There’s an absurdist and nihilist bent to ‘Rancho Viejo.’ It’s not surprising that LeFranc has expressed his admiration for Samuel Beckett." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"Beneath his goofy spoofing of a group of lazy-minded suburbanites, LeFranc has tucked some big layers of melancholy and some unsettling hints of menace…LeFranc develops this conflict for over three hours. It’s a long haul. Still, there’s something intriguing in LeFranc’s unsophisticated and sometimes outright dopey characters…It helps immensely, though, that the cast is so talented and watchable...Winningham gives the production an achingly real and affecting center." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"A fascinating but severely overdrawn evening…This is a story that should tell itself and, in the best scenes, does…Unfortunately, this is not enough for either LeFranc or his director. They've piled on so much additional 'color,' 'content,' and 'plot' that the underlying, moving tale of contemporary cultural alienation must fight for its life during every single second of the play...By the final act, which is given over entirely to hyperinflated minutiae, you all but give up on it." Full Review

Off Off Online

"The play runs too long and has an entire scene in which a character speaks Spanish that is frustratingly time-wasting for anyone who doesn’t understand the language. In Act III, things get weird in scenes in a darkened wilderness. By the end, Pete and Mary have been tentatively accepted into the group. Yet, after negotiating their assimilation, LeFranc ends the play on a tentative note for the couple, suggesting that the process of interacting with other people is a never-ending negotiation." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"Gently directed by Daniel Aukin, this three-hour dark comedy is not for those with short attention spans...That said, 'Rancho Viejo' has real stuff on its mind, impeccable performances, some good laughs, and more than a few touching moments...Still, 'Rancho Viejo' is a difficult show to recommend. It’s not quite strange enough to recall Pinter nor funny enough to conjure Beckett...The play seems helplessly in search of a conclusion and the final one is too tidy a stretch." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“A needlessly long play...with two intermissions that give playgoers ample opportunity to leave...'Rancho Viejo' occasionally attempts to introduce meaningful discourse into its dialogue, including references to the effect of art on people's lives, and there are scattered bits of amusing banality that highlight LeFranc's take on the emptiness of his characters' existence. These, though, mostly amount to window dressing on a play that takes a long time to say a lot about very little.” Full Review


"Simultaneously stylish and frustrating…While some viewers will undoubtedly hail the play as a brilliant encapsulation of the human condition, even more are likely walk away feeling like their time has been wasted...Everyone in the cast excels at making this a watchable three-act nothing…Aukin is never able to fully resolve the problem of a script that is sarcastically self-aware while also calling for realistic performances...It all feels fashionable, sophisticated and incredibly safe." Full Review


"Dan LeFranc's 'Rancho Viejo,' now receiving its world premiere in a handsome Playwrights Horizons production featuring a terrific cast, is one of those three-hour long plays that may find you tempted to flip through your program at any time for a clue as to what the heck is going on…Theatregoers have been discussing the meaning of ‘Waiting for Godot’ for over half a century. Discussions of the meaning of 'Rancho Viejo' shouldn't take up more than half a minute." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"Everyone else seemed to find this play hilarious…Although I wasn’t missing the ‘joke,’ I found the play much too distressing to ‘LOL’. The cast is perfect in their comic delivery, each delivering with an exacting characterization…I could go on about each and every one…All wonderful, seasoned professionals, playing the words written perfectly…I just wish there was a point to all the words they were saying to each other, or that the play was as good as this ensemble." Full Review


"I found much in the play challenged my expectations of an engrossing, funny evening. Sure, Aukin and his crafts team nicely captured LeFranc's realistic surface as well as the surrealism underneath. And Blum and Winningham are terrific...But ‘Rancho Viejo's’ slow-building combination of super realism and its more absurdist underpinnings don't merge smoothly or all that meaningfully…The first two acts leave us with as many unsatisfactorily addressed questions as the last." Full Review

The Wrap

"Is this not a living room at all but a communal space or clubhouse that’s meant to signal a geriatric 'Friends'-type living situation? Daniel Aukin’s lax direction keeps us guessing...In time, we learn that the set functions as several characters’ living rooms...This realization, when it comes, is a true disappointment...The only real character development is the neighbors’ ever-deepening lack of interest in Pete and Mary." Full Review

Front Row Center

"The cast is so solid. You may not warm to the characters, but the actors are true north on delivering them…There are nifty, and telling, small pieces of business...For all the struggle for meaning, the play’s resolution is a downer…The production makes a big demand. Running time is three hours with two intermissions…The first two acts here seem interminable but—stay with me here—perhaps they were intended to underscore the tedium of life at Rancho Viejo. In that, they succeeded." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"Three hours of my life I will never get back and I don’t understand why this play was written…Nothing happens, characters do insane things…Nobody in this cast seems to care about acting...Director Daniel Aukin does nothing to make this piece go faster and sitting in the theatre is torture! If I wasn’t reviewing, I would have left after the first act as many did…’Rancho Viejo’ seems more like episodes of a really bad sitcom and at least with that you can turn the TV off." Full Review

Act Three - The Reviews

"Awful, with a capital 'A'. Underlined three times…What was it, you ask? The material…’Rancho Viejo’ comes from some deep, dark, mysterious place that should never have been explored. The characters are uninteresting, and mysteriously underdeveloped…The dialogue is stilted, slow, and awkward. The conversations are ‘slit-your-wrists’ banal and insipid…Despite the deep deficit in the material, the actors were magnificent…Save yourself from eternal damnation and stay home." Full Review

Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Great writing, Refreshing

See it if You like realism - with a twist. You can appreciate a "slow burn" plot. You can laugh at the absurdity of ordinary people.

Don't see it if You prefer your drama with a big, yelling climax. You can't sit comfortably for three hours.

Clever, Funny, Sublime, Great acting, Refreshing

See it if you enjoy an unusual, strange, slow-burn of a show

Don't see it if you are looking for a quick, kitchen-sink naturalistic show

Also The audience absolutely hated the show the night I was there, but I fo... Read more Read less

Profound, Masterful, Funny, Slow, Exquisite

See it if Older suburbanites faced with choices about what to sacrifice in order to maintain their personal and communal relationships.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy a slow pace that allows for rich character development. There are some confusing surrealistic elements.

Also Beautifully crafted. It took a long discussion after the play to make ... Read more Read less

Great acting, Hilarious, Thought-provoking

See it if You love theater and great acting and don't mind sitting for 3 hours.

Don't see it if Can't handle 3 hours of theater.

Funny, Quirky, Great writing, Great staging, Refreshing

See it if you want to laugh at a couple's existential & absurdists crises within the confines of California suburban sprawl.

Don't see it if you like your plays short and sweet -- this once clocks in at 3 hours with 2 intermissions. Never feels slow though.

Great acting, Funny, Quirky

See it if You enjoy great acting in a interesting and humorous play that is also quite strange. I really enjoyed it and did not find it too long

Don't see it if You don't want to see strange characters talking for three hours. It's a long show. 3 hours with two intermissions.

Also It was quite funny. And bizarre.

Absorbing, Funny, Quirky

See it if you like new works that are slightly odd. Very very funny.

Don't see it if you don't like odd humour.

Great acting, Funny, Quirky, Epic, Great writing

See it if You'd be interested in seeing something truly new and original -- a suburban drama turned into a so-quirky-it's-funny comedy.

Don't see it if You can't sit through a three-hour play or hate weird, quirky comedies where the laughs come from seemingly "off" situations and characters.

Great acting, Great performance by marti!, Simple yet thoughtful dialogue., Great writing, See it if you love the absurd.

See it if You enjoy plays that seem to be about nothing until it hits you that it's about so many of the things you question in life.

Don't see it if If you think a 3 hour play is not for you or you wouldn't enjoy hearing a character speak in a foreign language without subtitles.

Also There was much to love about this play. My only complaint was what I s... Read more Read less

Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Slow, Too long

See it if you weary of plays about 20 & 30 somethings and yearn for something meaningful about baby boomers with their first world problems.

Don't see it if you can't sit through a 3 hour show (with two intermissions) and lots of dialogue. you don't care about how to remain relevant while aging

Clever, Funny, Great acting, Indulgent

See it if You like witty dialogue simply about life.

Don't see it if You're looking for a gripping plot to keep you moving along.

Also It's a bit too long. I thought the first half was great, but it really... Read more Read less

Quirky, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing, Indulgent

See it if you like spending time with off-beat characters and plays that explore ideas of community.

Don't see it if you have no patience for long plays with almost no plot.

Slow, Thought-provoking, Refreshing, Masterful, Clever

See it if you love Playwrights Horizons quirk, inventiveness & slow burns

Don't see it if you cant sit thru three hours.

Ambitious, Funny, Great acting, Quirky, Great writing

See it if Quirky humor, unpredictable story, wonderful ensemble acting.

Don't see it if 3 plus hours play is too long for you.

Ambitious, Confusing, Great acting, Quirky

See it if you like shows that challenge you.Acting is superb.Pace is slow.Parts are confusing, but it is well worth staying til the end!

Don't see it if you want a short, straightforward play. This one will make you shake your head and wonder what's going on and who's who. Worth it, though!

Absorbing, Great staging, Great writing, Intelligent, Slow

See it if u like serious theater, a superb production, plus a critical view of suburban America in recent times. I found it's 3 hour length absorbing.

Don't see it if Well, OK, it is long, but there are two intermissions. I found the characters & their complexities challenging and entirely satisfying.

Clever, Fascinating, Mysterious, Funny, Haunting

See it if you are game for an unpredictable, uneventful & mostly unresolved ride with some vaguely recognizable characters

Don't see it if you can't be bothered with plays that don't even try to resolve their mysteries; if 3+hours of not much happening isn't your idea of drama

Great acting, Quirky, Thought-provoking

See it if You are prepared to spend 3 of the strangest hours you may experience at the theater this season

Don't see it if You need a beginning, middle, and end - and don't have an appreciation for the absurd

Also It does not feel like 3 hours - so that says something.... There is re... Read more Read less

Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Quirky

See it if Quirky, funny story told in quick scenes. Mare Winningham and Julia Duffy were standouts. Very, very funny in many parts.

Don't see it if Three hours long. Got weird in the third act.

Funny, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant

See it if You want to see a very Southern California style show. If you know what I mean by that expression you will probably enjoy this play !

Don't see it if You are looking for a classic comedy. This plays veers off into many unusual directions. Fast action is your thing. Play has 2 intermissions

Confusing, Indulgent, Quirky, Refreshing, Thought-provoking

See it if you're opened to something murky and mysterious with resonant themes

Don't see it if are annoyed by sparse dialogue and stage pauses and no simplistic resolutions

Quirky, Funny, Long (with 2 intermissions

See it if you like quirky relationship plays. Mare Winningham and Mark Blum are outstanding. Excellent supporting cast. Love the first 2 1/2 acts.

Don't see it if you can't sit 3 hrs. I viewed the intermissions as 2 opportunites to leave, but the writing doesn't unravel until the last 1/2 of 3rd act.

Also Laughed more than I was expecting to. And grew to like the whole stron... Read more Read less

Great acting, Intelligent, Slow, Uneventful, Funny

See it if you don't mind something with "no plot." this show is much more about the characters and their lives.

Don't see it if You want a play with lots of action/conflict. It's a very uneventful play

Entertaining, Great acting, Slow, Indulgent, Intelligent

See it if you get a kick out of dysfunctional characters oversharing, and if you want to see great acting in a play that is about 20 minutes too long.

Don't see it if you need lots of scene changes to hold your interest, of if you believe that there should always be something at stake for the characters.

Entertaining, Absorbing, Confusing, Delightful

See it if You like a good ensemble cast..,relevant to baby boomers although my 40 year old kids liked the show

Don't see it if If you feel 3 hours is JUST TOO LONG!!!

Cast & Creatives (16)