Samara NYC Reviews and Tickets

(48 Ratings)
Members say
Confusing, Disappointing, Slow, Ambitious, Quirky

About the Show

Soho Rep. presents the world premiere of experimental theater maker Richard Maxwell's new play, featuring an eclectic cast ranging in age from 14 to 88, including Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Steve Earle.

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Show-Score Member Reviews (48)

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63 Reviews | 26 Followers
Clever, Great staging, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoyed Cormack McCarthy's novels and feel like more of the same in the experimental theater setting. Also, if you love Paul Lazar.

Don't see it if you need your theater linear, your characters true to life, and your staging traditional. Read more

58 Reviews | 9 Followers
Intelligent, Resonant, Challenging, Thought-provoking, Inventive staging

See it if you appreciate challenging material, poetic language, unusual staging.

Don't see it if you prefer linear narrative theatre, don't like Steve Earle or require comfortable seating.

349 Reviews | 57 Followers
Daring, Bizarre, Challenging, Moving

See it if This is why I choose off-Broadway. An uncomfortable juxtaposition: insignificant as any one or two lives are, it's incumbent upon us to do.

Don't see it if ...the right things; we know what they are even when we don't want to perform them. Fine commentary on living humanely altho nature is blind

116 Reviews | 18 Followers
Ambitious, Clever, Confusing

See it if you like great, but very simple sets and staging; a fantastic, haunting score; and Steve Earle narrating.

Don't see it if you don't like interpretting obtuse dialogue and narration.

98 Reviews | 36 Followers
Confusing, Thought-provoking, Ambitious

See it if you're interested in experiments, you don't mind or actively seek to be confused, frustrated and intrigued.

Don't see it if you need a legible narrative and soft comfy seats (though pillows on the crates were not so bad). Note that the play is 90 min, not 50. Read more

688 Reviews | 116 Followers
Ambitious, Confusing, Thought-provoking, Intense, Slow

See it if Maxwell's quasi-last frontier (aka death) drama given an intriguing staging by Benson but fails to coalesce into anything linear (intent?)

Don't see it if Mythic themes, great soundscape & fascinating actors provide ample clues towards esistential meaning but to no avail Potent despite artiness

52 Reviews | 11 Followers
Clever, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if You're a fan of simple intelligent writing set up in an unapolegetic box.

Don't see it if You only watch with your eyes. Read more

408 Reviews | 86 Followers
Experimental, Poetic, Slow, Indulgent

See it if you enjoy experimental theater & poetic storytelling. Falls short sometimes, but everything has intention. Not as bad as other reviews say.

Don't see it if You prefer straightforward plays that don't require any thought or analysis. Still a work in progress. The seating is very uncomfortable

Critic Reviews (15)

The New York Times
April 16th, 2017

"As is usual in recent works by Mr. Maxwell, one of the great original voices of experimental theater of the past several decades, 'Samara' seems to be situated at the corner of the everyday and eternity, where the earth meets the sky and mortality is a force of gravity...A fuller and richer work, reflecting welcome new directions that its author has been pursuing of late...This impeccably realized show gives us story and subtext in one breath."
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Time Out New York
April 17th, 2017

"With 'Samara'? Let’s just say Maxwell’s moral fable goes full Cormac McCarthy Beyond Thunderdome...Benson’s direction is daringly blunt and transparent—despite an abundance of stage effects...Structurally, 'Samara' is unpredictable, beautiful and wild: a violent quest narrative that morphs into mythic poetry then pure audio and visual stimuli. Even after following his work for 20 years, I’m still shocked anew by Maxwell’s broken worlds."
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April 17th, 2017

"It's a compelling space with infinite possibilities, making it all the more disappointing when the characters tasked with filling it fail to realize its potential...No one quite has an identity, nothing exactly makes sense...It's all very much in keeping with Maxwell's aversion to linear storytelling, but it doesn't change the fact that with no clear through line nor tonal consistency among any of the performances, the experience of 'Samara' is one of being upstream without a paddle."
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Lighting & Sound America
April 19th, 2017

"Some of Maxwell's fans insist that the problem is he ceded the direction...I think the actors are making a good faith attempt at conjuring the signature affectless line readings of Maxwell's productions. I can certainly say that these are some of the flattest, most stilted performances I have seen since maybe forever...Something tells me that even his hardest-core fans will find this to be something of a trial. You can only strip away so many fundamentals of drama before there is nothing left."
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April 19th, 2017

“The play seems to be in the genre of the classic Western movie though highly poeticized and slow-paced. It resembles the 60's films of Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah but with much less plot and without the scenic vistas. It follows the rules of the old West but creates a mysterious world of its own. Very little is revealed by the characters, most of whose names are generic. Much could be read into the events but they remain opaque and obscure as do the characters who reveal little.”
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April 16th, 2017

"Speaking as someone who has, in the past, found rewards in grappling with the complexities and provocations Maxwell sets out, this play felt frustratingly opaque and, at times, unfocused...By the time it's all said and done, the line between poetry and pretension has become dangerously hazy...There's an inherently anti-theatrical essence in his work that feels constantly at odds with the more dramatic staging that we're offered here."
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Theatre is Easy
April 17th, 2017

"Maxwell has written a series of gorgeous monologues that would delight anyone who appreciates the playwright’s poetic language...Unfortunately, the play lacks a strong focus. The narrative doesn’t have much complexity...The play’s lack of focus is somewhat salvaged by Benson’s direction: she does a splendid job bringing out the beauty of the script, and making use of every inch of the space...With a clearer theme and a stronger narrative, 'Samara' has the potential to soar."
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Stage Buddy
April 17th, 2017

"A daring piece that both questions and confirms life as we know it. With a diverse and talented group of actors, and a script that's breathtaking in its use of language, there's a lot to love in this production, and certainly a lot to think about…More like an extended poem than a traditional piece of theater…While I know for a fact that I didn't grasp every nuance in the play, I know that I won't easily forget the experience of watching 'Samara.'"
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