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Shining City

From 22 critic and 29 member reviews
Members say: Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Slow, Intelligent

About the show

Two-time Tony winner Matthew Broderick stars in the Irish Repertory Theatre's revival of Conor McPherson's psychological thriller about a man plagued by visions of his dead wife's ghost. More…

'Shining City' is a haunting play, dense with urban lives that brush against one another while never making contact. John (Broderick) seeks help from Ian, a counselor, after the unexpected death of his wife. Though shaken by the loss, John is troubled by more than just grief; he has begun to see his wife’s ghost in their home. As their sessions unfold, secrets and lies are exposed in this play in which a simple tale turns out to be anything but. 'Shining City' reflects on the guilt, anxiety, and restlessness of two lonely men.


“This amazing production finely elucidated by director Ciarán O’Reilly stars Matthew Broderick as John in a memorable, gripping performance. His portrayal magnifies the range of his skill and depth as an actor; he is mesmerizing in a difficult role which he seamlessly conveys with his brilliant acting instrument...This is a sterling revival of McPherson’s work...It is a must see.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"If Broderick's stunningly seamless work seemingly dominates the evening, it is only the half of it...Under O'Reilly's sure-handed direction, the entire cast delivers superbly...It's exciting to see Irish Rep back in the business of presenting a production as revelatory as this. McPherson has been produced by several of New York's top theatre companies, but his work never shines so brightly as when brought to life by this troupe." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Broderick turns in a delicate, credible performance as John, a widower who has started seeing his wife’s ghost around the house...Director Ciarán O’Reilly’s production is lucid, tight and fluid, with Carter quietly terrific in a tricky role...A rich, unforgettable piece about projection and transference—both in the psychoanalytic and metaphysical sense—'Shining City' still casts a brilliant light." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"The play is an absorbing examination of lonely, and guilt-racked modern Dubliners...McPherson, a master of Mamet-like, disconnected, everyday language, offers a five-scene plot with little action but fertile chatter that twines itself around your ears and won’t let go...The chief hindrance is Broderick’s reliance on that single tone of friendly, boyish appeal and touch of physical stiffness that pervades much of his work...He’s unable to capture the role’s darker, emotionally painful colors." Full Review

The New York Times

"A great play being given an exemplary revival…Mr. Broderick turns in his most assured and affecting stage performance in years…It lacks the gooseflesh-raising quotient of earlier versions of the show I’ve seen…But in swapping dank shadows for a warming clarity, Mr. O’Reilly illuminates the poetic precision of Mr. McPherson’s accomplishment here and makes you realize anew why this Irish playwright is one of the finest dramatists writing in English." Full Review


"It's a sad and often funny group portrait of isolation, guilt and despair...Ciarán O'Reilly's tautly directed production retains its rich Celtic flavor and seamless blends the script's humor and sadness…It's Broderick's best performance in years…Complementary as John and Ian's stories are it's their different tonality that makes 'Shining City' such a good play. While John's revelations have many comical elements, all played to the hilt by Broderick, Ian's problems are much more complex." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"The roles of penitent and priest and client and therapist often become reversed in Mr. McPherson’s engaging and complex script...Under Ciarán O’Reilly’s meticulous and clean direction, the cast of 'Shining City' captures the full range of human emotions including those often roiling beneath the surface waiting to offer redemption and release if expressed. Matthew Broderick gives his character John a sensitive believability that is expressed in dialogue and in lengthy monologues." Full Review


"There is little action to speak of in McPherson’s 2004 story, directed here by company co-founder Ciarán O’Reilly, yet the sense of isolation and rootlessness it conveys is profound…Broderick is noticeably easeful on this small stage, coming off at times as affable and engaging, or shambling and shuffling. I enjoyed the contemplative performance by Carter…This production distinguishes itself with perhaps an added emphasis on the guilt experienced by both leads." Full Review


"A crisp new production...Carter ably acquits himself in the leading role, but Broderick’s Irish everyman steals the show. He stammers, 'You know,' repeatedly as a verbal tick through his lengthy monologues, as if to underline how much we don’t know about relationships. The four disparate characters in their awkward speeches reflect the muddle of their lives. Even to ourselves, our relationships are just otherworldly mysteries." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"Revived in sure-footed if straightforward fashion...Broderick brings a winning helplessness to John and conveys the sense of a man struggling to find the language for ideas he never thought he’d articulate…Structure has never been McPherson’s strong point and in 'Shining City' you can see him struggling to balance the work of dialogue with the monologues he gravitates to...It’s in the longer speeches, particularly John’s, that the play acquires much of its power." Full Review


"Broderick's characterization of this drab, depressed and tormented man is very moving and is a joyous case of riveting star/character acting...Set in contemporary Dublin, Mr. McPherson’s well-crafted and flavorfully Irish play rambles somewhat but is an intriguing blend of the spooky and the perceptively observed mundane. This accomplished revival hasn’t unearthed a neglected masterpiece but does provide for thoughtful entertainment containing marvelous performances." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"Seeing Matthew Broderick ace his role as a troubled widower is enough of a reason to see the Irish Repertory Theatre’s revival, astutely directed by Ciaran O’Reilly. This is Broderick at his best in a difficult role...We have tight portraits that the playwright smartly gives us, with the penetrating dialogue along the way. I still do not care for the play’s gimmicky and cheapening ending...Whatever your reaction, the performance by Broderick is well worth seeing." Full Review

Broadway & Me

"A very satisfying revival…While Broderick, rocking a believable Irish accent, doesn't move too far from the phlegmatic behavior that has marred his recent performances, he finds a way to put that lethargy to good—and effective—use here...The result is that the performance—and the play that surrounds it—is a wonderful way for the Irish Rep to celebrate its newly renovated home and to mark what could be the beginning of a renaissance for Broderick's career." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"A haunting and haunted revival...Directed by the insightful Ciarán O’Reilly...These characters find their individual paths to coupling and some connection...Amidst the sadness, there is a natural ironic humor in the telling and Conor McPherson tells it so well. Some might find this play somewhat repetitive and talkie but it touches the very core of human existence with outstanding performances by a committed cast well situated in the dreary setting by Charlie Corcoran." Full Review

Off Off Online

“Broderick is doing better work than he has in a long time. He’s taken on a gigantic role and he’s never less than enjoyable in it. Billy Carter as the psychiatrist is also exemplary. His Ian is energetic, sympathetic, emotionally torn and yet willing to face hard truths...The Irish Rep’s 'Shining City' is a satisfying, if not ideal, rendering of what feels like a transitional play by an important modern playwright.” Full Review

New York Daily News

"Four Dubliners face the living and the dread in this fine-tuned revival of McPherson’s moody modern ghost story. Broderick delivers star power and a moving performance as John, a guilt-racked widow. Carter anchors the drama as Ian, a troubled therapist juggling John, a girlfriend (Dwan) and a scruffy stranger (Russell). The prospect of being alone is scarier than any specter in the show." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"The humanity beneath that spooky, ethereal shell is what makes the play work in the ways that matter most, and why, when treated with clear-eyed sensitivity, it's tough to screw up...All that stops this mounting from being as searingly effective as the memory-etching 2006 Broadway production is one partial, but crucial, case of miscasting...It's an intricate, messily elegant evening that ranks among McPherson's best...The weak link, sadly, is Broderick, though it's not for lack of trying." Full Review

Reflections in the Light

"McPherson's lyrical writing (it certainly helps us not fall asleep during those long monologues--Broderick appeared to be looking for a couple of lines) has us questioning just who is helping whom here. Loneliness and desperation drip off the sentiments expressed, even as the text is peppered with humor...The production is engaging, but a special effect fails to have the impact it should. Let's just say there weren't gasps like there were in the original on Broadway." Full Review


"O'Reilly again locates the powerful core of McPherson's play and its emotionally fraught characters. Yet this production is weighed down considerably by Broderick, who seems so preoccupied with maintaining his accent over the course of a great many lines that he does not find much room for complexity in his character...Still...this company's exploration of the catalogue of McPherson has been thrilling, even if the lure of a blockbuster name mars 'Shining City.'" Full Review

The Wrap

"Broderick continues his recessive approach to acting in an uneven new revival…Carter tends to overdo the anger, as does Dwan as his girlfriend...Broderick gives no hint that his character is capable of raising his pulse, much less his fist. Still, there is much to admire about this production…And McPherson’s dialogue remains as crisp and well-crafted and thought-provoking, teasing connections between scenes and characters that feel both natural and inevitable." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"The drama is an actors' showcase, and it's here that the production falls short…Broderick never effectively conveys John's truly tortured soul, coming across as vaguely uncomfortable rather than anguished…Carter is much more effective as the similarly emotionally wounded therapist…The play's startling final moment packs as much of a punch as ever. But it's unlikely you'll come away from this 'Shining City' feeling nearly as haunted as you're supposed to feel." Full Review


"The play could use a renovation…Director Ciarán O'Reilly attempts to break up this glacier of text by having Broderick inexplicably stand up and move behind the couch at certain moments—it doesn't help. A fundamental problem remains: Hearing about other people's problems is so much less interesting than seeing them played out. Unfortunately, 'Shining City' is all tell and no show...The words are not enough to capture our imaginations, or even our full attention." Full Review

Great staging, Great writing, Original, Resonant, Exquisite

See it if You want to see a better version than the Broadway one of ten years ago

Don't see it if Lots and lots of unfinished sentences bother you

Intense, Matthew broderick was such a pleasant surprise, excellent timing , delivery and believable in his character, Parallel plot lines of two men suffering loss of self, Thought-provoking, Good casting and direction

See it if You believe that Matthew Broderick can delve deeper into character, want an enjoyable , engaging theatre experience with a few surprises.

Don't see it if Aren't interested in the struggles of priests and grieving men.want a passive experience.

Absorbing, Funny, Resonant, Intelligent, Insightful

See it if You would enjoy an excellent play about the struggles of middle aged people searching for connection, identity, and renewal.

Don't see it if You are looking for lighter material or something more appropriate for younger audiences.

Absorbing, Clever, Original, Thought-provoking, Quirky

See it if You like a little bit creepy.

Don't see it if You can't wait for the final punch.

Entertaining, Great acting, Original, Great staging, Too many words

See it if You want to see Matthew Broderick perform perfectly timed monologues in a psychological thriller with twists & turns; Great Supporting cast

Don't see it if You expect Hitchcock Expect a smoothly written script with perfect character development

Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Original, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to see Matthew Broderick's best performance in years!

Don't see it if you don't like ambiguity.

Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Masterful, Slow

See it if you enjoy plays with good dialogue and very little action. Broderick is giving his best performance in eons. Kudos to the supporting cast!

Don't see it if you need a play with a lot of action. Also, if you can't focus on excellent writing.

Absorbing, Slow, Great writing, Intelligent, Blahderick

See it if you enjoy (mostly) well-acted slow-burn Irish contemporary drama with a supernatural bent or are a devoted Broderick fan.

Don't see it if You can't tolerate Broderick onstage. He has lengthy monologues, and his flat, awkward performance nearly scuttles this whole thing.

Intelligent, Low-key, Miscast, Prosaic, Resonant

See it if writer McPherson's ability to find haunting poetry in day-to-day exchanges is up your alley. The production's strong.

Don't see it if you want more pyrotechnics. The play's shine is dimmed by a fairly flat staging & Broderick's inability to connect w others.

Resonant, Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if You've never been to Irish Rep before, never seen a Conor McPherson play before, simply adore Mathew Broderick.

Don't see it if If you want to see McPherson at his best, because this production won't deliver on that. It's a good production, but far from a great one.

Intelligent, flawed, fine direction,good acting with a fine performance by matthew broderick

See it if Interesting plot but flawed. Fine direction, good acting especially Matthew Broderick,at Irish Rep.

Don't see it if complicated and strange Irish plots are not to your taste.

Slow, Disappointing, Well acted, Well intentioned, Dry

See it if You love Matthew Broderick and you try and see everything he does. He is subtle and intelligent here, but miscast. A slow telling of play.

Don't see it if You've seen the play done elsewhere, likely with more life and a better mastery or Irish oratorical traditions. Too dry, not haunting or fun

Disappointing, Overrated

See it if you love Matthew Broderick (who is still a one-note actor, even here) or if you want to see the newly renovated Irish Rep theatre

Don't see it if you want plays to be about something interesting or important or historic, or something...anything at all. This was meant to be ghost story

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Dizzying

See it if you can score a ticket

Don't see it if you have no sense of humor

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Riveting

See it if You want to think. Broderick (not my favorite) is perfect. He fits the role. Wonderful thoughtful play. Good writer.Lots to talk about after

Don't see it if You want light fluff. This has laughter but is very serious.

During previews
Absorbing, Clever, Great writing, Great acting, Enchanting

See it if you are a fan of McPherson's style of playwriting. Beautiful storytelling and some grand performances in this production.

Don't see it if you are impatient. As with all great storytelling, it starts off a bit slow, but hooks you midstream. This is great Irish theatre.

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Resonant

See it if Matthew Broderick is in good form. The other two leads are great. It is nice to see this play in an intimate site

Don't see it if You don't want to see the reborn Irish Rep. new seats, loos & elimination of the side seats.although I was one of the few who did like them

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Clever

See it if A great show with an engaging story line and a talented cast.

Don't see it if You have an issue with a "Ghost Story" element to the play.

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Thought-provoking, Quirky

See it if You like Conor McPherson's writing and enjoy a good serious play.

Don't see it if You are expecting Matthew Broderick to be funny. It is a drama. He plays a complicated man with minimal facial expression and a foul mouth.

During previews
Absorbing, Dizzying, Great acting, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if you're a fan of McPherson; if you'd like a deeply thoughtful [sometimes funny] exploration of people's inability to connect or communicate.

Don't see it if you want a show that's light, unchallenging, or comedic, or resent any reference to the supernatural. A lot of talk, a lot of mystery.

During previews
Entertaining, Silly ending, Slow at times, Interesting characters

See it if you would enjoy a play which creates two somewhat undefined characters that you want to know more about

Don't see it if you don't like plays which have little action, lots of talk (mostly well-written), and feel somewhat unfinished

During previews
Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Quirky

See it if You want to see Matthew Broderick in a whole new light, don't mind a plot that is very dizzying and somewhat mind boggling, but compelling.

Don't see it if You want a straightforward, simple plot.

During previews
Broderick go bragh -- great play

See it if Matthew Broderick, who summered as a child in Ireland, acts in a pretty good brogue. He knew his lines. I liked his therapy monologue.

Don't see it if But a friend thought Matthew delivered it in a monotone. The star, though, is Billy Carter, an Irishman, as the conflicted therapist. Spooky

During previews
Absorbing, Ambitious, Overrated, Indulgent, Quirky

See it if you like Matthew Broderick or O'Connor, psychological ghost stories, close up views of crumbling marriages, shocking surprises

Don't see it if you don'l like stories told that ramble off the point, plays about psychiatrists, crumbling relationships & characters immobilized by fear

During previews
Major plot gaps, Slow, Moderately engaging, Disappointing, Uneven acting

See it if you like short, atmospheric, talky plays. It should be an acting showcase, but Broderick's too focused on his accent (he did well) to act.

Don't see it if you want meaning. This is mostly for entertainment; the plotting makes no sense. The Irish Rep's renovation is nice, and the set is lovely.

Cast & Creatives (12)