Signature Plays
Midtown W
67

Signature Plays NYC Reviews and Tickets

67%
(58 Reviews)
Positive
40%
Mixed
43%
Negative
17%
Members say
Ambitious, Great acting, Confusing, Great staging, Disappointing

About the Show

In honor of its 25th anniversary, Signature Theatre presents an evening of three one-act plays by a trio of American masters.

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Member Reviews (58)

65
Ambitious, Original, Great staging, Dizzying, Challenging

See it if you love experimental theater. All have fascinating moments w/strong staging and acting. Sandbox is punchy; Drowning slow; Funnyhouse weird!

Don't see it if you like traditional theater. This is highly challenging, unusual material. Not easy enjoyment. Not my thing, but memorable.

68
Indulgent, Overrated, Great staging, Dated, Quirky

See it if you fondly recall the days of avant garde theater, think pretentious is a compliment, like a program of one acts by 3 writers, want to think

Don't see it if you have trouble following the vague, odd, pretentious, let's be weird for weird's sake type of shows, are put off by the odd and bizarre

Critic Reviews (15)

May 22nd, 2016

"Under the accomplished direction of Lila Neugebauer, these works still have the power to engage, amuse and, above all, disturb…In every case, this first-rate creative team has done its job. That is to say, they’ve created unfamiliar worlds that somehow feel deeply, ineffably familiar — the sort of places that you visit as you’re falling asleep. And all the places you’ve ever lived, and all the people you’ve ever been, start to mingle and merge into one eerie, endlessly reflected entity."
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May 23rd, 2016

"Although wildly diverse, the three pieces that make up Signature Plays are all grappling with death...Albee, Fornés and Kennedy have been breaking rules since the late ’50s and early ’60s, and today’s most daring playwrights have absorbed their influences—but what a joy to hear this raw music straight from the source. Director Lila Neugebauer delivers each work with a custom-tailored design and approach to performance, treating them not as museum relics."
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May 22nd, 2016

"A trio of brilliant plays…In each work, Lila Neugebauer's direction is nothing short of extraordinary. With the impeccable performances of her cast, she combines the diverse tones, techniques, and themes into two humorous and frightening hours of theater...This electric production is a feast for the eyes as well as the brain. It's also further proof that Lila Neugebauer is one of the theater's most versatile and accomplished directors working today."
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May 25th, 2016

"Two of the plays, the Albee and Kennedy entries, premiered in the 1960s, a time when 'downtown theatre' was defined by the kind of experimentation and symbolism that baffled as many as it inspired...This is one of those rare instances where an Edward Albee play can be considered the most accessible of a collection...'Drowning'...is a lethargically-paced play...'Funnyhouse of a Negro' at its time, was a rare instance of a black woman writing about black women."
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June 2nd, 2016

"A kind of sampler of the avant-garde from the last several decades...The results are distinctly mixed...'Funnyhouse of a Negro' more than lives up to its bizarre gothic atmosphere, making itself the only one of the three plays on display to feel thoroughly contemporary...If the first half of ‘Signature Plays’ offers less than one has any right to expect, the opportunity to see a first-class production of Kennedy's play is not to be missed."
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May 22nd, 2016

"The Sandbox,’ ‘Drowning,’ and ‘Funnyhouse of a Negro’ are all major pieces worthy of examination, and given thoughtful, well-considered mountings here under the direction of Lila Neugebauer, so they do not seem depressing per se. What you get instead is a potent, pungent look at how three different towering American theatre artists have approached the difficult subject of identity and conquered it on their own unique, highly theatrical terms."
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May 22nd, 2016

"A wonderful evening of absurdist plays…The star of the evening is director Lila Neugebauer. Any lesser talent may fumble with the three plays’ absurdism, or lose sight of the distinctions between each play’s unique approaches to heighted language. Neugebauer excels in finding relatable ties to unfamiliar worlds...It is her acute dramaturgical eye that ties all three distinct plays together in a cohesive evening of theater."
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May 22nd, 2016

"Directed by Lila Neugebauer, the 'Signature Plays' are beautifully (it's tempting to say ideally) cast...Each offers a distinctive slant on existential angst, finding humor as well as pathos in the characters' suffering...As studies in loneliness, alienation, and unease, the Signature Plays fit together nicely as a single evening...The themes and the zaniness that marked the mid-century avant-garde are so familiar now, on stage and off, that they're no longer viewed as absurd."
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May 22nd, 2016

“How well do these plays hold up? They’re at the very least fascinating as period pieces….Director Lila Neugebauer gives all three a competent production; she and her design team are especially effective in the stagecraft of Kennedy’s play. It’s harder for me to judge the acting, since the intent of these playwrights was to keep us from naturalism, and the director’s aim seems above all to respect their intent.”
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May 24th, 2016

"‘Signature Plays’ is best considered as a well-produced educational event; it offers a seminal play by one of America’s best-known playwrights and two plays, one barely known and the other widely respected (if rarely performed), by ethnically diverse female dramatists. I suspect it will be of interest chiefly to academics and theatre students; for the general theatregoer, not so much."
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May 8th, 2016

“For someone like me who has a limited tolerance for absurdist theater, the results were not gratifying. Yesterday’s avant garde often seems quaint or just annoying today. Edward Albee’s ‘The Sandbox’ at least offered a bit of drollery and a chance to see three fine actors...The production values are first-rate with sets by Mimi Lien, costumes by Kaye Voyce and lighting by Mark Barton.”
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May 26th, 2016

"'Signature Plays,' a triple bill of one-acts, offers bizarre examinations of death, loneliness, and race...Not for the easygoing theatergoer who just wants to sit back and be entertained...The uneven evening concludes with Kennedy’s 'Funnyhouse of a Negro'...Too bad Neugebauer only gets the right tone for the witty 'Sandbox.' She lets 'Drowning' drown and 'Funnyhouse' is more like a haunted house."
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June 7th, 2016

"In Lila Neugebauer's production 'Signature Plays,' the new triple bill of familiar works doesn't create the electric charge these beloved creations have had for me in the past...Neugebauer has done little to make the works register; her impulse to add wildness to the wild work already in hand tends to muffle the scripts rather than helping them speak out...The impulse to direct does not always rest content with what a poet's words can achieve. More's the pity."
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May 27th, 2016

"I thought they were amazing. All really crazy, off-kilter, not-entirely-completely-successful, but thoroughly mesmerizing and so worthwhile. Directed and designed with incredible imagination...It's hard to imagine these three landmark plays ever being performed together again in such a first-rate production, so I do highly recommend you get yourself over to the Signature Theatre."
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May 23rd, 2016

"With its eerie music, strobe lights, and in-unison chanting, 'Funnyhouse of a Negro' is clearly a wacky show. If you peel back the layers however, it’s meant to show the symbolism between white power and black…The message here is an interesting one, but it would have been more easily understood if there had been a resolution to the conflict. The ending did not help. It is just a cliffhanger, and sadly the audience never really gets a clear cut answer on what actually happened."
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