Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Relevant, Great writing, Thought-provoking

About the show

After a successful run earlier this year, Atlantic Theater Company brings back Dominique Morisseau’s hit play about four Detroit auto workers during the 2008 recession for an encore run.

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'Skeleton Crew' is a timely and intimate look at the lives of four Detroit auto workers as they struggle through an uncertain future. In this final installment of Morisseau’s Detroit trilogy, a makeshift family of workers at the last exporting auto plant in the city navigate the possibility of foreclosure. Power dynamics shift, and the workers are pushed to the limits of survival. When the line between blue collar and white collar gets blurred, how far over the divider are they willing to step? Following its critically acclaimed run at Atlantic Stage 2, the show returns with its original cast for a six-week engagement at Atlantic’s Linda Gross Theater.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"The financial perils and uncertainty for workers at the mercy of industry pressures are movingly depicted in the earthy 'Skeleton Crew,' tautly written by Dominique Morisseau and briskly directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson...By the conclusion, in-depth acquaintance with the characters has been achieved and the playwright, skilled actors and a knowledgeable director have succeeded in shining a spotlight on a vulnerable slice of America." Full Review

Reflections in the Light

"An engrossing, pertinent script, well acted and directed. Despite a rather depressing atmosphere, made heavy by the threat of unemployment, Morrisseau skillfully weaves humor, friendship and forgiveness into the story...The action on stage may depict issues specific to Detroit's auto industry, but the playwright poignantly reminds us that anyone's life can change in the blink of an eye and the reality is that these characters could be any one of us." Full Review

The New York Times

for a previous production "Warm-blooded, astute and beautifully acted four-character drama...It is, in many ways, an old-fashioned play: naturalistic, tightly structured and filled with self-defining monologues of vernacular lyricism...It is, in other words, a deeply moral and deeply American play, with a loving compassion for those trapped in a system that makes sins, spiritual or societal, and self-betrayal almost inevitable." Full Review

New York Post

for a previous production "'Skeleton Crew,' set in the dingy break room of a Detroit auto-parts factory, looks modest but is deeply affecting...Dominique Morisseau’s drama effectively weaves together all their stories. Flawed as her people are, we root for them — especially since the cast is absolutely terrific. Don’t miss this intimate gem." Full Review


for a previous production "There’s little wrong with 'Skeleton Crew,' that August Wilson couldn’t fix. Like Wilson, this playwright has heart, along with a sense of historical moments that define the lives of ordinary Americans. Her rough-edged dialogue even has a touch of the street poet. What’s missing in the work is a grasp of character-driven dramatic action — although that can still be acquired." Full Review


for a previous production "An engrossing character study of types that add up to a vivid portrait of urban collapse…Morisseau's fluid and naturalistic dialogue and the strong work of director Ruben Santiago-Hudson and his fine ensemble add up to an edgy and engrossing drama that delivers a solid emotional impact." Full Review

Time Out New York

for a previous production "Morisseau’s play is firmly based in the lives and evocative language of its four characters, whom Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s powerful production treats with August Wilson–ian respect. They’re messed-up but decent people, driven by forces that may or may not be beyond their control." Full Review


for a previous production "Morisseau creates characters who don't merely speak, they sing with the vernacular of their community. Rarely has dialogue ever felt so much like eavesdropping on an actual conversation...As for the company, they are collectively impeccable." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

for a previous production "Each of the four characters feels the pressure even as Morisseau skillfully weaves them into a web of friendships, dependencies, and rivalries...It's strong stuff, forcefully delivered in Ruben Santiago-Hudson's crackling production, which features four exceptionally fine performances...It reaches a gripping resolution when one of the characters makes an enormous sacrifice; it may only be then that one realizes how well-constructed 'Skeleton Crew' is." Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

for a previous production "It’s easy to discern echoes of Wilson in 'Skeleton Crew.' Director Ruben Santiago-Hudson adroitly brings out Morisseau’s beautiful rhythms and the comic tones in the bickering among the characters. As in Wilson, the often poetic language is rich but not precious, spoken by down-to-earth characters who embody the comedy and the tragedy of everyday lives. The cast could not be better." Full Review

The Huffington Post

for a previous production "Morisseau's play is unquestionably a strong, formidable work...Director Ruben Santiago-Hudson has crafted an excellent production that does it full justice, especially with a faultless cast...Without revealing the climax, I didn't care for some late show plot twists. It's hardly a happy ending, but 'Skeleton Crew' seems built for tragedy." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

for a previous production "With Ruben Santiago-Hudson putting pedal to the metal with his sensitive yet powerful direction, Ms. Morisseau’s eight-cylinder play goes from zero to 60 in the blink of an eye, thanks to the high-octane artistry of Lynda Gravatt, Jason Dirden, Nikiya Mathis, and Wendell B. Franklin...When act one ended, I couldn’t help saying to my guest, 'Now that’s professional acting and direction!' It sure is professional writing...Despite its title, there’s plenty of meat on this play's bones." Full Review

Front Row Center

for a previous production "Playwright Dominique Morisseau has a gift for telling her very big stories in her small details…Morisseau manages to make the overworked metaphor of the work family as real family—work…To be sure, Morisseau sings the song of Detroit—this is the third in her hometown trilogy—but, more, she is writing an original American story." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

for a previous production "Morisseau calls out to a vital yet ghostly past that informs a challenging, uncertain present. Santiago-Hudson has perfectly crystallized this in his unforgivingly realistic staging...Morisseau finds a poetry in their trials, as well as a message for all those who struggle to establish themselves, from their inner being on out, in places where that's nearly impossible." Full Review


for a previous production "Ms. Morisseau's storytelling isn't quite up to the poetic grandeur of August Wilson's epic Pittsburgh cycle. However, she has created four vivid, likeable characters and provided them with authentic dialogue and stories. She's blessed to have an excellent ensemble to bring those characters and their inner conflicts and interactions to life and deliver that dialogue with a natural ease." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

for a previous production "The situations are involving and the dialogue is lively. Morisseau’s characters, brought to life by a superb cast, are easy to care about. At its best moments, it recalls August Wilson’s work. The play is greatly assisted by a first-rate production directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Michael Carnahan’s set creates a believable factory break room down to the smallest detail." Full Review


for a previous production "It’s far more than the topical relevance of the two-hour work that commands our attention, it’s Morriseau’s remarkable skill in crafting the interpersonal relationships among the four people that populate a factory break room...If Morriseau is going for a 10-play cycle about Detroit, count me in. She’s got my motor running." Full Review


for a previous production "Morisseau writes good, natural-sounding dialogue that allows us to get fully engaged in the characters' evolving lives...The production's pace is greatly helped by Ruben Santiago-Hudson's dynamic direction. 'Skeleton Crew' is a very watchable play about ordinary people trying to get by in the world. What you take away from the theater is Gravatt's rich, uncompromising portrayal of one woman's determined spirit of independence." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

for a previous production "'Skeleton Crew' is a poignant and effective conclusion to Dominique Morisseau's Detroit trilogy thanks to its smart script and tremendous actors...Big-hearted and quietly moving...Morisseau's drama is a testament to the ordinary lives that shaped the city's mechanical golden age that must now cope with its hastening degradation. The way each of the four characters handle this shift—eeking out their lives through an assembly line's minute tasks—is where Skeleton Crew finds its greatest life." Full Review

Act Three - The Reviews

for a previous production "What might be the most compelling and culturally relevant play of the season...This ensemble was as tight, on-point, and incredibly credible...This riveting piece is most assuredly best performed in an intimate black box theater where emotions are high and contained." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

for a previous production "The premise goes from dubious to fabricated, but it allows for needed dramatic tension…Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s direction is smooth and unforced...As for the playwright, she creates a mood of tension that simmers throughout. The members of the ensemble are all strong, playing off and complementing each other with street-tinged grace...Skeleton Crew comes up short on details, but its hard-bitten heart ensures there’s genuine skin on its bones." Full Review

NY Theatre Guide

for a previous production "Morrisseau’s dialogue and weaving of plot reveals, against the backdrop of imminent adversity, is breathtaking and heart wrenching...This is a masterpiece of salient and stirring dialogue...The instantaneous audience ovation expressed the overwhelming appreciation of a piece that combines astounding writing, visionary direction and truthful performances in an extremely necessary production. Warning: It has the power to awaken activist blood in you." Full Review

American Theater Web

for a previous production "The play slowly and consistently goes to work on theatergoers' minds and hearts, and in the end, proves to be work that is both deeply moving and thought-provoking. Throughout, the cast delivers Morisseau's drama—and comedy—with aplomb." Full Review

Magical MissTari Tour

for a previous production "GO SEE THIS PLAY. It isn't often that I get to see a play about blue-collar workers, about people I know and grew up with, so I'll always stand up for one. Also, this play has such beautifully detailed writing and characterizations and acting. It's truly so well done." Full Review

250 Word Reviews

for a previous production "The 'whodunit' dramatic tension keeps the play exciting—Morisseau keeps giving us reasons to love the people we most suspect...Although we first see these characters as snapshots, they grow into complex people we deeply invest in, and concordantly Morisseau invests us in the plight of the American autoworker." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Moving

See it if you like workplace dramas. The characters are well-drawn, as are the conflicts. You feel for all as they face the decline of their industry.

Don't see it if you want a perfect script. This could have used some cuts. Still, it was compelling and elucidating...and very well staged/acted.

Also I'm catching up on old reviews. Skeleton Crew was a powerful peek into... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Resonant, Great writing

See it if you enjoy plays that deal with contemporary social and economic issues. The Broadway-bound Sweat pales in comparison to this production.

Don't see it if you are craving light and fluffy fare.

Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Resonant, Great writing

See it if You want to see people of color in strong non stereotyped roles

Don't see it if You are anti union

Also Set in Detroit in a plants part, involves the complicated nature of pe... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Riveting

See it if You want to be exposed to people and situations very different than NYC theater goers.

Don't see it if You are a Trump supporter.

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Resonant, Great writing

See it if you love a great moral drama with a warm human soul about a community trying to keep each other afloat. Gorgeous, soulful performances

Don't see it if you prefer your dramas cold and cynical

Funny, Great acting, Intense, Relevant, Great writing

See it if You're typically turned off by race plays because this one isn't heavy-handed. Or want to see naturalistic performances in a realistic play.

Don't see it if You're turned off by loud noises and random dance break interludes.

Great acting, Intense, Masterful, Resonant, Riveting

See it if you want to see expert acting, masterful writing, exploring the pressures of poverty, labor relations, making something out of nothing

Don't see it if ... just see it.

Absorbing, Great acting

See it if Excellent playwright but NEEDS editing and cutting! Important theme, well directed, very good cast and set. Well worth seeing!

Don't see it if the conflict between blue collar and white collar workers or the difficulty of surviving in present day Detroit do not interest you.

Absorbing, Great acting, Resonant, Great staging, Well-made

See it if You would like to see a good old-fashioned kitchen sink well-made play. It's well directed & performed with great set and scene transitions

Don't see it if You don't like linear straightforward plays. You have a low tolerance for actors doing a robot dance.

Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Great writing, Great staging

See it if an important American play. Sensitively performed and directed. Resonant moral and economic issues. Precise, layered dialogue and set design

Don't see it if It may take a little extra effort to fully understand the vernacular, but that's a rewarding experience.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if you like dynamic theater that delivers a message relevant to today's political climate.

Don't see it if you don't care about people's struggles and personal lives.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if You want to see a well written & acted play.

Don't see it if N/A

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing

See it if you appreciate good character development and an exploration of the financial crisis that is not trite.

Don't see it if you only like upbeat, entertaining theater

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting

See it if Well written and excellent ensemble acting.

Don't see it if You are easily offended by stereotypes and foul language

Great acting, Intelligent, Intense

See it if You like workplace drama, want to see real people in real situations, speaking real dialog, and excellent ensemble work.

Don't see it if You have no interest in the lives of blue collar people or have a lot of trouble understanding black accents.

Original, Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Resonant

See it if tough lives of the working class

Don't see it if the above

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant

See it if You're interested in current affairs and socio-economic issues told through the lens of individual characters' stories.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy the inclusion of spurts of dance in theatre. (This really isn't a big part of it though, and I recommend seeing it anyway!)

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you want to understand the issues of our changing economy from a different angle.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy character studies, this is mostly a study of the people more than the plot.

Tale of existential blue collar angst

See it if Takes place in the dingy break room of a foundering Detroit auto factory & details the interpersonal relationships/struggles of 4 co-workers

Don't see it if You have no interest in the plight of a blue collar community on the brink

Relevant, Great staging

See it if Relevance is enough to carry a play for you. Good play, good performances. Interesting scene breaks.

Don't see it if You find it annoying when naturalistic dialogue every once in a while awkwardly switches to incongruous metaphor style monologues.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Entertaining, Believable

See it if You like stories that capture how tough it is out there in the workplace

Don't see it if You on't like great ensemble work

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Relevant, Great writing

See it if you like seeing terrific new works.

Don't see it if you're not interested in new plays and good writing.

Absorbing, Interesting

See it if you like a play about real people. Nicely captures the lives of people trying to survive during bad times. Well acted.

Don't see it if you want light, happy, fluff.

Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if you enjoy a well written play about contemporary social issues - blue collar workers of Detroit and how the struggle to survive

Don't see it if you're a racist and don't appreciate good writing

Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant, Great writing, Nuanced

See it if if you want to catch a major writer weaving some relevant & powerful magic; if you want to encounter a new kind of stage hero: #TeamFaye.

Don't see it if you prefer fast-paced plays with dramatic twists & eventful turns, rather than a more nuanced, reflective approach

Cast & Creatives (12)