Smart People
Closed 1h 50m
Smart People

Smart People NYC Reviews and Tickets

(70 Reviews)
Members say
Thought-provoking, Ambitious, Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent

About the Show

Second Stage Theatre presents this comedy-drama tackling issues of race, sex, and class, starring Joshua Jackson and directed by Tony-winner Kenny Leon.

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Member Reviews (70)

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650 Reviews | 284 Followers
Ambitious not altogether successful play re racism/gender/personal identity laced with humor

See it if you enjoy intricate racially-charged mating dance for two couples, culminating in racial showdown; charismatic Mahershala Ali (houseofcards)

Don't see it if don't appreciate characters that are stand ins for ideas and a confusing effort to bring together too many meaty issues

488 Reviews | 316 Followers
Banal, Disappointing, Indulgent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You want to see the actors in it and want to explore the issues in the play.

Don't see it if You want to see a fully realized show. It didn't feel finished. It was told in short scenes and never really felt cohesive.

479 Reviews | 262 Followers
Schematic, underdeveloped, sluggish direction, poor acting,, Excruciating

See it if you enjoy seeing underdeveloped plays given a full production. Another misfire from Second Stage.

Don't see it if you are a smart person. This production is totally unsatisfying.

480 Reviews | 134 Followers
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Funny, Intelligent

See it if You enjoy plays that are up to the minute current and have significant messages that make you think. You are a fan of actor Josh Jackson !

Don't see it if You can't deal with some male nudity and being forced to think about your personal prejudices.

418 Reviews | 256 Followers
Original, Quirky, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Confusing

See it if You are open to some interesting opinions that you may not agree with, presented by excellent actors.

Don't see it if You don't care for a talky evening with a disappointing ending

470 Reviews | 91 Followers
Ambitious, Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Relevant

See it if A frank discussion on race executed deftly in the framework of a comedy with strong writing and performances appeals to you.

Don't see it if You've seen one too many race plays where the liberal white guy's point of view is prominent. (My only criticism of this show.)

407 Reviews | 67 Followers
Absorbing, Edgy, Great writing, Great acting, Resonant

See it if you love great scripts with great actors following a great directors lead. Excellence abounds!

Don't see it if you dislike intense dialogue with strong usage of big words!

253 Reviews | 53 Followers
Absorbing, Funny, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if for a provocative exploration of race (and gender) that's also quite funny and observant. But it does feel incomplete and not fully gelled.

Don't see it if you dislike dialogue-driven plays or don't want to think about racism in america

Critic Reviews (30)

The New York Times
February 11th, 2016

"A brainy but overstuffed drama…The script is stuffed with academic and psychiatric jargon and the characters often seem to be mere receptacles for the ideas they espouse rather than fully fleshed-out people. Although Ms. Diamond is clearly herself a powerfully smart writer, you come away from 'Smart People' feeling like you’ve attended a marathon series of seminars, not a persuasively drawn drama."
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Time Out New York
February 11th, 2016

"As their lives intertwine, albeit in ways that are not always convincing, their assumptions, flirtations and arguments sit on promising fault lines of conflict. So why doesn’t the play shake us more than it does?...the production’s flaws bring out some weaknesses in the writing...Although Diamond raises resonant questions, much of her spitballing hits right on the nose. Audiences may be smarter than the play seems to believe."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
February 11th, 2016

"On the evidence of this unsatisfying production, Diamond is more interested in addressing the complications of race as a kind of laboratory puzzle than in embodying characters that credibly exist beyond that issue…All of these permutations and involutions of the theme make 'Smart People' the kind of play that’s fascinating to read and think about. It is not, however, very fascinating to watch…The bigger problem is that there is very little plot.”
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The Hollywood Reporter
February 11th, 2016

"A provocative dialectic and a lively comedy, with prickly characters that push back against one another's preconceptions…The occasional scene doesn't entirely ring true…And the play at times feels less like a developing narrative then a succession of whip-smart scenes illustrating variations on a theme...But it's hard to quibble with a play that remains so consistently intelligent, scathingly funny and even affecting in its understated way."
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February 11th, 2016

"A sexy, serious and very, very funny modern-day comedy of manners...At the end of the play, when the characters meet at a dinner party and lay all their race cards on the table, sparks really fly…The playwright puts this incendiary topic in a realistic context, and addresses it in a refreshingly honest manner."
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The Wall Street Journal
February 18th, 2016

"'Smart People' is a sharp-edged satire, and Ms. Diamond’s ear for the foibles of her subjects is so precisely tuned as to make 'Clybourne Park' and 'Disgraced' look downright tone-deaf...But as funny as 'Smart People' is, it’s also quite deeply felt...The play’s the thing, and it’s a gem. Not only is 'Smart People' soundly constructed, but it’s intelligent and provocative enough to put you in mind of Tom Stoppard."
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New York Post
February 13th, 2016

"'Smart People' is saying something about race and racism — but what? Lydia R. Diamond’s most clever gambit here is to frame her argument as a rom-com in which sexual and academic power moves — two of the characters teach at Harvard — play against pseudo-edgy speechifying...How ironic that a show about race would be skin-deep."
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New York Theatre Guide
February 22nd, 2016

"We hear some very smart people saying some very smart things. We see their lips moving, but we don’t hear a word they are saying. Diamond has given these fine actors little to work with in terms of depth. Kenny Leon’s direction does nothing to elevate or simplify the evening. These characters remain a conglomeration of facts and figures...Who these people are, however, and why we should care is never discovered."
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