See it if interested in Greek history, Socrates's life, death & methods, the emergence of Plato as philosopher, plays with many characters
Don't see it if don't like nonlinear non-chronological plots or care about Greek history, confused by actors playing multiple parts with unfamiliar names
See it if u want to learn about Socrates via "Masterpiece Theatre lite" where speechifying & instruction take center stage over drama & theatricality.
Don't see it if u value emotion, depth, conflict & theatrics over rhetoric & exposition; u don't want to watch an old man wordlessly bathe for 10 minutes. Read more
See it if Surgically precise dissection of the Greek academic. Stuhlbarg is on a pop-culture roll right now and still chooses the stage. Huge cast.
Don't see it if Intellectual debates.The cast is so large that it resembles figurative gladiators battling it out in a cerebral arena Shakespeare inthe Park
See it if you are a philosopher at heart; enjoy verbose, intellectual discourse; Stuhlbarg is absolutely brilliant with a terrific ensemble cast.
Don't see it if First act badly in need of editing; opening scene feels endless; 2nd act is shorter, less wordy, more active & more interesting. Read more
See it if you want to see a tour-de-force performance by Michael Stuhlbarg.
Don't see it if you want to see a play that is only intermittently interesting. The opening scenes are a bit muddled. If you do not like overly talky plays. Read more
See it if Want a talky treatise about Socrates - good actors though.
Don't see it if Need something to actually happen. Too much being talked to. One can fall asleep and wake up 1/2 hour later and not have missed anything.
See it if you like wordy intellectual plays. The discourse was intelligent but way too much talking.
Don't see it if you think watching a group of smart, privileged men drone on about academic issues is boring.
See it if If you want to see spectacular acting about a very interesting historical figure. A very verbose plays centered around intense dialogue
Don't see it if You want any kind of action or any scene that isn't very heavily dialogue heavy. At nearly 3hrs long, it is a bit exhausting.
"Argument and inquiry are the engines of 'Socrates,' starring a sublime Michael Stuhlbarg in the title role. In a meticulously handsome production by Doug Hughes, this is a play that hums with intelligence...Reverence is a heavy thing, and it weighs down this nearly three-hour play, whose overlong first act is so devoted to showing its prickly and endearing provocateur in his element — that it succeeds more on academic merits than dramatic ones."
"'Socrates' is dragged down by loquacious speechifying, excessive double casting and the general stasis of Doug Hughes's plant-your-feet-and-spew staging...Just when you're ready to give up, however, the spotlight shifts in earnest to Stuhlbarg's arresting performance as a fascinating, fallible, sometimes frustratingly inflexible man who believed that no idea was too sacred to be questioned...He manages to animate the play’s didactic discussions of virtue, knowledge and democracy."
“Overlong, dramatically flat...There are so many actors...But only one of these actors really commands our attention...If you can get through the first couple of scenes, it’s intermittently exciting to watch...The fact that the play does eventually manage to pull up and away from it is a great credit to Stuhlbarg...In its best moments, it lets us think alongside a magnificent, humane thinker, and in a world so hungry for generous, rational thought, that’s something."
"Nelson attempts to bring this historical figure to theatrical life but mainly succeeds in boring the audience...The play can certainly be commended for its intellectual rigor and astute illustration of the Socratic method...But it ultimately comes across as more rhetoric than drama...That the evening succeeds at all is due to a superb starring turn by the brilliant Stuhlbarg...Nelson’s ambitions here get the best of him.”
“The experience of watching Nelson's ‘Socrates’ is comparable to the experience of sitting down to read Plato's dialogues: intellectually stimulating but dramatically inert...The Socrates we get onstage is no fuller than the sketchy one we get on the page....Nelson's tedious dialogue and Hughes's stilted direction feel overwhelmingly burdened by their source material."
"Despite the occasional contemporary-sounding reference that may jar a bit, Nelson's play, though a bit stretched out, is generally a fine character study of one of recorded history's earliest known great thinkers...Played by with gentle warmth and humor by Michael Stuhlbarg."
"Alternating slyly constructed arguments with scorching confrontations and climaxing with a harrowing death scene, it is, arguably, one of the most ambitious offerings of the season; it is also, at times, lumbering, drunk with the power of its own words, and willing to follow unprofitable tangents as far as they will lead. Then again, in the title role, Michael Stuhlbarg gives a titanic performance that crowns his career to date. It's a tough piece, one that demands you wrestle with it."
"Instantly one of the very best in a season unusually blessed with top-drawer entries...Hughes is hotly on his game here...As for Stuhlbarg, his performance of Socrates’s death is one of the most convincingly memorable as any experienced on a stage in some time. Maybe ever...Nelson depicts a democratic state as often contentious, as frequently at risk of foundering, as a political cauldron. In other words, he’s set out to unleash a play for our time—and succeeded.”