Closed 1h 30m
The Amateurs
Gramercy
71

The Amateurs NYC Reviews and Tickets

71%
(104 Reviews)
Positive
62%
Mixed
27%
Negative
11%
Members say
Ambitious, Clever, Quirky, Thought-provoking, Disappointing

About the Show

The Vineyard Theatre presents this epic new work from Pulitzer Prize-finalist Jordan Harrison, where an intrepid troupe of pageant players races across medieval Europe, struggling to outrun the Black Death.

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Member Reviews (104)

68
Banal, Excruciating, Insipid, Great acting, Slow

See it if If you like good acting and 13th century type plays.

Don't see it if The show gets boring, confusing and slow. This piece should not have been brought to stage yet, needs a lot of reworking.

69
Slow, Clever, Ambitious, Entertaining, Quirky

See it if Very slow start which jump starts in a clever middle section. Lead actress is strong but shows is still a struggle. Very meta.

Don't see it if You need a clear linear plot. Not interested in slightly avant-garde shows.

Critic Reviews (28)

February 27th, 2018

"A hilarious, slightly eggheaded, and strangely moving medieval backstager...A bit heady for a rollicking tragicomedy in which pratfalls and death throes are tumbled together, that is part of the play's unusual scheme...'The Amateurs' works by a kind of indirection. The magic happens, by design, wherever the playwright isn't pointing...The postmodern gewgaws are a bit of a decoy. They might work even better if there were fewer of them...The cast is a collection of Off-Bway treasures."
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February 27th, 2018

"Ambitious but inchoate new play...At the halfway mark, Harrison turns the action inside out with a meta theatrical flourish involving two of the actors...To some extent, this section of dramatis interruptus is effective. It has a texture of real life that the medieval sections do not, and it mirrors, in that way, the emergence of personhood that the rest of the show is meant to depict...For all its skill, the play rarely seems either more or less than self-conscious."
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March 1st, 2018

"I found myself won over...The stories are vulnerable, raw, funny, sad, and they allow us intimate access to the patchwork of experiences that shaped both playwright and play...Harrison’s heartfelt meta-monologue is the most affecting part of 'The Amateurs.' The play on either side of it is charming enough but less anchored in terms of its tone...Harrison is juggling several ideas here, but what keeps it all together is his heartfelt questioning of his own art form."
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February 27th, 2018

"While this breaking of the fourth wall ultimately proves more gimmicky than enlightening, it does at least provide a respite from the tedious goings-on in the main story...While the play features some clever moments...it mostly feels lifeless and heavy-handed...Unfortunately, despite the fine performances by the ensemble, the effective staging by Oliver Butler and the striking scenic and costume designs...this thematically ambitious effort feels a complete misfire."
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February 27th, 2018

"A frequently funny play about amateur actors struggling to put on a biblical epic...This in-and-out style of storytelling requires a lot of skill to pull off. Under the stewardship of director Butler, the cast and crew manage it...Harrison has captured amateurishness expertly. He has also dared to go deeper, digging into the cultural emergence of individuality. Some might fault him for taking on so much, but that's just what he should be applauded for."
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February 28th, 2018

"This business of playwrights kibitzing on their own work is becoming worrisome...Butler's direction can't really find any urgency or drama in these proceedings, but at least he has assembled an exceptionally appealing cast...The authorial intrusion seems almost an admission that 'The Amateurs' is a play in search of a reason to be. The story it tells should be steeped in horror, suffering, and the struggle for survival. Instead, what it offers is a postmodern shrug."
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February 27th, 2018

"Directed with brazen audacity by Oliver Butler, 'The Amateurs' boasts a top-notch design team...The players, all of whom are superb...We're entranced by Creighton's magical power to entertain us with stories of Harrison's youth...a metaphor for the AIDS epidemic in our lifetime...I ended up leaving 'The Amateurs ' loving my life and loving the theatre so I guess Harrison is on the right track. We should all have such self-awareness of who we are and our place in the world."
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March 3rd, 2018

"Jordan Harrison's 'The Amateurs' is certainly an ambitious new play acted to the hilt by its cast of six. However, at times it bites off more than it can handle, at other times its anachronisms tear at the fabric of its story, and finally it goes out of its way to draw connections that the audience has already made. The play may need a stronger director than Oliver Butler has proved to be to pull this unwieldy drama into more satisfactory shape."
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February 28th, 2018

"We're tossed back and forth between Harrison's intimate storytelling and the players acting out the scenarios in the same presentational manner...The stark style difference is nice...but I struggled to understand how these two worlds related. As events unfold quickly with not much reflection, often playing out as an ancient melodrama, I struggled to care about Harrison's characters. 'The Amateurs' feels like a draft of a play that just made it a little too far."
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February 27th, 2018

"Playwright Jordan Harrison has quite an imagination in this quirky, humorous play with music...And we begin to wonder...so where is this all going?...Another commentary in creative guise. Can have you squirming in your seat but take it or leave it, you have to admire the delivery."
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February 28th, 2018

"Harrison's triple-decker, meta-theatrical attempt to link that long ago crisis to the AIDS epidemic and more current catastrophies can't be faulted for lack of ambition. To help him realize that ambition, the playwright is supported by truly inventive stagecraft and a top notch cast that's sturdily directed...A bit too ambitious for its own good for the two distinct theatrical styles coalesce and mash its intermissionless parts into a completely satisfying 3-act play."
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February 28th, 2018

"A well meant play that, with the exception of a mildly interesting mid-section monologue, remains no more than well-meant. The actors are unable to transform this loose knit tale into anything resembling whole cloth. And it is not for lack of trying...While there is nothing of substance in the text of the play, the odd part is I was never lost or bored. These performers do make magic out of flotsam. They weave it in front of our eyes, and they deserved a standing ovation."
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February 28th, 2018

"He layers many different questions and concepts within its fascinating structure, but the ride is a worthy one, even when the bumps are confusing, and the overall reasoning not so clear. Directed with an appealing sense of adventure...The writing is sharp, modern, and witty, and the cast is so engaging that the simplistic metaphor is fully and happily embraced. And then something miraculous, wild, and pretty confusing happens, all within a quick flash and a costume change."
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March 3rd, 2018

"It’s a just-fine freeway of a play, one that you feel okay about driving down, but also one that doesn’t inspire too much of anything on an emotional, dramatic, or intellectual level. It’s sometimes funny, and maybe that’s enough?...What 'The Amateurs' is after is admirable and actually rather rigorous, and it’s difficult to argue against any of the choices the play makes individually. But when viewed as a whole, it’s hard to decide whether this particular trip needed to be taken."
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March 4th, 2018

"The first part of 'The Amateurs' is uncomfortable in a different way...As it turns out, the iconic Off-Broadway theatre is thinking outside-the-box and out with the fourth wall, inviting the audience into a rigorous session of metacognition...Under Butler's direction, the actors wrestle with the plays disparate themes with honesty. Happy endings, guilt, fear, catharsis - all get bandied about at the play's end with more questions raised than answers given."
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February 27th, 2018

"The set-up is clever and accomplished; grim, sure, but also funny, well-designed, thought-provoking...yet, truth be told, maybe getting a little…tedious...A complicated show that might indeed have provoked some walk-outs, if there had been an intermission...The overall tone of 'The Amateurs', for better or for worse, is intellectual, grappling with a myriad of stimulating questions...'The Amateurs' is like a good course. I wish I were a better student."
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February 27th, 2018

"Extraordinary...Visually stunning...The cast is a tight ensemble of skillful actors that expertly vacillate between player to 'real' character in flawless transition, and the weaving of the two worlds is delightfully satisfying to watch...This unconventional style is brilliantly nuanced and works well in the hands of this very capable playwright...There are many profound moments during the play that land deeply, yet never feel contrived or indulgent."
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February 27th, 2018

"The play...implodes by becoming a metatheatrical TED talk…So many anachronisms (like 17th-century sliding wings) that theatre historians will need CPR…A cast of well-respected New York actors, under Oliver Butler's nothing-special direction, is unable to make 'The Amateurs,'…running a lugubrious 90 minutes, either funny enough to spark more than a few polite laughs or touching enough to draw tears. Unlike Harrison's last play, 'The Amateurs' isn't ready for prime time."
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February 27th, 2018

"Starts off well...Then the show goes off track...Just when the play gets interesting...The cast just doesn't seem as funny as it should and director Butler, does not help. Seems to miss the style....Where Harrison succeeds is he does have some funny one-liners, they just don't go past that. He's also is trying to say a lot, but seems to have gotten stuck mid-through and then could never pick up the momentum. This 90 minute piece of theatre, just seemed so much longer."
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February 27th, 2018

"Maybe I am old-fashioned, but I feel the playwright should show us in the play what his intent is...The uniformly fine cast deserves better than this. David Zinn's scenic design with its theater on wheels is a delight. Jessica Pabst's period costumes are excellent. Oliver Butler's direction is unfussy. Even though the playwright's attempt to do something different misfires, it fails interestingly. I look forward to seeing what he will try next."
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February 27th, 2018

"Audacious new comedy...For a good 30 minutes it's difficult to figure out exactly where the hell 'The Amateurs' is headed...Butler's direction makes the most of Creighton and Bernstine's big moments. It's downright exhilarating to watch them set aside the play they've been performing. Perhaps Butler could have made the opening scenes of 'The Amateurs' a little less obscure, but the payoff is enormous."
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March 2nd, 2018

"Harrison manages not only to give us a classic backstage scenario but to address morality, mortality, freedom of thought, God, and women’s issues...Except for a contemporary parenthesis which bifurcates the tale, the script is wry, entertaining, and smarter than it looks at first glance...The real time company delivers humor without marking jokes, which is to say admirably as if characters are unaware...Butler keeps tone just right whether in 2018 or the 14th Century."
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February 27th, 2018

"A fourth-wall-breaking switch half-way through the show brings its themes into higher relief, contextualizing playwright Jordan Harrison’s interesting, insightful, and relevant ideas about life, death, and drama, and lending a richer resonance to the balance of the play...Refreshing in its structure and narrative creativity, and brought to life by an outstanding ensemble cast, ‘The Amateurs’ is the smartest socially conscious play I’ve seen yet in the Trump era."
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February 27th, 2018

"A profound and witty meta-theatrical meditation on the purpose of art and the role of the artist...Directed with keen humor and intellectual acuity by Oliver Butler, a stellar ensemble of six fluidly shifts back and forth from one character to another...Razor-sharp writing and imaginative staging...'The Amateurs' does it all; it observes, contemplates, and comments; escapes and addresses; entertains and enlightens...Extremely intelligent, funny, and relevant work."
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February 27th, 2018

"During the first half of Harrison's new play, I found myself wondering just what it was I was watching...The narrative comes to a halt and Creighton...identifies himself as the playwright...Then the magic of theater took complete hold of me...Now every action, every piece of dialogue makes sense...We appreciate Butler's tongue-in-cheek direction...And we owe it all to Creighton/Harrison, for reminding us of the power of theater, where it comes from, and what it can do for us."
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March 5th, 2018

"His ideas are not original enough to warrant the excessive monologuing, not properly shaped by and with the story he claims he is trying to tell...He is simply taking a shortcut, offering us the Spark Notes for his own text."
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March 1st, 2018

"The play is a mashup of situation comedy, history lesson, a challenge to authority, and 'let’s put on a show' juxtaposed with a very good, but very long, meta section. The playwright has a lot to say and is not afraid to take risks...I cannot put my finger on what exactly was missing for me in 'The Amateurs.' I left the theater more conceptually impressed than intellectually and theatrically satisfied. A fine production with a strong cast. A unique play but slightly boring too."
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February 28th, 2018

"Quincy Tyler Bernstine steals the show...Jordan Harrison has written an incredibly different play that has, what I now call the 'Annihilation Effect'; where you are left not hating or loving the work before you as much as plucking it apart to witness its experience...For 'The Amateurs,' if you strip away the fear and flashiness of religion, you might find a holier spirit."
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