Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Annie Baker returns for the second production of her Signature Theatre residency with this world premiere play, directed by Lila Neugebauer. More…
This is a show about people telling stories about telling stories, with a group of storytellers assembled for an intense brainstorming session.
"I found it to be simply extraordinary. It’s a rarified experience, so much so that I would hesitate before actually recommending it to anyone...Her grasp on the surreal and abstract is arguably as strong or stronger than any other author of the last century...It certainly doesn’t hurt that the premiere production is as gorgeous as the play itself...Neugebauer’s staging is both unendingly creative visually and features an ensemble cast with an almost impossible level of precision." Full Review
“Every new play by Annie Baker is a marvel over the play before. It's been nothing less than a privilege to accompany her on her journey, as she has been joining ranks with the best American playwrights. Part of what makes Baker the ‘best,’ is that she has her own voice. Whether with ‘Circle-Mirror Transformation,’ ‘The Flick,’ or her latest and current, ‘The Antipodes,’ Baker seems to devote a certain amount of attention to group dynamics, which is, after all, the basis of any drama.” Full Review
"Things become less normal as the play unfolds, yet Baker keeps them anchored to a universe we recognize; their plights may be unfamiliar, but the demons they're fighting are all too familiar...These artists go all the way with it, and that's a big part of why 'The Antipodes' works so well. Baker's relentless writing leaves you feeling as trapped and as vulnerable as the writers...The entire cast is excellent; each rips through choice moments with masterful skill...A rip-roaring success." Full Review
"Annie Baker’s in-all-ways fabulous new play...Ms. Baker delivers a complete and confident narrative...As directed with a time-blurring seamlessness by Lila Neugebauer, and acted by a perfectly blended ensemble of nine, 'The Antipodes' leaves you glowing with a wondering satisfaction. I mean the happy satiety that comes from being in the hands of a real right-brain/left-brain author who channels her ineffable instincts with a master artisan’s practical skills." Full Review
“Baffling, riveting, and ultimately rewarding…The storytelling grows increasingly bizarre…A tense, tantalizing two-hours, deftly directed by Lila Neugebauer…I won’t reveal the play’s punch line – it’s well worth waiting for. Suffice it to say that Baker’s brilliant play succeeds on two levels. On one, it’s a scathing satire on the storytelling industry…On a deeper level, it’s an existential inquiry into the essence of stories.” Full Review
"You’ve heard Hemingway’s blunt formula for writing: 'All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.' Annie Baker’s characters more or less follow that advice in 'The Antipodes,' her latest intensely vivid hypnotizing act disguised as a play...This hermetic premise—executed with gimlet-eyed flair by director Lila Neugebauer—gives Baker (and the audience) permission to view narrative in all its tangled, self-consuming oddness. The cast is a dream team of weird-play wranglers." Full Review
"The play is intriguingly staged by Lila Neugebauer...Some viewers will likely complain that the numerous stories don’t 'add up,' leading us nowhere. But that, I dare say, is Baker’s point...Man and his inner monster, upside down and in his opposite (anti) feet (podes), fighting to see which turns out to be real. Another provocative, deep dish Annie Baker play." Full Review
“Strange and unexpectedly affecting…The action is deceptively simple as is Lila Neugebauer’s invisible direction and the naturalistic acting of the brilliant nine-member company…An insightful journey tracking the creative process…Phillip James Brannon expertly delivers a seemingly endless, weird creation-myth monologue, Danny Mastrogiorgio and Josh Charles evoke macho to perfection…Their voyage is a fascinating gripping one.“ Full Review
"To tell their stories, Baker's characters invoke all kinds of rituals, from the mundane to the mystical...Even though not much happens, it is funny and even suspenseful. Under the deft direction of Lila Neugebauer, the acting is also terrific...This is an ensemble piece and each actor creates a distinct individual recognizable to anyone who's ever been trapped in the purgatory of an office meeting. And maybe the decisively enigmatic 'The Antipodes' is about that too." Full Review
"A carefully crafted existential take on everyday existence, on the things humans do to get by, from eating and drinking to having sex, from going to work and communicating with others to dealing with life’s little problems...Director Lila Neugebauer makes every movement count, never allowing the narrative flow to drag...'The Antipodes' is another exceptional play from one of the theater’s finest minds, a writer who is never afraid of going for the revolutionary in her work." Full Review
"'The Antipodes' is among the stronger of these plays, rather modestly suggesting amidst all its grandeur that art, and in particular mythology, exists simply to make sense for the subject of its relation to others and to the world around it." Full Review
"Just as smart, engaging, and strange as her earlier works...The ensemble cast is fine across the board, but I especially liked Josh Hamilton as an earnest member of the team...Another standout is Emily Cass McDonnell as Eleanor, the team’s sole female participant. It’s Eleanor’s final speeches that lend 'The Antipodes’' gloomy conclusions about the future of storytelling a faint glimmer of optimism, and McDonnell manages to give them a sense of benediction." Full Review
“I enjoyed myself immensely and appreciated the world and characters created, but I was ready for the play to be over when it ended…There was so much truth and humor in the interaction between the writers…The cast was also spectacular, working as a unit, yet each taking their moment in the spotlight and running with it. Baker is so expert at creating realistic people with just a few brush strokes, and these actors build on those brush strokes beautifully.” Full Review
"Though the action unfolds gnomically under Lila Neugebauer’s Pinteresque direction, the underlying point of these motley exchanges seems clear. Whereas work used to be about making or doing things, now the most valuable commodity we have to offer is ourselves...The results can be a test of theatrical endurance, particularly when the characters themselves begin to nod off on stage. But that willfully soporific episode is also consistent with the play’s deadpan humour." Full Review
"There's little in the way of conventional plot or forward momentum, just a collection of characters telling each other stories...It’s a playfully compelling piece but there are also darker apocalyptic undercurrents as reports come from the world beyond the hermetically sealed one we’re in. The drama, such as it is, comes from the delicate interplay of the actors. Director Lila Neugebauer orchestrates them with nuance and feeling...A meticulous meditation on the art of storytelling." Full Review
"In true Baker style, nothing grand happens throughout the entirety of 'The Antipodes,' and by doing so, the piece is all the more delicious...In telling a story about people telling a story, Baker exposes time in new ways...Those less familiar with Baker's work, or less on board with her style, might easily walk out wondering what they have just seen. Annie Baker has created her most self-aware work yet, with every thought being simultaneously literal and allegorical." Full Review
"This simple setup proves a fertile launching pad for Baker’s fevered imagination...'The Antipodes' is her shortest play in a while, but the densest thematically...Now that everyone’s lived experience has been turned into a story...how can anyone know what’s real and what’s performance?...The irony of exploring this tension through a performance is not lost on Baker; she embraces it throughout, gleefully, as the characters’ stories grow stranger and more elaborate." Full Review
“It's a paradoxical, puzzling, compellingly hypnotic work…Baker doesn't explicate; she lets her characters speak their piece and leaves us to parse the results…The incessant feeling of an impending cataclysm seems impossible to shake off. Neugebauer's actors all catch the play's eerie dualistic quality with perfect pitch. Despite their flesh-and-blood tangibility, I can't escape the persistent feeling that I dreamt the whole thing.” Full Review
"Not to say it is sour or mean; the production, beautifully directed by Neugebauer, is just too thoughtful to settle for unkindness. So are the uniformly excellent actors...Some of the digressions and hermetic annotations feel a bit unprocessed...Baker is too thoughtful a playwright to make any two hours spent with her characters unedifying. The pinprick insights...are sharp and often hilarious. Still, I wonder whether 'The Antipodes' will eventually prove to be have been a transitional piece." Full Review
"'The Antipodes' moves along slowly, with lots of pauses and little real dramatic action. But the dialogue she's written is clear and contemporary...Since the script has no clearly defined story line or theme, it is, in short, a head-scratcher...The Joycean surrealism tends to be more challenging than consistently engaging. Fortunately, director Neugebauer does tap into the humor as well as the play's bafflingly dark underside. And she's got a very capable cast to help her do so." Full Review
"Baker’s writing this time is patchy, ranging from moments of bravura inspiration and humor to the humdrum...Ultimately, we’re waiting for a thematic crescendo that never arrives...Thanks to the ensemble, the journey never feels like too much of a slog...Director Neugebauer ably keeps the material alive...'The Antipodes,' echoing its own plot, is essentially an Annie Baker spitball session. And she’s built enough trust to throw an experiment our way, even if it doesn’t stick to the wall." Full Review
"I loved every minute of the first hour, which is full of Baker’s magical, mordant wit and, like the best of her work, constantly destabilizing...Neugebauer’s production strikes the perfect naturalistic note—before departing from it...There are many wonderful things in 'The Antipodes.' But as the show went on, I felt a sense of Baker losing her way. A monologue for one of the two female characters starts like gangbusters, but goes on too long—much the same could be said of 'The Antipodes.'" Full Review
"The drama is a satire—taken to the point of surreal exaggeration—of the nature of commercial storytelling...A dim view of corporate (mostly male) storytelling...The wayward group of writers is played by a marvelous ensemble cast...Nicole Rodenburg is so hilarious that the performance draws spontaneous applause. In fact, she plays the only character in the play that generates a coherent narrative...Attempts to come up with ideas often descend into the unreal." Full Review
"Baker works her pointillist magic: Giving us only a handful of details, we grasp the network of relationships and power plays unfolding underneath the largely deadpan action...Baker has a highly sympathetic director in Neugebauer, who highlights each telling detail with laser-like intensity...Despite the highly disciplined production, 'The Antipodes' seemingly lacks the rigor of Baker's earlier works...Baker's many strengths are on display, but this time they aren't put to their best use." Full Review
"Baker is looking at the way stories get told in the 21st century...As commentary, 'The Antipodes' is one of the most fascinating plays of the season. Baker's message is clear and universal for any medium: Without diversity, all of the stories we tell will eventually be so similar it will be hard to differentiate between them. But as a play itself, Baker's style is a little too oblique, and filmed with a little too much mythology that doesn't seem to add up to anything." Full Review
See it if you love the work of Annie Baker. This is a play and a production that you've never seen before. Writing, acting, direction: all perfect.
Don't see it if you need instant gratification in performance and crystal-clear plot.
See it if It's transfixing and funny and slow and spooky and great. Annie Baker fans should see. People in general should see.
Don't see it if Like all Annie Baker shows, there's not too much plot to speak of in the traditional sense and it's not fast-moving. But she does it best.
See it if Knockout great. Pointed and humane, experimental and virtuosic, risky and graceful. It has so much to say about this moment. Go in unspoiled
Don't see it if Some will find it off-putting. But it's great to see a play that puts you through a common experience while nudging you out of groupthink.
See it if you are a hard-working audience member and find reward in a play that you may not fully understand until mulling it over for a while.
Don't see it if odd transitions, digressions, shaggy dog stories, and coy exposition will confuse and annoy rather than intrigue and excite you.
See it if you're interested in the power and function of stories. (If you're not, why are you seeing theater at all?)
Don't see it if you're looking for any sort of plot. Also, it's 2 hours with no intermission, so if you have bladder issues, maybe skip this one.
See it if You love Annie Baker's plays and/or you like verbal dexterity, smooth direction, profound insight, and cooler-than-cool performances.
Don't see it if You must have your plays "well-made" and possessed of beginnings, middles, and ends.
See it if brilliant satire corporate speak plus original take on what storytelling means 4 our inner life & our culture, fine direction by Lila N.
Don't see it if you're put off by production of series of unrelated, often bizarre, stories, want clear, plot-driven show; drama about corporate leader weak
See it if you're an Annie Baker fan. As always she helps us to see and hear ourselves in everyday conversations and in real time.
Don't see it if you don't like Annie Baker's plays. She doesn't venture far. She doesn't have to. Your first Annie Baker will always be your favorite...
See it if you're a fan of Annie Baker; if you want to see an expert ensemble bring a delicate/intricate/unconventional play to memorable life
Don't see it if you need characters to be likable &/or sensible; if you can't with plays that don't have a clear/legible plot
See it if Notice reviewers scores, either brilliant, or 30. See reviewers you usually follow. 'Nough said? Held my attention full 115 minutes.
Don't see it if You like clear stories and characters. Look up definition before you go, (I did not).
See it if A masterful new play by Annie Baker that explores the ways in which we tell stories- and wether we still need to at all.
Don't see it if You can't sit through 2 hours of almost uninterrupted brainstorming.
See it if You want to take a strange, beautiful journey even if its not always apparent where you're being led. Value a brilliant cast & experimenting
Don't see it if You're easily frustrated, anticipate a clear narrative, or aren't willing to let yourself go on a weird but lovely ride.
See it if you're a fan of Annie Baker (I am) & are open to an interesting theater journey that may leave you somewhat unsatisfied by intrigued.
Don't see it if you need a very linear story or arc or want to be 'entertained' in a light way.
See it if you're interested in truly provocative theater. See it if you want to spend 2hours having in conversation about the meaning of the play.
Don't see it if you don't want to be intellectually challenged, not interested in new ideas or great acting.
See it if If you like talk and little action If you like magical realism and thought provoking writing If you like challenging plays
Don't see it if You hate writers and words You want romance and plot You like set changes and costumes
See it if you love Annie Baker's work and want to follow her on an exploration of the narrative impulse (and enjoy some great characters and dialogue)
Don't see it if if you want action and a linear plot.
See it if You want writing to be sharp and intelligent. Great performances, especially Josh Charles and Will Patton.
Don't see it if You need totally realistic settings - there is a bit of the abstract in this wonderful script.
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