Members say: Great acting, Disappointing, Thought-provoking, Ambitious, Indulgent

About the show

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.

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This is a show about people telling stories about telling stories, with a group of storytellers assembled for an intense brainstorming session. 

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"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


"When good playwrights are unable to write, they sometimes write bad plays about being unable to write. Annie Baker, who is normally a very good writer, has written such a play in 'The Antipodes'...The exercise is painful for these brain-dead writers, but pure torture for audiences...The only other interesting story doesn’t come until near the end of the play. That leaves a lot of dead stage time to be filled with superficial thoughts about Time and Space and cabbages and kings." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Despite its amusingly pungent dialogue and the expert performances, 'The Antipodes' ultimately feels as stifling as being trapped in a conference room during an interminable meeting. Neugebauer works hard to overcome the material’s inherently static nature...Baker’s writing proves provocative and insightful. But she seems to be straining too hard here for a significance that feels unearned. This play about storytelling might have benefited from having an actual story." 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

New York Magazine / Vulture

"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

Time Out New York

"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 Huffington Post

"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

Lighting & Sound America

"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

Theater Life

“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

Front Row Center

"Baker is playing with ideas–space, time–is it horizontal, vertical or a spiral–possibility, relativity, possibility–and this is a smart writer who introduces subjects like a card dealer slapping down cards in Vegas. But the velocity and density of the changing subjects makes the writing too clever by half. Nothing connects. Not these fine actors (seriously excellent performances all around), not these characters, not the stories and not the situation." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

“‘The Antipodes’ proceeds at a glacial pace that seems to grow slower and slower as the play goes on and on…It’s not that Ms. Baker is unable to write striking dialogue, but the total effect is abusive of the attention span in a way that I find barely endurable...It’s pretty damned obvious, not to mention tedious—and did I already say 'pretentious'? If not, it’s that, too. Lila Neugebauer, the director, exhibits an uncanny knack for juggling large casts...The actors are all very good." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"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


"'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

Bob's Theater Blog

"Essentially a fantasia on storytelling...The stories that comprise most of the evening have no narrative arc that I could detect; nor do they really tell much about the characters who relate them. The relationships among the various writers go virtually unexplored. There are flashes of humor...What there is not is a cohesive plot or fully developed characters. I suspect that the playwright had more fun coming up with ways to tease the audience than the audience has watching the play." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"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

Broadway & Me

"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


"Alternately brilliant and boring; quietly touching and madly self-indulgent...For awhile, 'The Antipodes,' unfolds as a sharp, if obvious satire of corporate culture...But as the drama unfolds...the play becomes a cryptic meditation on—well, therein lies the problem...Make no mistake, there are moments of startling beauty here...But what of it? When a work is this deliberately vague and open-ended—when it can mean anything—it eventually comes to feel like a whole lot of nothing." Full Review

Daily Beast

"Engrossing and head-scratching...The actors, commendably, are utterly enveloped in the material...The stories the characters tell are great, but their point—beyond emphasizing the power or not of storytelling—is more than baffling, and after a while you may long for a glimmer of light or some elucidation...By the end it is about the impotence of storytelling, and its limitations...But we still don’t know what wider story the stories have been in the service of. " Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"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

Village Voice

“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

This Week in New York Blog

"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


“Lots of questions, not a whole lot of answers. Actually, no answers at all...There’s a compelling ‘round-the-campfire feel…It would all be fine—especially since every performance is terrific and the stories are often alarmingly compelling—except eventually all that waiting starts to wear. Yes, we tell each other stories to make sense of life...But unlike life—where we never really get to see how it all turns out—I want my theater to be a bit clearer. There are tons of plots here, but no plot." 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

Theater Pizzazz

“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


“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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Great acting, Indulgent, Disappointing, Cliched, Slow

See it if you want a confirmation of stereotypical bias about writing and creativity in general; you're interested in the (very solid) cast

Don't see it if you are looking for a challenging, fresh perspective rather than a tired, claustrophobic take on the business of writing

Ambitious, Indulgent, Disappointing

See it if you are interested in a play that goes WAY off in another direction.

Don't see it if you only want to see coherent plays without Pinteresque pauses.

Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if you're interested in a story about story-telling, or are a fan of Annie Baker's work and style of story-telling.

Don't see it if you need to have clearly wrapped up endings or need a fast moving story.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Pretentious, Tedious

See it if you like challenging, somewhat experimental, somewhat indulgent, somewhat non-linear, somewhat surreal, and somewhat baffling plays

Don't see it if you want a well-structured traditional narrative, clear themes, and completely realistic dramas

Ambitious, Great acting, Great writing

See it if Ambitious and incisive script. Very intimate venue. Great cast, with a decent dose of humor and insights.

Don't see it if In exploring the nature of storytelling, the play may lose some audience members who have certain (defendable) expectations on narratives

Funny, Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if about a brainstorming session in a conference room where the characters tell a variety of stories - true, fantastical or mythological

Don't see it if you need everything to be explained (never told exactly what the stories are for), need action, don't like wordy, quirky plays

Also Found it a little slow in the beginning but as some the stories became... Read more Read less

Well acted,baffling, intermittently absorbing

See it if You have worked n some very odd offices .

Don't see it if You prefer a play with a plot.

Great acting, Quirky, Disappointing, Entertaining

See it if You love Annie Baker, don't care about a linear plot, simply like storytelling, and like watching actors act. Entertaining and disappointing

Don't see it if You're waffling on Annie Baker, disliked The Flick (far better show), or need a plot driven narrative.

Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Indulgent, Great writing

See it if Annie Baker's complicated attempt at trying to explain time, space, storytelling, corporate influence to work. Group dynamics at best

Don't see it if you are interested in 2 hours of an intense and complicated edification of characters that are generic talking about storytelling ala Ad Man

Confusing, Disappointing, Slow

See it if You like telling stories.

Don't see it if You dont wanna spend and expect to get something about what you saw.

Also Tell you a story, of people telling stories about people telling stori... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Quirky, Indulgent, Disappointing, Entertaining

See it if you are willing to sit back and simply listen to interesting dialogue, people in a room trying in vain to come up with an interesting story

Don't see it if you want a story or fall asleep easily; I was left feeling powerful nostalgia for a play with a real narrative, like Sweat or Oslo

Surprising, funny, absoring puzzle.

See it if you love Annie Baker. It's an absorbing trip which will keep you guessing.

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with ambiguity.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant, Great writing, Great staging

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...

Absorbing, Great acting, Profound, Great writing, Great staging

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

Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Confusing

See it if you want to take a bath in language and enjoy the insider-y look at what goes on in a writer's room.

Don't see it if you will be bothered by not knowing the specifics of the setting or task, or by the increasingly surreal happenings.

Ambitious, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Great writing

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.

Ambitious, Edgy, Quirky, Indulgent, Disappointing

See it if You've enjoyed the other shows in Signature's 2016/17 run. You don't mind super wordy plays with very little action that is sometimes funny

Don't see it if Well I'd say just don't see it. It's not worth it. I LOVED John, and found this to be a super let down from her previous work.

Thought-provoking, Quirky, Confusing, Slow

See it if You want to have an enjoyable hour with real laughter and insight , followed by an hour of confusion and psycho babble

Don't see it if You have no patience

Ambitious, Disappointing, Slow

See it if you are a fan of Annie Baker. The first hour is entertaining and thought-provoking. The second hour loses steam and then just ends.

Don't see it if You're expecting the quality of Annie's previous works like The Flick and John. I loved both of those. This one feels unfinished.

Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Ambiguous

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).

Funny, Quirky, Indulgent, Disappointing

See it if an attempt to explain our media industry . Some folks will find it fascinating (but......see below)

Don't see it if Just not our kind of show. Too wordy in parts, Too softly spoken in spots. too quiet in spots.. no stand out acting

Great acting, Confusing, Disappointing, Slow

See it if you're willing to accept a lesser play from a great playwright. Contains the kernels of some great ideas, but is overwritten and confusing.

Don't see it if if you can't stand 2 hour plays without intermission. The piece really drags in the last 35 minutes. Even the great acting can't save it.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Confusing, Overrated

See it if You must see any cast member, or will see anything Annie Baker writes.

Don't see it if You want a story through line, You don't want to sit through stories that don't make sense as a point of the play.

Indulgent, Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Overrated

See it if you enjoy writerly masturbation about writing with no real purpose or center

Don't see it if you demand real purpose and intent in writing, and ego-stroking of the audience is not enough to get you by

Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if you want a funny, intellectually stimulating modern play with a surprisingly moving ending

Don't see it if you want a traditional linear plot or care about "answers" to questions

Cast & Creatives (17)