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The Babylon Line

From 138 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Entertaining, Funny, Slow, Disappointing

About the show

Lincoln Center Theatre presents Richard Greenberg's new drama about a writer and the special student who reawakens his artistic impulses. Starring Josh Radnor ('How I Met Your Mother') and Elizabeth Reaser ('Twilight'). More…

Levittown, 1967. It’s the first night of an adult-ed Creative Writing course in a classroom at the local high school. The teacher, Aaron Port (Radnor), lives in Greenwich Village and reverse commutes once a week on the Long Island Rail Road’s Babylon line to Wantagh. His students are a mixed bag: Frieda Cohen, Anna Cantor, and Midge Braverman, housewives all, embrace each other on arrival. The two men in the class, Jack Hassenpflug and Marc Adams, keep mostly to themselves. One final student, Joan Dellamond, rushes in late. She is a housewife, but not like the others. Maybe this class will bring her, and Aaron, something that neither quite expects. Playwright Richard Greenberg is the author of numerous Broadway plays including 'Eastern Standard' and the Tony-winning 'Take Me Out.'


Member Reviews (138)

MEMBERS SAY:

Great acting, Entertaining, Funny, Slow, Disappointing
73
Avg Score

69
Banal, Entertaining, Slow, Very uneven acting...

See it if you are a fan of Graff's. There is some mystery and it has some funny vignettes. It's cute.

Don't see it if writing meanders aimlessly in the first act to have some cute ex-machina sense made out of it at the very end. Acting is severely uneven.

Also The chemistry between the main characters is virtually non-existent. T... Read more Read less

71
Entertaining, Uneven, Slow, Amusing

See it if It's entertaining enough, w/ some amusing and funny moments. Randy Graff is superb and steals every moment she has - a total joy to watch.

Don't see it if The pacing at times tends to drag. One of the actors was either miscast or poorly directed and unfortunately the show suffers because of it

82
Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Entertaining, Clever

See it if You want to see great acting in a well-crafted, character play. You enjoy slice-of-life dramas.

Don't see it if You want a play with a lot of action or that has a big event.

86
Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Ambitious, Nice costumes and set

See it if You want to see excellent acting in a play taking place in Long Island in 1967.

Don't see it if You'd prefer to see a musical. This is an entertaining play but quiet at times and serious. Lots of laughs too though!

Also The play takes place in Levittown, Long Island in 1967 in an adult ed ... Read more Read less

68
Slow, Quirky, Indulgent, Disappointing, Dated

See it if You are a huge Richard Greenberg fan. You are a huge fan of any of the actors. You enjoy plays set on L.I.

Don't see it if Slow-moving dramadies are not your thing. You want to feel that the play has given you something interesting and/or unusual to talk about.

80
Entertaining, Great acting

See it if Top notch actors playing students in the adult writing class in Long Island. See their quirks & how they get along with each other.

Don't see it if Last 30 minutes has "dream sequence" alternate ending which is confusing and meanders. Cut the last 30 minutes. Show runs 2 hours 20 min.

75
Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Relevant, Refreshing

See it if you are interested in suburban lives and who is taking night school writing classes to pass the time; Josh Radnor is the teacher.

Don't see it if you do not care about suburbia and their trivial problems;you have never ridden on the LIRR;stereotypes bother you

Also This play has a lot of cliches in it. It mentions a lot of stereotypes... Read more Read less

70
Clever, Funny, Great acting, Disappointing, Cliched

See it if you grew up on Long Island and enjoy reliving the experience; you are interested in catty women and their picking at each other.

Don't see it if none of the above interests you; you can put up with one actress who is clearly wrong for the part and has an annoying voice.

Also Amusing portrayal of the Long Island accents and Levittown in the '60'... Read more Read less

74
A memory play with some solid writing, but it's indulgent., Thoughtful, but too long and drags in places., There are some funny acting bits, and good performances., Absorbing, for the most part., Everyone gets little moment to shine .

See it if A cast of fine actors keep this afloat. It's helpful if you know Long Island and the late '60's, but it's solid, funny, some parts great.

Don't see it if Don't want to work a little hard to have it make sense. You have to be willing to listen and forgive some stereotypes. One false ending.

64
Funny, Banal, Slow, Disappointing, Insipid

See it if you like Jewish stereotypes you may have known as a kid; funny one liners; a story that goes nowhere, even on the Babylon Line.

Don't see it if you want an interesting, well edited play; you want all your actors to be well directed; you prefer the audience around you to stay awake.

Also I am usually a big fan of Richard Greenberg. In this case, I found the... Read more Read less

78
Middling greenberg packs a wallop at the end

See it if LI hausfraus and neighborhood weirdos in a creative writing class with Radnor as flummoxed teacher The result is unexpected and satisfying.

Don't see it if First act is pretty slow. Reaser is mystifying. Oberholtzer makes the most of 3 small parts. Graff, Halston, Corman & Wood are hilarious

82
Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Absorbing

See it if A nostalgic look back at a certain place in time from Long Island. Randy Graffand Frank Wood steal the show. Funny.

Don't see it if If you're not familiar with LI in the '60s, you might not get the references. I found Elizabeth Reaser annoying.

74
Entertaining, Disappointing, Great acting, Surprisingly enjoyable

See it if You don't mind being able to figure the plot points early, want some decent acting, and to laugh- I was pleasantly surprised to laugh often

Don't see it if You want depth, for a story to slowly reveal, or a profound experience

80
Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Great writing, Indulgent

See it if enjoy funny repartee from a seasoned playwright delivered by a well directed cast

Don't see it if you don't care for trite references to literature delivered by a cast telling a fable

70
Slow, Indulgent, Starts stronger than it ends, Uneven casting

See it if you like Richard Greenberg's writing, but this piece is more unevenly written usual. Josh Radnor nice performance. Randy Graff's wonderful.

Don't see it if you want to see Elizabeth Reaser acting like she's a Tennessee William's vamp. Doesn't work for the character or the play.

Also I was excited to see this show. I'm a fan of the writer, but this is m... Read more Read less

56
Tedious, Cliched, Disappointing

See it if You are a fan of Richard Greenberg -- don't miss the self-homage in act II. Julie Halston and Randy Graff are the real stars here.

Don't see it if You need real meat on the bones of your theatrical experience.

65
Slow, Excruciating, Boring,

See it if you like long winded plays about nothing. A night school writing class where the participants care more about gossiping about each other

Don't see it if you want to see an exciting, well crafted play with a great story and riveting acting.

83
Thought-provoking, Funny, Cliched, Entertaining

See it if You like Richard Greenberg. You appreciate Julie Halston. You wonder about life in a community like Levittown. Surprise circular ending.

Don't see it if You have to pay full price. You appreciate more high minded theater.

78
Quirky, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if You want to experience a very original and creative play by the talented Richard Greenberg. Excellent cast and performances,esp.Reaser&Graff

Don't see it if You prefer straight forward,step by step plots.It is a quirky and unusual play and may not be for everyone's tastes

75
Great acting, Intelligent, Disappointing, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if Strangely lyrical but formless exploration into the lives of Levittown conformists set in an adult ed class;ambitious but falls short

Don't see it if You don't appreciate what Levittown meant in 1967 & can't work through a great ensemble cast dealing with material that doesn't always work

50
Disappointing, Great acting, Needs a good dramaturg

See it if You like Greenberg's work and have the patience for his less than excellent writing. Interesting character development and wonderful cast.

Don't see it if Jewish stereotypes offend you. Poorly resolved story lines frustrate you.

86
Ambitious, Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great staging

See it if The suburban middle class gathering setup belies the rich character studies created by Greenberg and imaginative staging by Kinney

Don't see it if <spoiler> there is a line that suggests a link to another Greenberg play - the thought of a trilogy took me out for 1 minute

73
Entertaining, Cliched, Funny, Great acting, Slow

See it if You don't mind side characters overshadowing leads since Graff and Halston were the standouts of the show. Or you're a Greenberg completist.

Don't see it if You're looking for interesting set design because everything is pretty stagnant and the story doesn't live up to the writing or acting.

70
Cliched, Dated, Indulgent, Overrated, Slow

See it if you enjoy story-telling theater, and like the process of telling stories more than necessarily being surprised or riveted by the content

Don't see it if you want edgy stories with a profound or lasting impact

83
Thought-provoking, Quirky, Entertaining, Confusing

See it if you want to see a play with an unusual structure with a message that can be interpreted in several ways

Don't see it if you don't want to be challenged as a theatergoer


December 5th, 2016
"Though it offers choice examples of the off-kilter lyricism that is Mr. Greenberg’s signature, 'The Babylon Line' feels like a gifted writer’s notebook, stuffed with beguiling phrases and ideas still waiting to cohere into a compelling shape...The students are embodied by a mouthwatering cast, d...
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December 5th, 2016
"'The Babylon Line' is by Richard Greenberg; barbed repartee, shiny epigrams, and baroque arias of loss and longing all come with the territory...Director Terry Kinney steers a fine cast to a nice balance of whimsy and wistfulness...It’s the plotting and momentum of the second act in which things...
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December 6th, 2016
"A fatally mild production…Some of Greenberg's best plays mix disparate modes expertly, whether alternating narration and action or contrasting different versions of history. Both tactics are attempted here, but fall flat because the thing remembered is so banal…What is supposed to be the main st...
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December 5th, 2016
"What a beguiling and unpredictable play...While Greenberg could be criticized for being too discursive, that ends up being part of the play's charm, as stories and revelations about each character shed a different light on them...Kinney and his superb cast are attuned to the silent undercurrents...
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Cast & Creatives (16)