The Babylon Line
Closed 2h 20m
The Babylon Line
73

The Babylon Line NYC Reviews and Tickets

73%
(138 Reviews)
Positive
71%
Mixed
25%
Negative
4%
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').

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Member Reviews (138)

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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. Read more

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

Critic Reviews (32)

The New York Times
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, directed a bit fuzzily by Terry Kinney...Meta meanderings are typical of 'The Babylon Line'...While the most far-fetched of these are entertaining, they never take on much urgency."
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Time Out New York
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 grow fuzzy and attenuated...The digressive wrapping up of narrative threads in the last 20 minutes unfolds less like compelling drama and more like dutiful housekeeping."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
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 story is a nonstarter, in part because we know that Aaron will never respond to Joan’s outrageous propositioning and in part because Radnor and Reaser cannot find anything convincing to play."
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The Hollywood Reporter
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 of Greenberg's writing as much as the sly flourishes of wit and cruelty and the elegant streams of prose-like dialogue, making 'The Babylon Line' an idiosyncratic pleasure."
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Entertainment Weekly
December 5th, 2016

"The intimate nature of the small amphitheater-style setup lends itself nicely to Greenberg’s storytelling; when Radnor’s character breaks the fourth wall, it feels like a personal appeal...Aaron's infatuation with Joan feels a little forced — their chemistry doesn’t quite support their near-instant attraction. Luckily, that’s not an issue for the rest of the cast...The quiet, funny script resonates with the evergreen themes of community, desire, and self-discovery. It’s a memorable ride."
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Variety
December 6th, 2016

"One of those modest little gems that contains sparks of white light if you look hard enough…This is the kind of unpretentious but thought-provoking play that Lincoln Center always does to perfection…Kinney, who has done terrific work on this show, takes care to keep the chemistry between Aaron and Joan on the boil. But for sheer eccentricity and bittersweet feeling, what really resonates are the lives of all of these characters—especially the secret lives that emerge in their writing."
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Deadline
December 5th, 2016

"Fine as Josh Radnor and Elizabeth Reaser are, my focus was pulled elsewhere in this provocative but maddening play...Were I more generous of spirit, I would speculate that this is the playwright’s intention, to bury Aaron in his failure. Instead, it’s where I lost interest in 'The Babylon Line,' and I felt that Greenberg did as well, since the ending — the several endings — are a muddle of inconclusiveness."
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Theatermania
December 5th, 2016

"Greenberg is clearly interested in endings, and he gives us a grand one in this thoughtful and sympathetic drama...Director Terry Kinney crafts potentially explosive moments with care and restraint, allowing the tension in the room to build slowly and surely until we are fully invested...Greenberg sacrifices the tragedy of the moment for the comedy of the long perspective — and we are grateful to him for it."
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BroadwayWorld
December 7th, 2016

"Richard Greenberg's clever, sentimental and occasionally steamy drama...Played with the right touch of aching restraint in director Terry Kinney's faded memory of a production. Greenberg's choice to include a lengthy 'what happened to then next' epilogue is the only misguided move, especially when points concerning Aaron and Joan get rushed into an ending, but 'The Babylon Line' is still a pleasing excursion with good humor and warm pathos."
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Lighting & Sound America
December 20th, 2016

"Greenberg has a knack for creating characters who consistently surprise us without contradicting what we already know about them, and he can spin a narrative that has the richness of a novel...Under Terry Kinney's direction, a fine cast brings this eccentric menagerie to life...Greenberg builds a marvelously complete universe with his characters...For all his irony and wit, Greenberg captures it in its twilight glory."
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Talkin' Broadway
December 5th, 2016

"The more the pieces fall into place in Act II...the more entertaining and rewarding 'The Babylon Line' is. It's in the more intimate scenes that Greenberg stumbles and stands in the way of the play's greatness...Ignoring someone for two hours and then showing us in the last 10 minutes how vital they always were is a tricky prospect, and one that Greenberg has not nimbly navigated...The outcome may be worthwhile, but...sticking with these people until you reach it is not easy."
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TheaterScene.net
December 19th, 2016

"Although 'The Babylon Line' is as funny and literate as his previous works, Greenberg seems to be struggling to unite all the separate threads into a smooth whole, awkwardly depending on the central character's breaking the fourth wall. Certainly, the play is populated by well-drawn personalities, but that isn't enough to make it work."
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Theater Pizzazz
December 5th, 2016

"A master wordsmith with a gift for poetic language and a sharp eye for characterization, Greenberg keeps us engrossed during this meandering journey, even if we’re still a bit flummoxed when the proverbial train finally pulls into the station...Greenberg knows the rules so well he feels free to break them, here, eschewing a simple linear plot...It’s amazing the play doesn’t collapse under its own weighty ambitions...Those seeking an easy ride might be better off staying home."
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CurtainUp
December 9th, 2016

"It's all overambitious and too diffuse. Yet, Greenberg is still very much at the top of his game as a gifted wordsmith, which means bursts of lyricism as well as characterizing conversations filled with hilarious and stinging comments...The concluding update of how everyone fared over the years feels tacked on...But with Greenberg doing the neatening up, you can't help being glad that you took that train ride to suburbia with him."
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Front Row Center
December 9th, 2016

"Richard Greenberg is a master of word wars. Intelligent, clever word wars!...His arguments are Shakespearean in their verbiage, a heightened emotional state...At the end of the play there were polite applause but we want emotional connections–especially when there is so much promise. Emotionally we were left stranded on the boarding platform, hoping for another train to come our way."
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Front Mezz Junkies
December 27th, 2016

"When he just lets the story unfold, there is something beautiful being played out between the teacher and his writing class students, most excellently played by a cast of pros…Each and every time Greenberg veers out of the classroom and propels Radnor to break the fourth wall, the play loses all sense of authenticity and importance...It’s almost comically insane that a story about an adult education creative writing class taught by a writer gets thrown off track by the writer of the play."
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Broadway Blog
December 8th, 2016

“'The Babylon Line,' while highly listenable, never finds the right balance between its contrived storyline, self-conscious dialogue, and colorful but artificial characters. In other words, while superficially charming it lacks sustained credibility and structural stability….Director Terry Kinney hypes up the energy, creating a mostly comedic atmosphere, but the humor is spotty, and the darker scenes are hard to reconcile with some of the broad accents and eccentric behavior.”
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Times Square Chronicles
December 19th, 2016

"Richard Greenberg’s 'The Babylon Line,' is already at the end of the play before it even starts...Kinney uses previous characters and inside jokes, but seriously who else but a critic is going to get the humor? These women are politically offensive and instead of making a comment, we are supposed to get that footnote...By the end of the play it felt like we had just sat for over two hours in Mr. Greenberg’s therapy session where even he couldn’t figure it out."
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B
December 6th, 2016

"Greenberg’s look at a creative writing class in the local adult education program initially shows promise…The first act proceeds smoothly, but after intermission things go seriously off the rails. The second act is overlong and overwrought, burdened with lame gimmicks and false endings…Director Terry Kinney gets tripped up in the second act problems."
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The Wrap
December 5th, 2016

"Greenberg can’t seem to make up his mind what characters, plot line, or ideas he wants us to follow...Fortunately, his many detours and transgressions work only to keep us riveted...Greenberg and director Terry Kinney know precisely how to deliver and play, respectively, this material...One of the true theatrical pleasures of “The Babylon Line” is its dark playfulness...’The Babylon Line’ has much to say about the nature of creativity and how imagination shapes reality, and vice versa."
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W
December 6th, 2016

"The mostly entertaining show, which features a number of well-drawn, idiosyncratic characters as well as playwright Greenberg’s signature wit, sympathy, and splendid use of language, is riddled with incongruities...Additionally, the piece seems to end two or three times, making the experience bottom heavy and overlong...Director Terry Kinney keeps the piece moving, creating attractive onstage pictures. There is, however, a missed opportunity for small idiosyncrasies."
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Newsday
December 5th, 2016

"If you love the way Greenberg writes about the extraordinary twists in ordinary lives — which I obviously do — you will be patient with the leisurely setup...Trust that with this prolific Tony-winning playwright, payoffs are eventually coming, lots of them, and they are worth the wait...Director Terry Kinney treats them at first like gossipy, close-minded cliches. We are meant to underestimate them, but Greenberg and Kinney have more in mind for this first-rate cast."
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NorthJersey.com
December 6th, 2016

"Unfortunately, those characters seldom achieve fully human dimensions in the play...What emerges is a muddle of ideas and styles...With 'The Babylon Line,' Greenberg's characteristic wit and intelligence are present, but so is a commitment to language that often overrides attention to plot and character. Scenes and speeches can seem forced into the whole."
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Financial Times (UK)
December 8th, 2016

"How then does a playwright turn such creative torpor into a decent yarn? Greenberg’s answer is to add increasingly large doses of eccentricity as the student authors supposedly lay bare their darkest fantasies...Under Kinney’s brisk direction, these anecdotes become plays that the ensemble perform with impressive dexterity...But, for all its cleverness, 'The Babylon Line' suffers from a basic dramatic flaw: both Aaron and Joan’s characters remain frustratingly static throughout its two hours."
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Off Off Online
December 28th, 2016

"'The Babylon Line' has abundant wit; but it’s a melancholy wit that is this playwright’s mid-career trademark…Greenberg has a gift for creating clear, distinct characters with elliptical dialogue...In the current production, expertly directed by Steppenwolf veteran Terry Kinney, the playwright’s efforts are enhanced by balanced, insightful performances from the seven cast members and the evocative scenic design and costumes."
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City Cabaret
December 5th, 2016

"Greenberg's expressive characterizations are delivered by a top-notch cast but unfortunately, their stories grow tiresome, leisurely unraveling for almost 2-1/2 hours...Greenberg did an estimable job in finding the depth of these characters with a fast-forward epilogue which makes a fairly satisfying, although tedious, tie-up to the 50-year span framing this play. Unfortunately, while the cast deftly paints portraits of familiarity, the play fails to draw sparks."
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W
December 10th, 2016

"We're never worried the married teacher might end up with the married student — which stalls the narrative engine of the play. Happily, it doesn't much matter, because Greenberg's eloquence and sly wit translate into scenes of biting beauty when the students start reading their writing."
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Act Three - The Reviews
December 5th, 2016

"Richard Greenberg has penned yet another fascinating character study...Mr. Greenberg certainly knows how to tell a story - and what a tangled web he does weave way out on the Babylon Line once a week in Levittown!...Tough, tender, interesting, a bit of Long Island history, and a generally magical evening in the theatre. Could Mr. Greenberg nip and tuck in a few scenes, sure. Did it matter? Not very much."
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Jewish Daily Forward
December 5th, 2016

"A funny, smart, gently revelatory play...Terry Kinney’s direction builds mystery and tension...There is real chemistry between Reaser and Radnor. And all the performances are layered and complex...But what shines through most clearly is Greenberg’s witty, carefully structured writing. The character’s stories, while never overcomplicated or confusing, ultimately weave together in ways you don’t see coming...For a play about writing, it’s not so bad to have the script be the star."
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Village Voice
December 27th, 2016

"One of Greenberg's less fulfilling, a semi-mishap, the mind-troubling aspects of which give out only faint rewards. Yet as it travels in its odd, meandering, unsatisfactory way, it stirs up some genuinely intriguing ideas. It also gives opportunities for a clutch of fine performances…'The Babylon Line' bulges in odd places, seems to stall in others, and tends to feel alternately as if nothing were happening and too much had been crammed in."
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Theatre Reviews by John Clum
December 28th, 2016

"‘The Babylon Line’ is an enjoyable, though flawed, play superbly acted…The classroom scenes are very well written…Yet, as usual with Greenberg's plays, ‘The Babylon Line’ desperately needs editing. Aaron's character is little more than a cipher, yet he narrates the play and functions as its central character…Josh Radnor has to hold his part and the play together by the force of his own personality…‘The Babylon Line’ has some fine moments but doesn't totally cohere."
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Daily Beast
December 6th, 2016

"Greenberg has a beautiful way with language and a track-record of strong and interesting plays, so it’s disappointing to see him resort to suburban caricatures that have been done and overdone. There should also be a moratorium on all plays and stories set in creative writing classes. It’s a tired device...'The Babylon Line' has lyrical writing and strong performances by Radnor and Reaser. But like the train line it’s named after, the show ultimately needs a more inspiring destination."
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