The Body of an American
Closed 1h 40m
The Body of an American

The Body of an American NYC Reviews and Tickets

(69 Ratings)
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Relevant

About the Show

Primary Stages and Rhoda R. Herrick present the New York premiere of an award-winning play, exploring the ethical and personal consequences of Paul Watson’s famous photograph.

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Show-Score Member Reviews (69)

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102 Reviews | 46 Followers
Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Moving, Compelling

See it if You like drama and current events.

Don't see it if Just see it.

95 Reviews | 28 Followers
Absorbing, Great writing, Intense, Resonant, Original

See it if a ruminative, clever, theatrical, beautifully-woven story of cruelty and art, with a warm human center and elegant architecture

Don't see it if you're looking for a more conventional drama or something lighter (though it doesn't lack for humor and the occasional breeze)

99 Reviews | 69 Followers
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great writing, Riveting

See it if You want to watch two amazing actors in a new and thought provoking story. Kudos to the playwright and the entire production team.

Don't see it if You expect to sit back and watch mindless entertainment.

89 Reviews | 37 Followers
Clever, Original, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intensely powerful

See it if you appreciate the plight of war photographers and agony that comes with revealing ugly truths, like smart plays which force you to think.

Don't see it if you want to just be entertained, don't appreciate good acting and powerful theatre; if ethics and consequences are not important to you.

761 Reviews | 165 Followers
Absorbing, Indulgent, Thought-provoking, Original, Disturbing

See it if you are a news junkie, curious about the Somalian war, like plays about writers and friendship, like seeing actors play multiple parts

Don't see it if war talk disturbs you, you expect a more action packed play, lack patience with people seeking to discover themselves

499 Reviews | 77 Followers
Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You like to be challenged and think about relevant issues regarding the press and its impact

Don't see it if You see shows just to be entertained.

399 Reviews | 205 Followers
Absorbing, Confusing, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense

See it if Good character work by the actors. A fascinating story about a topic I haven't seen covered before.

Don't see it if It's a little confusing at times, as the actors switch roles back and forth. A lot of stream of consciousness. Hard to take at times.

111 Reviews | 17 Followers
Absorbing, Thought-provoking

See it if politics and policies in the Middle East confound & frighten you, this is why

Don't see it if you cannot stomach violence and don't follow the news from the Middle East

Critic Reviews (16)

The New York Times
February 23rd, 2016

"A lyrical, untidy and ultimately poignant work of theater…At times the play can seem glum, solipsistic and self-serious, but what invigorates it — beyond the energy and precision of the performances — is the sense of both men struggling, and often failing, to understand what draws them to each other or why they continue their conversation…This ambiguity can be frustrating, but it also feels truthful."
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Time Out New York
February 23rd, 2016

"A curious, not always successful, but consistently intriguing character study...Director Jo Bonney keeps the pace brisk, the trajectory clear...For O’Brien to draw parallels between Watson’s heroics and his own cushy life as an academically connected playwright comes across as not only presumptuous but parasitical...And yet there’s a decided payoff when O’Brien finally works his way toward a personal epiphany which mirrors in some small measure Watson’s own painful, expiatory journey."
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New York Theatre Guide
February 24th, 2016

"Watching two excellent actors take on the rolls of several people in a story AND switch playing the two main characters can take it out of a gal. Which is not to say 'The Body of an American' is not worth the trip. It most certainly is...Michael Crane and Michael Cumpsty are in excellent form...This sharing of the two main roles is a contrivance that took a long time getting used to, time I would rather have spent in the story than on the logistics of the staging."
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February 23rd, 2016

"The play takes on the frustrating undertones of a therapy session. On top of this, O'Brien's text often veers into theatrical cliché…The actors furiously circle, cross, and shift character in Jo Bonney's deceptively lackadaisical staging…A few false epiphanies wrapped in self-pity and uninspired stagecraft, 'The Body of an American' looks and feels a lot like a one-man show in a fringe festival (but with two men)…It's hard to walk away not wishing for our 90 minutes back."
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Lighting & Sound America
February 23rd, 2016

"The play is anything but a conventional biography; instead, it's an account of O'Brien's ultimately unsuccessful struggle to figure out what makes Watson tick...Despite these gripping revelations, the rest of 'The Body of an American' disappoints...'The Body of an American' is yet another new play that might arguably work better in prose form, which would allow for a fuller exploration of both men without trying to force some kind of dramatic confrontation between them."
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Talkin' Broadway
February 23rd, 2016

"The biggest issue is that Paul and his story are undersized…Paul's recollections, tinted and tainted by distance and his own mental state, appear faint and distant, not immediate; you don't experience his heartbreak the way he did, and O'Brien does not otherwise draw it out of him. As a result, an inception point that's supposed to be titanic is microscopic, leaving the rest of the play to feel like a severe case of much ado about nothing."
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March 14th, 2016

"The production is curiously remote and uninvolving...Their meeting provides little catharsis for either man–or the audience...Although Crane looks remarkably like the author, his character remains curiously flat...Cumpsty’s Paul is a more fully developed and as a result he gives the better performance...There is definitely a fascinating story in the friendship between Dan O’Brien and Paul Watson but 'The Body of an American' in this production does not seem to have located it yet."
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February 23rd, 2016

"I found the structure more intriguing than off-putting, though along about the mid-point the interchanges and monologue-like dialogue felt drawn out and excessively wordy…Though some of this does tend to feel like a travelogue and the trajectory of the relationship like a wannabe buddy story, it is offset by the vibrancy of the vignettes…Seeing these two actors on stage throughout the pacey 90-minutes is worth a trip to the West Village for anyone who values good acting."
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