Already closed | 1h 40m | West Village

The Body of an American

From 69 member reviews
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. More…

Dan O'Brien tells the true story of an extraordinary friendship as two men, a war photojournalist and playwright, journey from some of the most dangerous places on earth to the depths of the human soul. It is an award-winning glimpse at a moment in recent history when a single, stark photograph - of the body of an American dragged from the wreck of a Blackhawk through the streets of Mogadishu - reshaped the course of global events.

Member Reviews (69)


Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Relevant

Ambitious, Original, Thought-provoking, Confusing, Relevant

See it if you are fascinated by war correspondents and how they re-assimilate. The content is ambitious, relevant, and powerful.

Don't see it if you want a comprehensible opening; it's purposely confusing. Being self-reflective (I'm Dan writing a play about Dan) is a cheat. Often slow

Ambitious, Slow, Confusing, Disappointing, Epic

See it if You like to see 2 people shows.

Don't see it if You don't like topic of journalism.

Disappointing, Great acting, Indulgent, Quirky, Overrated

See it if you like to see the playwright insert himself into the subject matter and talk about his process.

Don't see it if you like plays that aren't indulgent. Here we get to follow a fellow talking about writing his play. Really?

Confusing, Insipid, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy a play about the importance of the actions we take and the career paths that lead us those actions.

Don't see it if You don't like unconventionally produced theatre with a a sense of detachment of the characters one another and the material almost.

During previews
Confusing, Dated, Documentary, Great staging, No heart

See it if it's a documentary. It reports on the problems and facts with little self-reflection or evolution. You are not lead to care about the people

Don't see it if Good staging & acting but the back & forth writing style is dated and confusing. It's made to look cooler than the material ever is.

During previews
Breakneck pace, Interesting, Great actors, Narration-heavy, Ambitious

See it if you want to see a play about two fascinating, haunted men told at a pace that dares you to keep up.

Don't see it if you can't stand shows that don't follow the principle "show, don't tell."

During previews

See it if You enjoy a play concerning contemporary events with psychological impact.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy a play where the playwright is so enamored of his writing skills that he dials up the language to a 13 on a scale of 10.

During previews
Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You enjoy smart, contemporary, thought provoking new work that delves deep on psychological issues.

Don't see it if You're squeamish - some graphic descriptions and photos of wartime violence.

During previews
Intelligent, Disappointing, Rapid-fire verbiage, All talk, Thought-provoking

See it if you want a history lesson on the atrocities of war. It's a brilliant exposition, but not really a play in the traditional sense.

Don't see it if you're looking for a traditional play with a story-line and an emotional journey.

During previews
Slow, Great staging, Confusing, Great acting, Excruciating

See it if You like great staging, apt direction, and pro actors elevating the material.

Don't see it if You'll get bored watching 2 people on stage talking for what feels like 2 hrs. Too personal and not enough meat on the story.

During previews
Dragged out, Thought-provoking, Ambitious

See it if You like deep thought-provoking narratives, and different ways of storytelling.

Don't see it if You are bored easily and don't like dragged-out narratives.

During previews
Absorbing, Confusing, Relevant

See it if You enjoy intimate pieces about contemporary topics.

Don't see it if Non-traditional story telling confuses you.

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 o...
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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 presumptu...
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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...
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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 pl...
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