New York | 1h 40m | Already closed

The Body of an American

From 16 critic and 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.

Lighting & Sound America

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"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." Full Review

Broadway & Me

"The 90-minute two-hander devotes so much of its energy to showy techniques like jumping back and forth in time and having both actors play other characters and sometimes exchange their main roles as well, that, despite director Jo Bonney's best efforts, the show ultimately failed to make me care about the connection between the men." Full Review


"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." Full Review

During previews
Slow, Informational, Long winded, Boring, Historical

See it if You like watching the discovery/history channels. Very informational. There will be those who really like this, Im just not one of them

Don't see it if Writing style is dated & you never feel connected to characters. Long winded & Hard to stay interested. Would make a better book/documentary

During previews

See it if You like like shows that are so slow and boring. Actors were good story slow felt my mind wander and throughout most of it

Don't see it if I would just say don't see it

During previews
Disjointed, Confusing, Good concept, Thought-provoking, Feels long

See it if You are familiar with the subject matter and think you might find it interesting to see it onstage; If you don't have anything else to see

Don't see it if You want a play that is easy to follow, easy to latch onto. The subject matter was interesting, but the execution was very unfocused.

During previews
Confusing, Boring, Excruciating, Slow

See it if you need to catch up on your sleep since this play is B*O*R*I*N*G.

Don't see it if you don't like boring, slow-moving, and confusing plays.

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