New York | 1h 30m | Already closed

The Briefly Dead

From 7 critic and 16 member reviews
Members say: Ambitious, Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Great acting

About the show

59E59 and the Adjusted Realists present this reinvention of a classic ancient Greek play with a sharply contemporary celebration of its powerful heroine returning home to settle the score. More…

Good news: you actually can bring the love of your life back from the dead. Bad news: breakfast the next morning is really awkward. When it comes to the unexpected resurrection of his beloved wife Alcestis, King Admetos learns the hard way that the aftermath of a miracle ain't as peachy as we might assume.

Diandra Reviews it All

“A riveting debut by writer Stephen Kaliski and Director Elizabeth Ostler...This modernized take of a Greek classic is refreshing and incredibly thought-provoking...’The Briefly Dead’ is filled with analysis on what makes a person a person...Each cast member shines as their Greek figures...In a time when feelings can seem more important than facts, ‘The Briefly Dead’ is a confrontation over how we see the truths of our lives.” Full Review


"This reimagined Greek tragedy has clever modern touches that create an original theatrical experience...The cast completely captures the mood and the intensity...'The Briefly Dead' uses an inventive mix of live actors, shadow puppets, and music. It is an entrancing show, an unconventional story that is well suited to the 59E59 Theater's intimate performance space." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

“Though the ideas displayed in this piece are interesting, they are not executed well. The actors all seem in different plays...The writing is broken up into numerous scenes, so that we never get to the heart and the soul of what the writer wants us to know. It is also confusing when the show breaks into rock numbers for no reason. The Adjusted Realists is a company to watch, but they need to fine-tune their storytelling.” Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"The existing narrative helps provide a rough idea of the story, but is not enough to ground the play, which is constructed out of numerous scattered scenes that lack a clear connective thread…With its noticeable merits and tentative intentions of making Alcestis into an acerbic satire of a present day certain something, 'The Briefly Dead' seems to falter from having one too many ideas. Yet I do hope there’s more life to the play…It still has the potential to thrive." Full Review


“Indulgently quirky...There's nothing wrong with riffing on a classic, but this reimagining values effects over coherence...Anchoring all the whimsy is Zafiropoulos as Alcestis...Forces ancient characters into a world of cheap sushi and Norton anthologies....'The Briefly Dead' is messy...As Alcestis herself says, 'Drag me back from the grave, and you're gonna get some dirt.' In this case, it's actually Zafiropoulos as Alcestis who's immaculate and the rest of the show that needs cleaning up." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"The play's uneven style, its confusing, episodic narrative, its thematic vagueness, its unconvincing, meandering dialogue, its feeble humor, and its jumpy, episodic structure…Ostler's direction…gives the play some distinctively theatrical moments…but the play's structural issues aren't helped by her frequently lethargic pacing and lack of dramatic thrust…The writing's many distractingly unclear features…suggest they derive more from arbitrary choices than carefully thought-out ones." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“There's very little at stake...Adding to the difficulty, ‘The Briefly Dead’ is situated in a kind of temporal halfway house in which Greek royalty and supernatural events cohabit with sushi-dinner dates, television broadcasts, and the poems of Plath...The characters gifted neither with heroic stature nor the telling details that would give them psychological shading. Kaliski's dialogue never casts a spell, lacking as it does both the heft of tragedy and a cutting, contemporary wit." Full Review

Great acting, Great singing, Intelligent, Epic, Quirky

See it if You’re a feminist! Really great, predominantly female cast led by a female director, translating an old story into something that feels new.

Don't see it if You aren’t into musicals/want a straight play. There’s more song and dance than you might expect for a play based on classic theater.

Also As other reviewers have said, there are some super strong, interesting... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Refreshing, Thought-provoking

See it if you like Greek mythology with a modern twist

Don't see it if you don't dramas

Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Refreshing

See it if You like an interesting, modern take on an old Greek morality tale. The acting is very good and the staging is clever in an intimate space.

Don't see it if You are impatient with existential drama.

Ambitious, Entertaining, Imaginative on a low budget, Refreshing, Confusing

See it if you're interested in a striking feminist take on greek mythology and exploration of marriage as an insufficient source of meaning in life

Don't see it if you're looking for a classical production (there is song, dance, and puppets in this one), and/or coherent narrative on existential crisis

Disappointing, Ambitious, Indulgent, Bad acting, Banal

See it if You have a thing for Greek mythology, are down to wrestle w/ thorny questions of identity & life-vs-death, wanna see fun portrayal of Death

Don't see it if Shoddy acting choices will bother you, you want compelling lead performances

Ambitious, Disappointing, Vague, Quirky

See it if you’re interested in an anti-love story and like exploring new work by young playwrights

Don't see it if you don’t appreciate a lot of sass without a lot of clarity, don't like watching works in progress

Also Seat tip: The best seats are in the centers of each set of risers. Wor... Read more Read less

Confusing, Slow

See it if You want to see a clever idea that revives a classic story in a new light.

Don't see it if You want a show that is hard to follow and paced slowly.

Clever, Absorbing, Delightful

See it if You love sharp humor, absorbing performances, modern takes on Greek mythology.

Don't see it if You’re a classical purist.

During previews
Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you have an interest in history based on myth, enjoy greek drama told in a contemporary manner, want to support new theater.

Don't see it if you are bored with Greek tragedy/comedy, new versions of old stories, only enjoy musicals with lots of action and fancy costumes.

Also This show was an interesting take on an old myth, with lots of relevan... Read more Read less

During previews
Clever, Funny, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if you are interested in seeing an early effort to create a compelling Greek adaptation. Smart staging for that theater, and some fine acting.

Don't see it if you are expecting a cohesive blend of ideas. A lot going on: puppetry, dance, singing... Needs editing, dialogue revision, more mature hand.

Also It's a bright idea that deserves more attention. Hopefully they will k... Read more Read less

During previews
Enchanting, Entertaining, Ambitious, Absorbing, Clever

See it if you like a modern twist on a classic greek myth.

Don't see it if you have trouble following an intricate Homeric plot!

During previews
Clever, Absorbing, Ambitious, Entertaining, Funny

See it if you like funny, thoughtful, beautifully directed sequels to Greek Myths...

Don't see it if you're looking for kitchen sink reality.

During previews
Absorbing, Ambitious, Masterful, Must see, Profound

See it if you want to be awestruck and filled with a sense of wonder. This play will bring you to the depth of the Underworld and back into the light

Don't see it if You must see it!

During previews
Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Refreshing, Resonant

See it if You’re looking for a moving piece of theater. Everything about the show is beautifully done, drawing you along the journey of the play.

Don't see it if You’re looking for only a light hearted comedy. It is very funny at points, but also very dramatic and moving.

Also Truly enjoyed this show. The acting from each member of the cast was s... Read more Read less

During previews
Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting

See it if You’re into twists on classic/ancient texts. Or if you like pithy shows that still have depth and artistic ambition.

Don't see it if You have a hard time following semi-complicated storylines.

Also The acting here was by far the best quality. Everyone had such a great... Read more Read less

During previews
Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Innovative, Quirky

See it if you're intrigued by an adaptation of Greek Myth to modern life

Don't see it if you're expecting to have the plot points and nuances spoon-fed to you

Also Well acted by a strong cast. Heracles (Paul Hinkes) and Death (Mia Isa... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (17)