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The Changeling

Members say: Great acting, Intense, Ambitious, Great staging, Absorbing
72
Critics
66
22 reviews
Members
74
88 reviews
 

Red Bull Theater presents Middleton and Rowley's classic tragedy of lust, repression and revenge.

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Beatrice is in love with Alsemero — who is unfortunately not her fiancé. But when she employs her loathsome servant De Flores to bump off her betrothed, the price is her own virgin flesh. Together with a madcap subplot set in an insane asylum, this rarely performed Jacobean tragicomedy explores the follies of love and the nature of madness.

 

Cast & Creatives (20)


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Reviews (110)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
66
Avg Score

75
The New York Times

"Sensation slides into silliness in 'The Changeling'...The convoluted story grows more lurid and strained as the play hurtles toward its predictably bloody conclusion, but with a fine cast bringing sufficient heat to the panting plotlines, the Red Bull Theater and its artistic director, Jesse Berger, once again win admiration for presenting a rarely seen drama from the Jacobean era with highly caffeinated verve." Full Review

60
Time Out New York

"The play takes some very strange turns indeed and Berger directs it with intelligent sincerity...Despite committed zaniness from the cast the humor of these scenes is hard to render, and the back-and-forth between plots gets tiring. The elegance and clarity of this 'Changeling' are laudable, but a stronger sense of the grotesque might make it more attractive to verse-averse audiences." Full Review

65
Theatermania

"Red Bull's production tries to embrace the tonal inconsistencies. It hits the right notes of bleak humor and bloodlust, though it has problems connecting two wildly different story lines...Separately, the two narratives are very nicely performed...Berger has a hard time making them gel as one, and throughout the production, it feels as if we're watching two separate works being performed alternately." Full Review

60
New York Theater

"What Red Bull does on stage with the play, directed by artistic director Jesse Berger with a 13-member cast, is always competent, sometimes striking, but for me, I’m sorry to say, for all the stabbings and embraces, more appreciated than enjoyed." Full Review

70
Lighting & Sound America

"'The Changeling' is a prime example of the genre. At its best, Jesse Berger's production is a glittering black comedy, unleashing alternative waves of shock and laughter, but not everyone is up to the task at hand, especially given some of the curveballs thrown their way by the authors...If you have any interest in the Jacobeans, 'The Changeling' is a must, if only because it might not come around for another couple of decades." Full Review

55
Broadway Blog

"Berger’s production bounces like a billiard ball from tragic intensity to melodramatic rodomontade, from romantic lovemaking to Grand Guignol ferocity, from bantering sex comedy (reminiscent of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’) to bedlam farce. He gets points for the show’s liveliness and clear diction, but never does find whatever it is that that would allow the characters to be fundamentally believable despite the extreme situations and relationships the playwrights impose on them." Full Review

60
AM New York

"'The Changeling' is not as strong as other recent Red Bull productions. The cast, though capable and hardworking, isn’t quite able to bring credibility to the play. Even so, Berger’s production has a rough vitality, not to mention plenty of heightened language, blood and cleavage." Full Review

55
Talkin' Broadway

"The version of the script used here contributes to this feeling of leanness, as does Berger's overall thematic approach, which, per his usual, sometimes sheds more light on the shadowy sections than is perhaps ideal...Berger and his company leave us a bit adrift and that failure to overcome the play's inherent challenges mean that the evening as a whole doesn't satisfy." Full Review

40
New York Daily News

"Jesse Berger’s inconsistent staging for Red Bull Theater revival leads to its own varied responses. The main storyline about covetous Beatrice-Joanna and her sicko sexual and lethal alliance with her dad’s disfigured servant De Flores works okay. But a subplot about men in disguise to have sex with a doctor’s wife clunks. So much unevenness is enough to make you mope." Full Review

60
TheaterScene.net

"While Jesse Berger’s revival is vigorous and straightforward, it is also rather bland…The production makes several definite choices which are problematic to the overall effectiveness of this outrageous play. Visually, the production is devoid of color…Unfortunately, while director Jesse Berger has chosen to err on the side of caution with a subdued and restrained production, something more outrageous might have been more memorable." Full Review

40
Upstage-Downstage

"For all intent, this is still a moral tragedy, and tragedy steeped in utter corruption is what should be at the core of the production. Instead, what we get is more like melodrama, with an underplayed sense of sexual madness. Even the play’s dark humor has been mined for laughs rather than for the way its sardonic quality reflects the overall tone...There is an unfortunate mix of elocution styles." Full Review

90
Theatre is Easy

"This blood-soaked, sex-drenched verse drama finally lives up to my expectations...For the high-minded audience member, there’s also plenty to chew on: issues of gender and class identity abound. But you don’t have to be an academic to appreciate 'The Changeling.' Its core elements—lust, jealousy, and murder—make it one of the most appealing and absorbing dramas of the rip-roaring Jacobean period. Thanks, Red Bull, for giving it the production it deserves." Full Review

95
BlogCritics.org

"A finely wrought, emotionally fierce production of the seminal Jacobean revenge tragedy…The complications and grand twists which include ghostly hauntings and guilt-ridden visions comprise the two acts which clip along at a pace that thrills and engages. This is no small thanks to the exceptional teamwork by the acting ensemble and Berger’s conceptualizations and natural, seamless staging." Full Review

60
Epoch Times

"Sadly these two stories, which eventually dovetail in an overly convenient way, never mesh well...Much of the problem lies in Jesse Berger’s direction, which is unable to remove the feeling of disconnectedness. This disjointedness translates into the audience not knowing whether to cringe or laugh at certain points…For all its faults, the production remains thought-provoking with good performances. For students of Jacobean drama, it’s definitely worth a look." Full Review

70
Exeunt Magazine

"Berger’s production of 'The Changeling' gives a window into issues of power and gender with a modern eye…Felciano is the main attraction here. He’s got leading man good looks under a layer of disfiguring make-up and he draws you in to look closer…Unfortunately, Topham is not quite a match for Felciano…The comic-relief in the asylum segments never quite hits the mark and even the way Berger moves the asylum inmates in and out of the space feels internally illogical." Full Review

75
Theater Pizzazz

"The large cast is splendid. Every word of this very wordy piece can be heard an understood...This very dark work is sprinkled with bon mots including riotously raunchy double entendres. Running more than two hours with an intermission, it is not a work for those with attention-deficit disorder." Full Review

60
CurtainUp

"There's a lack of subtlety to the play's unambiguous moralizing and a strange off-kilter feeling to the weaving together of separate dramatic and comedic plot lines that render it somewhat inert in its latest production. Despite the employment of an ensemble cast as capable as it is large and richly atmospheric spatial and sound design, Red Bull's 'Changeling' never quite builds the salacious, seldom-performed work to the level of dynamism for which its productions are known." Full Review

85
British Theatre Guide

"The plot of this revenge tragedy is as mad as many of the characters...'The Changeling' is a play that could almost have been a precursor of any number of horror movies. Where this 2¼-hour production scores is in maintaining great pace while bringing out every ounce of the gory humour, with blood and the odd spare digit part of the recipe for a stirring night out that will not disappoint." Full Review

90
Philadelphia Inquirer

"In a terrific production by Red Bull Theater, this drama of love and loathing is given a fine and very enjoyable revival. Director Jesse Berger has managed the essential trick: avoid the slightest whiff of parody, and play it to the hilt…The plot and sub-plots are wildly complicated, but the theme is obvious: erotic love can drive you crazy." Full Review

80
Gay City News

"A crisp, modern spin that locates caustic humor within the pathos. Under inventive direction, the work has been stripped down to its essence...The juicy, dizzying plot, a warped riff on the 'Beauty and the Beast' fable, can be tough to follow...This is no timid production. This highly theatrical 'Changeling' takes full advantage of ghastly dramatic moments, amping up the sex and gore." Full Review

70
New York Theatre Review

"Everything feels choreographed and deliberate, from design to staging to the acting itself…The full effect of slick mechanical precision is at odds with the script's focus on madness and disorder…The upshot of this high production value is that there is not a bad note in the play, but nothing stands out particularly either." Full Review

80
NY Theatre Guide

"'The Changeling' begins as a light breeze of love in the air which quickly develops into a torrent of betrayal and sexual desires wreaking havoc in just about everyone’s lives, and all for the sake of love. Much like a modern day soap opera, 'The Changeling' is a play that whets your emotional appetite the deeper you delve into the true sinister nature of the story leaving one to wonder if it is ever wrong to love someone too much." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
74
Avg Score

60
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Confusing, Slow

See it if you enjoy Shakespeare and his contemporaries

Don't see it if you do not know the story (or learn it before you see the show) - confusing and lack of clear direction made it more difficult to follow.

80
Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Historical, Unusual

See it if you are fascinated by 1600s theater.This is a dark and bloody piece, with a strong female at the center. Wonderful actors, well directed.

Don't see it if odd subplots bother you. This has a jarring one in Bedlam. It should've been greatly cut (or fully excised). Still interesting historically.

85
Edgy, Intelligent, Quirky, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You love classic theatre and want to see a seldom-staged work.

Don't see it if You can't stand classic theatre by any means.

75
Absorbing, Entertaining

See it if You like Shakespeare

Don't see it if Dislike the anove

52
Ambitious, Intense

See it if you love Thomas Middleton and can't get enough Jacobean drama

Don't see it if you can't follow very intense and dense language

84
Epic, Great acting, Masterful, Game of thrones, the play, Great verse

See it if You enjoy verse plays. You want to discover a rarely performed classic play. You don't mind stage violence. You want great acting.

Don't see it if You don't like verse plays. You want to see a more well-known classic play. You don't like stage violence.

72
Ambitious, Clever, Great acting

See it if you want to see an ambitious production with quality acting;; at times confusing but off beat theatre

Don't see it if you are not into off beat theatre with a lot of dialogue and a show that was originally written over 100 years ago

87
Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if you enjoy discovering classic plays that are seldom revived, appreciate Jacobean era plays filled with melodrama and blood-letting

Don't see it if plays several hundred years old don't interest you, you don't like seeing blood on stage, you're not a fan of Shakespearean era drama

50
Complicated, pretentious, unappealing

See it if you're a fan of Jacobean English, you want to see something completely different and ambitious

Don't see it if you aren't a fan of Jacobean English, have a hard time following complicated, intense, odd storylines

65
Ambitious, Great writing, Slow, Ok

See it if enjoy and more importantly can follow Jacobean (Shakespearean) language. Plot has great twists showing light and dark side of human desire.

Don't see it if you can't follow the language. Plot has so many details that you will get lost. Acting is uneven. Feliciano is fantastic! A nice production.

50
Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Slow, Dated

See it if You're a fan of Shakespearean style plays that use Jacobean language

Don't see it if You have a hard time understanding Jacobean language. The story is hard to follow and was not my cup of tea.

50
Confusing

See it if You pay extra attention and conentrate because it is hard to follow. It has some good moments and the actors are good but lost my interest

Don't see it if You don't enjoy difficult changeling plays.

65
Great acting, Slow, Great staging, Missing x factor

See it if you like long winding plot heavy Jacobean dramas, where the potential for comedy isn't fully realized. You like fake blood and melodrama.

Don't see it if you can't sit still, you like naturalistic acting, or if you don't have the patience for anything other than modern English.

74
Dark, Edgy, Intense

See it if You're a fan of any Shakespearean tragedy. This Jacobean tragedy is dark, heavy & sexy. Sara Topham is intense!

Don't see it if You're looking for something light and energetic. You can't follow old English. A bit slow at times.

80
Funny, Dark, Absorbing, Intense, Great staging

See it if You want to see something Elizabethan that ISN'T Shakespeare. And if you want to see some strong performances and great staging.

Don't see it if You don't like Elizabethan language and graphic violence.

70
Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Quirky, Slow

See it if You like bawdy bloody bards circa Shakespeare. Well acted and staged.

Don't see it if you hate bloody bawdy bards circa Shakespeare. It was a bit long and slow

85
Original, Absorbing, Ambitious, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if You like Jacobean language; Shakespeare, Marlowe, etc... If you like tragedy mixed with old old style humor.

Don't see it if You can't understand old flowery language. If you're looking for something modern.

70
Ambitious, Intelligent, Quirky

See it if you are interested in Jacobean drama, and can follow language of the era; enjoy the multiple plots and violence, in said dramas.

Don't see it if you find Shakespeare boring. If you are looking for an upbeat, fun show, you are in the wrong place!

88
Epic, Great writing

See it if you're a fan of Jacobean plays. Despite how long ago it was written, the language and plot are still very accessible.

Don't see it if you don't like violence.

74
Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Confusing

See it if you love old plays and theater history you love the classics

Don't see it if you don't like slow paced productions you don't like dimly-lit productions

88
Clever, Exquisite, Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if You like Shakespeare and have the patience for Jacobean language. Great acting and music!

Don't see it if You won't understand Jacobean language.

78
Clever, Great acting, Intense, Confusing, Bloody

See it if you like Jacobean drama!

Don't see it if you don't want to see blood!

60
Ambitious, Refreshing, Slow

See it if you enjoy classical theatre and are intrigued (and open-minded) enough to see a rarely-done piece. A bold effort but ultimately labored.

Don't see it if you're expecting Shakespeare. And yet Manoel Feliciano's nuanced, effortless performance revived the evening and made it all worth our time.

70
Funny, Intense, Raunchy, Dated, Entertaining

See it if you're into old style type of theater and want to see something with mystery and weirdness.

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with Jacobean English and needs less substance in a plot line.

85
Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging

See it if You like Renaissance plays and conservative use of props and set

Don't see it if You hate blood.