The Christians
Closed 1h 30m
The Christians
80

The Christians NYC Reviews and Tickets

80%
(83 Reviews)
Positive
83%
Mixed
12%
Negative
5%
Members say
Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Intelligent, Great acting, Great writing

About the Show

The first show in Playwrights Horizon's 15-16 season, 'The Christians' by Lucas Hnath is an idea-packed drama about a pastor of a megachurch whose changing beliefs send his congregation spiraling.

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Member Reviews (83)

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60
Disappointing, Entertaining, Interesting, Poor writting, Middling acting

See it if you have time

Don't see it if you don't like plots that don't make sense.

50
Slow, Boring, Disappointing, Cliched, Overrated

See it if You like plays that comment on religion and enjoy religious debates.

Don't see it if You don't like social commentary on religion.

Critic Reviews (40)

The New York Times
September 17th, 2015

"'The Christians,' is the first important new play of the young fall season...It has been ingeniously staged by the director, Les Waters...Mr. Hnath is one of the freshest playwriting voices to emerge in the past five years or so. He’s also an adventurous thinker in terms of style and content...'The Christians' is Mr. Hnath’s most penetrating work, but what you take away is the play’s ruminative gravity, and how each character is given an authentic voice and a complexity of feeling."
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Time Out New York
September 17th, 2015

"Although superbly staged by Les Waters and the use of microphones serves to both amplify and distance the coiled language, Hnath seems to lose nerve as he goes...There are so few plays that take on big moral questions, and Hnath is a serious writer, so I can still recommend 'The Christians,' but I cannot promise ecstasies of Heaven."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
September 17th, 2015

"In his extraordinary new play 'The Christians' at Playwrights Horizons, Lucas Hnath grapples with dogma itself...In the strange, superb direction by Les Waters, the distancing elements are amped up. The result is a kind of 'public service': an exurban passion play. The surprise is the passion part; through some trick of perspective, and excellent acting, the abstractions enhance rather than cancel the emotion."
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The Hollywood Reporter
September 17th, 2015

"It's so rare to see religious beliefs depicted onstage without condescension that Lucas Hnath's new play becomes all the more intriguing...'The Christians' is an ambitious, effort that deserves attention. But even though attention must be paid, the work proves disappointing in its overly stylized presentation and lack of dramatic impact."
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Variety
September 17th, 2015

"The problem with the play is that the cleric who sets off the hullabaloo that tears the congregation apart is just as bland as the scenery. To heighten this emotional distance (and spiritual alienation) between the preacher and his flock, all the characters whisper-speak into handheld microphones — even in intimate scenes...But if Pastor Paul is personally insipid (and suitably played so by Andrew Garman), his spiritual crisis is dynamite."
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New York Post
September 17th, 2015

"'The Christians' is a white-knuckled drama about . . . a theological battle. But there are no clear winners or losers in Lucas Hnath’s deeply affecting new play...As heated and heady as the disputes become, Hnath and director Les Waters keep the show absorbing on a very human level. This is a production we can believe in."
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New York Daily News
September 17th, 2015

"In 'The Christians', a pastor of a massive megachurch shares an epiphany with his congregation of thousands: Everybody is saved; heroes and Hitler go to heaven...Those are the basics of Lucas Hnath’s intriguing if not exactly illuminating look at irreconcilable differences within faith and family...Hnath doesn’t attempt resolutions. But you can bank on this Playwrights Horizons production to make you think. As a conversation-starter, it’s a little bit of heaven."
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AM New York
September 17th, 2015

"Even if you do not have a theological background, 'The Christians' is captivating as a modern-day tragedy. Les Waters' production is first-rate."
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Theatermania
September 17th, 2015

"This challenging and unfailingly intelligent work brings an off-Broadway audience into the heart of a place few of them would be caught dead: a Christian megachurch. Even more amazingly, it makes us care deeply about that church and the people within...Hnath approaches the subject with disarming sincerity."
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Lighting & Sound America
September 18th, 2015

"'The Christians' is remarkable for many reasons, but first of all because it takes its characters, and their arguments, seriously. It is not a work of satire, and we are not invited to feel superior...Instead, it examines, with uncommon lucidity, how those who sincerely profess to love Christ can differ so violently in their definitions of goodness...It's hard to think of another play that speaks so pertinently to this particular moment in history."
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Talkin' Broadway
September 17th, 2015

"An edge-of-your-seat treatment about the way we all approach belief...That he manages it entirely without villains pushes 'The Christians' straight to textual success. As a play in performance, however, the seams are not invisible. Though its implications stretch well beyond just those of present-day, commercial Christianity, the depth of discussion about topics related to it may put off theatregoers who aren't well versed or interested in it."
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TheaterScene.net
September 22nd, 2015

"It succeeds at getting its audience members to sheathe momentarily their daggers and engage critically with the topic of religion. Hnath initiates a new type of dialogue about faith, a dialogue free of sarcasm, condescension and judgment...Devout Christians and staunch non-believers alike often field challenges to their belief systems, and perhaps both camps deserve many of the criticisms they receive; however, they also deserve respect."
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Theater Pizzazz
September 17th, 2015

"Les Waters’s direction is puzzling. Characters speak through microphones, which makes sense when they’re in the church but not when, for example, Linda and Paul are in their bedroom. Similarly, all the action is set within the front section of the church, even though it’s clear from the script the story has moved elsewhere. It’s confusing. Much of the play takes place after the day of the sermon, but the visuals would have you think otherwise."
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CurtainUp
September 12th, 2015

"Though hardly without fault lines, Mr. Hnath has managed to create a compelling drama from a setting and situation that not only sounds preachy, but relies on a sermon to get going. And director Les Waters has guided the excellent cast to believably express their characters' certainties and uncertainties in a natural, often pause-filled style...As expected with any Playwrights Horizon production, the design work is state-of-the art."
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Stage Buddy
October 8th, 2015

"'The Christians' is a moving and rhetorically intricate rumination on the self-righteous and tragically divisive nature of belief systems... Some characters quirks, intended, I believe, to inject some lightness into the play, miss their mark a bit and come off as inappropriate rather than irreverent amidst heady contemplation."
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Exeunt Magazine
September 20th, 2015

"It’s a play that’s likely to prompt lively post-show debates about religion amongst audience members but its fixation with ideology also means it comes across a bit coldly...Some audience members will be willing to go on that intellectual ride regardless of its lack of emotional punch, but others will find themselves missing a bit more peripheral detail to support the ideological quandaries that Hnath presents in his ambitious piece."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
September 17th, 2015

"A good example of the modern discussion drama. Hnath has managed to put a gripping theological problem into a novel dramatic format and to humanize it through a central character whose pride goeth before his fall."
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DC Theatre Scene
September 17th, 2015

"What’s most unexpected about 'The Christians,' is that there’s not a scintilla of satire. Hnath, whose mother is an ordained minister, treats each character with respect. His aim seems not to score points but to explore the nature of faith and the politics of a church like this."
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Times Square Chronicles
September 18th, 2015

'The Christians' takes matters of faith and creates a effective play that really takes a complicated issue and makes it black and white...It’s first-rate cast and it’s simplistic production values make it a safe bet for theatregoers especially those from the mid-west...Debate is what 'The Christians' ignores. This is an issue swathed in shades of gray and they are not unearthed just glossed over."
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The Guardian (UK)
September 18th, 2015

"This is a play asking legitimately difficult questions about belief and behaviour and not providing much in the way of answer. Still, it might seem a more conventional script, were it not for Hnath’s careful formal choices and for the infinite restraint that the director, Les Waters, brings to the service. With their help, we have a clever, searching and elusively profound work. Amen to that."
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The Clyde Fitch Report
September 17th, 2015

"As directed by Les Waters and played by the cast, Hnath’s efforts to present balanced arguments pay off. Garman, especially, is so convincing as Pastor Paul that spectators may forget they’re in a theater and not in a sanctuary...Everyone else on the altar/stage is every bit as persuasive."
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B
September 10th, 2015

"Hnath’s ambition in tackling the thorny topic of religion, his unusual structuring, his stylistic choices such as having the actors only speak through microphones are all intriguing. And yet, the results, at least for me, were less than stirring... I admire Hnath’s bold ambition and look forward to his upcoming play at New York Theatre Workshop. I just wish the results had turned out better this time."
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The Huffington Post
September 17th, 2015

"Lucas Hnath has come up with a provocative, engrossing argument and put it into a well-constructed and arresting frame. What seems to be a visit to a typical fundamentalist megachurch eventually turns into a religious tug-of-war. Thanks to Mr. Hnath and director Les Waters, it's a highly theatrical one...Mr. Hnath clearly knows the territory. Combine this with a provocative thesis and even-sided handling, and what you get is a thought-provoking intellectual exercise with his Christians."
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New York Theatre Guide
September 18th, 2015

"This is a massively well-intentioned play that pits people, each of whom believes that they are acting according to the voice of their God, against one another...Hnath offers only questions that hit home and leaves the answers to us. This is not a new concept – think Greek tragedies here. It is, however, an updated examination focused on a specific corner of our society that rarely gets a balanced treatment."
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Broadway & Me
October 7th, 2015

"Hnath treats all sides of the theological debate with equal respect and the arguments are compelling but they're delivered as mini-sermons, spoken through hand-held mics....Even though the performances, under the quiet direction of Les Waters, are impeccable, I couldn't help feeling as though I were sitting in a theology class instead of a theater. "
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Newsday
September 17th, 2015

"When a big, modern, evangelical church with a charismatic preacher has a crisis -- at least in a play -- it is hard not to expect another sex or embezzlement scandal. This is far from the case, fortunately, in 'The Christians,' Lucas Hnath's compact and thoughtfully provocative drama."
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NorthJersey.com
September 18th, 2015

"Despite a fine production, directed by Les Waters, with solid acting all around, 'The Christians' never evolves into a compelling human drama. It remains, for better or worse, a humane, fair-minded debate of clashing religious beliefs."
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WNBC
September 17th, 2015

"A play about faith and religion in a mega-church that treats its potentially fraught subject with respect...a thoughtful and artfully acted 90-minute drama...What I found most interesting about 'The Christians' is the way it compels Paul - and so, us - to think about not only what he believes, but also why he believes it."
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T
September 23rd, 2015

"'The Christians' asks some pretty hard (and fair) questions about what we believe and why we believe it - and how much are we willing to sacrifice for our faith. The reality he captures is evidence of Hnath's intimate understanding of the controversies of church life and of the personal struggles involved in a deeper walk of faith...While I thoroughly enjoyed the play, I had to wonder whether many of its subtle truths would be lost on those in the audience who haven't experienced church like this. "
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American Theater Web
September 18th, 2015

"In Les Waters’ presentational staging, which has the actors using hand-held microphones throughout, it falls to lighting designer Ben Stanton to differentiate between the open and closed-door meetings, and he does a superlative job in helping theatergoers understand when the action has shifted. Equally impressive are the performances."
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As Her World Turns
November 9th, 2015

"I didn’t know much about this before seeing it, and I can’t say I loved it. But it had powerful moments...This all builds to the pastor’s emotional breakdown at the play’s conclusion. The ideas explored by playwright Hnath were interesting enough but I wasn’t fully captivated."
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Magical MissTari Tour
September 16th, 2015

"I was still completely engaged and enthralled throughout the evening. There were so many questions and ideas being tossed around and I especially loved that there were no real answers given...All I can say is I found so much to think about, struggle with, and enjoy in this play. It's such a treat to feel invigorated by smart, original writing."
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TheaterScene.com
September 23rd, 2015

"What playwright Lucas Hnath has done is truly courageous; he shows us people of faith who are good, decent human beings holding on to what they believe, even though it may cost them what they cherish. The staging used by director Les Waters is unique, and for the most part, effective."
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BroadwayWorld
March 17th, 2014
For a previous production

"Hnath has put forth a script that succeeds in probing with depth and breadth some of the most polarizing contemporary issues. The challenge - not necessarily a weakness, because it is purposeful and achieves its goal - is that the script is all questions and very few answers. Theater fans used to resolution will find "The Christians" a maddening experience, though that is a testament to how well-realized this play is."
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K
April 10th, 2014
For a previous production

"Compelling idea-rich drama...His characters are so well drawn and his refusal to take sides is so scrupulous that those exchanges crackle with energy and passion...To say that 'The Christians' is thought provoking is to praise it inadequately. The philosophical and spiritual questions raised by this meticulously written and dramatically gripping play generated lively discussions among our party. It was one of the best plays I've seen anywhere in recent years."
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C
March 26th, 2014
For a previous production

"Hnath's dialogue is sharp and vivid; Thoughtful and serious, as well as suspenseful -- and even entertaining, in a scratching-the-head-what-was-that-all-about kind of way. You'd do well to consider attending it and to consider some of the issues it illuminates."
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S
March 7th, 2015
For a previous production

"A thoughtful and moving look at the challenges of faith, belief and belonging. Hnath’s script is nuanced and compassionate, and it’s remarkable how well he balances both sides of the issue at hand. It will make you think, and might make you cry, and will certainly leave a lasting impression."
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T
March 20th, 2015
For a previous production

"'The Christians' is remarkable in its compassionate rendering of a difficult story and characters who might not make a lot of sense to those who don't participate in that sort of community. It's what theatre can do at its greatest: open up the possibility for us to know each other as human."
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A
March 4th, 2015
For a previous production

"Theater Magic...a mesmerizing and thought-provoking story of a minister who announces a fundamental change in his religious beliefs."
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L
March 8th, 2014
For a previous production

"There are plays that make you think, and then there are plays that make you THINK...'The Christians' is centered on theological conflict, but the play is more than that. Because as time passes, we realize that the issues at stake are not just religious but are much broader. 'The Christians' is about relationships and communication, and how we live with the ones we love."
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