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The Convent

From 14 critic and 26 member reviews
Members say: Absorbing, Great staging, Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking

About the show

Jessie Dickey’s world premiere is a toothy dark comedy about desire, devotion, and the mystery of intrinsic divinity.


In "The Convent," a group of women go on a retreat to live like nuns in the Middle Ages and are baptized with 80s pop, female mysticism, hallucinogens, and sex.


"While Jessica Dickey's 'The Convent' may not have any new answers and may cover familiar material, it does so with such vitality and theatricality, that it becomes a memorable experience. Under the direction of Daniel Talbott, the seven actresses led by Samantha Soule and Wendy vanden Heuvel are compelling and expressive. By the time the play is over, the audience has experienced much that the inmates of the retreat have gone through." Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

"Superb...Soule has the meatiest part, and she tackles it with relish...Odette is excellent as Jill, a married woman with deep wounds, and Vanden Heuvel nails Mother Abbess, who harbors some dark secrets of her own. Dickey’s dialogue crackles with truth while Talbott’s direction is both warm and energetic.” Full Review

New Yorker

“A women’s retreat at a French medieval convent sounds as if it would be a quiet, drama-free endeavor—and who wants that at the theatre...Melodramatic plot twists and a reveal you will see coming for miles follow...This is the kind of stuff that Busch’s comedies parody, but Dickey’s commitment to big feels is commendably unflinching—she does not hide behind ironic distance—and Talbott’s handsome production matches it." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

“The performances by this talented ensemble help bring the issues raised by the play to light. I especially enjoyed Soule's layered performance...Directed with sensitivity, whose staging enhances the play, we see the conflict women are having with freedom and where they stand in this world...Dickey’s words flow but if you have mother issues, this play will push your buttons.” Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Some of the characters are more fully drawn then others, but Dickey has a way with language and most women will probably find something to relate to in this play (not that men can't get something out of it as well). The scenes with all the women talking and bonding are the most enjoyable, thanks to the writing as well as the performances, and have been staged with a delicate hand by Daniel Talbott." Full Review


"Dickey certainly allows a fair amount of ridicule to shine through such earnest 21st-century faux mysticism. Even so, neither Dickey nor her equally sardonic director Daniel Talbott ever mocks the quest for enlightenment itself...Dickey's resolution of plot threads is less elegant than her poetic exploration of them throughout the rest of the play...Fortunately...nothing is too neatly tied to keep you from sitting in this playwright's finely crafted well of uncertainty." Full Review


"A satisfying, if occasionally uneven, dramedy...The ensemble is made up of strong performers, and each is given at least one standout moment that feels uniquely of that character. This speaks not only to the actors' abilities but also to Talbott's attention to nuance...Dickey has a natural ability to use language to probe emotions, and to sneak up on an audience with humor...Executed by an able cast and a thoughtful director, it makes for a memorable stay at 'The Convent.'" Full Review

Splash Magazines

“A new, gorgeously lyrical work...The play is missing those elusive moments that allow us to inhabit, however briefly, the internal lives of these people...And while the direction is crisp and energetic in its pacing and choreography, the characters too often resort to screaming...That the play succeeds as often as it does is a tribute both to the production’s formal elements as well as Dickey’s virtuosic abilities with language. Her words ensure that you are irrevocably, helplessly, drawn to... Full Review

The New York Times

"As the play’s structure comes to resemble a reality competition with arbitrary tasks, the six pilgrims likewise come to resemble the clichéd characters in a lifeboat story...These questions remain crucial ones to ask, but Ms. Dickey’s round-robin structure diminish their impact. In a way, so does Mr. Talbott’s deluxe staging, by enhancing the play’s conceit at the expense of its characters...For me, the best moments of 'The Convent' are thus the quietest ones." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Overwrought, overacted feminist play…While the idea of women seeking spiritual and even psychological guidance in a retreat can be valuable, what we see here never convinces us that there's much to gain at this particular place by these particular women from this particular leader, whose own failings will gradually come into focus… Moreover, none of the largely uninteresting characters…are in the least credible…What works …are its technical and design elements." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“The women of ‘The Convent’ are almost entirely without inner lives. They're a shelf of empty vessels passing for characters, each defined by a single factoid...That there's a fine line between contemplation and navel-gazing is something with which ‘The Convent’ is incapable of grappling...’The Convent’ suffers from deficiencies in the areas of character and conflict...Talbott's direction keeps the action moving...He can't get better than uneven results from his leading ladies, however.” Full Review

Broadway & Me

“’The Convent’ is uninspiring...And that saddens me because I had been a great fan of Dickey’s debut play...Each of the women strikes the one note the play has assigned her...They’re not given much in the way of motivation or backstory but each gets the chance to chew the tapestry and...they gnaw away to varying effect...The one saving the set by...Abrego...and images created by Freer...Their work sparks a sense of wonder that the play itself only aspires to.” Full Review

Stage Left

"Whole sequences are clearly written to be funny but, as performed under the direction of Daniel Talbott, are painfully not. Other portions of the play involve moments of magic and serious drama that is unearned. The tone remains unclear throughout...The central problem, though, is that nearly every character remains a mystery to the audience...A promising and intriguing setup that is, unfortunately, bungled in execution." Full Review

New York Stage Review

“This production disappoints...The playwright contributes some poetic language...Unfortunately, the beatific thoughts tend to get lost...A hurried pacing by Talbott...also skims through the talk...Perhaps another director might be better attuned to the sensitivities of the characters—some of whom appear to be underwritten...While there’s interesting stuff going on in ‘The Convent’...This play and its characters scarcely broach the story’s possibilities.” Full Review

Absorbing, Resonant, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if you want to experience raw, visceral performances. The characters are predictable in some ways, but are portrayed with openness and truth.

Don't see it if you want to see something truly inventive. Some of the big moments are rather predictable, but there is still beauty in the telling of it.

Also The set is gorgeous. As soon as I walked into the space, I felt at hom... Read more Read less

Thrilling, Physical, A little schematic, Beautifully played, Smart

See it if you like scripts that take a risk & productions that do things that only live theater can do.

Don't see it if you are looking for a realistic peek into life among the nuns.

Also Jessica Dickey’s “The Convent,” not a flawless script, is a thrilling ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Riveting, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to see a beautiful and fascinating play about a world of secrets and devotion. The play takes bold moves and risks, worth seeing.

Don't see it if you want to see a play fully formed that has a neat ending. There are compelling performances and the set is gorgeous.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Riveting, Thought-provoking

See it if You question the way you’re leading your life, if you want to see an engaging show about the freedom and choices women make in their lives

Don't see it if You aren’t looking to question how you lead your own life after you leave the theatre.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Funny, Great staging, Intelligent

See it if You are interested in spirituality and female mysticism.

Don't see it if You don’t like female-centered plays. You want more action than dialogue.

Also This was a fascinating and beautifully staged piece. It isn’t perfect ... Read more Read less

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Confounding, Refreshing

See it if you're interested in a pretty incisive look at what it really means to discover yourself, and what it really costs.

Don't see it if you don't want theater that challenges you.

Absorbing, Clever, Cliched, Relevant

See it if you want more feminism on stage, to grapple with motherhood in the 21st century, to ponder what's holding you back in your own life

Don't see it if you don't want to see an all-female cast uncomfortably staged by a male director, or want a true ensemble cast full of dynamic characters

Great staging, Funny, Relevant, Slow, Ambitious

See it if a magnificent set and excellent direction is enough for an interesting evening.

Don't see it if you want plot twists that are surprises. Everything seems to be telegraphed before it happens.

Delightful, Intense, Relevant, Cliched, Slow

See it if You are a feminist and you want an insight on the kinds of things that are hot button topics in womens lives today.

Don't see it if You want a fast-paced and plot-heavy drama. This moves slowly and is very much about the characters' backstories

Ambitious, Dated, Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging

See it if You want to see some fine performances and stunning visuals as part of the scenery. The set was wonderful!

Don't see it if You are looking for a strong script. The play was wildly uneven and vacillated between brilliance and histrionics.

Ambitious, well-staged, undercooked

See it if You like earnest feminist theatre. A soupçon of irony would have helped. Interesting ideas here but not fully realized. A bit too schematic.

Don't see it if Maybe a rewrite short of being ready. It's a good looking production, mostly well-acted.

Also Worth a look for some of the performances, especially a superb Brittan... Read more Read less

Confusing, Great acting, Intense, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if you love feminist work and historical feminist exploration. The actors are incredible, especially Brittany Liu. Script is funny at times.

Don't see it if you don't like half-baked scripts. I felt the directing was weak, based on how hard I saw the cast working. There were moments of beauty.

Also It was just an okay show. The script didn't quite accomplish what I th... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Over-dramatic

See it if You like feminist stories and unusual mistical journeys. Over the top acting.

Don't see it if You do not enjoy in your face conflicts or are bothered by mistical or religious storylines.

Convents are supposed to be quiet; not this one where women on a retreat carry on about their deep feminist concerns; result: an over-the-top group therapy session

See it if inventive set, some powerful acting, interesting feminist exploration of women's sex & relationship-based problems

Don't see it if cliche-ridden complaints about marriage, children, sex, god, etc.; 30 mins too long; too many strident angsty declarations

Indulgent, Great staging, Quirky

See it if You want a philosophical take on womanhood and getting what you want.

Don't see it if You like action (very little happens and a lot is said). You want a fully-baked script (it feels like some edits would help).

Banal, Cliched, Excruciating, Fluffy, Slow

See it if Had a great supporting actor. If you want a show about women in a contrived setting.

Don't see it if If you want a well written play. Very poorly written, slow, and banal.

Nice staging, Indulgent, Disappointing, The actors were fine but the play was uneven

See it if you want to see a play with all female actors focused on issues relevant to women. But very contrived situation. Not at all realistic.

Don't see it if I would not really recommend this play. It was not that interesting. Actors all did a good job though.

Also Sort of like if the girls from The Wolves (a play I loved) grew up and... Read more Read less

Nicely staged, earnest, feminist, shrill, cigarette-smoking on stage (ugh)

See it if you’d root for (mostly) sympathetic women to achieve fulfillment at a convent, an ironic setting for this spiritual/quasi-religious retreat.

Don't see it if Don’t see it if you’re skeptical of EST and all the other spiritual/quasi-religious retreats that people pay a lot of money to go to.

Also The play’s thesis is presented, apparently without irony, as an axiom:... Read more Read less


See it if You want to see a great actress with a bright future brittany anikka shine in a nice supporting role

Don't see it if You are hoping to see a play with a plot that makes sense. Also if you are bothered by over acting and a set that does not make sense

Also I don’t recommend anyone seeing the show but if you absolutely must se... Read more Read less

Banal, Cliched, Disappointing, Slow, Indulgent

See it if You want to see a few solid performances (half the cast) and impressive production values for a play of this middling quality.

Don't see it if You would prefer to see a play instead of feeling like a voyeur at a paint-by-numbers womyn's consciousness-raising therapy session.

Also Sadly, once the cast start passing the talking stick around, that's ba... Read more Read less

Heartless, Expository, Intense

See it if You want to support female creatives - the actors did great work. Still a Jessica Dickey fan, though this was a miss for me!

Don't see it if You want to be saddened by hopeless brokenness. As a young woman, I was not empowered by this play, though it was dressed up to do so.

Also To be fair, I discovered I am not the right audience for the message o... Read more Read less

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

See it if If you want to take a deep trip into yourself and laugh and cry listening to the wonderful performers!

Don't see it if If you want to miss out ! Great directing great writing great acting!!!!

During previews
Absorbing, Great staging, Intelligent, Ambitious, Refreshing

See it if You're sick of "you, me, our apartment, and our problems" plays, you love strong female performances and dynamic staging

Don't see it if You LOVE "you, me, our apartment, and our problems plays," because this is NOT that

Also Almost all the performances are on point, the directing is marvelous, ... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Great design, Great staging, Ambitious, Magical

See it if Wanted to love this more, there is lots of lovely theatre magic happening here, short and poignant, some beautiful feminist themes, images

Don't see it if Not into a play about spirituality, ensemble driven plays, it doesn’t seem quite finished, big ideas not always well executed in the writing

During previews
Beautiful set, a few great performances

See it if Ur interested in a somewhat cliched exploration of spirituality & feminism, I guess? I'm not totally sure what the goals were here...

Don't see it if It's not something I will think about for long. But I was engaged while I was watching it.

Also I loved the design of the show. There were some very obvious plot twis... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (17)