Closed 1h 55m
The Dance of Death
East Village
78

The Dance of Death NYC Reviews and Tickets

78%
(97 Reviews)
Positive
90%
Mixed
6%
Negative
4%
Members say
Great acting, Funny, Great staging, Absorbing, Entertaining

About the Show

Classic Stage Company presents Strindberg's celebrated drama, a bleak examination of marriage and the social institutions governing it.

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Member Reviews (97)

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85
Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if to see a less popular Strindberg dark comedy in which a dissatisfied couple, trapped in a miserable 25 year marriage, trade barbs & torments

Don't see it if you seek sentimentality, romance, light-hearted humor & happy endings. Read more

74
Slow, Thought-provoking, Intense, Disappointing, Resonant

See it if It's McPherson's dark Irish humor in adapt that provides most interest in this fitful revival Actors tend to lean into sit-com territory

Don't see it if Drama frustrated by Clark's lackluster comic-centric direction Couple's danger & desperation never really reaches Stindbergian heights

Critic Reviews (23)

February 10th, 2019

"Seems to take place entirely at room temperature...Provides an accessible and assimilable introduction to a complex and uncomfortable world. Cautious theatergoers unacquainted with Strindberg may dip their toes into his work without being blistered...The virtue of such underplaying is that, when what the performers are saying so calmly fully registers, your jaw drops in wonder at the harshness of it...The disadvantage is that while Alice and Edgar are sometimes funny, they’re never scary."
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February 11th, 2019

"It's a treat that director Victoria Clark...leans into the bleak humor in this depiction of a husband and wife so scarily destructive they make the central couple in 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf' seem cozy...Subtle it's not, and at times the performances teeter on the edge of overdone. But if Strindberg's observations about class and gender get buried under the broadness, the dark comedy of codependence shines through."
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February 11th, 2019

"As Alice and Edgar, the warring couple at the center of 'The Dance of Death,' Beck and Topol don’t hit the same fierce pitch as their young counterparts in 'Mies Julie'...This 'Dance of Death' never fully finds either its horror or its humor. Director Victoria Clark keeps her actors talking quickly but without much variety...Clark is unaided by McPherson’s translation, which feels ungrounded in a strong vernacular and more than a little phoned in."
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February 14th, 2019

"The performances are generally good, but Mr. Topol’s Edgar comes off rather like a goofy sitcom character, which can’t be right. Overall, the results don’t quite measure up to Writers Theatre’s 2014 U.S. premiere of Mr. McPherson’s adaptation...If, however, 'The Dance of Death' is new to you, this staging—and Mr. McPherson’s adaptation—will give you a clear and mostly satisfying idea of what it’s all about."
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February 10th, 2019

"'The Dance of Death' is a nuclear standoff that is all too often more tiresome than taut..It's an appropriately joyless display, and Topol delivers a perfectly head-spinning performance as a compulsive liar and drunkard who, like his marriage, is constantly on the brink of death...But even McPherson, a playwright with an aptitude for building drama in confined spaces, can't lift 'The Dance of Death' out of its monotony."
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February 11th, 2019

"Strindberg's 1900 darkly comic drama...accenting the mannered language of over a hundred years ago with flippant moments of contemporary vernacular...While 'The Dance of Death' is certainly not the strongest of Strindberg's plays, its vision of a storybook marriage gone sour remains relatable, and, from a distance, perversely entertaining."
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February 11th, 2019

"Victoria Clark's staging of 'The Dance of Death,' Strindberg's bilious view of marriage as an extreme sport, bubbles with acid comedy...McPherson's version draws its bitter humor from characters who aren't afraid to bare the bald facts of their claustrophobic marital antagonism...Under Clark's spirited direction, every drop of this cyanide-laced cocktail delivers an appalling kick...'The Dance of Death' is a canonical work, but not an entirely satisfying one."
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February 10th, 2019

"Although director Victoria Clark...may see humor here, she doesn’t pursue it...How many times do assaulted viewers want to see Edgar and Alice spew verbal and physical venom at each other only to reconcile, et cetera? Pulling Kurt into the spiteful vortex only exacerbates things...Maybe next time, an adventurous director might try mounting the classic(?) play as an out-and-out laff fest."
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February 10th, 2019

"McPherson’s adaptation is fluent, but this production does not nearly do it justice. Witnessed at a preview a week ago, the performances seemed flat. Perhaps they simply had yet to jell by then...The set, costume, lighting, and sound designs likewise are comparably natural. One wonders whether taking a more stylized approach to the play would strengthen its comedic aspects, or at least generate a weird electricity that might enliven this rather spiritless event."
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February 17th, 2019

"Clark has chosen to direct the play as though it were drawing room comedy…There is the suggestion that for Edgar and Alice this is all a series of games...Whether this is the fault of the new translation or the belief that modern audiences unfamiliar with Strindberg's psychological nightmares would have trouble sitting through this disturbing ritual, the effect is to make 'The Dance of Death' seem very superficial, as though Neil Simon had chosen to rewrite an O'Neill tragedy simply for humor."
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February 10th, 2019

"Bold images like these make us appreciate Victoria Clark interpretation of August Strindberg’s 'Dance of Death'...Scathing language is delivered with unnerving smiles on Alice and the Captain’s faces, in the new version by Conor McPherson. It’s as though a secret, inside of Alice and Edgar, produces levity in an otherwise chilly environment. Pass after pass, the hidden bit of humor gives way to surprise, making 'Dance of Death' a fascinating watch."
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February 10th, 2019

"Director Clark has provided a very CSC-ish staging. That means she relies mostly on text and performance, and just enough props to accommodate the action...McConnor's concept plays out like a real boxing match...Topol's physical performance is particularly impressive...No matter how smart and mordantly funny the dialogue and the actors' delivery, Strindberg is never easy."
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February 10th, 2019

"Set in the round, the actors in continuous movement, the play trots along but the movement is forced, staged. These are all damn fine actors but something is missing; connection, ensemble. They are not in step...One of Strindberg’s most daring plays and was way beyond its time when first staged in 1905 and McPherson’s adaptation is modern and wildly gratifying, so let's hope that as the production continues it can solidify this most interesting of takes on marriage."
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February 14th, 2019

"Directed with agility and commitment by the phenomenal musical stage star, Victoria Clark...Even though the 'Dance' sometimes feels forced, overly structured, and not entirely in sync with one another, the essence of the still walking and breathing corpses screaming into the cold air resonate...This 'Dance,' one that lasts 110 minutes, is a bit of a slog, something right out of 'They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?' when it didn’t have to be."
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February 10th, 2019

"The best revivals mix comedy with the cruelty. Laughs, though, are infrequent in…Clark's monotonous CSC revival…Even with McPherson's adaptation, no one makes 'The Dance of Death' seem other than a boring ballet of marital hell…Topol and Beck lack the appeal to make their tiffs anything other than exponentially irritating. His shuffling movements and sloppy appearance bely Edgar's job title, while his growling voice and scenery chewing suggest an audition for 'Marat/Sade.'"
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February 14th, 2019

“’Dance of Death’, is the story is about a man Edgar and wife Alice who hate each other and are brutally and ferociously vicious towards each other with words and deeds...Clark lets us feel the hellish torture of this unfilled union. She has directed her excellent cast with aplomb...Topol as Edgar is arrogant, droll, devious...Beck is as just as sly and as shrewd...Innvar, is the perfect man caught between these feeding feral creatures.”
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February 15th, 2019

“While today’s audiences know Albee’s George and Martha, Strindberg gave us Edgar and Alice in 1900—another unhappily married couple who engage in a dangerous round of party games with an unwitting guest. McPherson keeps the play as a period piece in turn of the century Sweden, but brushes up the language. Under director Victoria Clark, the performances are unsatisfying and overly colorful, undermining the more serious portrait of a marriage that is at work underneath."
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February 12th, 2019

“In spite of being 119 years-old, ‘The Dance of Death’ still has astonishing good skin tone under the direction of Clark...The production is bolstered by the excellent acting of the cast...The creative team make splendid use of the small performing space...It surely packs a big emotional punch.”
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February 11th, 2019

"Conor McPherson has done a sterling job putting juice back into August Strindberg’s 'The Dance of Death'...Using McPherson’s lively refurbishment, one that is rife with gallows humor, director Victoria Clark has delivered an inspired and beautifully acted production...As the unhappy couple, Richard Topol and Cassie Beck are terrific. They find the nuances in the advances and retreats of their constant battle."
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February 10th, 2019

"McPherson has adapted Strindberg’s play in plain-spoken English which makes the most of the play’s barbed Scandinavian wit. But the challenge for director Victoria Clark is the same that has plagued all who tackle this tricky story: Do you play it for tragedy or comedy, melodrama or farce?...Clark’s cast leans toward naturalism. This deprives the play of some of its comedic power...Despite their best efforts, Clark and her talented cast aren’t able to resolve this play’s many contradictions."
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I
February 10th, 2019

"I actually quite like Conor McPherson’s new translation, which manages to be both bitingly contemporary yet somehow still period. I just wish director Victoria Clark had staged the play accordingly. Her safe, perfectly respectful and respectable production is very much solely in 19th century mode, as is the acting, which unfortunately diffuses the unsettling, viscous aggression."
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T
February 14th, 2019

"This new translation by Conor McPherson mines the contemporary spirit of Strindberg’s marriage play, its bleak pessimism, and absurdity. Written at the turn of the 20th century, Strindberg’s black comedy was well ahead of its time...The production moves briskly, with an effecting sense of the brutality in Edgar and Alice’s 25-year marital interment. As Edgar, Richard Topol embodies the misanthropic husband who makes Alice’s every moment unbearable."
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February 10th, 2019

"Dynamic modern 'new version' of August Strindberg’s darkly-comic masterpiece...Despite its arguably grim title, the play itself is delightful, full of humor and insight. As for Victoria Clark’s staging, if I could write a three-word review of the show, I would say, 'It was fine.' The experience is akin to watching a play on TV — all the info is there but the emotional connection is lacking."
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