The Emperor
Closed 1h 15m
The Emperor

The Emperor NYC Reviews and Tickets

(26 Ratings)
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Masterful, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

About the Show

This adaptation of Ryszard Kapuściński‘s celebrated and controversial 1978 book of the same title is a parable about power set at the downfall of Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie.

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Show-Score Member Reviews (26)

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251 Reviews | 116 Followers
Magnificent acting, Multifaceted, Ethiopian music, Historical, Satirical

See it if You love exquisite acting (10 male parts played by tiny Kathryn Hunter, w/ out-sized skill) and adore ethnic music and gorgeous tenor songs.

Don't see it if You object to parts awarded for acting merit, as opposed to race or sex. Or if you can't understand satire and "deeper" meanings on power. Read more

145 Reviews | 28 Followers
Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Riveting, Intense

See it if Virtuoso acting from Kathryn Hunter (I feel lucky to have seen her in this show) is reason enough

Don't see it if You prefer plays with a conventional plot structure or don't like it when one actor plays all the characters

63 Reviews | 26 Followers
Epic, Great acting, Great writing, Profound, Thought-provoking

See it if you like theater that will make you think and you appreciate great acting.

Don't see it if you don't appreciate small stagings and expect to be entertained rather than put outside your comfort zoene. Read more

104 Reviews | 11 Followers
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful, Intense

See it if You want to see a tour de force of acting by the british kathryn hunter playing 9 different servants to haile selassie.

Don't see it if You dont like one person shows and are looking for something light and entertaining.

89 Reviews | 34 Followers
Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if Tour de force performance by the remarkable Kathryn Hunter, haunting music of Temesgen Zeleke. Neglected subject of recent Ethiopian history

Don't see it if If a one man show does not appeal, or little interest in this subject and any sensitivity to whites portraying black characters with humor.

774 Reviews | 246 Followers
Relevant, Masterful, Funny, Moving, Tragic

See it if Faults of monarchical power, but also the love of a bygone way of life. Virtuosic solo performance with wonderful musical accompaniment.

Don't see it if You don’t enjoy non-fiction solo shows. You don’t like ethnic music.

223 Reviews | 45 Followers
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Masterful

See it if essentially a one woman show, where she portrays 11 characters in Ethiopia after the fall of Haile Salasie. Great Acting

Don't see it if Have no interest in subject matter, want elaborate staging, don't like one person shows.

100 Reviews | 9 Followers
Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if Acting and writing are enough, even when the story itself creates difficulties- history makes for a difficult translation to the stage.

Don't see it if History and it’s artistic interpretation through music, word & character - aren’t enough.

Critic Reviews (22)

The New York Times
September 16th, 2018

"Journalistic virtues are not necessarily theatrical ones. What’s compelling in newsprint, or for that matter in life, does not always scintillate when turned into a play. That is but one of the problems...It is informative and clever, and features a notable performance by that shape-shifter Kathryn Hunter. But as drama, it’s dead...There is little dramatic shape to ‘The Emperor.’ Stating and restating the same proposition for 70 comes off as a well-meaning stunt."
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Time Out New York
September 21st, 2018

"In Colin Teevan’s 75-minute stage adaptation, Hunter plays a double-handful of characters from 'The Emperor,' whizzing through gorgeous comic sketches...turning each episode into something funny and poignant and sweet...This is a Hunter showcase through and through...The play does not tell us much about Ethiopia's actual past, nor does it speak to the present moment...Despite Hunter's dazzling performance, 'the Emperor' leaves little impression."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
September 16th, 2018

"Part Brechtian commentary and part clown show, part investigation of the last days of a real regime and part playful, piercing allegory. It’s a concentrated, compelling piece of theater with a light touch...Hunter sketches each player in Selassie’s political theater with sly wit and technical finesse...Selassie is no more than a whispered name...but everyone is complicit in the narrative of his omnipotence...Hunter, Zeleke, Meierjohann, and Teevan reveal all this with agility, wisdom, and humor."
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New York Stage Review
September 16th, 2018

"It has become a cliché to describe Hunter’s basic acting attribute as shape-shifting, but since clichés can usually be traced to inconvertible truths, shape-shifting is a description that gets to the core of any number of her mesmerizing performances...In little more than an hour Hunter, Zeleke, Meierjohann, and cohorts succinctly prove his contention about the multi-faceted good and bad nature of the globally powerful."
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New York Stage Review
September 18th, 2018

“Although Hunter is a vital force, she is no Deavere Smith when it comes to creating an effective range of colorful voices and physical attitudes to project these different people. The text is not greatly there tends to be a sameness to the performance...Thanks to its fascinating history and Hunter’s forceful presence, ‘The Emperor’ never ceases to maintain interest, but when all is said and done, this mosaic of viewpoints silhouettes the figure of Selassie rather than fleshes him out.”
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September 18th, 2018

“An athletically staged two-hander...Hunter is a compelling, yet almost Lilliputian, presence. Shifting from one role to another...relying primarily on alterations in posture, inflection, and affect. Some of her characterizations are more distinctive than others; yet she manages to maneuver her lithe frame and manipulate her gravelly voice in strikingly different ways...Teevan's adaptation is a theatrical reflection on present day dictatorial regimes."
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Front Mezz Junkies
September 17th, 2018

"Theatre for a New Audience, much to my pleasure, dives into their new season with a fascinating, although slightly distancing investigation on what it means to be Emperor of a small African nation in the early 1900’s...Deliciously portraying each and every one of those sublime characters is the shape-shifting virtuoso, Kathryn Hunter...This co-production seldom rises too far into the land of greatness and superiority, but the overall effect is worthy of our attention."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
September 16th, 2018

"'The Emperor''s continuing value is as a coolly satirical, universal reflection on the excesses and abominations of autocracies everywhere, not least the one that's growing in our midst. But the chief reason to see 'The Emperor' is the platform it provides for the diminutive British actress Kathryn Hunter, known for her idiosyncratic characterizations of both male, female, and even nonhuman characters…'The Emperor' is brief, thematically pointed, and perfectly executed."
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