The Hard Problem

The Hard Problem NYC Reviews and Tickets

(111 Reviews)
Members say
Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Clever, Great acting

About the Show

LCT presents Tom Stoppard's first new play in ten years, a witty and dramatic exploration of the "hard problem" that is human consciousness. Directed by Tony winner Jack O'Brien ("The Coast of Utopia.")

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Member Reviews (111)

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1085 Reviews | 265 Followers
Disappointing, Indulgent, Overrated, Clever

See it if If you like some good acting or a story that only touches the surface.

Don't see it if If you want a deep, meaningful production. Characters did not move me in this directed play.

650 Reviews | 284 Followers
Deals w the hard problem: what is the source of consciousness, the brain or something beyond that (e.g., god)? intriguing but far from stoppard's best

See it if in typical Stoppard fashion sets forth w elegance a major intellectual problem; O'Brien's direction is comparably elegant

Don't see it if Stoppard has NOT found a convincing theatrical vehicle to bring alive this perennial problem; more a forum for vigorous debate

677 Reviews | 190 Followers
Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Challenging, Dialectic

See it if you want a gripping play about altruism vs egoism, religion vs science, technology vs humanity, philosophy vs theory, & seeking forgiveness.

Don't see it if you're turned off by gratuitous (albeit brief) nudity; you don't like Stoppard's philosophical polemics & focus on intellect over emotion.

567 Reviews | 147 Followers
Ambitious, Great writing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if Innate or through action...what is inherently a person of merit? Stoppard uses actors for discourse & debate. Cerebral w/ cast doing best.

Don't see it if Rubik's cube. So intelligent, but if you don't live there, this will be a troublesome night out. Playwright deserves credit for this attempt

543 Reviews | 133 Followers
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Challenging, Dense, Intellectual

See it if you are interested in conciousness vs. the brain - is it the same, different, mutually exclusive? Where does humanity, faith & love fit in?

Don't see it if you're more interested in action than ideas and lots of talk; Stoppard can be challenging to follow; the play is good but not his best.

488 Reviews | 316 Followers
Cerebral, more like a lecture than a play, Disappointing, Indulgent, Minimalistic set

See it if You want to see a Tom Stoppard play performed at Lincoln Center (I did). I expected more. Interesting issue but not well served by this play

Don't see it if You want to see a real play. This just seemed like acting exercises and a philosophical discussion. Artificial dialogue, not conversational. Read more

512 Reviews | 79 Followers
Absorbing, Great staging, Great writing, Intelligent, Clever

See it if you like excellent writing,clever staging,terrific acting.Dialogue is brilliant & witty, but also real. It discusses some serious topics.

Don't see it if predictable plot twists make you mad. This one is telegraphed from early on,but the rest of the play makes up for it.Set changes are clever

474 Reviews | 68 Followers

See it if Interesting discussion asking are we merely the sum of chemistry, phsyics, and math or is the sum more than its parts?

Don't see it if Entire play of PhDs arguing in boughie academic talk annoys you. Mostly scientific debate, little plot development / real emotions. Read more

Critic Reviews (31)

The New York Times
November 19th, 2018

"As the characters argue and argue and argue about the essence of human behavior, the stakes seldom feel compellingly high. Abstractly, this play may be taking on the biggest concepts imaginable, yet on stage it feels disappointingly small...It is hard to avoid the impression that 'The Hard Problem' — which often feels like the work of a precocious young neophyte rather than an old master — has yet to solve itself."
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Time Out New York
November 19th, 2018

"The problem with Tom Stoppard’s new play is that it isn’t hard enough...Stoppard’s approach to this question is rudimentary: an intro-level survey of the shades of gray matter, starting with a discussion of the familiar 'prisoner’s dilemma' game-theory problem and then strolling down well-trodden paths about religion, science, altruism and the nature-versus-nurture debate...Although the play is elegantly directed by Jack O’Brien, its ideas and characters are thin."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
November 19th, 2018

"Its ideas are, as ever, rich and varied, while its dramatic scope is relatively modest. And while it may seem paradoxical, I think a sparer production—and one that remained a little less sentimental for a little longer—would have moved me more. O’Brien is gamely feelings-forward in his approach to the play, but he’s making it more treacly than it need be...Still, scene to scene, Stoppard’s writing feels alive and engaging as ever."
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The Hollywood Reporter
November 19th, 2018

"Stoppard here attempts to be more accessible, at least by his standards, by having his intellectual arguments frequently expressed by attractive young characters...The dialogue is far less plot-driven than rhetorical, the characters engaging in enough stiffly rendered intellectual arguments to fuel a dozen TED Talks...It seems churlish to complain about a play intended to make you think as much as feel...'The Hard Problem' never fully balances that theatrical equation."
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The Wall Street Journal
November 21st, 2018

"One of the best things Stoppard’s given us...Stoppard has spun a concise piece of storytelling full of thought-provoking twists...’The Hard Problem’ tells its tale with elegant economy and a fitting regard for the role played by love in the working out of man’s fate...This is the kind of production that exists solely to serve the play, and ‘The Hard Problem’ is more than worthy of being so served.”
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AM New York
November 20th, 2018

“’The Hard Problem’ does not shy away from addressing a wide range of scientific and philosophical issues...Despite its cerebral and conceptual nature, the play remains firmly focused on Hilary and her personal and professional journey...'The Hard Problem' is soft, simple and sensitive. For those who find Stoppard too bizarre at times, 'The Hard Problem' achieves an ideal balance of intellect and heart...O’Brien provides a well-balanced, handsome and engaging production.”
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November 19th, 2018

"The play raises some of the most profound questions of our existence, yet its emotional temperature never rises above the autumn chill...Stoppard is our most intelligent living playwright, and it is a testament to his brilliance that we see his probing questions in every layer and moment of the play. 'The Hard Problem' fully engages us intellectually, but emotionally, it feels distant and contrived...It helps that the cast delivers convincingly human performances."
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November 20th, 2018

“In the world of Stoppard, post-coital pillow talk can be a debate about human consciousness and whether or not altruism truly exists. After all, nobody said anything about ‘The Hard Problem’ was going to be easy...Clocking in at 100 minutes, ‘The Hard Problem’ may seem a bit overextended at times, but Stoppard's dialogue is sharp and challenging and O'Brien's staging has a crisp energy...In this season of giving, the topic may especially inspire some interesting post-theatre chatter."
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