The Hard Problem

The Hard Problem NYC Reviews and Tickets

(111 Ratings)
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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Show-Score Member Reviews (111)

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144 Reviews | 38 Followers
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Profound

See it if You want a play that has both brains and heart and something you can really discuss with other folks. You're a Stoppard fan.

Don't see it if You don't like plays with a lot of talk and don't care to think about consciousness. You're not a Stoppard fan. Read more

86 Reviews | 15 Followers
Absorbing, Clever, Great writing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you’re eager to be challenged by Tom Stoppard’s intelligence. He’s hard to follow. He’s a puzzle. With O”Brien’s direction, the heart swells

Don't see it if You’re looking to be entertained. You won’t be. However, you’ll think deeply and squint to figure out where Stoppard’s going. Smart stuff. Read more

170 Reviews | 162 Followers
Riveting, Must see, Intelligent, Great writing, Great acting

See it if What a refreshing and moving experience I had at this play today. Loved Stoppard's brilliant dialogue, Jack O'Brien & his four-star cast.

Don't see it if You don't like Stoppard? Give this one a try. It's one of the smartest and most satisfying plays in town. Will read the script (&I have it).

53 Reviews | 20 Followers
Great acting, Great staging, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy Tom Stoppard’s intellectual plays. Clever staging in the round facilitated by the ensemble. Lovely cast. “Relevant” and realistic.

Don't see it if You have difficulty following quickly spoken dialogue in English. Lots of serious conversations. The words fly in this play!

261 Reviews | 70 Followers
Absorbing, Exquisite, Great writing, Intelligent, Profound

See it if Brilliant Stoppard wordplay and dazzling exploration of consciousness as told through the story of a young psychologist, faith & philosophy

Don't see it if You can’t take a serious journey exploring the mind/body problem, morality in love & business, philosophy, faith and scientific exploration

677 Reviews | 192 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.

259 Reviews | 117 Followers
Interesting and engaging

See it if you like discussions on what determines human consciousness vs. unfeeling machines (great)--and like Tom Stoppard.

Don't see it if you want action and intense character development. This play is a thought piece, good enough, but not high drama or Stoppard's wittiest best

113 Reviews | 17 Followers
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great staging, Intelligent

See it if You like brilliant dilemma and intelligent investigation.

Don't see it if You want an easy romp of a play. 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 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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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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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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