The Light Years
Closed 1h 45m
The Light Years
61

The Light Years NYC Reviews and Tickets

61%
(161 Ratings)
Positive
42%
Mixed
34%
Negative
24%
Members say
Disappointing, Ambitious, Slow, Confusing, Quirky

About the Show

Playwrights Horizons presents the world premiere of The Debate Society's whimsical drama about a theatrical impresario whose daring imagination has life-changing consequences.

Read more Show less

Show-Score Member Reviews (161)

Sort by:
  • Default
  • Highest first
  • Lowest first
  • Newest first
  • Oldest first
  • Only positive
  • Only negative
  • Only mixed
71 Reviews | 6 Followers
96
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting

See it if you like to learn some history while enjoying a musical

Don't see it if you only like big , splashy musicals

Also I loved the piano playing

58 Reviews | 12 Followers
88
Clever, Edgy, Great acting

See it if like innovative drama with original staging and technical effects

Don't see it if somewhat confusing plot lines.

221 Reviews | 44 Followers
85
Clever, Delightful, Beautiful, Ambitious

See it if If you're a fan of The Debate Society or want a beautiful story of two families connected through time.

Don't see it if You're looking for a deep, action-packed story. This one unfolds slowly and gently!

754 Reviews | 128 Followers
85
Ambitious, Charming, Imaginative, Thought-provoking, Quirky

See it if you have ever lived in hope. World Fairs are about the future even when things go wrong in the present. Lots of things go wrong, hope lives

Don't see it if you are too literal minded to imagine what comes next. Everyone in this play has a future and that future is now.

745 Reviews | 262 Followers
82
Clever, Ambitious, Quirky, Enchanting, Entertaining

See it if You're interested in unique, devised theatre created by one of the top troupes in the country. Or if you're interested in World's Fairs.

Don't see it if You don't like historical plays, or work that could be seen as being quirky just to be quirky.

98 Reviews | 23 Followers
80
Great staging, Ambitious, Enchanting, Resonant

See it if you enjoy visually stunning productions, enjoy plays about the creative process resonate with you and wonderful acting.

Don't see it if you can't tolerate very loud noises (there are electrical shock booms throughout), only like kitchen sink realism, hate devised theater.

Also I took a 6 year old who is recently interested in inventions to see it. We were seated in the front row, so the loud noises on stage were too close and scary, and she could have used an intermission and was tired by the end of the intermission less 1hr 45minutes. That said she was engaged throughout, especially liking and connecting to the the 1933 plot line, the music in that section, and it raised question for her about inventions, failure, the world's fair, and Christopher Columbus. She enjoyed the moments of humor (especially physical humor) in the play and wished there were more of them.

214 Reviews | 61 Followers
80
Ambitious, Intelligent, Quirky, Resonant, Indulgent

See it if you are ready to accept ambiguity and elusiveness in order to find moments of extraordinary beauty and resonance.

Don't see it if prefer plays with a clear narrative, theme and structure.

273 Reviews | 36 Followers
79
Clever, Entertaining, Confusing

See it if Like unusual subject and presentation

Don't see it if na

Critic Reviews (31)

The New York Times
March 13th, 2017

"Finds a sweet, plaintive and ultimately too unvaried melody in its stories of failed aspirations...What the production lacks, curiously, is the surprise of theatrical spontaneity...Alternates between the 1890s and the 1930s with fluid grace and clarity. It has an attentive ear for the language and mores of its different eras and the professional argot of its characters...You respect the avid curiosity of the show’s creators, but their interests don’t translate into infectious passion."
Read more

Time Out New York
March 13th, 2017

"A theatrical cabinet of wonders...It’s the most ambitious contraption assembled to date by the 10-year-old Debate Society...Butler’s direction holds it all together, even if the first hour seems a trifle padded and meandering. While 'The Light Years' is ultimately tenuous in its dramatic circuitry, it gives off ample luminosity, powered by whimsy and wonder."
Read more

New York Daily News
March 20th, 2017

"You’d think with all the talk of illumination there’d be clarity. Not so much in this collaboration of writers Hanna Bos and Paul Thureen and director Oliver Butler, collectively known as Debate Society. The focus—such as it is—are thwarted dreamers at Chicago’s World Fairs in 1893 and 1933...Neither succeeds. Except for maintaining a wistful tone, the overlong show doesn’t either."
Read more

Variety
March 13th, 2017

"Plenty of wattage but little illumination...The time-bouncing tale falls far short of the historic, personal and cosmic connections the show’s creators are so clearly after. It’s a muddle of thinly realized notions, wrapped in a quirky sensibility that estranges rather than endears...'The Light Years' over-aspires, while at the same time feels eerily incomplete and disconnected...Themes are presented in a sometimes-arch, sometimes-haunting style that fails to jell or engage."
Read more

Theatermania
March 13th, 2017

“Playing a legendary man of the theater, Sisto explodes with extravagant vitality…In Butler's lavish yet restrained staging, the house becomes like an eighth character…Butler displays an impressive command of time, speeding the narrative up and slowing it down so this decade-hopping story comes together seamlessly…Even though it drags in sections, it is impossible not to admire the sheer audacity of building a play around the necessity of failure in the creative process.”
Read more

BroadwayWorld
March 15th, 2017

“Audiences love a good story about pioneering innovators who succeed despite the odds, and ‘The Light Years'’ affection for those who fail despite a grand effort is certainly worthy. The cast does a terrific job, but while the play has amusing and empathetic moments, the evening quickly loses steam when the authors start getting philosophical in their attempts to establish a connection between the two sets of characters.”
Read more

Lighting & Sound America
March 23rd, 2017

"Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen have conceived a complex, clanking piece of dramatic machinery that produces such tiny and inconsequential revelations that one has to wonder if all that effort was really worth it...What really makes 'The Light Years' so lackluster is that, MacKaye aside, none of these characters are very interesting...This is especially unfortunate, since the stage is filled with such appealing performers...An elaborate dream that never comes to fruition."
Read more

Talkin' Broadway
March 13th, 2017

"Despite the exciting, ironclad concept and a wealth of possibilities, the characters and the action are inert early on and preposterous later, without a smooth transition between the states. The sole energizing force is the women...The performers work intensely, and land most of their laughs, but don't find the emotional connections that Cash and MacKaye do. Not that there's that much to find...'The Light Years' is memorable more for what it tries than what it accomplishes."
Read more