The Light Years
Closed 1h 45m
The Light Years

The Light Years NYC Reviews and Tickets

(161 Reviews)
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.

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Member Reviews (161)

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754 Reviews | 124 Followers
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.

715 Reviews | 108 Followers
Ambitious, Confusing, Disappointing

See it if you wish to be very confused. I wanted to like this show but I just couldn't understand it. Great set, great disappointment.

Don't see it if you want to understand what the plot was about. Ask others who did see it before you go. Maybe they understood it.

688 Reviews | 116 Followers
Ambitious, Quirky, Intelligent, Slow, Great staging

See it if Debate Society's latest atmospheric meta-drama Butler stages with panache on Jellinek's fabulous set but can't quite unite splintered script

Don't see it if Imaginative scenes & good acting (Sisto a standout) fails to engage us about time travelling tale of American dreamers Lots of style though

635 Reviews | 237 Followers
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.

543 Reviews | 133 Followers
Confusing, Excruciating, Great staging, Banal, Periodically enchanting

See it if you like beautiful productions, sets and costumes. Good actors with little to sink their teeth into.

Don't see it if Too long at 1hr & 45 minutes; not much drama, comedy or action going on here, Boring.

479 Reviews | 262 Followers
Much ado about absolutely nothing, Banal, Cliched, Disappointing, Excruciating

See it if you want to see some very fine actors like Aya Cash, Erik Lochtefeld, & Rocco Sisto wasted in this piece of gibberish.

Don't see it if you want a stimulating evening in the theatre. This play goes nowhere fast. Read more

459 Reviews | 117 Followers
Ambitious, Disappointing, Slow, Intricate, Intelligent

See it if you like a play with high aspirations, even if it doesn't reach its goals.

Don't see it if you like linear plays with a strong narrative arc and a fast pace. Read more

399 Reviews | 203 Followers
Disappointing, Excruciating, Slow, Boring, Pointless

See it if The set was pretty. There were a couple of funny moments. The plot was certainly original.

Don't see it if I started looking at my watch at 8:40. There was no coherent plot or point. I didn't care about any of these characters.

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."
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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."
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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."
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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."
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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.”
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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.”
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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."
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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."
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