Members say: Clever, Great acting, Ambitious, Intelligent, Relevant

About the show

From Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Bruce Norris ('Clybourne Park') and the Public Theater comes this epic play examining the basic beliefs upon which we’ve built our economy and our country.

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Set in the 18th century, this wild new work imagines America’s first laissez-faire capitalist, a young man inspired by a chance encounter with Adam Smith to put his faith in the free market. But his path to riches becomes inextricably entangled with that of an educated slave, a man who knows from experience that one person's profit is another’s loss, in this parable about the true cost of inequality. Four-time Tony nominee and three-time Obie winner Michael Greif directs.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"Norris and Greif pull off the not inconsiderable feat of keeping us fully, even breathlessly engaged, without presenting a single character who entirely captures our sympathies...Yet after a cliff-hanging first-act finale, the play seems to lose faith in its audience's capacity for inference...What keeps us from tuning out is the infectious energy of an ensemble that delights in its characters' displays of cupidity and stupidity, and the storybook ingenuity of the production." Full Review


"Wildly ambitious and endlessly entertaining...Greif and Norris present the first act with Brechtian flair, employing...broad stroke performances, and the kind of narration that rudely interrupts the action to teach us something. Yet just when we think we've figured this shtick out, Norris changes the game, especially during a jaw-dropping entr'acte that is the kind of inventive social critique that isn't so easy to dismiss...None of it would be possible without an immensely talented ensemble." Full Review


"Cleverly devised and wonderfully played...A terrific ensemble of players guided by the talented hand of director Michael Grief...A tale of a young abandoned lad who uses his brains and white male privilege to advance in the emerging nation...'The Low Road' is a sharp enough commentary on the long-lived American dream, without necessitating reminders of any newly-developed nightmares." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Sensationally prickly and entertaining new play...In the course of this wide-paneled epic—marvelously assembled by director Michael Greif—Norris aims liberating arrows of skepticism at a diverse range of targets...'The Low Road' enjoys being a play, and its dramatic weaponry is wielded with skill by a first-rate cast of 18...Norris has a heart that doubts whatever it looks on, and its looks go everywhere, even to the audience. In every sense, his play is an embarrassment of riches." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Norris doesn't fully succeed in weaving his expansive theatrical canvas. Although several episodes register dramatically or comedically, the proceedings are more often than not jumbled and confused. The play's themes regarding the rapaciousness of unchecked capitalism feel forced and repetitive...Greif does an excellent job of staging such a complex production...The fine efforts of everyone involved aren't enough to lift 'The Low Road' to the theatrical heights to which it aspires." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"This is a surprisingly long and unprofitable slog....Having temporarily misplaced his notorious wit, the author becomes a nag -- and a bit of a bore...Greif has lined up an impressive cast to illustrate this tale of this capitalist 'Candide,' although not everyone is seen to his or her best advantage...This is satire without a glint in its eye, a rake's progress without any Hogarthian flourishes. If rapaciousness were really this dull, who would ever be seduced by it?" Full Review

New York Theater

"There is no way to escape the playwright's built-in commentary, but under Greif's direction, 'The Low Road' is the very definition of rollicking. The long running time can be taxing, since some scenes don't work well, and some are too way out there even to assimilate. Still, there is enough comedy and high jinks along the way to make 'The Low Road' worth traveling." Full Review

Front Row Center

"'The Low Road,' now at The Public Theater, has one of the best first acts I have ever seen. It is filled with twists, turns, sleight of hand, surprises and deceptions...The first act, however, is followed by the second act...The characters are engaging and every actor in this well-oiled ensemble is terrific...Technically, everything is in the right place at the right time. Everything except that pesky storyline that refuses to stay the course. As a result, the second act drags on too long." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"Uniquely engaging, satirically didactic…played with supreme confidence and panache by a versatile, well-drilled company...under Michael Greif's outstanding direction… The kind of story theatre presentation one sometimes sees in adaptations of famous novels...Perfetti is perfectly cast as the comically ambitious,…ruthlessly acquisitive Jim. Chukwudi Iwuji brings passion and elocutionary distinction to John, while the supporting company demonstrates memorable versatility in multiple roles." Full Review

AM New York

"Unwieldy and upbeat satire/historical drama/lecture...Michael Greif’s two-and-a-half hour production is a boisterous affair with a large ensemble cast, including lively comedic turns from Harriet Harris and Kevin Chamberlin...One can’t help but compare 'The Low Road' with the Broadway musical 'Candide,' in which Voltaire (also an 18th-century philosopher) narrates the picaresque adventures of a far more likable young man who also clings to a single simple philosophy." Full Review

New York Daily News

"It's ambitious, smart, impolite, funny, and unwilling to stay in one era when two will do better. On the downside, the 2 1/2-hour work can be overly blunt and unwieldy. A cast's worth of good performances plus atmospheric design work offer compensation for weak spots...Greif excels at guiding complex stories and large casts. Even with his fine work, the story eventually sags. One wishes something would move it along - an invisible hand or judicious pruning, perhaps." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"Norris has found a way to set a story in the mid to late 1700s and smack our modern political nightmare with a powerful punch...With pointed arguments and astute observances...A huge and talented cast...Fully entertaining and a joy to behold...Stunningly simple but expertly designed...Highly energetic storytelling...Second half is not as solidly structured or as tight as the first. Norris becomes a little less focused in his closing argument but manages to hold fairly true to his overall the... Full Review


"All-around excellence. The most theatrically stunning and thematically potent new play currently on any NY stage...Newly relevant, thanks to our current leaders' depressing embrace of self-interest...Most members of this big cast zestfully inhabit several major roles...all admirably individualize each part assigned to them...The three actors whose characters dominate the picaresque adventures and who don't play multiple roles are all terrific...Greif's production more than satisfies." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"Engaging and entertaining play...Under Greif's exacting and precise direction, the action moves forward smoothly with clarity and determination. The cast of eighteen, many of whom play multiple roles, are uniformly remarkable in their delivery of authentic and believable performances...'The Low Road' is often unsettling; however, its importance to current discussions on greed and corruption is undebatable." Full Review


“Bruce Norris' ‘The Low Road’ may be a bit untidy in the way of all picaresque stories with their ups and downs, and may have taken on a few too many targets. However, not only is it delightfully entertaining with its continual surprises, it may be more pertinent now than when it was written during the Obama Administration with the current policy of de-regulating laws that police the stock market. ‘The Low Road’ is both a cautionary tale and a provocative survey of economic practices.” Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"While the play has lots of amusing moments, the targets of satire sometimes seem too easy to hit. The picaresque tale and the cautionary economics lesson do not cohere smoothly. Nevertheless, it is quite entertaining and I will never complain when a production offers the opportunity to see such stalwart actors as Harris, Chamberlain, and Davis...Perfetti is fine...While it's not up there with Norris's finest work, it offers enough to enjoy to make the experience worthwhile." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"A fast-paced and often wildly entertaining pageant...A razor-edged spoof of the economic divide...A social satire about the basic selfishness and foolishness of all humans...This is audience-pleasing stuff, but Norris seems to have lost his way here while trying to cover too much territory...Greif keeps everything rolling along at a fast clip, only occasionally getting mired down in a surfeit of expository narration. The cast splendidly manages a multitude of roles." Full Review

The Wrap

"One of the many remarkable things about Norris' picaresque tale is that this playwright is able to make the unbridled accumulation of wealth as luridly engrossing as lots of sex...Norris's narrative drive in the first act of 'The Low Road' is relentless...Norris and Greif only give us a breath when they completely shift gears at the beginning and the end of Act 2. It's then that Norris surprises us. In addition to being a great storyteller, Norris is a master of surprise on stage." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Brilliant and hilarious screed about greed, racism, hypocrisy and a few other non-deadly sins...If the smart and savvy text isn't enough cause for wonder, there's the brilliantly fluid direction of Michael Grief, the spectacularly clever set by designer David Korins, and the stunning versatility of the cast in which 15 actors, including such theatrical stalwarts as Max Baker and Richard Poe, play numerous roles with ease." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"Story unfolds in picaresque style reminiscent of Thackeray and Voltaire...A dexterous multitasking ensemble of 15 plus a musician, whom director Michael Greif marshals with a sure comic touch...Bawdy escapades are underlain with clear satirical intent...After the interval, the action abruptly shifts to a present-day panel discussion...The play's final third then loses a bit of focus. But its apocalyptic-yet-cheerful conclusion strikes a delightfully bizarre note." Full Review

Daily Beast

"Norris' writing, zesty and as full of ideas as it is, feels far more replete of theory than character. There is nothing more to the characters' lives than the political and economic profiles grafted on to them...'The Low Road' feels like a long road. A hand, visible or not, could surely have helped Norris edit this. We are endlessly being told something...The modern-day interruption is an unnecessary sledgehammer to smash an unnecessary nut...The performers gamely plow through." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"Norris's rancid, rollicking picaresque...under the sharp-as-a-hatpin direction of Greif...Its parody of the classic young-man-sets-out-to-make-his-fortune story is smart, well-crafted, very well-acted, darkly funny, and beautifully designed...Also so filled with bitterness and loathing...Leaves you cold when the laughter dies down...An ensemble piece, with all 18 cast members doing fine, focused, often funny work...Both entertaining and disturbingly numbing in its hopelessness." Full Review

Village Voice

"Though 'The Low Road' sprawls in every direction, as picaresque narratives will, and raises far more questions than its two and a half hours can conveniently clarify, its snarky, cynical attitude offers both good entertainment value and great usefulness as a thought-provoker...Not everything in Greif’s production has the tonal assurance of its two mainstays, but the sprawling script poses extreme challenges for a large ensemble in which nearly everyone juggles multiple roles." Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

"Norris fills 'The Low Road' with economic language and potent platitudes that never get tedious or pedantic — and much of which is as true today as it was in Smith’s time...The second act begins with a brilliantly conceived scene that establishes Jim as the founding father of corporate greed. Greif superbly directs a cast of eighteen...Perfetti brings an engaging quirkiness to the role of Jim; you can’t help but root for him even though he does terrible things." Full Review


"Norris's satire of human frailty...It's raucous, raunchy, inventive and constantly surprising...'The Low Road' sees generosity as naive and selfishness as humanity's natural condition. Its biggest flaw is that it occasionally lapses into unnecessary pedantry about how the American financial system enslaves and abuses the underclasses. For the most part, however, this is audacious storytelling, remarkable both for its freshness and the brisk way it takes all of us to task." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Funny, Ambitious, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Highbrow

See it if a complicated history of capitalism dont scare you and double/triple castings can be convincing

Don't see it if you prefer a more entertaining piece that is not provoking.

Funny, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great concept

See it if You enjoy fun, parable-eqsue stories about economic theories

Don't see it if You love capitalism or Ayn Rand.

Great acting, Quirky, Resonant, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if Great performances. It’s absorbing & entertaining even tho main character is so unlikeable. Depicts dangers of free wheeling capitalism.

Don't see it if You don’t like involved plot and some jumping around the story. It’s a wild ride. Fun but dark.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you enjoy unique and interesting and absorbing well acted theatre

Don't see it if you dislike long and convoluted scripts

Ambitious, Dizzying, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if Lively, funny, intelligent overview of American capitalist movement Staged w/brio by Greif & broadly acted, Norris' innate pessimism shines

Don't see it if Heavy-handed flash-forward opening to 2nd Act sets sour tone & play never fully recovers Norris' tone gets darker, black comedy turns lethal

Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Great writing

See it if story set in 18th century (with brief diversion to a modern econ. summit) with humorous look at A. Smith's hands-off view of capitalism

Don't see it if don't want to see issues of racism & greed with any humor; 2nd half that is darker and slower; don't want to be reminded of Econ 101

Also Characters play multiple rolls and all very well. Mr. Davis was great ... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Clever, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if you're interested in a clever play focusing on capitalism and self-interest. You enjoy intelligently written and well-acted plays with humor

Don't see it if you don't like plays dealing with history, race, class, and inequalities. You're not alert enough for a dense and somewhat complicated play.

Great acting, Quirky, Relevant, Resonant, Great staging

See it if You want to see a stellar cast.

Don't see it if You like a play that doesn't take detours.

Ambitious, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Masterful, Relevant

See it if a terrific night in the theatre, an intelligent, brilliantly performed and directed, satisfying play. Highly recommended!! Great night out!

Don't see it if you don't like history, economics, a Candide-like plot, or a satirical look at America when it was founded and America today.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Riveting, Great writing

See it if A compelling dramatization of the dangers of capital. There is something Twain-esque about it all. The Public’s mission at its best,

Don't see it if You believe in Ayn Rand.

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you like inventive & absorbing theatre. This is The Public at its best.Script is clever, fast paced, fun, relevant, and delightful.

Don't see it if you want a realistic, straightforward play.This takes you on a ride, teaches you a lot without ever preaching. It's a gem.


See it if you want to see a terrific ensemble of actors doing their best to entertain you. Perfect costumes and perfect direction awaits you.

Don't see it if Do not see it if you are expecting anything too profound. You get the author's point, but his point is not that illuminating.

Also The audience was laughing throughout the first act. I chuckled a coupl... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if Wonderful ensemble cast in a play about the roots of American capitalism and it’s inevitable outcome of greed. Very well written .

Don't see it if If you are not interested in historical plays about American economy and finances.

Delightful, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you are game for some funny misadventures that follow the money and its many twists and turns through the ages. So much fun and lessons too.

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable around slavery, piety, greed, hypocrisy, robbery, and income inequality, since all of this is right there on stage!

Clever, Too long, Uneven, Good acting

See it if You’d like an introduction to the workings of capitalism and greed. Daniel Davis and Harriet Harris keep the story moving. Great ensemble.

Don't see it if Perfetti’s performance is dull and uninteresting; play is a bit repetitive and long.

Funny, Ambitious, Quirky, Resonant, Great staging

See it if this is a terrific, strange historical tragi-comedy, a very creative vehicle for incisive political commentary. Norris is a great writer.

Don't see it if it's a bit overlong. In spite of abundant humor, it is not light, and has dark and cynical moments. Skip if you dont like political theater.

Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if you like a long-ish play that tackles economic and world events in a cheeky manner.

Don't see it if male nudity, crude language or economic talk are not for you.

Funny, Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Intelligent

See it if you like to see playwrights of Norris's caliber tackle weighty subjects from an off-center point of view

Don't see it if you don't like to think and don't enjoy theatrical surprises

Also Harriet Harris may be the funniest woman alive right now.

Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Great acting

See it if you desire an unconventional Candide-with-an economic bent tale set in mostly colonial times but with "now" diversions.

Don't see it if you are looking for a simple narrative and you are a heartless capitalist without a soul.

Clever, Confusing

See it if you want to see a 2-plus hour long show about the economy, racism, capitalism, classism.

Don't see it if don't like long 'wordy' plays.

Also this had some good ideas but was so meandering and confusing that I am... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Banal, Confusing, Disappointing, Cliched

See it if you enjoy convoluted explanations about how our economic system was created.

Don't see it if plays that wander through history with odd interpretations of characters is not your thing

Great acting, Resonant, Entertaining, Timely, Fast paced

See it if you enjoy time period shows that carry a moralistic message incredibly relevant to society today.

Don't see it if you get bored by politics revolving around economics and capitalism.

Ambitious, Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if you political, historical, yet highly entertaining theater

Don't see it if only the very narrow-minded would not like this

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant

See it if You want a palatable primer on economics and social history revealed brilliantly and incrementally. THIS IS FUNNY.

Don't see it if You aren't up to the 2:40 running time. You have no interest in 2008 melt down vis a vis Trump and 2018 in 1700's clothing.

Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if Like period pieces, large casts, intelligently written and impeccably acted plays. It's very Dickensian in it's scope and feel.

Don't see it if You have no interest in history or economics.