The Low Road
Closed 2h 45m
The Low Road
80

The Low Road NYC Reviews and Tickets

80%
(147 Reviews)
Positive
87%
Mixed
11%
Negative
2%
Members say
Clever, Great acting, Ambitious, Relevant, Intelligent

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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Member Reviews (147)

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83
Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Dizzying, 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

81
Rollicking takedown of naked capitalism and how it is inextricably bound up with slavery at america’s beginning

See it if related thru tumultuous Dickensian tale of abandoned child who becomes rapacious capitalist & slave owner; narrated w wit by Adam Smith

Don't see it if wild 2nd act which shows unchecked capitalism in past, present and future inventive but out of control; we get the pt: it's toxic! Read more

Critic Reviews (29)

The New York Times
March 7th, 2018

"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."
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Time Out New York
March 8th, 2018

"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."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
March 9th, 2018

"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."
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The Hollywood Reporter
March 7th, 2018

"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."
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New York Daily News
March 7th, 2018

"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."
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AM New York
March 8th, 2018

"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."
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Theatermania
March 7th, 2018

"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."
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BroadwayWorld
March 13th, 2018

"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."
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Lighting & Sound America
March 8th, 2018

"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?"
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Talkin' Broadway
March 7th, 2018

"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."
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TheaterScene.net
March 20th, 2018

“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.”
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Theater Pizzazz
March 7th, 2018

"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."
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CurtainUp
March 7th, 2018

"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."
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Front Row Center
March 8th, 2018

"'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."
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Front Mezz Junkies
March 19th, 2018

"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 thesis."
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T
April 3rd, 2018

"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."
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New York Theater
March 7th, 2018

"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."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
March 12th, 2018

"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."
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Gotham Playgoer
March 7th, 2018

"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."
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The Wrap
March 7th, 2018

"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."
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Daily Beast
March 7th, 2018

"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."
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Financial Times (UK)
March 13th, 2018

"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."
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T
March 24th, 2018

"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."
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T
March 20th, 2018

"Less aggressively highbrow plays might be crucified for slathering on the racial, economic, and religious stereotypes that are in full bloom here. I found this pretentious drivel repulsive...All of this self-important farcical babble is given a big budget and highly stylized staging...If you need your fix of early American history, go uptown and see 'Hamilton.' 'The Low Road' made me regret being in the room where it happened."
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W
March 10th, 2018

"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."
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Village Voice
March 15th, 2018

"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."
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TheaterScene.com
March 17th, 2018

"A romping riot for the senses as well as your brain...Greif's smashing production of deeply angry playwright Norris's swashbuckling assault on everything is well and truly underway...Rich torrent of eighteen actors playing forty-nine roles, crackling Norris's laughing diatribe runs its picaresque course...Norris vents scalding scorn on us, on his characters, on himself, on the theater as weak, ineffectual slaves to the injustice and inequality running our lives."
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BSonArts
March 8th, 2018

"Totally engaging with a timely critique of our economic and social values...Director Michael Greif has staged the complex action of the play with style and lucidity. We are swept into this 18th century world while still grounded in our 21st century morass. The cast of 18, with many actors playing two or three roles, is uniformly flawless...An ambitious piece of theater that actually fulfills its ambitions. If only our nation could see its historical heritage as a lesson for our future."
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The Playfixer
March 31st, 2018

"Terrific...'The Low Road' is an epic drama about American capitalism, set in the mid-18th Century, narrated by the Scottish economist Adam Smith, whose 'The Wealth of Nations' is capitalism's foundational text. Norris explores the many contradictions of unrestrained capitalism by focusing on the career of a poor foundling determined to succeed, willing to stop at nothing, including murder. Rarely do we get to see a play with such a large cast."
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