Closed 1h 45m
The Niceties
Midtown W
82

The Niceties NYC Reviews and Tickets

82%
(52 Reviews)
Positive
90%
Mixed
6%
Negative
4%
Members say
Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Intelligent, Absorbing

About the Show

In Manhattan Theatre Club's new drama, at an elite East Coast university, a polite conversation between a professor and a student becomes a powder keg of race, history, and power.

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Member Reviews (52)

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93
Intelligent, Great writing, Great acting, Relevant, Riveting

See it if You want to FEEL your theatre. Two great actors sparring with an incredibly timely and relevant script that makes you root for both/neither!

Don't see it if You don’t like theatre that puts your stomach in a knot and makes you rethink some of your core beliefs. Read more

75
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Argumentative, Angry, Indulgent

See it if Old white history professor locks horns with revolutionary black student. Angry debate and power struggle ensues. Smart & engaging.

Don't see it if You are not interested in a lengthy intellectual impassioned debate. Reminded me of the arguments I have had with my 20-year old daughter.

Critic Reviews (8)

October 25th, 2018

“A bristling, provocative debate play about race and privilege in the US, and it begs to be argued with — partly because Burgess has manipulated the contest in ways that feel unnecessary. But it is also a drama about the destructiveness of internecine fighting...It’s odd that Janine, with all of her experience, doesn’t immediately suggest places Zoe might look to bolster her thesis. And while Janine is not a cardboard villain, Ms. Burgess gives her some clunky lines that make her sound like one."
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October 25th, 2018

"The arguments Burgess presents—about free speech versus cultural sensitivity, and the difference between endorsing and enacting progressive ideals—are nuanced and timely...Despite the performers' excellent efforts, however, the combatants seem more like political positions than people; the plot that has been grafted onto their righteous pontifications rings hollow, and the sparring becomes repetitious, especially since neither woman seems capable of change. Perhaps that’s the point."
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October 28th, 2018

"In Burgess' thought-provoking 'The Niceties'...while one side appears to emerge victorious in the court of public opinion, neither is unscathed...Both actors give persuasive performances, with Boatman's Zoe seeming intimidated at first, but switching firmly into activist leadership mode...Though Janine is sometimes scripted as being too condescending...Banes does a fine job of showing the character's struggle to retain her composure when her belief in racial equality is challenged."
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October 25th, 2018

"The play of ideas starts careening out of control. The discussion turns into shouting, and Boatman talks faster and faster, divulging well-worded opinions she can't possibly have come up with on the spur of the moment...Janine, meanwhile, in Banes's calm, well-calibrated performance, is a voice of relative reason, to these ears at least...Senior might have toned down Boatman's volume and hysteria to bring a more equal weight to both arguments."
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October 26th, 2018

"I cannot remember the last time I left a theater feeling more frustrated or irritated...Both characters are clearly intended to be sympathetic...Sadly, few of these qualities, save for punishment, figure in any meaningful way in 'Niceties'...As an appeal to our better, saner angels, 'Niceties' doesn’t just fall flat; it actually contests the potential for smart, well-meaning people to cut through the polarization and rancor."
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October 28th, 2018

"Despite Kimberly Senor's subtle direction and, impassioned as Barnes and Boatman are, they somehow come across as manufactured mouthpieces for the arguments Ms. Burgess wants to bring to our attention. Ultimately I found myself wishing I could like both these women better and that I wasn't turned off by some of the extreme rhetoric."
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October 26th, 2018

"Nothing is resolved. I loved it. The other thing that I really liked about Burgess’ approach to her two-character, conflict-filled play is that there is no clear villain...'The Niceties' crackles and sparks with friction. Burgess’ characters are drawn with precision and her dialogue is expertly crafted to keep the both the tension and attention high...What it does do for the audience, is allow us to listen to both sides without an emotional stake in the outcome."
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October 25th, 2018

“It would be hard to find a timelier, more relevant play...The play is all the more poignant in that it is set in pre-election 2016...The play is not without its flaws: at first the author comes dangerously close to making Janine a caricature, but she partially redeems this with some humanizing information later on...The arguments occasionally become repetitious, but the topics are so timely and important that I didn’t mind...Senior’s direction keeps things moving forward briskly.”
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