Already closed | 1h 45m | Midtown W

The Niceties

From 51 member  reviews
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. More…

An ambitious young black student and her esteemed white professor meet to discuss a paper the college junior is writing about the American Revolution. They’re both liberal. They’re both women. They’re both brilliant. But very quickly, discussions of grammar and Google turn to race and reputation, and before they know it, they’re in dangerous territory neither of them had foreseen – and facing stunning implications that can’t be undone.

Member Reviews (51)


Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Intelligent, Absorbing
Avg Score

Edgy, Intense, Intelligent

See it if you were a member of the debate team OR enjoy lively banter.

Don't see it if you're expecting a traditional play with plot, story and vividly drawn characters.

Also I enjoyed this on the level that it was a lively debate, but the plot ... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Slow

See it if you want a story of the history of race in America and neither side is really all right or all wrong.

Don't see it if you you are looking for something upbeat and don't want think about our culture, race or classes in society.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if For those who don't like easy answers to racial and gender issues and are ready to question themselves, no matter how liberal they are.

Don't see it if If you are not ready to question yourself and accept that, even with the best intentions, sometimes you get it wrong. Though provoking

Cliched, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Excruciating

See it if You want to get challenged about your political and historical beliefs. The acting is incredible.

Don't see it if You get uncomfortable with screaming back and forth for the majority

Also The show was unsettling in my opinion, while I know others did genuine... Read more Read less

Riveting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Must see, Great acting

See it if excellent acting complex conflicts no easy solution to conflicts

Don't see it if you just want easy entertainment

During previews
Absorbing, Ambitious, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you want your ideas of racial fairness to be challenged. Fierce debate w little plot (some good reveals), but I was never bored. Gr acting.

Don't see it if you dislike talky plays or don't want to think hard abt difficult issues. Smart, insightful, engrossing. Ending is abrupt, unsatisfying.

During previews
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant, Riveting, Great writing

See it if you can. It's both compelling in terms of the ideas it addresses and satisfying dramatically, with excellent performances.

Don't see it if you're not interested in seeing one of the most exciting two-handers to run in New York in the last few years.

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if You’re itching for a play about modern topics that weigh both sides of relevant issues instead of a play that preaches to the choir.

Don't see it if You’ve had enough about discussions of racism, trigger warnings, and millennial thought processes.

During previews
Worthy, but flawed, Absorbing, Ambitious in scope, Solid premise, Compelling

See it if Want erudite debate re role of slavery in history, race relations, who gets to tell the story. Societal ills well-covered. Thought-provoking

Don't see it if Don't like facing a complex. polarizing world, even if smart & well-dramatized. Sadly, script & delivery become tedious. No new ground.

Also The first act is terrific and both actors hold their own with heavy di... Read more Read less

During previews
Badly told cliche story.

See it if You’ll see anything new about racial issues.

Don't see it if You want a good coherent play.

During previews
Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if you want to see a timely, relevant discussion of what happens when good people can't find common ground.

Don't see it if you are not interested in racism, white privilege, generational conflicts and academic politics.

Also Some have compared it to Mamet's Oleanna, but there's a lot more at st... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Resonant, Relevant, Profound

See it if You want to be profoundly challenged with thought provoking dialogue and great acting.

Don't see it if You have problems with plays that deal with racism and you vocabulary is not way above average (takes place at Yale)

During previews
Great writing, Great acting, Ambitious, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if you like "real life" type stories about contemporary issues

Don't see it if hearing an alternative you to sexism, racism, genderism is not your thing

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if If you want to see a well acted drama about contemporary issues concerning racism and women’s rights. An extraordinary emotional ride.

Don't see it if Do not see if you prefer musicals for light dramas.

During previews
Relevant, Superb acting, Absorbing, Nuanced dialog, Tedious at times

See it if you like exploration of nuanced racism, academic milieu with superb acting, complex dialog, debate and personal interactions.

Don't see it if you find 2 characters debating very detailed, sometimes tedious positions on racism, academic issues and personal conflict.

During previews
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intense, Intelligent

See it if You want a thoughtful, fairly even-handed approach to complex issues including race in America, generation gap, communications, and power.

Don't see it if You want a deep exploration of any of the issues. There's a lot of surface sturm and drang with little real exploration of the issues.

Also I remember the event vividly, as I lived in New Haven at the time. Thi... Read more Read less

During previews
Great acting, Edgy, Profound

See it if Sometimes painful to watch, this racially charged drama pits a white lesbian 60 year old professor & a righteous young Black student .

Don't see it if you are not up for a tough, tense evening

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Confusing

See it if you want to see 2 great actresses arguing about important issues.

Don't see it if if a 2 person show that is too talky and confusing, at times, is more than you want to handle.

During previews
Provocative, Intelligent, Wordy

See it if you like to see well-articulated topical debate covering many current issues, that will get you thinking and spark great conversation after.

Don't see it if you're looking for an actual play,this is more of a series of speeches.Interesting as they are,once introduced - second act adds nothing new

Also I left this play completely infuriated at the depiction of the profess... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intense, Relevant, Intelligent

See it if you like intelligent plays and "non black & white" discussions where there is merit to both sides. Both actresses are fabulous!

Don't see it if you don't want to think too much at your evening out but want "pure entertainment". This play is very thought-provoking.

During previews
Tour de force, Intelligent, Masterful, Great writing, Great acting

See it if you like smart plays dealing with soaring and socially charged issues. exploring race power & language exquisitely written & acted.

Don't see it if you do not like long monologues.

During previews
Great writing, Relevant, Refreshing, Great acting, Rumbling

See it if You are interested in seeing a discourse between two smart women, very good writing, relevant writing that isn’t cliched

Don't see it if You aren’t willing to listen to talk of politics and the way history has been taught in this country, not into 2 handers w/ little plot

During previews
Confusing, Relevant, Dishonest, Cliched

See it if You liked "Oleanna."

Don't see it if You don't like emotionally dishonest plays or don't need a lesson on microaggression.

During previews
Absorbing, Dizzying, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense

See it if you want to see an all out sparring match about morals and responsibility, you enjoy shows with dense content or about race relations

Don't see it if you don't like heavy text centric plays, you don't want to leave the theatre with more questions than answers

During previews
Absorbing, Intense, Riveting, Thought-provoking

See it if you liked "What the Constitution Means to Me" and want to see more theatre of debate that's filled with provocative ideas.

Don't see it if you want a traditional play with love interests and b-plots. This is all about the debate (and that might be a good thing to some)

Also This is a play designed to frustrate, aggravate, make ppl uncomfortabl... Read more Read less

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 ...
read more
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 ...
read more
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...
read more
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 ...
read more

Related content