Already closed | 1h 40m | East Village

The Object Lesson

From 106 member  reviews
Members say: Clever, Quirky, Ambitious, Disappointing, Great staging

About the show

Actor-illusionist Geoff Sobelle’s immersive theatrical installation turns New York Theatre Workshop into a storage facility of gargantuan proportion, where audiences are free to roam and poke through the clutter. More…

Sobelle transforms this makeshift attic into a space of reflection and wonder as he unpacks our relationship to everyday objects: breaking, buying, finding, fixing, giving, losing, winning, trading, selling, stealing, storing, collecting, cluttering, clearing, packing up, passing on, buried under a world of things. 'The Object Lesson' is a meditation on the stuff we cling to and the crap we leave behind.

Member Reviews (106)


Clever, Quirky, Ambitious, Disappointing, Great staging
Avg Score

Absorbing, Refreshing, Indulgent, Slow, Confusing

See it if Moments of sheer brilliance combined with banality and incoherence. Fascinating staging for sure, but I left feeling kind of meh.

Don't see it if You need a comfortable seat. My back killed after an hour. Or if you don't like absurdist experimenta theatre,

Ambitious, Cliched, Disappointing, Edgy, Indulgent

See it if you enjoy performance art different from anything you have seen before. The conversion of the theater is astounding. Come early to explore!

Don't see it if you expect a plot instead of unrelated segments. Like opening the boxes it is more anticipation then content. Possible themes are up to you.

Clever, Resonant, Ambitious, Dizzying, Thought-provoking

See it if You love interactive theatre, performance art, storytelling, and/or clowning that has deeper meaning.

Don't see it if You prefer to sit in a seat (not on a box) and see a play with a plot. This is inventive storytelling with props and audience participation.

Ambitious, Banal, Disappointing, Indulgent, Quirky

See it if you're willing to sit through 90 minutes of mediocrity to say that you were in the room for the latest immersive "happening."

Don't see it if you're hoping to learn something new or be emotionally moved.

Also Sobelle is a little smug and a little smarmy, and I just didn't warm t... Read more Read less

Funny, Thought-provoking, Slow, Artistic

See it if you like contemporary art installations. This is similar to something you might find at the New Museum with an added layer of performance.

Don't see it if you want to see traditional theater with a clear narrative, you get frustrated by bad sight lines depending on where action is happening

Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Indulgent, Overrated

See it if You want to sit on uncomfortable seats in a fire trap while watching someone make insipid comments about crap taken out of boxes.

Don't see it if This was the most self-indulgent piece of garbage I've ever seen. It was trying to persuade us that he had something to say; he didn't.

Also Really, I do not understand why the critics drooled over this. Sobelle... Read more Read less

Clever, Delightful, Confusing, Ambitious, Edgy

See it if you enjoy mime, clever use of electronics, illusion and wry comedy

Don't see it if clutter scares you

Indulgent, Promises more than it delivers, Fun, in a '60s kind of way

See it if you want to see the kind of fun, weird theatre that was off- and off-off Broadway in the 60s. If you don't feel the need to have meaning.

Don't see it if Fluffy, going-no-where theatre is not for you.

Also Upon entering the space, patrons are encouraged to look around, open b... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Ambitious, Great staging, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to experience something completely new and exciting , a variant of Bill Irwin with more conversation .

Don't see it if You want traditional story format , but give it a chance , it's surprisingly engaging .

Ambitious, Disappointing, Slow, Great acting, Quirky

See it if This show used original ideas but repeated them so they lost their luster. Scenes dragged while others delighted. Very uneven performance.

Don't see it if You can't perch on a box as a seat for close to 90 minutes. There is mild audience participation but you can abstain.

Too cute by at least 3/4

See it if You tend to find things fresh, charming, magical, intriguing and delightful.

Don't see it if You see the same things as contrived, tedious and tiresome.

Tedious, Slow, Clever, Confusing, Poorly lit

See it if You are open to an interesting idea that is developed very slowly, and if you are tall enough to see over most people.

Don't see it if You like to see what is going on in a show.

Also I wanted to like this, but couldn't see a lot of it, even though I was... Read more Read less

Clever, Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Must see

See it if you want to see something really different and very, very clever. The closing sequence is among the most amazing effects I have ever seen.

Don't see it if you are looking for a linear theatre piece with a plot, if you want to sit in a comfortable seat, or if you don't like immersion pieces.

Ambitious, Quirky

See it if non-traditional narrative, space, and experiences are your jam.

Don't see it if TRADITIONAL proscenium theater is your jam.

Clever, Entertaining, Great staging, Edgy

See it if You want a unique theater experience. One man climbs the box lined walls in a horder's nightmare space and tells stories, finds treasures.

Don't see it if You can't tolerate clutter & lots of people sitting all over the place on top of boxes, on the floor; feels a little like a lunatic assylum.

Banal, Disappointing, No plot, Boring, Uncomfortable seating

See it if you like shows with no discernible plot; like non-traditional seating and staging; like a great deal of non-verbal acting; like weird things

Don't see it if you want a comfortable seat - you will be sitting on a cardboard box covering a piece of wood or worse - the floor; you like a plot

Also The recording and subsequent playback with dialogue (done twice) was i... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Disappointing, Overrated, Intelligent, Clever

See it if You like interactive theater and like to imbue the play with meaning

Don't see it if You don't enjoy quiet moments or prefer a play on a proscenium stage.

Confusing, Great staging, Insipid, Banal

See it if you want to see a boring one man monologue in a visually interesting setting.

Don't see it if you want to save the taxi, the tickets and you have better plans to do.

Also It is in a big warehouse, full of boxes and old things. Different box ... Read more Read less

Edgy, Indulgent, Quirky, Unique staging

See it if Interesting idea exploring your relationship to stuff you have and/or need. Creative use of space. Interactive and audience immersion.

Don't see it if You dont like shows without a story or even a coherent message. I cant tell if he was recommending saving your memories or if he was judging

Horrible, Awful, Waste of time and money

See it if you like sitting on a cardboard box for 100 minutes.

Don't see it if you have something better to do like cleaning your apartment or getting root canal work done.

Also I see no humor in putting a box on a patron's head or watching someone... Read more Read less

Confusing, Enchanting at moments, Occasionally boring, Refreshing, Sometimes joyous

See it if You love great clowning, transformed theatrical spaces, existential pontificating.

Don't see it if You have a bad back.

Insipid, Overrated, Disappointing

See it if No reason to see it. This self-indulgent show was unbearable. No plot, no enotional involvement, just junk. lowest score of my reviews.

Don't see it if you enjoy theater. I really don't understand what the hoopla is about with this show and I consider myself a savvy theater goer.

Great staging, Quirky, Delightful

See it if Still wrapping my head around it, but I enjoyed it.

Don't see it if You are looking for narrative, structure, or character. The seating is tough on the back.

Clever, Slow, Unusual, Ambitious, Fluffy

See it if clowns and magicians are your thing but they're not your friend's thing and you want to bring a friend without them getting mad at you.

Don't see it if potential audience interaction terrifies you or you demand a comfortable seat as part of your theatergoing experience.

Ambitious, Delightful, Quirky, Intelligent, Slow

See it if You want to experience a very unusual " performance ". Some people might find it banal and self centered, I found it very poetic

Don't see it if You go to the theater just to be " entertained " and no to be " provoked " and " surprised ". Lovers of traditional theater better stay away

February 9th, 2017
"The environment installed by Steven Dufala at New York Theatre Workshop for performer Geoff Sobelle and director David Neumann’s astonishing and revelatory 'The Object Lesson' is one epic mausoleum...If you didn’t catch this startlingly original show when it premiered at BAM three years ago, tre...
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February 16th, 2017
"Some of the tale-telling involves playful effects, like recording monologue that becomes, in the replay, a dialogue leading to unexpected revelations. Too much of it goes nowhere; the show’s languors outweigh the sharper observations. But then there’s an ending that offers a kind of shocking pay...
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February 9th, 2017
"At various times, the production goes slowly, stops dead and, occasionally, motors along. At best it’s a weird, one-of-a-kind work about life’s fruitful and fruitless connections and collections...That’s fertile territory, but the disjointed and fails to make much of a point. It does r...
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February 9th, 2017
"It's like spending 90 minutes with a self-involved friend as he digs through his storage unit...This is certainly a worthwhile story, but Sobelle consistently chooses the most uninteresting ways to tell it. His interactions with the audience feel more labored than charming...Execution often feel...
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