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The Penitent

From 113 member  reviews
Members say: Disappointing, Thought-provoking, Slow, Intelligent, Indulgent

About the show

Atlantic Theater Company presents a world premiere drama by Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist and Atlantic co-founder David Mamet ('Glengarry Glen Ross,' 'China Doll.') More…

In 'The Penitent' a renowned psychiatrist is asked to testify on behalf of a young patient. When he refuses, his career, ethics, and faith are thrown into question. Helmed by Atlantic's artistic director Neil Pepe.

Member Reviews (113)


Disappointing, Thought-provoking, Slow, Intelligent, Indulgent
Avg Score

Intelligent, Clever, Slow, Thought-provoking, Dry

See it if Principles vs. self-interest. The pace picks up in the second act. The revelations make you rethink the motivations of the characters.

Don't see it if The first (and longer) act is belabored. Characters repeat themselves and don't seem to act sensibly. Could use more wit/humor.

Disappointing, Slow, Intelligent, Indulgent, Intense

See it if Has glimpses of Mamet's former thunder & intellegence but feels more like a Mamet parody Bauer (looking like the author) & Lage do fine work

Don't see it if Too many cheap shots taken at powerful institutions doesn't constitute drama. Pepe's direction feels stilted & ending is totally contrived

Clever, Intense, Relevant

See it if my 80 and partner's 50.. It attacks the press (who attack Mamet) Doctors, Lawyers, Religion and even women Jordan Lage is great

Don't see it if The acting by Rebecca P. is a puzzlement. The set is minimal if anything. It ran 80 minutes and there was no need for the intermission

Ambitious, Indulgent, Insipid, Quirky, Funny

See it if you follow Mamet, enjoy behavioral mysteries, like brutal, badgering dialogue, like quirking surprises that make you re-think entire play

Don't see it if you find Mamet's language and plot twists to never be satisfactory, you don't appreciate deliberately withheld info & staccato line readings

Loved early mamet; not so much late mamet - this is late mamet

See it if Mamet displays brilliant ability 2 pick apart psychology & legal professions/press; features intense 1-on-1 adversarial scenes

Don't see it if tho Mamet has great ideas, difficulty dramatizing them; cast not capture mesmerizing mametian cadences; shocking ending undercuts play

Excruciating, Indulgent, Pompous, Boring, Zzzzzzzz

See it if you're having trouble sleeping at night. This play is the remedy.

Don't see it if (See my response below. I can't fit it all in 140 characters.)

Also I'm not well versed in Mamet, so I don't know if this is just his styl... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting

See it if you like a thought provoking drama. The set was simple and so you concentrate completely on the people, mostly one on one conversations.

Don't see it if you enjoy lively dramas and light humor.

Great acting, Slow

See it if You'd enjoy well-acted scenes that involve the lawyer (which are well-acted and interesting)..

Don't see it if would be bored by the repetitive scenes with the wife (those scenes are poorly acted & just plain boring)

Banal, Disappointing, Edgy, Intense, Robotic

See it if Mamet is your guy; you're interested in the good, bad and ugly in a tale about morality and ethics. Short second act, better than the first.

Don't see it if You do not like stilted scripts and robotic acting and direction. The play had some good moments, if only they lasted longer.

Also The scene changes consisted of moving the table from one angle to anot... Read more Read less

Great acting, Slow, Confusing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You are a Mamet and/or Chris Bauer fan. Like plays about legal morality decisions. Do not mind slow moving drama in a spartan set.

Don't see it if You expect a fast- paced Mamet play with lots of objectionable language. Do not like legal dilemmas.

Intelligent whiny religious confusing

See it if Intelligent but talky Mamet about duplicity in law, medicine and journalism. Some intense dialogue about religion and ethics.

Don't see it if could be a snooze for some. i found it stimulating most of the time, but the dialogue between the doctor and his wife was annoying

Also Spoiler- the shrink was criticized for refusing to testify in the boy'... Read more Read less

Disappointing, Relevant, Indulgent

See it if You like plays about ethics, morals, religion, understanding, & the power of the press. You want to see good performances by the male actors

Don't see it if you don't want to see a robotic performance by Mamet's wife, repetitive dialogue of "I understand" and "I don't understand" is overkill.

I really loved this imperfect play and want to see again

See it if You want to ask questions, hear multiple arguments. An incisive discussion of belief and how it registers in our world interests you.

Don't see it if you dont like provocative "talky" plays which slowly give you the crumbs to put together an imperfect, yet fascinating "cake"

Pompous, Pretentious, Indulgent, Slow, Excruciating

See it if you enjoy giving up 90 minutes of your life to boredom, excepting the 15 minutes Gilliard Jr. was onstage to remind us what great acting is.

Don't see it if a different "actor" overly annunciating every. Single. Word. Of dialogue will drive you mad. Save yourselves!

Dull, Disappointing, Slow, This is a mamet play?

See it if you will stand by David Mamet no matter what. See it if you didn't get to see China Doll.

Don't see it if you want an engaging play that makes you think. I was expecting something better from Mr. Mamet.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Profound, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy a play that requires you to think and confront serious issues regarding the law, doctor patient confidentiality and religion.

Don't see it if you prefer theater that does not encourage deep thought and later discussion.

Also All the actors were great except for the female lead who's performance... Read more Read less

Disappointing, Banal

See it if you love Mamet and love plays about doctor/patient relationships.

Don't see it if you want meaningful dialogue that builds.

Also The play keeps repeating words and has a surprise, annoying answer at ... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Indulgent

See it if you are a die-heart Mamet fan.

Don't see it if you aren't a die-hearted Mamet fan

Ambitious, Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy Mamet's plays. Interesting subject matter and themes involving mental health,law,religion, and press. Excellent cast.

Don't see it if Play is better suited for professionals in aforementioned fields than the general public. Mamet appears to have major issues with psychiatry

Low key, Predictable, Flat, Banal

See it if You'd appreciate a stretched out writing exercise or a mostly advanced scene study class with third year directing/second year staging.

Don't see it if You're expecting a fully realized play, sensible plot and dramatic structure or want to see vintage Mamet.

Also Short, with a creaky, sieve-like plot whose anemic machinations are ob... Read more Read less

Banal, Excruciating, Indulgent, Terrible staging, Bad acting

See it if You're a Mamet completist because I think he should have stopped writing long ago. There's nothing here to recommend.

Don't see it if You want a coherent story with actors are capable or you will be annoyed with scene changes every 10 mins in silence.

Also Mrs. David Mamet is one of the worst actresses I've seen on a NYC stag... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Interesting, Wordy

See it if you want a play about difficult moral dilemmas. Some of the scenes have good dialog. Ending is a bit of a surprise.

Don't see it if you want action. The first act is a bit annoying with a lot of repetitive dialog. Second act is a bit better.

Cliched, Ambitious, Disappointing, Indulgent

See it if You enjoy shows that do a lot of talking. Each character is a familiar-predictable type. Rationalization for action taken is chilling.

Don't see it if You don't prefer David Mamet style of theater. This one is like Oleanna. That should say enough.

Indulgent, Intelligent, Great acting, Mannered, Edgy

See it if you like Mamet and enjoy actors who specialize in his style.

Don't see it if you dislike Mamet or have never seen his work (there are much better places to start.)

Mamet still at it

See it if Mamet is an acquired taste. Staccato line readings and smart actors with pinpoint control reign. Fine male roles. Bauer's calling card.

Don't see it if you prefer female POV. Kath is weakest role; performance could be stronger. Intermission superfluous.

Also Askew set is jarring and contributes to the unease and danger play att... Read more Read less

February 27th, 2017
"The relationship that fails to excite Mr. Mamet and his longtime collaborator, the director Neil Pepe, is the one between audience and play...And yet, if you prick up your ears, you can still hear a little of that old Mametian magic...He makes the plot take a couple of pretty unlikely turns...Th...
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February 27th, 2017
“Under-conceived and underwritten…It feels wrong to describe Mamet's interchanges as conversations. All of them are arguments had in bad faith; certainly, little effort has been made to make them sound like human speech…The marks of something hastily written are all over the text, and its world i...
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February 27th, 2017
"The worse tragedy of Mamet, more than his political conversion, is that his later works mostly bore and repel as plays. In 'The Penitent,' the dialogue maintains the artillery rhythms of his early work but there is no sensible character motive behind it; it chases itself in circles and often sou...
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February 27th, 2017
"Yet another clunker...Whereas Mamet’s stylized dialogue once crackled with electricity and tension, it now plays as hopelessly stilted. The mannerisms have become irritating, and the characters come across less as real people than mouthpieces for the ideas the playwright wants to express...The e...
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