The Penitent
Closed 1h 30m
The Penitent
61

The Penitent NYC Reviews and Tickets

61%
(113 Ratings)
Positive
40%
Mixed
41%
Negative
19%
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.')

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Show-Score Member Reviews (113)

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101 Reviews | 16 Followers
94
Clever, Intelligent, Profound, Good acting, Solid

See it if you like Mamet and you'd like to see something new with his inimitable style. Good play!

Don't see it if you hate to think and Rebecca Pigeon's acting style grates on your nerves

209 Reviews | 25 Followers
81
Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Absorbing

See it if Appreciate Mamet and understand serious themes that stay with you after leaving theater

Don't see it if Want a vicarious experience

139 Reviews | 19 Followers
80
Absorbing, Great writing, Intelligent, Quirky, Profound

See it if you like a quiet, introspective piece

Don't see it if you lean towards lighter fare.

122 Reviews | 16 Followers
80
Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if You are a fan of David Mamet, like tight construction and spare staginess or enjoy truthful acting. Intriguing premise, clever writing

Don't see it if You like flashiness, a lot of stage effects or want overt theatricality. If you hate simple staging and truthful acting avid this. Read more

502 Reviews | 67 Followers
80
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. Read more

260 Reviews | 87 Followers
79
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. Read more

812 Reviews | 133 Followers
78
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.

136 Reviews | 35 Followers
75
Absorbing and excrutiating in equal measure

See it if the work of an old pro whose skills may be slipping but who remains by turns both annoying and provocative.

Don't see it if you prefer the speed, the pace, and the eccentricities that are common in most contemporary plays. Read more

Critic Reviews (34)

The New York Times
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...This blurs the play’s focus and weakens the surprise of its finish. The ending of 'The Penitent' pulls the rug out from under us, but that rug has already been worn pretty thin."
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Time Out New York
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 is badly imagined and unbelievable. An accidentally hilarious denouement tries to power-pack action into the dull tale.”
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New York Magazine / Vulture
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 sounds as if it were erratically transcribed from hackneyed genre movies. The cast, under Neil Pepe’s clumsy direction, doesn’t help much."
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The Wall Street Journal
March 2nd, 2017

"Each scene in this chamber piece leaves Charles, for all his high principles, haplessly outpaced...He misreads and is misread. And we too are uncertain about how to judge and how much to trust. But alas, our understanding of his dislocation never coheres. We are never fully convinced about either the plausibility of these events or of the characters’ motivations...The play is like a domestic dispute that has gone on too long without an outsider’s perspective."
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Deadline
February 28th, 2017

“It’s intermittently sparky writing but ultimately lazy drama, with an ending that’s less a surprise twist than a playwright’s admission that even he’s too bored to go on."
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New York Daily News
February 27th, 2017

"The press, the law, psychiatry, religion, marriage and friendship all get bashed in this intriguing but flawed drama...A late surprise changes everything that's come before—and is meant to surprise. It annoys instead, since the supposed big reveal would’ve come out by the defendant. Directed by Atlantic Theatre head Neil Pepe, the acting is 75% capable. The less said about the mannered performance by Pidgeon, Mamet’s wife, the better."
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Variety
February 27th, 2017

"To a wordsmith like Mamet, a slip of the tongue can be fatal for a character – although it’s difficult to care too much either way in this limp drama...Director Neil Pepe’s affinity for Mamet-speak can’t fill in the plot holes...Bauer makes a hearty meal of Mamet’s juicy dialogue...But it’s hard to grasp why the psychiatrist feels complicit in his patient’s crime — and harder still to understand his conflict of faith and ethics when the reason for it is withheld until it’s too late to care."
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The Hollywood Reporter
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 evening runs a scant 90 minutes, including an unnecessary intermission (perhaps a considerate gesture to playgoers wishing to flee), but it feels interminable."
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