New York | 1h 40m | Already closed

The Rape of the Sabine Women, By Grace B. Matthias

From 17 critic and 99 member reviews
Members say: Thought-provoking, Great acting, Relevant, Clever, Ambitious

About the show

Playwrights Realm presents this world premiere, a complex collision of satire and dark comedy exploring rape culture in America. More…

When high school student Grace B. Matthias is raped, her world spirals into chaos. Between navigating emotionally unstable guidance counselors, overbearing lawyers, an angry championship football team, and useless Wikipedia answers, Grace tries to make sense of her world anew. Due to mature content, this show is best for ages 16 and up.

1h 40m | Already closed | The Duke on 42nd Street (Midtown W)

Front Mezz Junkies

"A wickedly dark comedy about the culture of rape in America...A brilliant production...Hundreds of shockingly relevant, emotional, and funny twists are so expertly tossed in our direction...Perkins gives a standing-ovation performance full of intelligence and bravery that is a must-see...What we end up with is a wildly funny, fearless, and smart exploration of the culture of rape, trauma, performed by an excellent group of actors." Full Review

Time Out New York

"A superb rape comedy—yes, you read that right...Grace’s story is shifting parts comedy, tragedy, horror and even—your skin crawls to recall it—romance...The skilled playwright's absurdist wit tossing off sparks that sometimes turn into fires. Crowley and Rafaeli’s tricky tonal balancing act requires high-wire nerve, but they manage it. The secret is Perkins, who gets weightier as the show goes on, becoming its calm and certain center." Full Review

Theater Life

"Inventive, and powerful...Crowley’s adept sense of comedy and his penchant for lyrical writing are standouts of the production...Directed by Tyne Rafaeli, the production runs like a fast-paced comedy, regardless of the fact that the material is so tragic. Still, the story about the radicalization of Grace is poignant, and uplifting. A rewarding evening of theater about a woman who refuses to remain silent." Full Review


"As a man calling into question centuries of female narratives written by other men, Crowley puts himself and his work in the hot seat...With delicate direction by Rafaeli, Crowley reaps the rewards of that risk by subverting the 'cautionary tale,' the 'victim story' and all other tropes...What makes Grace and her story so compelling are her confusing internal contradictions, made completely understandable in Perkins's detailed performance." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"It’s as if the dialogue has been soaked in tranquillisers, then run through a tumble-dryer. Yet the underlying conversational rhythms ring true...Under Tyne Rafaeli’s stylised direction, such deadpan flourishes make 'Sabine Women' into a mordant portrait of a culture in steep decline. Every character is a bundle of cliché and delusion...Yet by avoiding all trace of melodrama and sentimentality, 'Sabine Women' confronts us with the bleak vision that rape is a basic fact of life." Full Review

Front Row Center

“Susannah Perkins’s mesmeric eyes capture you at the get-go. The entire production rests on her narrow shoulders. I’ve rarely seen an actor more perfectly cast nor a character more ideally realized…The high-school setting seems to invite cliché and caricature. The cacophony of all that social referencing plays like a good idea that’s been over-amplified, and some editing would be helpful...All the distractions aside, we remain in Grace’s pocket. We want her to figure it out for us." Full Review

Village Voice

"A clever indictment of the blinding misogyny that underlies how our society insists on discussing rape, and the damage we all suffer as a result...Crowley surrounds Grace with broad personalities...And he punctuates the storytelling with delightfully campy interludes...Occasionally, Crowley’s insistent satire becomes wearing—he makes his points, many times over—but the excellent ensemble never wavers." Full Review


"A darkly satirical indictment of American rape culture...Sensitively directed by Tyne Rafaeli...The exciting, innovative concept–with its inherent complications–was inspired by the 2012 Steubenville, Ohio case which involved the rape of an intoxicated teenage girl by two football players. And it’s particularly timely since President Donald Trump is trying to dismantle the Obama administrations 2011 guidelines that require schools to investigate all complaints of sexual assault." Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"The playwright attempts to comment on our hypocritical hyper-sexualized 'rape culture,' but his adults are often such cartoon characters that he subverts the message. For me, the impact was also lessened by the ambiguousness of Grace’s experience...Tyne Rafaeli’s direction successfully navigates the play’s complex path. While the play tries to do too much and doesn’t fully integrate its various strands, it is an original. Crowley shows promise and I look forward to his next play." Full Review


“The awkwardly titled ‘The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Grace B. Matthias' has problems beyond its nomenclature. What, if anything, is it ultimately about? Though it claims to be a ‘satirical’ look at the subject of rape, any satire is lost in the mixed results of the presentation. If anything, the play seems too subtle and nuanced for its own good.” Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"I appreciate artists who take risks, and Crowley does that with his unconventional approach. However, the satire only sometimes comes through loud and clear; other times he seems to be going for a more straightforward narrative, so the tone is not consistent...Within this abstract world, Perkins delivers a realistic performance of a shy teenager often confused by the world around her...The last scene is powerful and moving, and almost makes up for the unevenness of what comes before." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“Crowley’s characters are all comically off-kilter but their extreme attitudes and language, while occasionally amusing, tend to blur whatever the play wants to say about the historical persistence of rape. The play’s exaggerations…weaken any argument Crowley may be making, and become more about their own theatricality than what they’re saying…Grace is superbly performed by Perkins, who perfectly captures the girl’s naïveté, ignorance, and vulnerability…Also unusually impressive is Jeena Yi.” Full Review

The New York Times

"A serious effort to dramatize a rape and its repercussions, it also dares itself to be a satire, a high school comedy, and a coming-of-age story...That’s a lot for a play to be, and the mix is not always comfortable...That Grace emerges as a well-rounded character is partly the result of the touching conviction Perkins imbues her with...The meant-to-be-funny material is too unsophisticated...That’s a shame because other elements, sticking closer to the main story, remain fresh and challenging." Full Review


"It's a flawed but fascinating play thanks to lively staging and an emotionally potent performance by Perkins...The satirical misfires and metaphorical overkill notwithstanding, director Rafaeli makes very effective use of Maldonado's spare auditorium set...Rafaeli also helps the various ensemble members smoothly transition into double-cast roles. However, the one really rounded and real character is Grace and Perkins is the undisputed star of this enterprise." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"The scenes featuring Grace, Bobby, and Jeff are tautly written and filled with tension, but Crowley tries to play everything else for laughs...There's little that the director, Tyne Rafaeli, can do to resolve these tonal contradictions, but she does get three first-rate performances from her leads...This altogether perplexing effort is best filed away as a daring—but only partially successful—attempt by a gifted writer at dealing creatively with white-hot subject matter." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Crowley employs, with mixed success, the conventions of satire to take on the issue of rape culture...Relying rather heavily on familiar stereotypes and easy targets for its cartoonish humor, the play meanders along too many tangents to be completely effective. However, the production itself is well served by the rapid-fire direction and in the performances by the excellent ensemble...The play needs a great deal of trimming and reshaping to keep the message from being lost in the silly bits." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"Though the obviously well-meaning Crowley hopes to encourage audiences to understand the issues and double standards here, and carefully incorporates many particulars of alleged rape episodes to weight his arguments, it’s clearly presented as dark satire. As the first scenes of the play unfolded, I thought director Tyne Rafaeli was intentionally distorting Crowley’s script, pushing the cast into full-force farce. Sadly, also annoyingly, such a comic vein doesn’t work." Full Review

Exquisite, Great staging, Great writing, Must see, Profound

See it if you want to see necessary, provocative, crucial, so very important theater - and if you like football.

Don't see it if you are unable to deal with graphic descriptions and instances of rape or sexual violence.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Must see

See it if You have the chance. A powerful play, a testament to the actors and writing. Everyone must experience this; must see and thought provoking.

Don't see it if You are looking for something light and are uncomfortable with the subject matter.

Ambitious, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if you want to examine a multitude of stereotypes around rape and sexual assault.

Don't see it if you are unable to understand the use of stereotypes to prove a point - that men rape women.

Quirky, Intelligent, Hilarious, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you are interested in getting to know yourself better, reflecting on our society's treatment of women and want to be a vehicle for change.

Don't see it if you want to distance yourself from feeling complicit, don't like being presented with tough questions or are uncomfortable with nudity.

Lean mean and sabine

See it if One incredible performance anchors a play which would be otherwise largely adrift. It transforms the production into must see theater.

Don't see it if The play is clearly too glib and chipper about rape. Unrealistic extent of HS art history instruction. Large space demands close seating.

Also It can be ten minutes shorter with no loss of impact. Discussion of fi... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Intelligent, Intense, Profound, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy topical serious dramas with appropriate amounts of humor woven brilliantly into the script. Amazing show. Terrific cast!

Don't see it if you're a woman dealing with rape trauma or if you're a misogynistic man who just won't "get it."

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

See it if You like productions which deal with tough issues in both a comedic and tragic way

Don't see it if You don't want to see a show dealing with rape or rape culture

Clever, Fine acting, Intelligent, Dead serious, Funny

See it if You can take seriously an at times funny truth to power look at rape in society. With mostly stereotypical characters, it has a core of real

Don't see it if You find abhorrent the idea of rape and humor together. You can't find the texture, breadth and compassion in sly presentation.

Clever, Intelligent, Relevant, Profound, Intense

See it if your mind is open enough to see a comedy about the rape of a 15-year-old girl

Don't see it if you need the playwright to spoon-feed the message of the play to you (although he basically does so in the last 5 minutes)

Also If you're going to write a play that is a comedy about the rape of a 1... Read more Read less

Edgy, Intense, Relevant, Insightful, Thought-provoking

See it if Powerful exploration of a high school girl's date rape. Uses satire to address many difficult issues. Heartfelt characters.

Don't see it if This play is not so much about the rape itself but about everyone's reaction to it. Is the grey area good-and-evil or loss of innocence?


See it if superb writing, acting, direction of tough, challenging content is what you long for in great theater. Smart, funny, direct, moving.

Don't see it if you can't engage with the reality of rape culture -past, present and future, even when so complexly presented.

Also Kovner - artistic director - is an amazingly sensitive visionary who u... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Intelligent, Intense, Relevant

See it if want to be aware of the many versions and diversions re: rape. Very good acting esp. Susannah Perkins, Andy Lucien and Doug Harris

Don't see it if you are easily upset with a delicate subject. It is not a Greek/Roman drama This is not a musical extravaganza. No intermission.100+ minutes

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

See it if You want to see a contemporary play about serious issues that finds a way to deal with them in about a humorous a way as you probably could.

Don't see it if You don't like shows that seem to make little sense till the end when you find out what it's all about.

Absorbing, Must see, Thought-provoking, You will walk away thinking about rape a different way and how it could apply to men and women

See it if you like to think about the subject matter after a show-well done

Don't see it if you do not like this type of subject matter

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Masterful, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if a unique script that beautifully employs history, metaphor, repeated motifs, and story in a powerful exploration of rape culture appeals.

Don't see it if caricatures/heavily hammed up/hyper acting bothers you. (Actually, still see it: this usually bothers me too but it mostly worked here.)

Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Clever, Great acting, Edgy

See it if You're interested in play addressing rape from a more honest/atypical vantage point. Humor, shows how Society/culture cultivate this crime

Don't see it if You're offended by nudity, sensitive to the topic of rape in general. (Though some rape victims Really appreciated this work)

Resonant, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intense, Great acting

See it if you want to see a serious piece of theatre and have some intense discussions afterwards.

Don't see it if there are some sensitive topics that can be difficult for some. Do your research on the show and know what you are about to see.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense

See it if you enjoy plays about topical issues that are well staged and well acted (particularly by the female lead).

Don't see it if you are at all bothered by heavy-handed moments; this play does have a few. Or if you find nudity upsetting.

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Edgy, Issue driven, Confronts the audience

See it if issue driven theater is your liking, uses humor to make the unspeakable watchable

Don't see it if sexual assault is not a topic you want to think about

Ambitious, Quirky, Relevant, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if you are open to a serio-comic take on the subject of rape. A wonderful lead performance by Susannah Perkins.

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with the satirical comic treatment of a serious subject.

Also I wished the early scenes we're less drawn out and the satire sharper.... Read more Read less

Great acting, Great staging, Thought-provoking

See it if Enjoy a comical presentation of a serious topic like rape

Don't see it if You will be unhappy with the comical way they treat a serious topic

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Cliched

See it if you like a thoughtful well acted story about a relevant subject.

Don't see it if the subject of rape upsets you or if you expect any new revelations or insight.

Ambitious, Entertaining, Funny, Good staging

See it if you want to see something interesting. It may not have all the i's dotted and t's crossed, but it's still an entertaining piece.

Don't see it if the topic of rape or a little nudity makes you uncomfortable.

Also I would chalk this one as having potential, but the execution seems a ... Read more Read less

Clever, Ambitious, Funny, Edgy, Thought-provoking

See it if You wanna think about how rape culture invades every aspect of our lives

Don't see it if You expect to truly empathize with a rape victim or understand how sexual assault affects creates trauma

Also I was squeamish about seeing a play about sexual assault written by a ... Read more Read less

Clever, Entertaining, Interesting show set in modern day about concept of rape

See it if enjoy a interesting modern take on the subject of rape

Don't see it if are not adventurous and open minded

Cast & Creatives (16)