Closed 1h 30m
The Royale
Upper W Side
82

The Royale NYC Reviews and Tickets

82%
(150 Reviews)
Positive
90%
Mixed
6%
Negative
4%
Members say
Great acting, Great staging, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

About the Show

Lincoln Center Theater presents a play loosely based on the life story of Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champion in history.

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Member Reviews (150)

84
Thought-provoking, Resonant, Relevant, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you like history of boxing, enjoy clever staging, like finding double meanings, want to explore racial issues in different context & reason

Don't see it if you don't like boxing stories, though this isn't one, can't sympathize with the danger and fear black people felt in America, can't imagine

75
Clever, Great acting, Great staging, Profound, Thought-provoking

See it if you like African-American stories or sports stories.

Don't see it if you don't like to use your imagination at a show.

Critic Reviews (29)

March 7th, 2016

"Marco Ramirez’s absorbing drama…Staged with a swift, stark lyricism by the impossibly versatile Rachel Chavkin, 'The Royale' boldly takes on and reorients a familiar genre and a familiar tale…The entire cast of this production embody their parts with laser sharpness…Occasionally the script tips into overstatement and overexplanation…But you don’t feel like picking apart the individual elements when they cohere into such an organic whole."
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March 8th, 2016

"Not a single flesh-on-flesh punch lands in Marco Ramirez’s intensely focused boxing drama, yet it’s like you see the blood and teeth flying and hear the crunch of broken ribs. In 'The Royale', the endless sucker punch of a historically racist society is the chief means of violence. Words are another, and they come fast and furious in a percussive script…The big showdown is handled in a fairly ingenious and surprising manner. It connects and it bruises."
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March 7th, 2016

"Featuring elaborately stylized staging that fails to compensate for the thin writing, 'The Royale' doesn't fulfill the promise of its powerful subject…The evening only sporadically comes to dramatic life…To make up for the skimpiness of the material, the dialogue is frequently accompanied by rhythmic hand-clapping, a repetitive device that quickly becomes annoying...The actors' strong efforts aren't enough to make the play feel anything other than pedestrian."
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March 7th, 2016

"Sometimes the most powerful fights are the ones we have in our own minds — a fact vividly depicted in 'The Royale,' a riveting play by Marco Ramirez…A spare and intimate story of internal struggles, propelled by the dynamic, imaginative direction of Rachel Chavkin and performed by a terrific quintet of actors…It’s a struggle made all the more dramatic by a coup de theatre that has the boxer realizing this battle is as personal as it gets."
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March 7th, 2016

"Much of the dialogue among the four men has the rhythm of jazz; the words and actions punctuated by syncopated clapping and stomping…Rachel Chavkin, an inventive and keen director, knows her immersive theater and she also, on the evidence, honors writers. So do the design team...'The Royale' has heart and a conscience, and it’s unquestionably the work of a writer still finding his voice. Like his champion Jay, he’s got style."
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March 7th, 2016

"Newcomer Khris Davis brings muscle and fine acting chops as Jay. Montego Glover adds steely passion as his concerned sister…Rachel Chavkin replaces typical jabs and hooks with claps and stomps and makes you look at fight scenes with fresh eyes. She also imagines the championship fight in an ingenious way that involves Jay’s family. The terrific performances and the striking, stylized staging deliver one-two punches."
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March 7th, 2016

"Chavkin's rendering realizes every bit of tragic theater that the primal sport embodies…Scene after scene of Ramirez's thick dialogue can sit heavily on the brain. When it's roused by Chavkin's clear aesthetic point of view, the narrative comes to life…Just as Ramirez builds his own version of the great Jack Johnson's history, Chavkin interprets the power struggle that occurs when two boxers enter the ring. Each takes liberties with reality, but both artists' renderings couldn't be more truthful."
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March 8th, 2016

"Marco Ramirez's inventively-crafted 'The Royale,' given a tense, rhythmic and evocative mounting by Rachel Chavkin, merits high scores of its own…Davis' attention moves seamlessly as his character goes back and forth from sparring with Fish to sparring with the press...The championship match is represented with unexpected dramatics, as Jay must eventually learn the price of his victories, and of the victories of his people."
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March 16th, 2016

"When the time comes to deliver the knockout punch, it takes a lady to do it. She is Montego Glover, here assigned the task of delivering the coup de grâce of Marco Ramirez's play...There's a lot more to like in 'The Royale', including the novel staging of the fight scenes as interior monologues. All five members of Rachel Chavkin's cast are first-rate...It's interesting how every so often a powerfully wrought play seems to resonate far beyond its own borders."
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March 7th, 2016

"The fusion between writing and direction is so airtight that it borders on Expressionism...Every word, hit, clap, and stomp echoes with that authenticity…The Big Fight itself depends on a trick of writing and staging that is more heavy-handed and half-hearted than the rest of the play...But it's a testament to how good everything else is that even that doesn't matter very much…Real boxing matches may have more blood, but I've never seen one as exciting or as moving as 'The Royale.'"
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March 7th, 2016

"Staged with thrilling, even ritualized theatricality by the exceptional young director Rachel Chavkin...the 75-minute, “six-round” play..lands blow after blow...There are no false notes in the ensemble, led by the...completely convincing Davis as Jay and the ferociously determined Glover as Nina...‘The Royale’ may not float like a butterfly but it stings like a bee. It’s bare-knuckled dramatic fisticuffs with a one-two punch that will send you reeling."
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March 13th, 2016

"Chavkin leads these five superb performers through 90 minutes of intense work. The extreme stylization of text and design may interfere with the emotional involvement of some playgoers. But when 'The Royale' reaches its horrifying conclusion, all that's non-naturalistic about the creative team's approach culminates in a sense of magnitude and of the mythic, and Ramirez's compact drama is transformed from a tale about a bygone era to a parable for all time."
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March 15th, 2016

"Director Rachel Chavkin has set the pace for Marco Ramirez’s play, 'The Royale,' with claps and stomps, creating visceral partners between words and movement and making us the plays sparring partner. Her brilliant staging, mustered with Ramirez’s story and the flowing connected ensemble of this marvelous cast is like watching a jazz band riff off of each other...Go! Get a ticket! Run to The Mitzi E. Newhouse at Lincoln Center! Don’t wait until it’s too late!"
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March 10th, 2016

“A 90-minute blast of inventive staging that is 'loosely inspired' by the life of Jack Johnson...What does “The Royale” add to the abundant literature on the Champ? Not much...What it offers is intense and innovative theatricality directed by the extraordinary Rachel Chavkin...If the playwright is most effective in establishing the jazz-like percussive rhythms of the action, he also shows promise as a theatrical heavyweight in a handful of punchy lines."
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March 7th, 2016

"Khris Davis delivers in his lead role, and they’re quite a pair of boxing gloves to fill…In addition to making the boxer a larger-than-life hero, Ramirez succeeds in giving Jay mystique…That final fight is a wonderful coup de theatre, and brilliantly staged. But it also comes right after we’ve been introduced to Nina, and Glover can’t make the jump. What actor could? It’s like introducing Stanley to Blanche, and then cutting to the rape scene in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'."
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March 7th, 2016

"'The Royale' is boldly theatrical, well-acted and the very definition of 'promising'...'The Royale' is given a pretty sterling production...[The play] would have been stronger if they had pared some of the artifice, if they'd cut back on the speechifying toward the end and allowed Jay to enter the ring with the fierce determination he needed to triumph."
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March 20th, 2016

"As directed, much of this play is reflective, interior and symbolic. Hand clapping, and foot stamping replace actual blows. This turns the thin script into a full-length play and gives the drama a certain lyricism. But after a while, all that rhythmic stomping seems to have more style than substance...Nevertheless, 'The Royale' is frequently brought back by the excellent performances...'The Royale' might have been more effective if Chavkin had aimed less for the head and more for the gut."
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March 11th, 2016

"Man, oh man, 'The Royale' is a play worth seeing--especially in a production as tightly realized and inventively directed and as beautifully performed as this one is…It doesn't tie up the loose ends in a tidy bow. That is, of course, to its credit…'The Royale' is so consistently engrossing, Jay's inner game so engagingly depicted, and the cast and direction so flawless and fine, that the ending is not the point so much as the getting there is."
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March 8th, 2016

"'The Royale’ is a slick, inventive piece of one-act theater with a historical theme that seems to be all too relevant to today’s current events....‘The Royale’ proves to be about how small actions by one person can have rippling effects for all people of the same skin color. This is a message and theme that seems to be all too relevant over one hundred years after when the events of the play take place."
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October 20th, 2014

"It is all very exciting and the dramatic tension builds. Here's where the play becomes difficult for Ms. Chavkin's concept: Ms. Glover needs to let some air out of this big balloon that the actors have constructed in order to build back to the finale. The audience expects more theatrical ritual and doesn't get it. Still, the cast performs smartly, and the play's point about finding your own personal power as African-Americans in a racist society is eventually made in shattering fashion."
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October 13th, 2014

"Too often, words at the ends of sentences were lost, so much so that I needed to read the script to know what was said...Along with fine acting all around, 'The Royale' gets points for creative staging, excellent lighting and sound and for raising an interesting question: when personal ambition collides with family needs, how is that decision made? Unfortunately, here we know the answer before the show starts."
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October 10th, 2014

"Jay 'The Sport' Jackson likes to mess with his opponents’ heads right before he rearranges their faces. With its hypnotic rhythms and dreamlike style, the show works over a playgoer in much the same way...If the story has a weak moment, it's in Jay’s puzzling misperception of the level of threat against him. But the Globe production is an arresting one, from the ominous thrums of Matt Hubbs’ soundscape to the raw invention of Nicholas Vaughan’s set design."
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October 15th, 2014

"The boxing is only simulated in Marco Ramirez’'s 'The Royale,' directed by Rachel Chavkin. It would have to be. That the simulations don’t work very well is immaterial because—big surprise—this isn’'t a play about boxing. It'’s about race. That message is delivered with uppercut intensity in this one-act drama loosely based on the real-life story of heavyweight Jack Johnson, the first African- American to hold the title."
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October 11th, 2014

"Take away the spectacular theatricality and 'The Royale' would be a thin-ish script that makes some important points. But add the hands clapping in series of threes, often followed by a foot stomp; and stylized boxing matches where lights flash, noises jolt, and you feel, rather than see, the blows; and elevated performances by a stand-out cast, and the play becomes the ritualized conjuration of an era we should never forget."
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October 11th, 2014

"Deftly directed by Rachel Chavkin and her dream team of actors (all five are without a doubt perfect for their roles), 'The Royale' is certainly different and worthy of a look see...Ramirez zeroes in on the signs of the times to the detriment of expanding on character development or really putting any meat on the bones of this play."
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October 11th, 2014

"The gimmick, awkward at first, soon settles into tense routine, persuasive enough that some audience members join in, as punches are exploded by movement and by blasts of explosive lighting...Chavkin’s staging is bold, self-assured and ultimately convincing. Would it support a more nuanced, ambiguous script? Maybe not. But it would have been fascinating if Ramirez had given her some additional substance to deepen the violent little world she has constructed."
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October 15th, 2014

"Nicholas Vaughan’s boxing ring set design on the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre stage works well for different beats of the story and the juxtaposition of the characters — especially when threats become a stumbling block to Jay’s journey."
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October 23rd, 2014

"Part of playwright Ramirez’s brilliance is that Jackson’s internal strife makes it difficult to predict the outcome of the plot...Just as we think things are about to settle, the conflicting character’s desires complicates matters further — and these emotions show greatly in the final match. It’s a combination of brilliant staging, acting and structure of the play itself that contributes to a wonderful experience that flashes back to the struggles of African-Americans in 1905."
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October 13th, 2014

"'The Royale' is a knockout from the first punch to the last...Like a boxer, the show relies on rhythm, timing, and fancy footwork to transport the audience to the vibrant world of the boxing circuit at the turn of the 20th century...The play is a true ensemble piece, and on opening night, the cast shone, delivering a nearly flawless performance."
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