The Royale

The Royale NYC Reviews and Tickets

(153 Reviews)
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 (153)

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692 Reviews | 152 Followers
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

605 Reviews | 226 Followers
Clever, Entertaining, Slow, Intense, Original

See it if You are interested in the sport of boxing.

Don't see it if You think you're going to witness a play similar to Raging Bull -- this is more thought-provoking.

482 Reviews | 717 Followers
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.

513 Reviews | 129 Followers
Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent, Clever

See it if you like great staging. Without a drop of blood or red dye, I felt every punch. I felt the anger. Excellent acting, sound & direction

Don't see it if you need blood to make you feel pain and see the violence. Don't see it if race relations is a topic you cannot face.

470 Reviews | 112 Followers
Banal, Confusing, Indulgent, Insipid

See it if You like lyrical plays where a boxing match is shown not by punches flying, but by banging a pole on the floor loudly.

Don't see it if You think a show about boxing would actually show people throwing punches and hitting someone. What a concept huh?

464 Reviews | 128 Followers
Dizzying, Great acting, Ambitious, Overrated, Loud

See it if You like plays about sports. You like to be nearly on top of the action. You enjoy every play about race and class relations.

Don't see it if You dislike being bombarded by very frequent, obnoxiously loud banging. You dislike plays with a large amount of screaming.

471 Reviews | 74 Followers
Clever, Entertaining, Edgy, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you want to see a show that will make you think, a show that is so well staged it takes your breath away, a show that matters

Don't see it if you want something light and fun

399 Reviews | 202 Followers
Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking, Ambitious

See it if You're a boxing fan. Excellent performances. Beautiful set. Based on a fascinating true story.

Don't see it if ...that was done better by "The Great White Hope." Gimmicky - at one point, he fights what looks like a giant tampon.

Critic Reviews (29)

The New York Times
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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Time Out New York
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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The Hollywood Reporter
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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New York Daily News
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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