The Ruins of Civilization
Closed 2h 15m
The Ruins of Civilization
71

The Ruins of Civilization NYC Reviews and Tickets

71%
(57 Reviews)
Positive
67%
Mixed
24%
Negative
9%
Members say
Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Slow, Great acting, Intelligent

About the Show

Manhattan Theatre Club presents the world premiere of Penelope Skinner's exploration of our need for free will and connection, even in a world on the brink of extinction.

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Member Reviews (57)

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85
Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Intelligent

See it if ever wonder where we are going on this planet. also how a black box site makes theater so much more

Don't see it if if you do not want to put your mind to work asking What is next? and What can we do?

78
Ambitious, Absorbing, Confusing, Quirky, Thought-provoking

See it if you like Margaret Atwood futuristic style, feminist focused stories, gradually making important discoveries, foreboding atmosphere

Don't see it if you must have everything explained immediately, cannot imagine future worlds, don't get male privilege

Critic Reviews (14)

The New York Times
May 18th, 2016

"The production sometimes shows the strain of its densely packed thematic weight...The cast only rarely engages us emotionally. Still, for a doomsday play, 'Ruins' is remarkably pleasurable: well paced, well spoken and very deft in planting slyly placed clues as to what the future will be…Much of the pleasure — and horror — of 'Ruins' is in gradually spotting the subtle ways life has changed, and how much it feels like a natural extension of the way we live now."
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Time Out New York
May 18th, 2016

"Roxanna Hope and Orlagh Cassidy, as a bureaucrat named Joy, breathe life into side characters, but the central couple is vapidly written and the world they inhabit is thinly drawn. One can only hope for a future in which Skinner has written a second draft of the play."
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The Hollywood Reporter
May 18th, 2016

"However accurately forecasters have predicted bleakness, one can only hope that the future is less boring than the one depicted in the not too subtly titled 'The Ruins of Civilization'…It's not just that the play's themes feel so distressingly familiar. It's that they're also rendered in tedious, meandering fashion, with a vagueness that's more frustrating than intriguing...Gardiner's listless staging does little to elevate the energy level of the proceedings."
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New York Post
May 19th, 2016

We need more dystopian plays but ‘Ruins’ isn’t the right one…Skinner tackles weighty topics, from the plight of refugees to government control over women’s bodies, but Margaret Atwood she is not. The show may have worked better as a dark comedy, and Tim Daly’s character gets close to that territory. As is, the production keeps you only mildly engaged where it should terrify, or at least unsettle.”
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Theatermania
May 18th, 2016

"It's a slow grind through Act 1 as Skinner lays all of this groundwork, but it eventually builds to a compelling story…There are moments when Mara feels more like a social-justice thought experiment than a character in her own right. However, Skinner finds the ideal balance between the two in an 11 o'clock confrontation between the foreign protagonist and Silver. Real life rarely affords such an eloquent face-off between the castes — and this one is particularly satisfying."
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BroadwayWorld
May 19th, 2016

“Climate change, privilege, women having control of their bodies and putting up walls, British playwright Penelope Skinner bundles them all together...After her intriguing ‘The Village Bike’ two years ago, ‘The Ruins of Civilization’ seems a letdown, as the dystopian plot plays all too familiarly. Director Leah C. Gardiner's staging is efficient and the ensemble company is fine, but the meandering dialogue and thinly-developed characters create little reason for empathy.”
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Talkin' Broadway
May 19th, 2016

“‘Ruins’ is never exactly subtle, but it is effective when it's underplaying its hand...Skinner, alas, doesn't avoid that much beyond intermission...and ‘Ruins’ drowns in boring, preachy pathos...The shift in tone is jarring, in part because the characters transform instantaneously, not because they've earned their evolution...Seeing how all these people deal with that unflinching reality from their unique perspectives is original and, in its way, gripping."
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CurtainUp
May 18th, 2016

"Ms. Skinner is to be commended for dishing up a full menu of major world problems…But while 'The Ruins of Civilization' is cleverly trendy it also manages to be both overstuffed and under developed. Too many elements of Ms. Skinner's portrait of life in a ruined civilization are left frustratingly vague...The play's production values are first class…Under Gardiner's direction the grim story moves smoothly to its predictably dark conclusion."
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Front Row Center
May 20th, 2016

"This is a well-intentioned piece that is part 'A Doll’s House' and part 'Twilight Zone.' Ms. Skinner’s writing, however, rather than being exploratory, is confining. While the character of Mara is many layered, the other three are one-note...We get the point very early on in this play. The world is going to hell in a handbag, and the people who believe in a Solution are offstage somewhere very far away...Once this is established the play idles like an old Ford pickup."
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The Guardian (UK)
May 18th, 2016

"Skinner’s feminist concerns are complicated and unapologetic. She is interested in the limits that society puts on women and to what extent women internalize these constraints...'Ruins' has its missteps. Some of the dialogue is less than persuasive, there is an occasional whiff of formula...But as the play progresses, Skinner’s future world becomes increasingly complete and cogent, its terrors revealed with deceptively placid care."
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B
May 18th, 2016

"Through seemingly offhand remarks, Skinner builds a chilling picture of a society that is plausible enough to make one uncomfortable. The actors were fine except for an occasional stumble over accents...Some aspects of the plot do not stand up to close examination, the emotional temperature could use a boost and the first act could use a trim. Nevertheless, the play held my interest and raised issues that merit our attention."
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Financial Times (UK)
May 19th, 2016

“Skinner has a fine ear for such Orwellian turns of phrase. Under Leah C. Gardiner’s Pinteresque direction, her dialogue can sound stilted...Her play loses its way, however, after the interval, when the plot becomes reliant on several psychologically far-fetched twists, prompted by the arrival of an immigrant...Roxanna Hope plays the part convincingly, but Skinner doesn’t seem to know quite what to do with the character.”
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WNBC
May 18th, 2016

"Daly adopts a British accent and does impressive work as a persnickety unpublished writer possessing an undercurrent of sensitivity...I also was impressed with Hope’s Mara, who arrives with a dramatic story that in lesser hands might leave us to suspect ulterior motives...Gardiner directs the efficient drama...All four characters seem like real people, trying to balance a sense of humanity with the human need to both adapt to circumstances--and look out for ourselves. "
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On Stage Blog
May 18th, 2016

"This sci-fi dystopia will make your heart skip a beat quite a few times because of the close resemblance to today’s world issues and the remarkable gracefulness with which it is executed…Beautifully written...By setting the play in the future, Skinner not only emphasizes the universal relevance of the issue but also removes the immediate pain and anger...Every turn of the head, every move around the room is meaningful and yet doesn’t look forced."
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