New York | 2h 15m | Already closed

The Sound and the Fury

From 31 critic and 5 member reviews
Members say: Ambitious, Absorbing, Great acting, Confusing, Resonant

About the show

Obie Award winning ensemble 'Elevator Repair Service' returns to The Public Theater with their widely praised staging of William Faulkner's modernist masterpiece. More…

With a lush sound score, high-energy choreography and a profoundly versatile ensemble, ERS delivers a verbatim staging of the novel's opening chapter, Faulkner's famous experiment with memory and language. Serving up the tragic demise of the Compson family with humor and pathos against a backdrop of an eerily timeless Southern living room, this ensemble of theatrical daredevils, known for their fearless commitment, breathes thrilling new life into another American literary classic.

Stage and Cinema

"The standout theater company Elevator Repair Service brings 'The Sound and the Fury' to the Public Theater, with spectacular results...Benjy’s innocence and his inability to intellectualize and compartmentalize, make his an immediate, unprejudiced experience of life, of pure, unconditional reality, which is what this captivating, perfectly theatrical production is all about." Full Review

Entertainment Weekly

"Between this visual dissonance and soundtrack of wailing and radio static, we get some sense of the blurry turmoil of living as Benjy. 'The Sound and the Fury' is the sort of work that’s tough to take in initially, but that stays with you long after, like a slow drip of oil onto the gears of your mind to ensure they’ll keep spinning." Full Review


"The actors' performances are so well-timed and compelling that the show moves forward with admirable velocity, devoid of the academic mustiness that often taints staged readings...'The Sound and the Fury' is a model of polished ensemble artistry...not only comprehensible — but entertaining and emotionally satisfying." Full Review

The New York Times

"As mystifying and enlightening as one of those dreams that seem to explain everything for as long as you’re asleep...If you haven’t read 'The Sound and the Fury' (preferably recently), you’re still likely to be at sea. But if you keep your senses wide open, you’ll be aware of patterns forming, the kind that seem to spring up unbidden in your memory...The times portrayed here, after all, never stop happening, not as long as there are readers of Faulkner’s book." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"A sadness pervades the spectacle, occasionally relieved by humor reflecting the dysfunctional lives under inspection. The work challenges audiences to keep up with it and make sense out of all of the performances...Not everyone will think it worth spending so much intellectual energy in trying to follow everything...But for those who enjoy such a challenge and don’t find it an interminable slog, the Elevator Repair Service obliges big time." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"'The Sound and The Fury' will not be a straight reading – if that were possible – of Faulkner’s most difficult novel...Retaining only Benjy’s story from the novel’s sprawl, Elevator Repair Service delivers an expressionistic snapshot of the chaos of this once aristocratic family viewed, appropriately, by the most visible manifestation of its disorder." Full Review

New York Theatre Guide

"This is a fun stylized staging of William Faulkner’s novel and the time flies by. The story is told in a fragmented manner as this is how it is remembered by Benjy. Elevator Repair Service has a firm grasp on the novel and the cast truly looks like they’re having a blast acting it out. I look forward to seeing the next work they choose to stage." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Don’t miss this downtown theatre experience if only for the sheer hubris of the effort, an experimental staging...This production saturates its audience with the story, characters and emotions Faulkner evokes. Even though it uses Faulkner’s text verbatim, it is more like swimming in the subconscious, not always a happy and light place, but certainly a fascinating one...I highly recommend the show to anyone interested in unconventional downtown theatre. I can’t wait to see it for a second tim... Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"It’s a brilliant, sometimes mesmerizing production but if you don’t know the book, or don’t remember your English professor’s lectures about it, you’re going to find it something of a slog...I can’t conceive of a more authentic way to bring Faulkner’s world to the stage. Still, reading 'The Sound and the Fury' beforehand may prove useful; otherwise, you might, like several folks when I attended, find it easier to leave midway, or to catch up on your sleep." Full Review


"Those not already familiar with the novel may be left totally in the dark by 'The Sound and The Fury.' Luckily, this ERS show is stimulating enough to inspire you to have fun making up your own story, completely divorced from Faulkner's tale. Audiences should beware, however: The show runs two hours and 15 minutes, with no intermission. You might want to use the facilities beforehand. No matter how rapt you become in the world of Faulkner and ERS, a needy bladder will always win the day." Full Review

New York Post

"Don’t go in expecting to understand everything, and you won’t be disappointed...The constant sensory overload means that your attention is nearly always engaged...This isn’t a show for everybody — a couple of people walked out at a recent performance — but it rewards open minds." Full Review


"Though the efforts involved are admirable and professional, what is accomplished by presenting Faulkner's words in this manner is unclear. It would be harsh (and cheap) to say that Elevator Repair Service's 'The Sound and The Fury' signifies nothing, but the concept of the piece proves more interesting than watching an evening of its execution." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"A master stroke and a missed opportunity at the same time...A few moments stand out, but time and again, I was thinking of what was missing from the book: Faulkner's spot-on depiction of the feuding and one-upmanship that typifies siblings; the subtle shading of race relations; and most of all the humor. " Full Review


"Most of the dozen actors play multiple roles, and it's not always clear who's who at any particular time...I imagine the aim of the production is to have the audience sink into Benjy's skewed consciousness, even if it mightn't pick up on each thing that happens. For me, that connection never took place. 'The Sound and the Fury' came across as a hectic theatrical experiment, viewed from a distance." Full Review

The New York Times

for a previous production "The famously venturesome Elevator Repair Service brings a sanity, humility and theatrical ingenuity to their interpretation that, like the novel, illuminates the clarity within apparent chaos...For those familiar with 'The Sound and the Fury,' Elevator Repair Service has provided a magical opportunity: the chance to rediscover some of the thrill that came with encountering and gradually embracing one of the great achievements of Western literature for the first time." Full Review

Time Out New York

for a previous production "If you see Elevator Repair Service’s utterly original version of the book’s first chapter, you will learn to see theater, and might quit going. ERS’s production is that pure—a stunning act of choreographed literary transmutation that still retains a humble, goofy sense of humor in its deep reading of a dense modernist text. Every aspect of the show is lovingly crafted...There are moments of shocking clarity that break your heart; so much, everything, is signified." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

for a previous production "The mark of a good work of art is that you wanted to live inside it. I not only wanted to live inside the world that Elevator Repair Service created, I did live there for the 2 1/2 hour ride. This production saturates its audience with the story, characters and emotions Faulkner evokes. It is more like swimming in the subconscious of the Compson family, not always a happy and light place, but certainly a fascinating one...I can’t wait to see it for a second time, and live inside that world a... Full Review


for a previous production "It's been more than a week now since I saw the show, and it has remained vivid in my mind, a rare example of a play doing what, really, only a play could do...This is what keeps theatre vital -- not productions that attempt to be sit-coms or movies-of-the-week, but productions that try to exploit the particular experiences that can be created by live actors in front of an audience." Full Review

Los Angeles Times

for a previous production "The group creates a space in which to swirl around in Faulkner's elegiac prose...Faithful not just to the novel's words but to its slippery structure, this ambitious, wacky and erratic piece is reverent to its source material, though not slavishly so...if you're hankering to explore Faulkner's haunting world, whose profundity of feeling can be reached only by repeated visits, then this E.R.S. journey is definitely worth taking. No, it's not perfect, but there's originality to spare." Full Review

NWI Times

for a previous production "The result is a fever-dream of a play, one that washes over the audience as an impressionistic collection of sensations that slowly coalesces into a cohesive narrative... Director Collins has said that merely adapting the novel would have felt too safe, adding, 'And if something feels safe warning bells start going off with me." His alarms should all fall silent with this production.'" Full Review


for a previous production "This wildly inventive company find a physical life on stage that is appropriate to the novel and theatrically enveloping, even hypnotic...Their theatrical story telling is so inventive but they use up all their tricks in the first act, leaving the physical life of Act II without any surprises. I wished they had saved us one surprise...In its totality I found this was an affecting and involving evening of theater, full of invention...If you're in the area I highly recommend it." Full Review


for a previous production "Elevator Repair Service has taken the stream-of-consciousness opening to this modern classic and rendered it as a viable -- if not always enjoyable -- theatrical offering...All the choices in this collaboratively created piece, whether successful or not, are part of an overall design to find the theatrical essence of Faulkner's work. It's an ambitious and praiseworthy undertaking that deserves attention and serious contemplation." Full Review


for a previous production "ERS creates a theatrical language as complex as Faulkner’s literary technique, and the result is both maddening and exquisite...Collins and company seem more interested in Faulkner’s style than in the story he’s telling. The author uses his devices to serve a larger human drama, but in this production, feelings rarely break through. ERS works with intelligence and imagination, but their efforts would be even more rewarding if they balanced their cleverness with simple, raw emotion." Full Review

New York Theater

for a previous production "This incredibly ambitious project may fall a touch short but that is not for want of creativity and commitment on the part of ERS, and while not yet fully enough realized, the production does shows clear signs of evolving into a powerful piece...For individuals unfamiliar with the novel this production may prove a bit frustrating and for folks who require a traditional narrative thread it will flat out induce insanity, but 'The Sound and the Fury' is on its way to signifying an extraordinary... Full Review

Culture Catch

for a previous production "It is certainly experimental theatre. And it packs a theatrical wallop...It does illuminate Faulkner. But it takes more than two and a half hours, and as time passes the repetitions grow more tedious...For hardcore Faulkner fans, they provide an opportunity to have one hell of an acting out of this classic work. What emerges is almost an opera, sometimes lyrical, and they do respect the words. So catch it before it closes." Full Review

Absorbing, Great acting, Ambitious, Quirky, Creative

See it if you are a fan of ERS and their unique approach to staging found text, a Faulkner enthusiast, or an experimental theater fan.

Don't see it if you hate having to pay close attention or just want something light and fluffy.

Banal, Cliched, Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating

See it if You really love this book.

Don't see it if You're looking for a coherent story. I wanted to leave, but since there was no intermission, I was trapped.

Ambitious, Great acting, Inventive, Offbeat

See it if you are an ERS fan; you are willing to be taken for a exhilarating and sometimes confusing ride; you don't need plays to make perfect sense.

Don't see it if you want it to be a straightforward adaptation of Faulkner; you don't have good eyesight (the font for supertitles is TINY); you hated GATZ.

Intelligent, Masterful, Resonant

See it if You like powerful plays

Don't see it if You like faster, lighter entertainment.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Funny, Enchanting, Entertaining

See it if You like to go back in time.

Don't see it if You don't like America.

Cast & Creatives

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