The New Group presents the world premiere of Jesse Eisenberg's highly personal comedy about a man who sets out to win the heart of his grade school crush. More…
Nobody likes Ben. Ben doesn’t even like Ben. He's been kicked out of grad school, lives off his parents’ money, and bullies everyone in his life, including his roommate Kalyan, an earnest Nepalese immigrant. When Ben discovers that his grade school crush is marrying a straight-laced banker, he sets out to destroy their relationship and win her back.
"Mr. Eisenberg’s script is the best on or off Broadway at the present time and for quite some time before...Direction throughout is exacting and supports the entire cast in delivering outstanding performances that explore the depths of the human psyche with deliberate honesty and authenticity...Watching Mr. Eisenberg navigate the vicissitudes of Ben’s experience puts the audience members in touch with their own sense of alienation and cultural ennui." Full Review
"An engrossingly acted, impeccably staged production...'The Spoils' needs the fully thought-through, richly acted production it has been given. On the page, it comes across as almost as aimless as Ben. Yet Mr. Eisenberg’s acting experience serves him well as a playwright, and his clever, frantic dialogue assumes an irresistible authenticity when it’s spoken by the right actors." Full Review
"Hyper-charged character drama...While Eisenberg's idiosyncratic portrayal is the evening's showcased performance, director Scott Elliot's terrific ensemble does a great job of bringing out the theme of the limits of compassion. It's an intriguing, well-acted play with some startling moments." Full Review
"Speedily directed by Scott Elliott, this New Group production barrels through, and the young cast navigates the dense dialogue and snarky remarks with expert ease. The one caveat is a scaredy last-minute cop-out, as if Eisenberg couldn’t quite face what he’d wrought. Still, for the first time in his short career as a playwright, we can’t wait to see what he’ll do next." Full Review
"On the surface, this terrific, fast-talking, quick-witted serious comedy could be seen as just another lost-boy stoner journey about a rich would-be filmmaker obsessed with childhood eroticism and tribal dominance...But Eisenberg stars in his own beautifully written play... Eisenberg writes funny, but he is also a real storyteller -- moody and dangerous and even loving." Full Review
"Whether the conclusion is redemptive or disastrous is left perfectly, suitably, ambiguous. And that inconclusiveness is part of what makes this play feel so contemporary...The dialogue sounds absolutely authentic, as does the pitch perfect delivery of that dialogue— with just the kind of running jokes a group of smart friends would have—together with body language that speaks a world of meaning." Full Review
"The notion of dramatizing the story of a white kid from the suburbs turned failed NYU film student, living in a huge Manhattan apartment on his father's dime hits me at gut level as the kind of eye rolling, self-aggrandizing 'hipster' punchline that I go out of my way to avoid. Yet what has been crafted with 'The Spoils', manages to be at once painstakingly sincere, brutally honest, and anything but obvious...Seemingly vacuous in its content and yet deeply revelatory about a generation that ... Full Review
"Eisenberg has managed to pull together a script that brings characters with depth and complexity, with plot twists and dramatic moments, while still managing to show signs of being a comedy, albeit on the dark side...The script is tight and well written." Full Review
"The cast is terrific and director Scott Elliott finds it in his heart to extend some compassion to Eisenberg’s perfect little beast...And while 'The Spoils' is more of a 'Day in the Life of …' character sketch than a fully constructed drama, it leaves us wanting to find a kind way to put Ben out of his misery." Full Review
"'The Spoils' is a play not only more complete than his previous works, but also one that is significantly better than the last two combined...In a theatrical landscape filled with plays about fiftysomethings, it's refreshing to see a play that speaks to this generation of young people, one that unabashedly puts forward the sad truth of what it's like to find a place in a society that doesn't want them." Full Review
"'The Spoils' is one of those plays that walk the line between dramatic believability and 'too much'; some viewers might find it convoluted or be repelled by the sex talk. At root, though, Eisenberg has created an intriguing and provocatively emotional group of characters that carry his play. The New Group strives to present theatre that is 'adventurous, stimulating and now...' The play fits their creed quite nicely." Full Review
"The dinner scene of the two couples and Ben is a priceless piece of writing, as is the scene when Ben gets Sarah alone in the apartment...Yes, this is all about Ben. However, the other characters are clearly defined and juxtaposed to give them their own distinct identities. Scott Elliott directs with a smooth hand." Full Review
"If you’re looking for a fast-paced comedy that flies by, you’re in for a treat with 'The Spoils'...Ben truly shows what a procrastinator he is.. A five-star performance; his character will stay in your mind long after the show is over." Full Review
"Eisenberg is at his motormouthed best, darting about the stage like a gangly, knobby-jointed dervish, moving from dinner table to couch to chair to bedroom, always active, always talking, sprawling out languidly...Director Scott Elliott builds the action skillfully." Full Review
"This work is far from a vanity project. The plays themselves are good, and getting progressively better...When Ben’s crap inevitably hits the fan, 'The Spoils' counterbalances it with decency. In Eisenberg’s intensely awkward performance, Ben is both repellent and riveting. He’s a self-dramatizing tragedy: a terror and a pity." Full Review
"An ambiguous ending...that will divide the audience between those moved to feel sorry for Ben's pain, and those unable to sympathize with him; those who see him as a hopeless basket case and those who feel he might still be helped...a well paced, visually on the mark production." Full Review
"While the idea of an unlikable protagonist pushing everyone away isn’t a novel one, Eisenberg uses it to take the audience to some interesting, even enjoyable places. But it’s also one of those plays where, within the first 10 minutes, you know exactly how it’s going to end. 'The Spoils' doesn’t possess many surprises, but unlike Eisenberg’s protagonist, it still achieves a lot of its potential." Full Review
"A first-rate cast to portray Eisenberg’s characters, and the playwright gives them both some great lines and some meaty emotional moments...After 'The Spoils' has ended what one is primarily left with is the hope that Eisenberg will keep on writing, but be kinder to the characters he portrays — not because it’s the decent thing to do, but because it will deepen his work." Full Review
"'The Spoils' is a strangely compelling look at young New Yorkers struggling to achieve their professional ambitions and hold on to their personal identities and values...The scenes have an unusually naturalistic flow. Eisenberg gives a highly invested, hyperactive performance that stresses Ben's self-concerned mentality while adding enough subtlety to suggest some self-loathing." Full Review
"Jesse Eisenberg and Scott Elliott bring star power to a funny, well-acted production, but the story doesn’t entirely add up...The main problem is that all of the action revolves around Ben. He’s more of a type -- a man-child -- than a fully realized character. Audiences wanting motivation for his character’s behavior will likely be frustrated. But it’s a testament to Eisenberg’s writing and the strength of the talented ensemble that the show still mostly works." Full Review
"Ben is the most compelling figure in Jesse Eisenberg's biting but too-chewy new play...Eisenberg hints at broader themes, particularly of race, that never jell into the significance you crave for something to. Worse, none of the other characters is remotely as interesting as Ben." Full Review
"The message? The importance of identity? The script alludes to that, but there is nothing new here...Eisenberg does have the gift of gab, and some of the dialogue is witty. His portrayal packs a punch — and his rapid fire speech is impressive...There are things to be enjoyed here, including the strong cast, but 'The Spoils' doesn’t deliver as it might." Full Review
"Eisenberg plays his twitchy, overbearing character to unsurprising perfection, but it's hard not to wish he would go in a different direction in his future writing endeavors...'The Spoils' seems far too intent on leaving a sour taste in your mouth without being particularly illuminating." Full Review
"The result is like watching a YouTube loop of some hapless jerk jumping into a frozen pool, over and over. Eventually you begin to wonder if the play was expressly designed to produce this series of extreme mortifications...Perhaps that’s irrelevant. But even looked at as an anonymous text, 'The Spoils' disappoints... At this point, Eisenberg hasn’t found a way to make even his best shtick very resonant." Full Review
"Running an overlong two hours and 20 minutes, 'The Spoils' packs cunningly awkward conversations, strong characters and a white-hot mess of an anti-hero...Director Scott Elliott has assembled a sharp supporting cast who make the most of their characters. It’s a pity that Elliott could not convince Eisenberg to trim his script – it makes its points early and often." Full Review
See it if You want to see an entertaining new show. Very interesting. Very funny too.
Don't see it if You don't like watching people sit around and complain about their problems and each other. But in this case it is very entertaining!
See it if you are a millenial living in NYC and want to see yourself up on stage; you like realistic writing.
Don't see it if you are tremendously bothered by indulgent writing by writer/actors. Jesse's character is the most fleshed-out, and he sandbags the others.