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The Treasurer

From 32 critic and 130 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Slow, Intelligent

About the show

Playwrights Horizons presents a darkly comic, sharply intimate character study that chronicles the strained ties between a son (Tony nominee Peter Friedman) and his aging mother (Tony winner Deanna Dunagan). More…

Ida Armstrong is broke, lonely, and fading fast. And she’s spending all of her children’s money, forcing her son to assume the unwanted role of the Treasurer: an arrangement that becomes untenable the more he questions his devotion to her. 

New York Magazine / Vulture

"A quiet revelation...It makes boundaries porous, creates a space that blends the mundane and the mystic, that slips between the life of the moment and the life of the mind, even obscures the border between life and whatever comes after...A ravishing slow burn, with layers that quietly unpeel as the piece goes on...Deanna Dunagan gives an adjective-defying performance. She made my chest hurt." Full Review

Front Row Center

"A small gem of a play. Dark, funny, and disturbing...The inspired words of a fresh young playwright in the mouth of a seasoned, nuanced actor combined to make arresting, exciting theater grab us and not let go...The scenes are fast and furious at times...Cromer has done a masterful job of staging all this seamlessly...I can’t say enough about Friedman’s performance...Every breath, every pause conveys precisely what he’s thinking and he is a joy to watch." Full Review

The New York Times

"An emotionally dense play...Mr. Posner’s writing is often effectively double-edged, an amalgam of 21st-century casualness and cadenced lyricism. He is blessed in his director, Mr. Cromer...and his cast. Mr. Friedman is marvelous in evoking a rational man being steadily consumed by a cancerous guilt, while Ms. Dunagan’s shrewd performance fully justifies his jagged ambivalence...Mr. Posner...has a sharp and original ear for the tension between what is spoken and what is not." Full Review

Time Out New York

"'The Treasurer' ultimately feels emotional and personal, balancing the inevitability of Ida’s decline with unexpected swerves in the Son’s complex reactions. David Cromer’s precise, unsentimental staging gives the play the room it needs to breathe and the actors fill the space he gives them. I will not soon forget watching Friedman, a performer of uncanny ease, evoke the private hell of the Son’s devising, where his wounds are licked by gentle flames." Full Review

Off Off Online

"Posner’s deeply felt, sharply observed play about dementia and care-giving...Friedman manages to balance Jacob’s resentfulness with the suggestion of an unseen reservoir of pain...Cromer has directed expertly, blending humor and anger and sadness into a cohesive whole...It’s a marvelous introduction to a young writer with the astonishing talent to convey truths that apply more forcefully to a generation he doesn’t belong to—his ability to empathize so vividly is no small achievement." Full Review

Manhattan Digest

"May not be one of the fastest moving plays around, but it is certainly one of the most honest, timely, and sapient works that subtly paints a complex portrait of relationships between a mother and her children...Director David Cromer guides the production with sensitivity. He is isn’t afraid of the awkward pauses and contemplation that his actors so wisely give to this material." Full Review

Culture Catch

"'Treasurer' won me over. And moved me in ways that a lesser play would not. It is wonderful...On the surface, this is a by-the-numbers issue play...But there's a great deal more here, including funny and poignant ruminations...Like many virtuosos, Friedman makes it look easy...Dunagan plays a less complicated character. But plays her with a combination of charm and ferocity...Cromer has created a deceptively simple but powerful production. There are no flourishes, just haunting revelations." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"An engaging new play, wickedly funny and surprisingly surreal...Directed by the always impressive Cromer, the fluidness of the storytelling feels entrancing...It’s seamless and fluid, keeping us thoroughly engaged at every turn regardless of how uncomfortable, sad, and funny it all is, and it’s usually all three at the same moments...Posner has written a very funny and honest play about the complications of an imperfect mother/son relationship and what is possibly in store for us all." Full Review


"Posner dramatizes this all-too-common scenario with style and sensitivity, leading us to think about our own lives with uncommon clarity...Cromer's production is full of such subtle yet confident visual storytelling...We would be inclined to hate The Son were it not for Friedman's remarkably sympathetic performance...Posner has created a clear-eyed portrait of the tension between perception and reality that has harrowing implications for the way we age in America." Full Review


"As directed by David Cromer, the relationship between the reunited mother and son, beautifully played by the two fine actors, is decidedly unsentimental...Like much of the 95-minute piece, the moment is understated, which is what makes 'The Treasurer' so fascinating. The tragedy and pathos that emerges sprouts from the self-judgement one feels when one simply doesn't feel.” Full Review


"An often moving and sometimes funny meditation on parent-child guilt...Friedman’s work through these 95 minutes is both seemingly simple and stunningly truthful, while Dunagan unveils every facet of this complex woman...Cromer’s direction is, as usual, smart and sensitive...Don’t let the plot outline of 'The Treasurer' deter you from this well-written play. What sounds merely depressing is actually quite enlightening." Full Review


"The playwright, the performers, and director David Cromer manage to take this familiar situation into intriguing directions that leave us uncertain as to where our sympathies lie...It all sounds rather bleak, but thanks to these master actors and a director with an eye for detail, 'The Treasurer' is a fascinating study of how apron strings can become a choking garrote...We are left to consider who has been responsible for all the little murders we have been witness to." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"'The Treasurer' is a 95-minute, intermission-less play, but it is rich and layered, and I think you’ll agree that Posner has not skimped when it comes to substance. Pathos and humor blend in ways that make the audience squirm...Friedman is terrific portraying a deeply conflicted man, but one who is also wry and philosophical about his predicament...Cromer’s direction is steady and shrewd. I especially liked the way he challenges the audience with long, uncomfortable silences." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

“A provocative, worthwhile study of a middle-aged man who becomes the designated primary guardian of his mother’s affairs...As directed by the redoubtable David Cromer, and possibly as indicated by the script, the proceedings move at a steady, slow, contemplative pace, with a lot of air for silent tension, and sometimes just for tacitly communicating the visceral sensation of time in suspension...Peter Friedman in one of his best performances ever.” Full Review


"While Dunagan's performance as Posner's pivotal character is touching and often funny, the big star turn here belongs to Friedman...Given the dark reality of this story, we need some humor to offset the at times excruciatingly difficult to watch economic and emotional travails of Posner's characters...Cromer taps into what makes 'The Treasurer' touch our hearts...Not lighthearted entertainment...But neither is there anything smug or falsely hokey...The production overall is well worth seeing." Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"There are some very funny bits along the way, some more relevant than others...It is uneven and fragmented and could benefit from further work. Nevertheless, Posner’s writing has a quirky energy that shows promise for the future...Cromer is only partially successful in pulling it all together. While it doesn’t seem quite ready for prime time, it is an imaginative take on an all too relevant problem and affords the opportunity to see two top-notch actors at work." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"Posner displays a brightly contemporary point of view with a keen comic sense. Bright and keen, yes; fully realized, no. Fortunately, he has Cromer to help move this nonlinear memory play along. Posner also profits from excellent central performances by mother and son...Some viewers are likely to object to length, or choppiness, or what might seem to be aimlessness. But Posner is a playwright to watch and to follow, and Friedman and Dunagan make 'The Treasurer' well worth the visit." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Posner sets Jacob and Ida up as perfect foils for each other: protagonist and antagonist in a serious conflict punctuated by laugh lines...Dunagan is delightful as Ida...As Jacob, Peter Friedman is likable but more complex and far more tortured than his mother...The struggle between Ida and her son keeps our attention with its humor and familiarity. Our involvement would be more acute and the piece more affecting if mother and son were more evenly matched." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"A production that benefits from two of the most unsparing performances to be seen this season...This strange, sad dance of expired love is given vivid life by Friedman and Dunagan, under the exacting, pointillist direction of Cromer...A singular piece of writing, sometimes totally naturalistic, sometimes informed by quirky fantasy...At times, the play feels stranded between styles...Still, by the final scenes, it's easy to feel that Posner has known all along where he is headed." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"'The Treasurer' is the study of a beset character whom Friedman plays wrenchingly right through a final in-one talk to patrons that tugs at the heart until the heart cracks. But as a 95-minute intermissionless character study, it stints on aspects that might have been elaborated on...By the final blackout—and the minor flaws notwithstanding—'The Treasurer' is not only a moving experience but also something of a unique one." Full Review


"At times very funny and moving, Posner’s choppy family drama is weighted down by authorial, stylistic excesses. Luckily it has the superb Peter Friedman and Deanna Dunagan as a contentious son and mother who elevate the patchy material...Besides the outstanding performances, director Cromer’s staging achieves a striking visual dimension...Conceptually erratic though poignant, 'The Treasurer' is nearly redeemed by its two powerful, central performances." Full Review

Broadway Blog

“'The Treasurer,' a semi-autobiographical combination of pathos, humor, and surrealism…that works more because of the excellence of its two leading players than anything in the…play itself…Instead of creating more face-to-face stage time (instead of phone calls) between the Son and Ida, Posner too often distracts us with tangential dialogue, lengthy pauses, and comically offbeat scenes…David Cromer's direction elicits strong, affecting performances but his physical staging raises questions.” Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

"Wonderfully acted, and there are a good number of solid scenes, some funny, some moving. But one walks away as from a family reunion that wasn’t as satisfying as one had hoped...In a family drama, even one about familial alienation, one yearns for some family interaction. 'The Treasurer' seems to be deliberately keeping its family characters at a distance from one another...With nowhere else to go, the playwright mixes in a scene or two that mix middlebrow philosophizing with sci-fi." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Featuring superb performances by Friedman and Dunagan, 'Treasurer' tackles its difficult subject matter with sensitivity and flights of lyricism. Unfortunately, the play doesn't live up to its considerable ambitions. Diffuse and unfocused, it provokes as much impatience as feeling...Cromer's staging feels unduly fussy and the pacing is sluggish...Problematic but affecting, 'Treasurer' reveals a playwright with promise who needs some seasoning to bring his ideas to more successful fruition." Full Review

New York Daily News

"When all is said and done, Max Posner has written a thoughtful, fairly straight-up family story—one that nods openly to 'The Glass Menagerie.' But between its fragmented structure and repetitive scenes and sometimes quirky direction by David Cromer (hey, let’s obstruct the view of these audience members) the production can confound. It can also, on occasion, delight." Full Review

Exquisite, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Must see

See it if you want masterful writing, acting and directing. It flows like honey. It leaves you shaken and wanting more.

Don't see it if you need realistic staging and like your theater spoon-fed.

Thought-provoking, Profound, Great writing, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you love great acting and creative, effective staging and a play contemplating family obligations

Don't see it if end of life issues are too depressing or you don't want to face the conflicted, complicated emotions of elderly care.

Absorbing, Great staging, Relevant, Resonant, Quirky

See it if you enjoy small, moving dramas that revolve around family issues performed in an intimate space. Modern and relevant.

Don't see it if you would rather see a musical or romantic comedy with a huge cast.

Great acting, Great writing, Profound

See it if you've ever been financially strained by a member of your family. Apparently, you're not alone. This was one of the best plays I've seen.

Don't see it if you want instant gratification. This play takes its time but pays off in the end.

Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You want to see a slice of life Drama that literally could happen in any family in our country today. It is heart-wrenching and very funny !

Don't see it if You can't deal with plots that encompass the ups and downs of aging. You are looking for a totally feel good evening of theatre.

Great acting, Profound, Resonant, Masterful, Intelligent

See it if You are looking for a poetic, powerful, relatable new work by an incredible author and performed by a top notch cast.

Don't see it if New works aren’t your thing or you are looking for a “light” evening of Theatre.

Clever, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Profound

See it if You want a new depiction of long-distance and strained relationships

Don't see it if You want 100% realism

Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Intense, Entertaining

See it if You like drama and can handle heavy issues & hard decisions that include money, old age, death, etc. I shed a tear or two

Don't see it if you have experienced anything similar recently and or prone to crying easily.

Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you like family dramas that aren't sugar coated.Friedman and Dunagan are at the top of their game, See it for that if nothing else.Worth it

Don't see it if you want a light piece of fluff.Play has a lot to say about taking care of aging parents, even those who weren't good parents.Well staged.

Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Profound, Thought-provoking

See it if you like plays that push boundaries, make you think, and explore the concepts of family and death. Beautiful and tragic, really well done

Don't see it if You want a happy play

Profound, Absorbing, Great writing, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if a real success; i'll be thinking about this one for a long time

Don't see it if n/a

Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if You'd like to see a new voice in the theater take on a big idea, rather than an issue; if you have a mom.

Don't see it if You're looking for "contemporary relevance" over "timeless resonance."

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing

See it if you're interested in plays about dementia or about existential thoughts and life as a whole

Don't see it if you want a show with a true three act structure or a very explicit conflict that comes to a head in one climax

Absorbing, Great storytelling, Confusing, Intelligent, Quirky

See it if you like Deanna Dunnigan. You like family drama and stories about family conflict.

Don't see it if you don't like stories that have people losing their marbles, don't like stories about old people, don't like family conflict and drama.

Great acting, Relevant, Intense

See it if you want to see the winner of the next round of Off-Broadway acting awards: Peter Friedman. (A prediction.) His performance is exceptional.

Don't see it if you've had your fill of edge-of-dementia themed plays.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You enjoy a challenging drama which touches on relevant issues, want to see some wonderful acting in a touching play.

Don't see it if If you want a light comedy, are unwilling to commit to watching issues which may hit painfully close to home, need a traditional linear play

Absorbing, Sensitive direction and acting, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if Want to see extraordinary performances in complex subject/play. It's funny, sad, touching, complicated, as good family dramas are.

Don't see it if Can't see distant family grapple w effects of aging, dementia, in controlling parent, want traditional set, don't like breaking 4th wall.

Also The cast of four are all superb, with breathtaking performances by Pet... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Troubling

See it if To see work by young writer, encounter quirky, clever staging, explore mother-son relationship complete with guilt, manipulation & grief

Don't see it if You don't like somewhat cryptic staging in a memory play, can't deal with aging, dementia, guilt, obligation, death, grief & notions of hell

Also This play is never less than fascinating with two excellent actors in ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy complex stories that explore nuanced family relationships where the characters are not clearly good or bad.

Don't see it if you prefer entertaining, light theater.

Absorbing, Great staging, Great writing, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if you want a show that goes deep into a tough subject matter that we all deal with. Wonderful acting and staging. Asks you to think.

Don't see it if dealing with growing old and issues of being independent are a problem to watch

Enlightening, Disturbing

See it if You're interested in the issues of aging, care-taking and family baggage with a fine cast.

Don't see it if If the realities of senescence get you down. If your kids don't love you. If you're looking for a break from reality.

Also This may be how our world ends, like the man said," not with a bang bu... Read more Read less

Clever, Great staging, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You are interested in parent/adult children relationships that are complicated by dementia. Liked the frankness of the story.

Don't see it if Dementia or issues aging parents disturb you. I felt a lot of honest feelings were expressed- life is not always a picture perfect movie.

Intense, Slow, Conflicted, Sad, Disturbing

See it if Cautionary tale about not being able to forgive and be kind after circumstances have changed. Ironically, treasurer: one who treasures.

Don't see it if You don’t want to watch someone suffer because they are so weighed down with emotional baggage that they cannot love a demented old woman.

Great staging, Great writing, Resonant

See it if You enjoy clever pieces investigating familial ties.

Don't see it if You need dynamic action. You want a classic drama.

Great acting, Great dialogue, Thought-provoking, Confusing, Memento mori

See it if you enjoy slightly unpolished works by new playwrights, absorbing looks into aging and guilt, truly outstanding acting/brilliant dialogue

Don't see it if you already have nightmares about getting old (one older audience member behind us said "my worst nightmare", with a laugh)

Also We happily picked up the transcript of an interview with the playwrigh... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (12)