Closed 1h 25m
The Trial of the Catonsville Nine
Lower E Side

The Trial of the Catonsville Nine NYC Reviews and Tickets

(82 Reviews)
Members say
Thought-provoking, Great acting, Absorbing, Relevant, Intelligent

About the Show

Transport Group Artistic Director Jack Cummings III has radically re-imagined this provocative piece of theater created from the actual court transcripts of the Catonsville Nine trial.

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Member Reviews (82)

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Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great staging, Compelling

See it if You are a jury in 1968 hearing the impassioned words of war objectors. Powerful issues made personal. Excellent staging w/great ending.

Don't see it if You wouldn't enjoy an artistic nonfiction re-enactment. You are not interested in Vietnam War issues, even though relevant to today.

Ambitious, Disappointing, Indulgent, Slow, Great staging

See it if You enjoy plays based on history. You want a portrait of the Vietnam War protests. You like immersive staging. You enjoy political dramas.

Don't see it if You want characters that are more realistic & less archetype. You want a political play that shows both sides of an issue. Read more

Critic Reviews (14)

February 6th, 2019

“Presented with the NAATCO and performed by three actors of Asian descent, Cummings’s adaptation is ‘Catonsville’ pared down and reassembled...The moral weight of the activists’ defense proves more important than our need to know always which character is speaking, though Cummings’s willingness to blur that clarity does dilute Berrigan’s argument about the power of the individual. It also weakens the play’s emotional potency.”
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February 7th, 2019

"This remarkable moment in political and theatrical history now comes roaring back to life with the fervor its subjects deserve...Performed by three Asian-American actors who rise beautifully to the challenge of playing numerous different characters...'The Trial' is activist theater in the best sense of the term. You won’t learn much about the defendants’ lives beyond their political activities, and the same argument tends to get rehashed repeatedly—but it’s a damn powerful argument."
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February 6th, 2019

"It's a testament to both Cummings's steady directorial hand and the uniformly strong performances of the cast that it is always crystal-clear who is speaking, and about what...In design and staging, Cummings uses the old Neighborhood Playhouse stage in unexpected and exciting ways...With searing moral clarity as powerful as it must have been in 1971, 'The Trial of the Catonsville Nine' challenges us to reassess our responsibility as citizens."
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February 7th, 2019

"Reimagined in ways that are sometimes theatrically arresting but, more often, are at cross purposes with the text...In its best moments, 'The Trial of the Catonsville Nine' shines a light on the moment when the American consensus began to come apart...There's also a tendency to underline every moment unnecessarily, shortchanging the text's plainspoken power...The words of the Catonsville Nine are, if anything, more relevant than ever; do they really need all this artificial sweetening?"
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February 14th, 2019

“Not seen in New York in 30 years, ‘The Trial of the Catonsville Nine’ has been reimagined in a new version by Jack Cummings III, artistic director of the innovative Transport Group theater company, which also uses other sources. A powerful experience, the revival proves to be a provocative investigation of what a citizen should do when he or she feels that the government is engaged in immoral actions.”
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February 6th, 2019

" A brilliant revival of an always timely play....The acting is stellar and it’s compelling to hear Berrigan tell the court that the group’s goal was 'to raise an outcry against a crime, a wanton slaughter, to halt the machine of death'...Thanks to a well-honed script, the actors are able to convey a sense of political urgency without lapsing into rhetoric or making the audience feel guilty for not doing enough. The end result is inspiring, uplifting, and powerful."
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February 6th, 2019

“Transport Group has a well-deserved reputation for innovative staging. And, in this respect, ‘The Trial of the Catonsville Nine’ does not disappoint...One wants desperately to like these people and love the play. But after 85 minutes we can only come to the conclusion that Berrigan's play does not make for a particularly compelling drama...It is very much like a good documentary...At times we are moved by Berrigan's poetry and decency, there are also times when we're just bored.”
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February 7th, 2019

“The stiff text and distancing production choices...make it hard to fully engage...The history presented feels somehow both starkly black and white and murky all at once...By trying to disentangle age, gender, and identity from the voices, we are a little adrift...The production is directed with a heavy-hand...The play itself bears a self-important quality...It becomes lecturing documentary theater...We never know who our are guides are...or why they are telling us this story.”
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February 6th, 2019

“A radical re-imagining of the play...Cummings III is credited with adapting the script...What’s changed most drastically is the staging...There’s a powerful theatricality happening here...but the reasoning behind some of the choices is not exactly clear. The casting of Asian-American performers is certainly intriguing...But why just three performers...It’s harder to be impressed by the actors’ dramatic emoting at any particular moment if we’re not certain who they are.”
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February 7th, 2019

"What we witness is theatrically heightened but the result is very real, especially with the lines being spoken with rare clarity and power by each of these extraordinary actors...'The Trial' remains an important document reminding us of America's continually aggressive foreign policy. Little has changed in how we supposedly serve our national interests...Cummings's staging is rhythmically controlled, movement being both realistic and tightly predetermined."
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February 7th, 2019

"A little too liberal with its facts...The production remembers these brave men and women, but seems at times to be forcing their hand...The actors enter from the back playing multiple characters, breaking gender...Highly confusing, though each of these actors are brilliant at what they do...Jack Cummings III remix, adapted and directed and the original is much more powerful. Sometimes less is more when trying to make your point."
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February 10th, 2019

"Cummings, whose directorial efforts far more often win than lose. But, sad to say, here’s a loss in which he’s defeated by his own concept...A play of all talk and no action. Thus, you’ll want to hear every word of each pro and con argument. Unfortunately, the actual stage of a theater was never designed with acoustics in mind, so the unmiked actors are hard to hear...We don’t get to know the people as individuals, what with all the mix-and-matching – which makes us less emotionally involved."
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February 8th, 2019

"A stirring, often poetic piece of protest art, it is being brought to vivid new life...Cummings III has reimagined it as a kind of found text...It is a fascinating way to stage this time capsule of an age ever more polarized than our own, holding it at a remove that often makes its contemporary resonances ring all the louder...The play and its arguments remain easy to follow...Less easy to parse is the way the presence of Asian American actors reframes the play’s central strategy."
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February 6th, 2019

“A creative new staging...The brilliant that a trio of fine performers interchangeably play everyone in the cast. Under the absorbing direction...the actors create a swirl of argument, moving nimbly around the desks, alternately playing accuser and accused...Thanks to powerful performances...the heartfelt passion and dedication to justice that animated the Catonsville Nine rivets the audience to their seats, with some in tears or biting their lip as the play unfolds.”
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