The Whirligig
Closed 2h 30m
The Whirligig
72

The Whirligig NYC Reviews and Tickets

72%
(139 Reviews)
Positive
67%
Mixed
25%
Negative
8%
Members say
Great acting, Disappointing, Absorbing, Slow, Confusing

About the Show

The New Group presents Hamish Linklater's new drama about a fractured community weaving a circuitous route back to one another. ​Starring Zosia Mamet ('Girls') and two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz.

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Member Reviews (139)

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65
Disappointing, Unconvincing, Inconsistent characters, Strong acting, Great set

See it if you like dysfunctional family/friend dramedies. TW has huge gaps in plot/character, but the strong cast delivers zippy lines. Impressive set

Don't see it if you want deep insights. TW doesn't add up. Moments of revelation are awkward (almost laughable). Overstuffed plotting; improbable ending. Read more

60
Disappointing, Unnecessarily long, Disjointed, Lost

See it if You are a fan of one of the actresses. Their scenes are good and the most make sense.

Don't see it if You are a fan of one of the actors. All of their scenes could be scraped with no consequence to the "plot". Sad subject done with no heart. Read more

Critic Reviews (41)

The New York Times
May 21st, 2017

"While 'The Whirligig' offers treats for fans of in-the-moment acting, its moments fail to cohere...Linklater has done a great job in furnishing the interiors of his characters’ lives, but the teetering structure they inhabit creaks...By the end, you may feel as if that set had nearly been spun off its axis. But you’ll also be unlikely to forget the moments in which time seemed to stand still, when the cast fully embodied the script’s insights about the consequences of self-medication."
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Time Out New York
May 21st, 2017

"This uncomfortable mixture of tragedy and comedy is central to Linklater’s affecting and intelligent new play...Scott Elliott’s production keeps a steady sense of balance amid the play’s swirling parts, creating strong bonds of unspoken history within his cast of eight...Even in its exuberant penultimate scene, crowded with characters and revelations, Linklater doesn’t overexplain. He gives his stricken creations room to understand themselves, if not redeem themselves."
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The Hollywood Reporter
May 21st, 2017

"'The Whirligig' never overcomes its strained overwriting and overplotting. There’s genuine emotion at its core and no shortage of wit in the dialogue, featuring generous doses of dark humor. But you can always feel the mechanical wheels whirring in this play performed on a revolving stage. Director Scott Elliott toils to provide cohesion to the disjointed proceedings but proves unable to overcome the overall artifice. But he’s certainly elicited fine performances from the large cast."
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Variety
May 21st, 2017

"Expressionistic in form and melancholy in tone...Despite the downbeat subject, it’s a touching play and exceptionally stageworthy in this polished production...The emotional swings of the play are best realized by Butz, who’s giving a brilliant chameleon performance...This sprawling, plot-free play has room for all sorts of characters...Director Elliott is a certifiable casting maven, so each of these colorful supporting roles is played to eccentric perfection."
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Deadline
May 21st, 2017

"A tedious evening of odd exchanges, push me-pull you confrontations, and long detours down paths better left unexplored...The story skips confusingly about in time...The director, Elliott, isn’t able to keep the threads from getting hopelessly tangled until the welcome sorting out of things as 'The Whirligig' spins to its somber conclusion. Linklater reveals each of these characters with considerable warmth and compassion, which does nothing to alleviate their essential banality."
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New York Daily News
May 21st, 2017

"A whirligig of inconsistency. That includes the storytelling and the acting...For each decent, believable scene there are two or three others that sound tinny and strain credulity...When all is said and done in this production, there’s blame, responsibility and, possibly, forgiveness to go around — along with a slightly uplifting ending that emerges unearned."
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NY1
May 26th, 2017

"It features very strong scenes with potent passages of dialogue. But structurally it's flawed, and its message somewhat muddled. Fortunately, the performances are so strong, you can almost overlook the contrivances...It's almost farcical in the end as all the pieces come together in rather jaunty contrived fashion...Linklater shapes his characters with tender loving care. But in attempting to lighten this very sad story with levity, Linklater allowed his 'Whirligig' to spin out of control."
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Theatermania
May 21st, 2017

"Linklater creates great roles for talented actors, and this cast just happens to be full of them...We are glad to get to know these characters so intimately, but the price is a script that often feels shaggy and overburdened by ancillary details. Linklater could stand to trim some of his dialogue, even if this cast is doing an excellent job of selling it all...Director Scott Elliott's tidy production also helps to keep the play from getting stuck in a rut."
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Lighting & Sound America
May 30th, 2017

“Intricately plotted, yet emotionally indistinct…What is surprising is how little the revelations matter. If ‘The Whirligig’ offered a psychological acuity to match the rigorousness of its plotting, it would have really been something…In the end, we are asked to care about Julie largely because she is young and fatally ill. After two and a quarter hours of sound and fury signifying so little, this simply isn't reason enough.”
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Talkin' Broadway
May 21st, 2017

"Quirky, tender, and often quite funny...The play's broad and ambitious theme of our collective responsibility to one another in this crazy world takes a back seat to the production itself. The power of the play lies within its individual scenes, each of which is a self-contained mini-drama...Credit Scott Elliott's direction...and the outstanding performances by a stellar and eminently talented cast for making 'The Whirligig' as fully engaging as it assuredly is."
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TheaterScene.net
June 6th, 2017

“When Jon DeVries as Mr. Cormeny says a few minutes before the end of Hamish Linklater's second New York play, ‘The Whirligig,’ ‘That's a lot to digest,’ he isn't kidding. Most of this two hour and 20 minute play is exposition of the kind which gives background and information. It isn't until almost the final scene that all the pieces fall into place and the audience knows how all of the eight characters are connected.”
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Theatre is Easy
May 21st, 2017

"An exquisitely composed play...Director Scott Elliott has a way of clarifying the play's labyrinthine connections...Everything fits together organically to propel the narrative forward, without being singularly overwhelming. An ensemble of masterful actors also perfects the intimacy...The play is a thoughtful balance of characters and plot, an intricate design without a single wasted stoke. Each loose end gets tied up, and everything has a satisfying payoff."
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Theater Pizzazz
May 21st, 2017

"The conversations are quick-witted, filled with some terrific comedy lines...It’s a thought-provoking dramedy that will leave you feeling uncomfortable, with real impact...The high-level performances and complexity of this entwined ensemble are quite remarkable, making it difficult to highlight any one specific actor as each is a standout. Scott Elliott’s precision direction creates powerful storytelling on the brilliant turntable set design by Derek McLane."
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CurtainUp
May 21st, 2017

"Anyone giving this somewhat self-indulgently long, complex drama the called for close attention will be well rewarded. Linklater has created a rich tapestry of inter-connected lives. He writes terrific dialogue, full of wonderful literary references...Norbert Leo Butz is ideally cast as Michael, the father who's always ready with a funny routine even when his heart is breaking...The cast overall is outstanding."
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Front Row Center
May 22nd, 2017

"The writing, combined with fine, fine performances and a sensitive touch by director Scott Elliott, make for a mighty fine evening of theatre. So fine that a person could almost forget that this play needs a trim...Linklater is in no hurry to move the plot along, which causes the story to get bogged down. What saves everything is his masterful work creating these characters. Each person is a fully formed hunk of damaged goods...A jewel in the making. So close."
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Stage Buddy
May 30th, 2017

“Linklater’s dialogue is sharp and intelligent, and he finds a fine balance of comedy...The formidable ensemble cast carries it off remarkably well…Though some threads remain tangled and big revelations towards the end lead to lopsided emotional reactions, director Scott Elliott choreographs an intricate deep-dive into a not-unfamiliar community, letting a mighty bunch of actors throw their weight into a heart-tugging exploration of the bonds formed, uniquely, by loss.”
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Front Mezz Junkies
May 30th, 2017

“A touching new play…Each and everyone in this spectacularly talented cast is playing their parts with solid authenticity and exactitude...The dialogue is so smart but sometimes so hard to watch…It’s a shame that as a whole, the play doesn’t rise to the same level of solid authenticity as these few moments…As a whole, it’s convoluted and blurs the deep pain that hovers over these people…The heartbreak comes into focus every so often, but then retreats to the background.”
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Exeunt Magazine
May 23rd, 2017

“The result is anguished character after anguished character heaving and stammering and shouting in the same place for 150 minutes, minus intermission. None of the characters have anything to do but talk about all the things that are upsetting them. They are heavy issues, sure, but where is the action?...‘The Whirligig’ is structured to prevent our investment…Mamet imbues Trish with an authenticity that is lacking from the text…Grating and unfulfilling.”
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T
June 1st, 2017

"Linklater’s characters are all well-rounded and authentic, with believable traits and rich and complex conflicts that successfully drive the engaging plot...Under Scott Elliott’s thoughtful and embracing direction, the characters 'unfold' in layers of surprising details...'The Whirligig' is a gripping psychodrama that explores the intricate dynamics of grief, forgiveness, and reconciliation...Linklater’s impressive play is a must-see."
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New York Theater
May 21st, 2017

"Such unlikely coincidences and contrivances might have sunk completely a different production and a different new play. But Linklater manages to salvage the play’s odd mix of the forlorn, funny, and fanciful by creating appealing and playable characters, who are portrayed by a fine eight-member cast...The design team is adept at keeping the places and periods clear, and helping to infuse what on paper would seem an unrelieved dark tale with a sense of wonder."
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Broadway Blog
May 28th, 2017

“Hamish Linklater's rambling but often richly listenable new play…It takes a long time to get an inkling of where the play is going, what the stakes are, or why we should be concerned enough to return for Act Two…The dialogue often has a nimble, smartass flavor that, while sometimes registering more as clever stage talk than believable conversation, nevertheless helps sustain interest and spark laughter…'The Whirligig' offers considerable meat for its actors to chew on.”
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C
May 21st, 2017

"Linklater’s ambitious and moving new play...being given a top-notch production...Linklater’s grasp doesn’t always match his reach; the play clearly aims for (and falls short of) that perfect Chekhovian mixture of comedy and tragedy. Nonetheless, the author is to be applauded for crafting a compelling story—one brought to life here by a superb ensemble...Even when the plot falters slightly, there is always remarkable psychological acuity in how he treats familial relationships."
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Newsday
May 21st, 2017

"'That’s a lot to digest,' a character says in 'The Whirligig.' After the many plot revelations and chronology-scrambling jumps of Hamish Linklater’s new play, the audience may be inclined to agree...The cast mostly rises to the challenge and is comfortable with the tonal shifts...Scott Elliott stages this production smoothly, considering the constant, challenging changes in setting and timeline...Too bad the big picture that emerges lacks the needed emotional payoff."
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Times Square Chronicles
May 22nd, 2017

"Linklater’s new play 'The Whirligig' is wrapped in grief, yet you laugh at the insights on life...Filled with some amazing performances...To many this play will seem overwhelming, as if too much has been stuffed onto this canvass. The actors are all sublime and the direction by Scott Ellis is a dance of destruction nicely played. I found this show so emotional I was laughing through the first act and in tears by the end...Smart, funny and touching."
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The Clyde Fitch Report
May 21st, 2017

“Drama doesn’t accrue. What develops instead is a series of scenes with characters constantly raising their voices…Linklater’s characters don’t so much ratchet up drama as increasingly become pains in the neck…They’re also company whose intertwining, as Linklater arranges it, can seem forced...Linklater does have a knack for pithy and frequently amusing dialogue…Some, but hardly all, of Linklater’s playwriting problems are mitigated by Scott Elliott’s direction.”
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The Huffington Post
May 22nd, 2017

"Linklater has a keen dramatic sense, plus a knack for sparkling dialogue...Despite the serious strains of the evening, the result is heartening and life-affirming...The cast, methinks, could not be bettered...Let it be said that 'The Whirligig,' as a play, is not without its problems; it is long and might seem overcomplicated for playgoers who haven’t necessarily signed on for an evening of studying...I would say, though, that the revenges of the whirligig of time are Linklater’s point."
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The Wrap
May 21st, 2017

"The play’s many revelations would be upsetting if they were credible...Its many short scenes aren’t always clearly identified as being flashbacks or flash forwards...Linklater ends his play with one big kumbaya moment that would challenge even the most ardent watcher of Lifetime TV...Elliott can be credited with putting together a great ensemble...What Elliott hasn’t been able to do is prevent Mamet and others from overreaching when the script asks for a lot of screaming."
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Wolf Entertainment Guide
May 30th, 2017

“There are time changes and flashbacks to follow the trajectories of Linklater’s assorted characters, with whom you may or may not relate appreciatively. But you will be unlikely to question the veracity or effectiveness of the acting…Linklater deftly exposes his characters in the different time frames...Death is inevitably sad, but the extent that one will respond emotionally will be governed by how deeply one feels for the characters.”
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W
June 5th, 2017

"The densely written, highly literate 'Whirligig' is only actor/playwright Hamish Linklater’s second effort, yet it arrives with the gusto and definition of a practiced hand...Characters are well drawn and skillfully manifest...Director Elliott has done an inspired job of controlling both visual and emotional ebb and flow. Timing is pristine. The company is cohesive and focused. A difficult and successfully realized production to which attention should be paid."
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T
May 30th, 2017

“Linklater’s new play displays a performer’s instinct for juicy, conflict-stuffed scenes. There are flaws in construction, but overall, it’s a worthy effort…Linklater is guilty of oversimplification...But he makes up for this error with engaging dialogue and heartbreaking pathos…The first act spends too much time going over the past while the superior second act shows us these conflicts in flashback...Director Elliott and a solid cast valiantly attempt to keep the rehashing vital.”
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Broadway & Me
June 7th, 2017

"The story is told through one of those fractured narratives that so many writers now resort to instead of just figuring out how to create momentum in a straight-ahead narrative. I tried to follow what was going on but eventually gave up...What kept me going were the first-rate performances. Zosia Mamet brought welcomed humor and pathos...And it was particularly great to see Norbert Leo Butz back onstage."
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Financial Times (UK)
May 21st, 2017

"'The Whirligig' blends comedy and tragedy in the style of 'The Cherry Orchard'...In contrast to Chekhov, the central plot device seems oddly devoid of allegorical significance...What rescues this production is Zosia Mamet...Mamet here masters the art of running rings around everyone else...Under Elliott’s uneven direction, things tend to become flat whenever Mamet is offstage and the male characters, an assortment of drunks, neurotics, and hypocrites, all seem a bit one-dimensional."
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Off Off Online
May 31st, 2017

“The story feels loose under Elliott’s direction. Some of the connections are too baldly contrived…Elliott pulls good performances from all the actors…At the end, Linklater awkwardly attempts to bring most of them together with a bittersweet Shakespearean touch, but it doesn’t work. The result is unwieldy and overlong. Still, Linklater’s ambition is enormous, and the actors make the most of his dialogue, even if the whole may feel like a whirligig of improbability.”
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BlogCritics.org
June 1st, 2017

“Many scenes strike hot, though a couple of important ones fizzle…For the most part, the clever unspooling of the plot is a joy to follow, while the fine cast burnishes individual moments of character revelation into a constellation of inky pathos and acidic humor…Dramatically satisfying, sometimes dizzying plot revelations revolve into view as the scenes spin round…‘The Whirligig’ doesn’t sustain its dreamy magic consistently, but it offers much to appreciate.”
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T
May 22nd, 2017

"An emotionally powerful drama about love and addiction, friendship and responsibility, and what encompasses 'fault'...The torrent of revelations could overwhelm the story but instead helps everything fall into place...Told with a clever circularity, with well-developed characters and a tightly written script that, despite some bumps and bruises, bring it all together, complete with unexpected twists and turns...The cast is excellent."
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scribicide
May 29th, 2017

"Hamish Linklater has written a generous work, one that offers substantial roles to all eight of its actors...There is a humanity here that is missing from more conceptual contemporary works, and while the New Group has been marked recently by superb challenges to theatrical form and purpose, it feels comfortable and comforting to settle in to one that is simply and expertly written in the tradition of the well-made play."
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Off Script with Dan Dwyer
June 2nd, 2017

"Linklater’s heart is in the right place, but the plotting emerges without dramatic focus partly because the story shifts, sometimes clumsily, from the present day back and forth to events 10-15 years before. He introduces some mystery in who really got Julia started in drugs but it seems contrived...The acting of the talented cast is uneven...The usually reliable robust direction of Elliott is rather lifeless...One can’t experience catharsis if there isn’t any action."
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R
May 25th, 2017

"'Whirligig' pitches the audience forwards and backwards in time and emotion, without ever losing its own footing. A beautifully efficient story of love in its many forms, the players in 'Whirligig' have taken the play's honesty to heart with touching and perfect performances. It is the story of a young woman's return home as she is dying, and the people who loved her. The tragedy is how long it takes us all to cut through the bullshit to truth and forgiveness."
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NorthJersey.com
May 24th, 2017

“The play continues to meander under Scott Elliott’s lethargic direction, and while the story itself tries to tackle serious matters nothing is very deeply felt nor does anything jell…Sadly, almost none of the performances are are up to what they should be…Only Hurt seems to have any semblance of realism and is not playing a caricature like the other performers...There is some substance here, but as presented it is an over-inflated, ponderous work.”
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Reclining Standards
May 21st, 2017

“‘Whirligig’ is likely to remind you of other recent works, and the comparisons aren’t flattering…None of this precludes some misty-eyed enjoyment, and ‘Whirligig’ has some winning qualities. The deal breaker for me is mawkishness…There are some sweet character vignettes, expertly drawn by both the writer and the cast…But ‘Whirligig’ is circuitous and overwrought…Though ‘Whirligig’ spins and spins, Hamish Linklater’s bumpy, overwritten play never finds an anchor.”
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Z
May 22nd, 2017

"Linklater’s playwriting skills are at their best in his two-person scenes...Unfortunately, the play’s penultimate scene proves clunky. Secrets spill out and character connections are disclosed in a farcical manner that feels out of keeping with the darkly comic style that preceded it. Director Elliott doesn’t help matters by arranging cast members in a semicircle that feels oddly inorganic...Elliott has assembled a strong ensemble, with particularly fine work from Orsini."
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