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.

... Read more

After much time away, Kristina is back in Berkshire County, and word spreads that she and her ex-husband are caring for their estranged, ailing daughter Julie. Brokenhearted and giddy with love and confusion, surprising visitors from Julie's complicated past practically trip over each other to reach the young woman they thought they'd lost years before but still feel deeply connected to.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"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." Full Review


"'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." Full Review


"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Time Out New York

"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." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"'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." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"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." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“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.” Full Review

Theater Life

“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.” Full Review

New York Theater

"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." Full Review

Front Row Center

"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." Full Review

Broadway Blog

“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.” Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

“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.” Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"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." Full Review

New York Daily News

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

“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.” Full Review


"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." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"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." Full Review


“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.” Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"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." Full Review

The Wrap

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"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." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

“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.” Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Dizzying, Great acting, Banal

See it if you wanted to see a talented ensemble do what they can to make a new play cohesive.

Don't see it if you prefer plays with a linear style.

Pointless, Confusing, Disappointing, Long, Uninteresting

See it if you want to see Zosia Mamet and Norbert Leo Butz in a conventional drama in a fairly intimate space

Don't see it if there's anything better on TV that night

Great acting, Quirky, Banal, Disappointing, Cliched

See it if you want to see Hamish Linklater's debut as a writer. A great cast (incl Norbert Leo Butz, Zosia Mamet, Alex Hurt, Jonny Orsini)

Don't see it if you want a cohesive storyline that isn't full of cliches or plot movie coincidences.

Also There's some interesting things going on this play but needs further e... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Confusing, Cliched, Good acting

See it if Linklater's emotionally charged drama is barely saved by superior acting Themes of reciprocity & blame try to emerge amid whirligig of ideas

Don't see it if Elliot's valiant direction tries to bring coherence but is often defeated However, ending does come together in a somewhat convoluted way

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Confusing

See it if you enjoy plays about the problems of drug abuse and how it affects family and friends.

Don't see it if you want to see light hearted plays that don't require thought or have strong, complex emotional impact

Also The acting was excellent.

Confusing, Disappointing, Great staging

See it if you like dialogue driven shows about addiction, with non-linear timelines and no happy endings.

Don't see it if you need a linear plot line and you want a clear resolution. I had trouble following what was going on, and frankly lost interest in trying.

Edgy, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Confusing, Great staging

See it if you like plays about people, their struggles, and how we are influenced by our relationships

Don't see it if you only like to see straight forward "well made" plays

Great acting, Great writing, Confusing, Great staging, Ending is its only flaw

See it if you want a play that infuses comedy into sad situations beautifully. Because of its flow between now and then, it requires concentration.

Don't see it if you are looking for an easy straight forward play

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if You're a fan of any of the cast. Great staging and acting.

Don't see it if You're looking for something light

Absorbing, Interesting, Entertaining, Engaging, Nascent

See it if you want to see a winsome, if imperfect, play by Linklater. A good dramaturge could tighten the script & loose ends of this fledgling play.

Don't see it if you aren't willing to give an experimental piece with a number of plot holes a chance. This was written in earnest & has a lot of potential.

Sad, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Needs editing

See it if you enjoy well developed characters and masterful acting. Butz is great.

Don't see it if you don't like sad plays and flawed characters that are often hard to like.

Relevant, Confusing, Disappointing, Slow, Great staging

See it if you want to see a very good cast performing a sad, mixed up show. While subject matter was relevant, the time shifts were confusing to many

Don't see it if you can't follow non-linear plots; you want light subject matter; you prefer musicals.

Sad, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Interesting, Character driven

See it if you like excellent acting, character analysis and an examination of poor decision making and its effect in peoples' future lives.

Don't see it if you favor escapist light entertainment with happy endings.

Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Well acted, Great staging

See it if you enjoy serio-comic plays, quite relevant to our world, leaving you with something to discuss.

Don't see it if you want show-stopping dance numbers or belly laughs. Not for children.

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

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.

Also this show is way too long, with too little payoff. The revolving set a... Read more Read less

Funny, Disappointing, Slow

See it if You want to sit through over 2 hours of a slow moving play. If you do go, the second act is a little better than the first, so stay.

Don't see it if you like good drama.

Ambitious, Edgy

See it if Your aware of new and up and coming actors with a bright future. A 2 1/2 hour play that involves an assortment of characters.

Don't see it if Slow moving story once again about a person who is ill. This maybe a turn off for some.

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Resonant, Great writing

See it if You love a great drama and great actikfm. Fresh. Innovative. Engaging.

Don't see it if You don't want to see another dysfunctional family

Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Overrated, Slow

See it if You want to be bored out of your mind! The 1st act was a complete snooze fest. I left at intermission. I had such high hopes for this play.

Don't see it if You value how you spend your money & your time at the theater. If turn table stages or people stuck on fake tree limbs = Stay away! Fail.

Ambitious, Intelligent, Relevant, Indulgent, Slow

See it if Like good acting are interested in a play about choices people make and addiction

Don't see it if Have little patience for very circuitous play with seemingly contrived connections. Stories about privileged white people suffering

Banal, Disappointing, Excruciating

See it if You hate Norbert Leo Butz and you want his career to die.

Don't see it if You only want to see THE GIRLS' co-star and actress who had a leg-up in show biz because her Dad wrote a couple of decent plays 20 yrs ago!

Clever, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if Loved the staging, acting all good But... 80 and and a 70 produces the 75. Sets are great. Small space works well.

Don't see it if some scenes needed more projection by the actors. .. some confusion re; who is whom.. Will be better with some tender loving care.

Confusing, Disappointing, Slow

See it if You're interested in seeing the first production of a play by Hamish Linklater & don't care if it needs editing/or you love Norbert Leo Butz

Don't see it if You don't like slow, drawn-out plots that should really be a 90-minute play that don't waste talent like NLB & other good actors.

Sad, Funny, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Interesting set

See it if You like sad but funny, well acted shows.

Don't see it if You have trouble dealing with addiction issues.

Absorbing, Great acting, Resonant, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you want to see a well-acted, well-written play about a small-town community. The staging is clever.

Don't see it if you need a play with big name actors and elaborate sets.

Cast & Creatives (16)