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This Flat Earth

From 24 critic and 236 member reviews
Members say: Relevant, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Great acting, Ambitious

About the show

At a middle school a seaside town, the unthinkable has happened, placing a bewildered community in the national spotlight. A world premiere from Playwrights Horizons. More…

Stuck at home in a state of shocked limbo, Julie and Zander, two thirteen-year-olds, try to make sense of the chaos they witnessed, their awkward crushes, and an infinitely more complicated future — but the grown-ups are no help at all. An urgent response to our times, 'This Flat Earth' is a deeply felt story of growing up in our confounding world.

Stage Buddy

"A great play is like a great voyage: terrifying in its vastness, simultaneously bewildering and thrilling. Such is the journey of 'This Flat Earth'...At the play’s opening and in its final moments, our young protagonist Julie begins to ask what is ultimately the most profound question of all: Are you there?...And with the beauty of great metaphor, as Julie's question resonates throughout the play, our questions begin...Devastating and perfectly stunning theatre." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Taichman’s direction is affectionately gentle – how could she not feel affection for Ferrentino’s beautiful script? Director and writer are of one mind and present a story that resonates. The cast is uniformly marvelous. Davis shines in petulant innocence, while Saint-Germain is only slightly more mature...Beck’s Lisa is far more chipper than a mother who lost her child should be, using cheerfulness as a very effective shield from the sorrow underneath." Full Review


"The play's portrayal of grief was one of the most realistic representations I have seen onstage, with a good balance of confronting politically-themed topics and their related emotions. While never feeling overly political or overly dramatic, the play is the perfect amalgamation of our current news agenda through a humanistic lens. There were moments when I could hear audience members audibly crying, but there were also moments when we all laughed." Full Review


"'This Flat Earth' is an important play....This production is a clear clarion call for a problem that is only now becoming locked into our national psyche even though it's grown from a constant and seemingly unending set of events...There is no hammer here pounding the nail home. There is no rallying cry driving you to action. There is just a constant sense of truth in the midst of heartfelt questions and genuine pain...The production is deftly directed by Rebecca Taichman." Full Review


"A poignant and distressingly timely new play takes on the question of how kids and parents navigate catastrophe's aftershocks with an illuminating - and refreshing - frankness...The mix of perennial school-day dilemmas with a shooting's tragic aftermath draws us closer to imagining what often feels so unimaginable...The play's most devastating insight is that kids are learning early and often that adults don't always have the answers - even, and especially, when lives are at stake." Full Review

Front Row Center

"While the subject matter couldn't be timelier, 'This Flat Earth' doesn't live up to its promise. Ferrentino has a lot of good ideas that even Taichman's celebrated direction couldn't coalesce...Julie and Zander are not fully drawn characters, they're generic preadolescents. And if the audience can't connect to them, the whole play becomes an intellectual exercise, not an emotional one. While the two young actors do a fine job, they are unable to rise above the material." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"As the #NeverAgain movement ricochets across FaceBook and Twitter...this compelling new play takes aim at their situation and dives in deep...Directed with an odd overly zealous and unfocused intent by the usually intense Rebecca Taichman...I applaud Ferrentino and Playwrights Horizons in their attempt, but some more work needs to be done to make 'This Flat Earth' feel more relevant and powerful overall, and less of a heavy burden for poor young Davis to shoulder." Full Review

New York Theater

"Ferrentino is clearly committed to dramatizing social issues. But she doesn’t make the mistake of trying to explain an inexplicable event...Observations feel knowing and assured, made all the more credible because of a persuasive cast, the steady direction by Rebecca Taichman, and the playwright’s playable specifics for her main characters...The cellist scenes demonstrate the thin line that can exist between artful and arty, and 'This Flat Earth' occasionally goes over the line." Full Review


"'This Flat Earth' certainly has a torn from the headlines timeliness. But the playwright has over packed it with too many issues that don't connect as smoothly as they should...There's another character whose presence offsets these flaws. That's Lynda Gravatt as Cloris...Gravatt's addressing some of Julie's urgent need to know what's next but stopping short of taking her through all the phases of a normal life makes for a wonderfully moving but realistically unpredictable finale." Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"I was disappointed. From the very first moment, I didn't buy into it...The topics of gun violence and income inequality could hardly be more relevant and the idea that music has the power to comfort is appealing. Somehow, it just did not come together for me. The level of acting varies, with Cassie Beck and Lynda Gravatt standing out...Taichman's direction hits all the right notes, but the play itself needs a tuning." Full Review

Stage Left

"The play builds slowly, darting in many disparate directions as it establishes relationships and conflict that climax in a suddenly surreal closing scene that is beautiful and heart-wrenching, but feels like it belongs in a different play...The themes at work and questions asked are better and larger than the play at hand, but if 'This Flat Earth' serves as nothing more than a vessel for their exploration, however muddled, I suppose it has done its most basic job." Full Review

The New York Times

"Very sincere and equally ungainly new drama. There is no denying the urgency of this work...Ferrentino is bravely attempting to contextualize 21st-century horrors within the sort of existential framework in which Thornton Wilder and Edward Albee specialized...The ambitious, potentially heart-stirring elements are all in place here. Yet they have been assembled with a disjointedness that taxes our belief. And the performances, perhaps inevitably, lack emotional continuity." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"Ferrentino…crafts individually effective scenes but struggles to mold them into well-focused, unified dramas, with consistently believable characters…The most striking thing is...the impressive two-story set…Gravátt, with her lovely combination of gravity and lightness, and the baby-faced Davis, a deeply impressive, delicately sensitive young actress in a breakout performance…It's not enough to rescue the unmemorable 'This Flat Earth,' which…Taichman…can do little to inflate." Full Review


"Sensitive yet unfocused...Taichman attempts to herd Ferrentino's tonal and thematic cats into a coherent production, landing on one that at least looks professional...A play that feels unfinished, unedited, and rushed to production. This is primarily evident in Ferrentino's scattershot dramaturgy...There are at least two great plays in 'This Flat Earth,' but crammed together like house plants in a dim apartment, they are unable to thrive." Full Review


"Affecting yet sometimes maudlin new work...Ferrentino’s sharpest drawn character is Julie and Dan’s elderly upstairs neighbor, Cloris, splendidly portrayed by the great Lynda Gravatt...Sadly, Ferrentino is on less firm ground with her male characters and their presence really dilutes the play’s effectiveness...One only wishes that 'This Flat Earth' didn’t fall so flat quite so often." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"'This Flat Earth' displays a keen social conscience and a laudable concern for victims of legislation that thrusts guns into the hands of whoever wants them. What it doesn't do is present this issue with an entirely coherent plot or entirely consistent characters...Director Rebecca Taichman often seems at a loss where to put her idle characters, having them wait motionlessly down a hall or linger on a fire escape. She also encourages overacting." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"It’s an original way into a difficult subject...I think the larger reason why the play feels off is because the questions it asks through Julie — and the suggestion that adults and those in positions of power have not done more to prevent school shootings as a result of desensitization or inaction — feels inadequate at a time when the level of passion surrounding the issue on both sides has never been clearer." Full Review


"Taichman, who won a Tony last year for helming 'Indecent,' is unable to add any depth to the proceedings or smooth over the script's awkward plotting and strange inconsistencies. The most grating example of the latter is when Julie, who is 13 years old, says she was unaware of any school shootings before the one she experienced. This type of sheltered innocence might fit Ferrentino's larger objectives, but it's completely at odds with the smart young person we've come to know." Full Review

The Wrap

"Ferrentino uses that ripped-from-the-headlines moment, but never constructs a cogent story to give life to the issue of gun violence. At every turn in her plot, 'This Flat Earth' appears contrived, and it’s here that her play’s topicality actually works against the drama...Rebecca Taichman directs, and she is at her best when giving us moments of fantasy." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"It is challenging for a writer to bring an inarticulate adolescent into focus. It is equally hard for a juvenile actor to realize a hazy character. These weaknesses in composition and performance are compounded by Ferrentino’s sudden attempt late in the story to reframe Julie and the shooting into the perspective of an entire lifetime...Still, there are felicitous touches to this latest play from the talented Ferrentino." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"A series of feints and trial balloons, with nothing developed enough to claim our interest or engage our emotions...Buried inside Ferrentino's script is an acute commentary on violence and class in America, but it needs further teasing out...A hodgepodge of situations and ideas, and there is little that Taichman can do to bring clarity to it...Has the feel of an early draft, and one wonders if, given the timeliness of its theme, it wasn't rushed into production." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Despite noble intentions and sensitivity, 'This Flat Earth' proves an awkwardly written and thoroughly unconvincing drama that squanders the sadly ongoing timeliness of its tragic subject matter...For long stretches, 'This Flat Earth' meanders aimlessly in search of something resembling a plot. That would matter less if the dialogue were more incisive, but much of it beggars belief...The performances prove equally unmemorable, with the exception of the always reliable Gravatt." Full Review

New York Daily News

"The unconvincing 'This Flat Earth' at Playwrights Horizons proves that it’s actually not all in the timing...The show also lacks urgency and authenticity and, as directed by Rebecca Taichman, uniformly believable performances...Ferrentino, to her credit, is drawn to stories of people who are complicated. Too bad in this case she sabotages her own characters, who collapse into contrived and cliched behaviors." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"Despite a gutsy performance from the talented teenage lead, Ella Kennedy Davis, and despite the intermittent 'Mmm's of significance that rippled through the audience, I left Ferrentino’s play dry-eyed and weirdly restless...For a play that orbits a school shooting, 'This Flat Earth' is almost aggressively apolitical...I have no idea what Ferrentino has to say about our country’s repeated waves of armed violence." Full Review

Absorbing, Great acting, Ambitious, Timely, Thoughtful

See it if It was well written, well acted, and the overall message and topics are extremely timely

Don't see it if If you don't believe in gun control

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great staging, Riveting, Relevant

See it if Loved this show. Acting was good. It makes you think about the ripple effect of crimes.

Don't see it if There is no reason not to see this show!

Resonant, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Funny, Great acting

See it if You have strong feelings about the world we are leaving our children. The acting and writing are top notch. Humor at all the right moments.

Don't see it if You don't want to be emotionally connected. If you want light fluff, this aint it. If you are a member of the NRA, this is NOT for you !

Also This was one of the best plays I have seen off Broadway in years. I sa... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Intense, Must see, Masterful, Relevant

See it if you enjoy watching intense dramas in an intimate space about a shaken town in the aftermath of a school shooting with a small cast.

Don't see it if you don't want plays dealing with political issues or if you cannot deal with the stereotypes/tropes as mentioned in Laura 8060's comment.

Also This was DEFINITELY a must-see despite its problems. The acting and di... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Profound, Masterful

See it if you want to be moved by looking at our insane world (school shootings/social inequality) through the eyes of young people.

Don't see it if do not like compelling theater that deals with real issues and makes you laugh, think and feel.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Riveting

See it if You like well acted, powerful performances around lives impacted by a senseless tragedy that is sadly all too common. Highly recommended.

Don't see it if You prefer a light hearted play. This show is intense and extremely well acted.

Also School shootings and violence must stop; this play poignantly describe... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great writing, Profound, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if you like plays that tackle contemporary issues. This play deals with gun control and school shootings, and handles it very well

Don't see it if you want a light-hearted, fun, family play or anything like that.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Heartbreaking, Relevant

See it if you wonder how the next generation is going to grow up in an era of violence and close-to-home tragedies. It's a heartbreaking story.

Don't see it if you are triggered or have some kind of PTSD from violence.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Must see, Profound

See it if Lots of family that go through these type of true stories

Don't see it if It is a must-see to understand the show

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Riveting

See it if You want some brilliant truth. Sensitive topics addressed through a lens that is impossible not to sympathise with. Fantastic performances.

Don't see it if You will get stuck on small plot issues. The play is more than that.

Ambitious, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Topical, Moving

See it if you’d be interested in a riveting drama about the aftermath of an all-too familiar tragedy.

Don't see it if you’re seeking a frivolous and light-hearted theater experience.

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intelligent

See it if you love a good play with serious issues, quirky characters and is about family and community.

Don't see it if you need logical characters and aren't willing to go for the feel versus straight facts. I strongly liked this one and will remember it.

Clever, Intelligent, Great writing, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you like the clever writing of Lindsey Ferrentino. I had high expectations because everything she writes is gold and she delivered but..

Don't see it if gun control is a sensitive topic for you

Also The acting/staging was a little bit of a disappointment for me. maybe ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if you enjoy fresh, timely theater that examines what is happening in our world now. If you are ready to laugh and cry at the same time.

Don't see it if you don't want to watch characters confront dark, complicated emotions. If you are turned off by anything having do to with shootings.

Also I think this play deals with the current topic of gun violence in scho... Read more Read less

Great acting, Relevant, Resonant, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if you don't mind heavy subject matter. Though the writer does a great job of keeping moments of (sometimes laugh-out-loud) levity throughout.

Don't see it if you're turned off by (unfortunately) topical themes and events.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Thought-provoking, A dystopian "our town" for the 21st century where the aftermath of a school mass shooting changes lives.

See it if You want a meditation on how gun violence in school is affecting the present and the future of students and parents-hard but important topic

Don't see it if If you've been personally affected by such an incident, this might be too upsetting. No violence is shown, but the topic is searing.

Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intense, Clever, Absorbing

See it if Very relevent to today's times. It presents obvious or not so obvious questions as we take a first hand look into the lives of the victims.

Don't see it if If you prefer a more upbeat lighter play.

Ambitious, Absorbing, Relevant, Funny, Disappointing

See it if You are interested in plays on current topics- shootings in schools, enjoy creative staging and solid acting and willing to let author lead

Don't see it if Looking for profound writing, don’t like Theater that touches current events, straight plays bore you

Also This was an absorbing evening with strong performances and a quirky bu... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if Relevant today.. Relationship between parent and daughter so well done. Interplay of teenagers so good see more re: the Mom and .....

Don't see it if Teenage Girls always portrayed in a negative way. Not sure if first few rows can see the entire set. Voices sometimes do not carry.

Also I am puzzled by the reaction of a grieving mom to the problem re: out ... Read more Read less

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

See it if you enjoy plays with great character development and watching how each character is impacted by a tragic event.

Don't see it if you don't want to think about sad things or you would rather see a musical.

Clever, Delightful, Refreshing, Profound, Relevant

See it if You want more insight on a current and controversial social issue.

Don't see it if You do not want to deal with a current and controversial social issue from a teen's point of view.

Slow, Cliched, Great acting

See it if You like your plays political and of-the-moment

Don't see it if “Issue” plays turn you off — this one leans unabashedly into that label

Absorbing, Funny, Thought-provoking, Intense, Ambitious

See it if You appreciate current events, are a fan of child actors, and like elaborate sets

Don't see it if You cannot handle mentions of school shootings, or do not like emotional shows. Many people were in tears by the end

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Intense

See it if You like intelligent, current event focusing work

Don't see it if You’re looking for entertaining fun.

Ambitious, Absorbing, Resonant, Relevant

See it if you are open to a play that tackles a hyper relevant topic in a clever way but one that posits far more questions than answers.

Don't see it if you want something a little more cohesive and robust. This play has moments where it's not quite sure what it's trying to say.

Cast & Creatives (12)