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Toys: A Dark Fairy Tale

From 12 critic and 29 member reviews
Members say: Confusing, Disappointing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Edgy

About the show

59E59 presents this dark fairy tale that explores the lives that were torn apart by war, and asks what it truly means to belong. More…

Shari was born in a war-ravaged country, alone and fending for herself; Clara grew up in New York with the best of everything. These two very different characters—who led two very different lives—meet in an explosive encounter and discover a shared secret from their past. This presentation is made possible through the support of the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York.


"This two-hander is an engaging play, one that stirs the imagination...The adult fairy tale is completely original as merges reality and fantasy in surreal settings...Tunde Skovran and Julia Ubrankovics excel in their demanding roles as they master both the dialogue and the action of the show's enthralling scenes...'Toys: A Dark Fairy Tale' is an inventive show that challenges ideas about people's backgrounds and lifestyles. It is truly an unforgettable production." Full Review


“Hilarity and menace converge in Romanian-born playwright Stanescu’s absorbing and mysterious theater piece...Skovran as Shari and Ubrankovics as Clara are sensational...Stanescu’s dialogue is a heady mixture of Ionesco-style absurdism and fierce realism that sustains her intriguing work that takes the familiar framework of depicting political oppression into a fascinating dimension...Though brief in length, ‘Toys: A Dark Fairy Tale’ is stimulating, provocative, and memorable.” Full Review

Manhattan With a Twist

"Skovran and Ubrankovics are fantastic as the two women. Every time they have a scene together we are captivated by their battles. We are yearning to be part of their journey. It’s when the linear narratives are broken down by more experimental scenes that interest gets a bit muddled. There are some truly perplexing moments, but most of them either are longer than they need to be...Despite this hiccup, 'Toys: A Dark Fairy Tale' delivers a strong and powerful tale." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

“Watching ‘Toys' is like attending an exhibit of abstract expressionism and trying to make heads or tails out of what you are seeing. Cryptic, bewildering, absurd, nightmarish...'Toys’ is unusual, to say the least, opaque in its delivery but nevertheless packed with meaning, like a particularly dense poem...You will either shrink away in bafflement, or take up the challenge to piece together the scattered remains of this convoluted jigsaw puzzle of a play.” Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"This staging of Stanescu's play is less about the story than about recreating a feeling of loneliness and disembodiment...I would be interested to see a production of 'Toys' that combines Stanescu's poetry and humor with less frenetic movement...It seems indulgent to direct a single actor to place, say, fifty plastic baby dolls in a checkerboard pattern while the audience watches. However, our patience is rewarded with powerful images that stick with you afterward." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

“A piece that demands attention, but confuses as much as it enlightens...Director Tompa’s go-for-broke creation is meandering and disturbing as much as it is thoughtful...As theatre, it left me with lots of think about, but not engaged enough to try too hard...More time is needed than the 65-minutes given, that is if you are still interested in the end to do the reconstruction with the hope the finished images will be meaningful.” Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“However much this loose narrative seems to make sense of a sort on the page, regardless of the many huge expositional gaps it exposes, in performance it often becomes indecipherable. That's because…director Gábor Tompa…has given it a radically theatricalized, non-realistic, surrealistic, avant-garde staging that diminishes whatever it's saying by drawing attention away from content to style…This isn't to say some won't find the production and its subject engrossing.” Full Review

Gia On The Move

for a previous production "Honest, raw, real and yet not real additionally adorned with a humorous confectionary finale...Tompa has chosen a more abstract allegorical progression...Unique directorial concepts that make the piece more ambiguous which remarkably results in a sharper clarity with the presentation overall...The composition of this play is beautifully, dramatically off-center...Bar none, in all its outward simplicity, experientially exciting and exceptionally manifested." Full Review

Stage Raw

for a previous production "The crisply rendered and steadfastly unabashed atmosphere of ambiguity...Demands close attention – but it doesn’t necessarily depend on you absolutely understanding what is going on...Tompa brings a taut intellectual ferocity to the piece...Stanescu’s storytelling is intentionally disjointed...Performances are compelling, if inscrutable by design...A fascinatingly complex and not entirely comprehensible drama that actually leaves some vivid impressions for a long time after." Full Review

Total Theater

for a previous production "The kind of play one might see in an Eastern European avant-garde theater...Highly stylized and tightly choreographed...Forget traditional construction, naturalistic dialogue, or a clear-cut story; 'Toys' unfolds in surrealistic fashion, with snatches of talk, sudden screams, bizarre images...Ubrankovics and Skovran give tour de force performances in this short, dark play, bringing energy and passion to their roles, and working together in smooth, seamless fashion." Full Review

Colorado Boulevard

for a previous production "Skovran, from Transylvania, sheds her character’s secrets along with half her clothing, displaying an acrobat’s skill at moving from one incarnation to another...There is nothing shy, retiring or apologetic about her performance or character...It is uncomfortable but with moments of surreal charm, much like the entire play...Ubrankovics portrays the more passive of the two women and is appropriately more fragile...A lovely foil to Skovran’s fierceness." Full Review

Culture Spot LA

for a previous production "Draws our attention to the effects a war-torn country has on both the individual and the culture...Tompa transports us on a surreal exploration to discover the meaning of identity as an immigrant...Production design is bare bones, the costuming was a little distracting with bad wigs and a misplaced DIY bridal gown, but the story and performance carry the show. This is a story that needs to be told." Full Review

Resonant, Thought-provoking, Edgy, Confusing, Absorbing

See it if You're open to a non linear show where you won't have a clear answer to what's going on/who exactly the characters are. A creative journey.

Don't see it if It'd drive you crazy to not be able to follow the reasoning behind events. Violent subject matter, though not a painful show to watch.

Quirky, Ambitious, Edgy, Dizzying

See it if You like creative and quirky show. The acting were good, especially the role of Madonna.

Don't see it if You don’t like the modern take of the war-torn family.

Also I don’t know if it’s the directing, but it seemed there wasn’t enough ... Read more Read less

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

See it if If you're looking for more a performance piece than a play, and like risk taking and nonlinear structure.

Don't see it if You only like traditional theater with straight forwards plot lines.

Confusing, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if You like to understand the immigrant experience, and what difficulties they through. Great acting.

Don't see it if You are not interested in seeing something very heavy and co filing.

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

See it if you'd like to see a short piece of experimental theater and are interested in the personal conflicts around immigration.

Don't see it if you don't want something too heavy-handed.

Slow, Quirky, Intense, Disappointing, Confusing

See it if you like a condensed story

Don't see it if you like your stories to have a beginning, middle and end.

Insubstantial, Emotionally devoid, Pretentious, Disappointing, Confusing

See it if you like avant garden theater that deals with impact of war on people, misogyny, marriage and sibling relationships.

Don't see it if you like theater rather than performance art & dealing with serious issues in a way that touches your emotions instead of sterile stylism.

Confusing, Great acting, Overrated, Quirky, Disappointing

See it if you like weird theater that's hard to follow.

Don't see it if you are expecting to have a good experience -- you won't.

I just didn't get it. and i found the actors irritating

See it if I'm not sure who this would appeal to. I saw that someone said it had an appeal to a specific audience. It didn't say who.

Don't see it if You are not interested in ethnic war zone dramas with implied violence and a constant threat to pull the pin in a grenade. Sorry, I'm lost.

Confusing, Slow, Insipid, Disappointing, Banal

See it if You want to see a short play about one women's thoughts, The acting is very good, but the talented actresses can’t salvage this play.

Don't see it if Just don’t see it, It’s a waste of time,

Weird, Disappointing, Confusing

See it if Your are masochistic and want to suffer seeing a short show that seemed to go on forever.

Don't see it if You like to see a show with substance and purpose.

Also I have never given such a low score to a production. The actors were o... Read more Read less

Slow, Excruciating, Dizzying, Disappointing, Banal

See it if You like the sound of pointless screeching and a pseudo intellectual nightmare. HOKUM!

Don't see it if Unless someone has a loaded gun to your head

Nonsense, Confusing

See it if You want to see a short show.

Don't see it if You aren't interested in seeing a meaningless heap of avant garde rubbish.

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

See it if You like non-traditional theatre. Ve2ry creative. Makes you think.

Don't see it if You need everything spelled out for you.

During previews
Deeply relatable to a specific audience, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Intense, Clever

See it if you’re open to a show that doesn’t aim to spin a yarn, but to approximate a state of mind (of survivor guilt from a female perspective)

Don't see it if you don’t want to make connections btwn the spoken script, visual presentation, and your personal experience to derive meaning from the play

Also Toys will make the most sense to any first-generation American woman w... Read more Read less

During previews
Profound, Masterful, Intelligent, Great writing, Great acting

See it if This dark fairy tail is a poinient juaposition to the good life in the US vs surviving in a war zone. And that's just part one.

Don't see it if If avant-garde theatre is not your thing .

Also These two actress are mesmerizing. This play is well directed and writ... Read more Read less

During previews
Thought-provoking, Quirky, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if Like ununusual, thought provoking and often disturbing drama. Do not need a story.Still not sure what message is intended

Don't see it if Lack of a story bothers you. Disjointed segments, some are upsetting.

During previews
Surreal, Avant-guard, Intelligent, Intense

See it if You are open to a different type of storytelling. Depressing topic but the ending was upbeat & amusing (& I loved the music). Good acting.

Don't see it if You are not a fan of avant- guard, physical theater. If you enjoy trying different forms of theater I think this is worthwhile.

During previews
Confusing, Disappointing, Indulgent, Thought-provoking, Great acting

See it if you have interest in how immigrants from eastern european countries, that had a history of severe social problems, try to fit in to the US

Don't see it if your looking for a linear play that is understandable. Two talented women caught in a mess of a play, Thankfully,it was short.

During previews
Confusing, Ambitious, Relevant, Great acting

See it if you don't mind very avant guard plays and staging. You don't mind non-linear stories.

Don't see it if you want to see a straightforward play with a clear storyline and such. This is creative and somehow entertaining but hard to grasp.

During previews
Fun, Surreal, Impenetrable, Creative, Good acting

See it if About the pain and uncertainty of modern life, and the need for fantasy to cope. Or maybe it isn't. Amusing moments, but repetitious.

Don't see it if You seek clarity, logic and linear construction. Talented people, though.

During previews
Weird, Fluffy, Edgy, Confusing

See it if You enjoy watching a couple of women act strange for an hour

Don't see it if You could go to a different play that night

Also I think a great play could be written about a pair of sisters, one of ... Read more Read less

During previews
Disappointing, Confusing, Great acting

See it if you are ok w/walking out of theatre after sitting through some terrific acting/staging... but don't "get it". No resolve?!?

Don't see it if I cannot recommend it... hey, that's just me...

During previews
Insipid, Indulgent, Confusing

See it if No reason to

Don't see it if Just don't see it.

During previews
Avant garde, Original, Disappointing, Nightmarish, Horrific

See it if You enjoy nightmarish horrifying theatre ! You enjoy shows that are guaranteed to cause feelings of depression.

Don't see it if You are wanting to experience. an uplifting evening of theatre.This evening is a guaranteed downer

Cast & Creatives (8)