New York | 1h 55m | Already closed

Trick or Treat

From 18 critic and 112 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Great staging

About the show

Northern Stage's new dark comedy skewers a family in crisis on Halloween. Starring Gordon Clapp ("NYPD Blue"). More…

A distraught husband, a nosy neighbor, and a dark secret set the wheels in motion for a night of confrontation, mystery, and relentless suspense.

A Seat on the Aisle

"An exceptionally well-written play – a family drama, a mystery, and a black comedy all in one...Neary’s ear for dialogue is terrific but that’s not all the play has going for it: it also has been blessed with a truly extraordinary cast...But when all is said and done, the play really belongs to Gordon Clapp. His is an award-worthy performance as Johnny...It is a performance that will remain with you long after you have left the theater." Full Review


“Absorbing...The show features the finest direction by Dunne and an excellent cast. While the play portrays some serious family issues, it has just the right shades of humor...As the story unfolds, there are unpredictable twists and turns...This four-person ensemble portrays Neary’s captivating tale with all the humor, spirit, and drama it demands...There are some tense, surprising and even absurd moments...Yet, audiences will be able to relate...It is a must-see production.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Playwright Neary negotiates the action among the family members with humor, sensitivity and pathos...As the second act continues, Neary shifts the tenor and action in another plot twist and the family relationships clarify...Neary pings every theme about the fault lines of the human condition...This is a profound work with smashing performances by the cast, who raise the stakes at every moment and engage us to the end." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

“Neary’s play ‘Trick or Treat’...has the best first act closing scene of any recent play, and it fits neatly with the thrust of the story about a mess of a family that nevertheless makes its immorality entertaining...The cast is excellent, making the characters as believable as they are outrageous. Good actors can go a long way to covering up a play’s contrivances, as is sometimes the case here. Neary even succeeds in bringing some pathos into the nasty situation, and the cast pulls that off ... Full Review


"Michael Ganio's costumes are as natural as one would expect, and Tyler M. Perry's lighting design is always on target, illuminating a play that has been designed in every particular, begging the question, where exactly are the surprises. It's well written, but ultimately far too pat to be convincing." Full Review

Plays to See

“The show is labeled a black comedy...However, the show plays out more like a drama or a thriller would...A superbly written thriller, with no slumps in the suspense...Characters are explosive and intense...The quick, fiery Irish interlude music matches, if not accelerates, the show’s whistle-stop pace and the average heartbeat of any given audience. The actors’ performances are as fascinating as their characters are exasperating." Full Review

Off Off Online

"Ghosts and demons are expected to rise up on Halloween, and the ones within the haunted house of Jack Neary’s twisted and brutal tragicomedy, 'Trick or Treat,' do not disappoint...Clapp’s powerhouse execution of a father with all the wrong dreams receives strong support from his co-stars...Director Carol Dunne brings a masterly pacing to the proceedings, pulling focus toward important clues while navigating the audience through a patchwork of lies." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"This pitch-black comedy manages to find humor in the unearthing of buried family secrets...The first half of the play is suspenseful drama mixed with dark comedy...Under the direction of Carole Dunne, each cast member convincingly navigates the play's twists, turns and changes in tone, challenges that might have easily sabotaged the show in lesser hands...'Trick or Treat' straddles the line between genres." Full Review

Valley Advocate

“Neary’s script is a bit of a change from most of the gently acidic comedies...Here there’s a dramatic shock at the outset, but one that quickly gives way to edgy humor, before a classic switcheroo propels the piece into the realm of farce – which in turn is prelude to painful revelations...Neary can’t help being funny...but there’s always heart in the laughs. If in the late going the chaotic farce turns toward tragedy and dark secrets tumble out, there’s heart there too.” Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"If only the right attitude were found,…'Trick or Treat'…might have qualified as a chillingly humorous exercise, something in the vein of…'The Trouble with Harry.' But the play veers from comedy and even farce to melodramatic pathos, struggling to maintain a fundamental sense of believability…Although each of the characters challenges credibility, the actors at least make them colorful. Clapp's Johnny is convincingly petulant, narrow-minded, and thickheaded." Full Review

Theater News Online

"Superior first act...The second act, which tosses out too many curve balls and tonal shifts for the play’s own good. Neary earns credit for pulling us in and keeping us guessing for a while...Under the direction of Carol Dunne, performances are credible even when the story loses its grip... In the end, all of the plot pieces fit, but when it comes to a satisfying evening, the play is more trick than treat." Full Review

The Wrap

"Dunne’s direction never finds the right focus in this short but confused first act...What Neary does pull off with complete success is the surprise appearance of the play’s most talked-about character...Kathy Manfre helps to ground the far more stable second act of Neary’s play...But the twists in the plot keep piling up, pushing 'Trick or Treat' into soap-opera territory...Much of that havoc comes from there being way too much plot." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"Rather than producing catharsis, the multiple secrets laid bare and lies exposed amount to something more like unintended parody...I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that any number of patrons were stifling laughter in deference to the actors. That quintet plays the drama—all right, the melodrama—according to the frenzy the script increasingly demands, and director Carol Dunne guides them accordingly...In the final analysis, 'Trick or Treat' may be trick, but it’s definitely not treat." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“There are more tricks than treats in this ungainly hybrid of a thriller, domestic comedy, and dysfunctional family slugfest...’Trick or Treat’ is an unpleasant, uninvolving evening...Exploiting sensitive subjects like illness and violence against women without providing a single compelling character...It makes occasional passes at being a probing family drama but is fatally undermined by its relentlessly carpentered, often barely plausible, plot." Full Review

Rutland Herald

for a previous production "It’s very humanly funny. The premiere benefited from a production that combined brilliant ensemble acting with some stellar performances. Direction by Carol Dunne, without misstep, delivered taut, on-the edge of-your-seat storytelling enriched by real humanness and plenty of wit. Central was Gordon Clapp’s irresistible portrayal of Johnny, in part because the part was written for him...It’s entertaining and important theater." Full Review

Seven Days

for a previous production "A show that weaves together comedy, drama, and suspense...The story is propulsive, and neither director nor playwright pauses to tap the brakes. But nothing rushes by too quickly; director Carol Dunne and an accomplished acting ensemble let every revelation register...The best laughs in the show are character driven...The playwright's effort to present a moving story using comic touches is largely successful, even if straddling two moods occasionally undercuts both." Full Review

The Arts Fuse

for a previous production "A less skilled playwright might have gone for the obvious and focused on mercy-killing and the ravages of Alzheimer’s. But, with the surprising doings of the second act, Neary takes an unpredictable direction. Plot twists uncover long-held family secrets...Clapp gives a near-flawless performance as the fatigued patriarch...Neary mixes in some ironic humor, often through quasi-malapropisms and Johnny’s amusing confusion about American cultural icons." Full Review

Valley News

for a previous production "A New England play through and through, from the setting to the accents to the humor. But its premise is more powerful than the play that eventually ended up on stage...The first act of 'Trick or Treat' has flashes of tender empathy, profound sorrow, dark wit...But then one too many contrivances begin to work their way into the story, and drama becomes melodrama, courtesy of some implausible plot twists that weaken the strengths the play does have." Full Review

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, A must-see show

See it if ... you want to see how a family deals with a very serious issue by confronting it head-on, while injecting moments of humor.

Don't see it if There is no reason why anyone wouldn’t want to see this show.

Absorbing, Outstanding acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if you want to see a brilliantly acted play about very serious family issues like Alzheimer's Disease. Gordon Clapp is sensational as Johnny!!

Don't see it if you don't want to think about Alzheimer's Disease or any other family issues during your free time in a theatre. This play has quite a few!

Also This play ultimately tries to answer the question how far would we go ... Read more Read less

Clever, Edgy, Profound

See it if You enjoy seeing humor around dark topics.

Don't see it if Can't think of a reason not to see it.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Edgy

See it if Excellent ensemble acting and directing. The play develops slowly as a mystery novel that will keep you gripped until the last page when

Don't see it if You do not like psychological tales.

Also answers are revealed.

Thought-provoking, Raunchy, Relevant, Intelligent, Kept me on edge

See it if A dark family drama filled with surprises, twists and turns and some bad language. Great humor and emotional.

Don't see it if Family drama about Alzheimer's disease upsets you. The family dynamics can be depressing.....

Absorbing, Entertaining, Funny, Edgy

See it if You like a funny show with a twisted story line.

Don't see it if You don't like plays with drama and twisted story lines.

Great acting, Great staging, Entertaining, Surprising, Great set

See it if you like family drama w/ a touch of comedy,mystery & surprising plot twist. Great theater experience in great venue, great set & great cast.

Don't see it if you prefer feel good musicals as this is a play that will put you on an emotional roller coaster.... but in a good way... if you dare.

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if You like a dark comedy that deals with family secrets, family dynamics, sacrifice and Alzheimer’s disease with many twists and turns

Don't see it if If you’re not a fan of dark play, want something light

Also This was a truly interesting play that kept your attention from start ... Read more Read less

Clever, Great acting, Great writing

See it if a play that gives you a moral dilemma and you find yourself thinking that what you’re seeing on is right at times but then very wrong

Don't see it if You will be offended that they took a very dramatic subject and made it sort of into a black comedy

Also Gordon clapp gives one of the best performances I have ever seen on a ... Read more Read less


See it if you appreciate one of those 'Where is this one going?' narratives.

Don't see it if you're uncomfortable with the possible consequences of dementia.

Also Jack Neary has written a spooky story. It has demons and victims and s... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great staging, Thought-provoking

See it if You like a great cast and some sadness mixed with comedy. I felt like I knew the characters . Great acting and loved the plot

Don't see it if If you don’t like dark comedies or if you prefer to see musicals and do not care for dramas

Great acting, Edgy, Intense, Thought-provoking, Absorbing

See it if This play keeps you on the edge. There is so much going on in the lives of all participants. Secrets don't stop coming out.

Don't see it if you don't like dark comedy, seeing physical abuse and hearing strong words on stage.

Intelligent, Great acting, Great writing, Absorbing, Compelling

See it if If you enjoy real characters who are forced to deal with family secrets. A play that finds humor in a dark situation. Great performances.

Don't see it if If you can’t understand why family members make poor choices in the cause of family good. Plays where choices are made to serve the drama.

Absorbing, Clever, Hilarious, Great writing, Great acting

See it if You like dark comedy. You don't mind seeing a show about Halloween in January.

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable laughing about serious topics including Alzheimer's disease.

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to see some great acting in a family drama with lots of twists & turns, some surprising.

Don't see it if You're sensitive to the issue of Alzheimer's or generally sick of dysfunctional family dramas. The cast makes this a great production.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you want to see a somewhat atypical show about what drives the intricacies of family relationships.

Don't see it if seeing a show that addresses Alzheimer's might be bothersome to you.

Also I thought the acting, with Gordan Clapp at the helm, was fantastic. I ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Intense

See it if You enjoy a well written, absorbing, and funny play with terrific acting.

Don't see it if The subject of Alzheimer’s is something you want to avoid.

Also I was immediately involved...felt like a fly on the wall.

Great writing, Great staging, Great acting, Entertaining, Quirky

See it if you like a serious subject treated with humor while enjoying some plot twists by a good cast on a good set with light and sound plusses.

Don't see it if you expect a light story with a definite end. This is a roller coaster of family + one who make the situation ridiculous in some ways.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if Very naturalistic acting. They seemed more like a real family than almost any family I've seen depicted on stage. Very nice set.

Don't see it if you don't like family dramas. Dark subject matter. Serious. Engrossing. Described as "dark comedy" but not particularly funny

Also Nice theater. I think any seat in the house would be a good one becaus... Read more Read less

Great acting, Intense, Macabre

See it if You enjoy, unusual plays about family struggles and caring for a family member with dementia.

Don't see it if You dislike plays about Alzheimer's disease, death, or other macabre stories

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Intense

See it if you enjoy a well written play with excellent acting and lots of twists in plot. I really enjoyed watching the drama develop.

Don't see it if you don't like talk of Alzheimer's since it is skillfully used as part of the plot. This could disturb some who don't like humor used.

Also Well developed characters, all of them and Gordon Clapp was great.Nice... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Great staging, Great acting

See it if you like stories about families, relationships, friendships. This is a well acted show. Set is amazing. Very interesting story

Don't see it if you want a brassy musical.59E59 is one of my favorite theatres. They do a great job of curating their shows.It is rare that a show is a bomb

Absorbing, Clever, Good set, Well acted., Entertaining

See it if you like a family drama

Don't see it if Alzheimer’s is a triggerb

Entertaining, Funny, Clever, Well acted, Intense

See it if you like dark comedies with clever plots that keep revealing one family secret after another.

Don't see it if you've seen enough plays about dysfunctional families dealing with long-buried family secrets and Alzheimer's disease.

Great acting, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Clever, Intense

See it if You enjoy dark comedies with a little twist. I am sure the debates of what's right to keep the family together will be continued...

Don't see it if You hate family drama or simply crave for something lighter.Still, give this a chance, a good show shouldn't be missed.

Cast & Creatives (8)