Already closed | 1h 15m | West Village

Underground Railroad Game

From 122 member  reviews
Members say: Thought-provoking, Edgy, Ambitious, Relevant, Intense

About the show

Ars Nova presents a return engagement of this taboo-smashing comedy that ravages American tropes about race, sex, and power politics. Winner of the 2017 Obie for Best New American Play. More…

Good morning, America! Welcome to Hanover Middle School, where two teachers are getting down and dirty with today’s lesson. The nimble duo goes round after round on the mat of our nation’s history, tackling race, sex, and power in this R-rated, kaleidoscopic, and fearless comedy.


Member Reviews (122)

MEMBERS SAY:

Thought-provoking, Edgy, Ambitious, Relevant, Intense
80
Avg Score

79
Shocking, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Funny, Surprising

See it if Definitely not what I expected. Very fresh and surprising. Creative, thought-provoking and funny.

Don't see it if Exaggerated scenes, nudity or racial issues bother you.

75
Edgy, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great acting

See it if Very unexpected (in a good way) with great performances .

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with nudity or sexual situations.

86
Original, Great acting, Riveting

See it if Odd. Fascinating. Original. Challenging. Dark and funny. An interesting watch for sure.

Don't see it if You have a closed mind. Race bluntness and nudity bother you.

90
Edgy, Intense, Profound, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You want to be wowed by an utterly original play with insights into racism, sexuality and human nature.

Don't see it if You are unprepared for stunning sex infused scenes that build to a climax in more ways than one.

87
Riveting, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Edgy, Ambitious

See it if Stunning, radical & provocative-just a few adjectives to summons 'Railroad' A school educational game moves into uncharted racial territory

Don't see it if Not for the squeamish or sexually threatened Starts out concerning slavery but slowly moves into how its aftermath poisons sexual relations

86
Probing, Deadly accurate, Important, Uncomfortable

See it if you think an unflinching exposure of the link between race & sex in slavery’s legacy is something the public art of theater should be doing.

Don't see it if unflinching exposure of the inextricable link between race & sex in slavery’s legacy might be too much for you to endure.

Also “Underground Railroad Game” effectively skewers much about race in the... Read more Read less

86
Ambitious, Clever, Hilarious, Intelligent, Edgy

See it if you'd like an intense, funny, stinging look at race relations, civil war legacies, & male/female relations in a brilliant, audacious setting

Don't see it if you don't like nudity, strong language, situations taking racial issues to an extreme, male/female violence & minimal audience participation

91
Combo of satire, comedic romance & kinky sex makes for an absurdist tour de force about slavery; may be too strong stuff for some

See it if audacious & hilarious, changing focus on a dime; fine perfs by duo; jarring/makes u think anew about slavery

Don't see it if broad & in your face; purposely shocking, sadomasochistic shtick gets your attention but may be off-putting to some

Also Ta-Nehisi Coates has been writing memorably about the visceral aspects... Read more Read less

80
Clever, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Overrated, Intense

See it if You’re interested in plays about the racial divide that are clever, innovative, and push the limits of traditional theatre.

Don't see it if You don’t like feeling uncomfortable — this play is intense (including sexually) and involves some light audience interaction.

70
Funny, Excruciating, Relevant, Banal, Dated

See it if you feel you need to be reminded that racism in this country is related to slavery. The actors do a great job with creepy material.

Don't see it if gratuitous nudity offends you. While it is called a game, no individual audience members are called on to participate.

82
Discomfiting, Great acting, Funny, Thought-provoking, Absorbing

See it if you want to see a highly original treatment of race, power and sex in contemporary America performed by two remarkable actors.

Don't see it if you are offended by nudity or rough language and don't like a play that shifts gears frequently.

Also There is occasional involvement of the audience, but not enough to be ... Read more Read less

85
Edgy, Ambitious, Raunchy, Relevant, Hilarious

See it if you're open to an entirely unconventional & quite subversive take on race relations. It's intended to shock and provoke, and it succeeds.

Don't see it if you're offended by graphic sexual content, full frontal male nudity & a message that is rather bleak about the state of race relations here.

Also This show has stayed with me and made me want to tell all my friends a... Read more Read less

55
Ambitious, Confusing, Great acting, Edgy, Clever

See it if You enjoy theater that shocks and provokes, pushes boundaries, attempts to prove strong points through in-your-faceness.

Don't see it if You don't like plays that try to ride the line between commentary and vulgarity and don't succeed. A forceful attempt, I didn't enjoy it.

88
Confrontational, Intelligent, Funny, Relevant, Original

See it if you're looking for an original production that takes you out of your comfort zone & challenges the way we view race and look back at history

Don't see it if you can't handle 5 minutes of exposed breasts, another 10 min of full frontal male nudity, aggressive confrontations, and offensive language

86
Relevant, Thought-provoking, Weak ending, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you like quirky shows that have something important to say and do so in a creative, startling way. Very, very good.

Don't see it if you want a strong ending.This just sort of stopped with no coda or satisfying closing.Other than that, it was terrific.

86
Edgy, Profound, Intelligent, Original, Shocking

See it if You want to experience something really original and in your face.

Don't see it if You are easily offended by strong words and strong sexual images.

82
Wow, Daring, Intense, Relevant, Seductive

See it if If "the road to hell is paved with good intentions," playwright-actors compare apparent order of 5th grade to anarchy of what lies beneath.

Don't see it if Strong language and sexual frankness make you uncomfortable. Power struggles are necessarily ugly. A bit over-the-top, but makes its point.

87
Absorbing, Delightful, Great staging, Intense

See it if You're interested in a discussion of race in relationships and modern day society. You playing with various levels of fantasy vs reality

Don't see it if You're uncomfortable with nudity or staging of sexual acts.

78
Edgy, Bracing, Perplexing

See it if You are up for a very interesting essay into history, race relations and gender power relations in a striking, original style.

Don't see it if You prefer your entertainment in non-threatening, neat tidy packages, with a clear story and satisfying conclusion. Also, not for the kids.

81
Relevant, Edgy, Clever

See it if like non-traditional thought-proving theatre

Don't see it if a bit disjointed between the "story" and the "back store/interactions". can make some people uncomfortable

85
Raunchy, Quirky, Edgy, Funny, Thought-provoking

See it if you like edgy theater. This show explores race, sexuality, and the intersection of the two.

Don't see it if you prefer to avoid nudity, masturbation, oral sex, repeated use of abhorrent racial slurs, and/or sock puppets.

50
Excruciating, Intense, Refreshing, Relevant, Riveting

See it if You love daring, fresh, intense, risk-taking theatre. You're okay with seeing something interesting that you may not like.

Don't see it if Racist language, full nudity, and/or sexual degradation is a no-go.

Also To quote one of the situationally best lines in the play..."Is this wh... Read more Read less

73
Quirky, Race & sexuality, Intense, Thought-provoking, Provocative

See it if You like avant garde productions. Want to tangle with issues of race, gender, and sexuality.

Don't see it if You are easily offended by harsh and intense language and/or explicit sexuality,

86
Quirky, Thought-provoking, Shocking, Relevant, Intelligent

See it if Racism is not just a history lesson and this play is more that you’d expect;all senses engaged.Plenty of questions posed left unanswered.

Don't see it if Raw and exposed

51
Disappointing, Good acting, Overrated, Quirky, Raunchy

See it if You like theater that seems to exist primarily for shock value (although I did not find it all that shocking).

Don't see it if You like to plays that explore hot topic issues merely by raising issues rather than thoughtfully exploring them.


June 1st, 2019
“An unusually entertaining piece...Hilarious and provocative and original...This unconventional and decidedly unsettling work presents a bold, thought-provoking consideration of racial and sexual assumptions that does not provide any answers but certainly will spark conversation...The play is fea...
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June 2nd, 2019
"Kidwell, who is black, and Sheppard, who’s white, have exactly the opposite intent. Both are smart, vibrant performers who, abetted by director Taibi Magar and a talented design team, evoke slavery’s poisonous and enduring legacy with daring, intuitive theatricality...The audience members around...
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June 1st, 2019
"Sheppard and Jennifer Kidwell have fashioned a captivating work of theater that is bravely acted, inventively designed, and relentlessly surprising — dizzying in its anarchic turns from playful to hateful, satiric to sadistic...Since the surprises are much of what made the show feel so theatrica...
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June 1st, 2019
"This hilariously discomfiting examination of race, sex, and power...The audience is occasionally induced to be the student body at an assembly...The play, which jumps rapidly from the lesson plan to fantasies and surreal episodes, is so crammed with material that it is hard to believe that it is...
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Cast & Creatives (9)