Van Gogh's Ear
Midtown W
66

Van Gogh's Ear NYC Reviews and Tickets

66%
(44 Reviews)
Positive
57%
Mixed
25%
Negative
18%
Members say
Ambitious, Slow, Great staging, Great singing, Disappointing

About the Show

The Ensemble for the Romantic Century presents a theatrical exploration of the Dutch Post-Impressionist painter inspired by Vincent's letters to his brother Theo.

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Member Reviews (44)

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79
Ambitious, Great singing, Intelligent, Slow, Quirky

See it if Highly theatrical choral poem about Van Gogh's tortured life Concept heavy but well sung w/excellent chamber music & Hudson's fine Van Gogh

Don't see it if Interaction of musical elements & script often stodgy & lacking fluidity Works better in parts rather than as a whole but often moving

75
Entertaining, Intelligent, Quirky, Slow

See it if you want to get a feel for Van Gogh's tortured life and to see of his works. Projections are great.

Don't see it if you expect more in the way of a play and are satisfied with some classical music. The 2nd Act tends to slow down too much.

Critic Reviews (17)

August 17th, 2017

"It often exudes an uncanny beauty and emotionalism that evoke the state of hellish pain and holy wonder in which its title character existed. It helps that van Gogh is embodied by the actor Carter Hudson...'Van Gogh’s Ear' can initially come across as too consciously and carefully 'artistic'...But the thoughtfulness that infuses every aspect of Mr. Sanders’s production — and the committed skill of its performers and designers — soon wears down your resistance."
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August 17th, 2017

"The show ties events in the troubled Dutch artist's life to some of the most arresting music of his age. It's less a play with music than it is a concert with elements of theatricality...Hudson entrances us with his observations of light and color, like a badass Bob Ross. Bengali's vibrant projections, all of which are drawn from van Gogh's own paintings, further illustrate his words...A dreamlike (if a bit sleepy) staging...There are few lovelier ways to spend 100 minutes."
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August 18th, 2017

"Offers some stunning musical performances, attractive visuals—and nothing remotely like drama...Wolf's script does very little to illuminate Van Gogh's life...No real attempt has been made to forge a character, and, as played by Hudson, Van Gogh often sounds like an aggrieved 21st-century American millennial...So dramatically pale are these passages that they practically vanish next to the music, which is ravishing throughout...It has its charms—but, really, I'd much rather see a play."
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August 17th, 2017

"If nothing else, the production is a unique exegesis on the creative vision and deteriorating mental health of van Gogh toward the end of his life...The connections among the three art forms that are being presented here are not readily apparent, or at least they weren't to this theatergoer. It does help that Carter Hudson as Vincent and Chad Johnson as Theo manage to humanize the brothers beyond what you might expect from a presentation based on excerpts from letters."
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August 21st, 2017

“There is more emotional weight within eight measures of Debussy's String Quartet in G minor than in Eva Wolf's entire ‘Van Gogh's Ear’ at the Signature Center. Same for the French chansons performed during the play by singers portraying characters intimately associated with Vincent. All of the quotations from Vincent Van Gogh's diaries and letters that make up about half the play's two hour running time fall flat as delivered by the leaden Carter Hudson who moves about as if sleepwalking.”
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August 17th, 2017

"More dramatized concert/multimedia exhibition than traditional play...While aesthetically pleasing, I often found myself drifting away from the story...Nevertheless, it does a great job conveying a sense of the romantic desperation of the haunted character...If you are an aficionado of classical chamber music and might enjoy a dynamic exhibition of Van Gogh's painting, you'll be thoroughly satisfied by this show. But those looking for traditional dramatic structure...may be less satisfied."
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August 17th, 2017

"An ode to the exquisite paintings but minimal insights into the life of Vincent van Gogh...The beauty of the van Gogh art is cleverly projected as backdrop...Wonderful highlights that accessorize the beauty of the music...I’m of the mind that the addition of dialogue between characters might enhance this production as would a shortened presentation...If you are a fan of classical music brilliantly played, then you’ll enjoy the uniqueness and creativity of how it is artfully shared."
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September 7th, 2017

"Beautifully sung, creating mood along with some emotional magic, the show was an effort at giving multi-media resonance to Van Gogh’s life and art...Also noteworthy was the unusually excellent and artful use of David Bengali’s projections, which often showed Van Gogh’s brushwork in close detail juxtaposed against a larger view of that portion of the painting. Fascinating! And that goes for the entire show, as well."
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August 17th, 2017

"While the two hours do indeed offer many pleasures in terms of script, staging and music, the epistolary setup didn't work all that well here...nor did the casting decisions or Sanders' direction for Vincent during the musical interludes...For classical chamber music and lieder fans the playing and singing will be a not-to-be-missed treat...Carter Hudson doesn't exactly have a cakewalk as Vincent...Sanders has directed Hudson to do everything possible to ratchet up van Gogh's crazy side."
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August 17th, 2017

“Although musically marvelous and visually vibrant, ‘Van Gogh's Ear’ is dramatically dull…Perhaps a more powerful performance by…Hudson might have made van Gogh's suffering theatrically palpable enough to overcome the dramatic inertia. But his blandly uninteresting portrayal demonstrates the danger lurking in Wolf's conception: if you're seeking to capture the spirit of so vigorous a personality as…van Gogh's, then you need more than beautiful music and gorgeous projections on your palette.”
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August 19th, 2017

"More of an elegy than a drama...As the painter, Hudson’s interpretation of the dialogue is rather emotionless...What makes a more profound impression is the playing of compositions...The production has a haunting quality, but its lack of intense drama can make the effect at times soporific. Apart from the music, the most striking aspect is the projection of van Gogh’s art...It would help if there were more sparks to the enterprise."
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W
August 18th, 2017

"Hudson’s intense examination of that which his character sees, past us, over our heads, is mesmerizing...Wolf did a masterful job of editing hundreds of letters, creating a cohesive story...Vocalists and actors propel the scenario with vigorous presence. Integration of the visual and audible is almost seamless...Our eyes are subliminally directed from dramatic or musical vignette to vignette with a feast of related art...The piece is compelling, intriguing, and a feast for ears and eyes."
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August 20th, 2017

"A singular presentation. It is a theatrical concert that uses music to capture van Gogh's life and work—and the result is stunning...An innovative and hypnotic exploration of the color of sound and the sound of color, smoothly directed by Donald T. Saunders...Hudson plays the tortured artist with depth and sensitivity...'Van Gogh’s Ear' is a high-quality production; its combination of visual and musical sensations is mesmerizing."
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August 18th, 2017

"Abounds in pleasures, from its stately pace, to the extraordinary musicianship that suffuses it...The Van Gogh that Hudson portrays is in turmoil, but he is never weak...The musicians add a central contribution, classical music, that is seldom found in theater...The combinations of music, voice, language, live actors, and visuals evoke passion, mystery, and a persuasive alchemy."
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August 17th, 2017

"'Van Gogh's Ear' is one of the most thoughtful and elegant shows I have ever seen, and I really, really, really wanted to like it. Unfortunately, the show is boring...The direction features painfully slow pacing that aims for meditative but achieves dull...Hudson also lacks the intense spark of the insane genius...If you are really into van Gogh...and if you're okay with ponderous pacing, you might want to completely ignore this review. There's a lot of talent and beauty here."
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Z
August 18th, 2017

"Hudson portrays the title character wonderfully, with the production under the strong direction of Donald T. Sanders...The audience is able to view and understand van Gogh not just as an artist, but as a human being whose struggles with doubt and depression are all the more relatable...The overall production elements were also key to the success of the performance...'Van Gogh’s Ear' provides the audience with more understanding of the man who painted iconic works."
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August 23rd, 2017

"The show often achieves an intriguing balance via the deeply romantic nature of this music and the increasing desperation of van Gogh’s letters to his brother...The only real problem with 'Van Gogh’s Ear' is the casting of Carter Hudson as van Gogh...The music is regularly transporting...The music and the imagery start to interact and to challenge each other, but unfortunately, whenever the music stops, the words, as delivered by Hudson, bring things to a screeching halt."
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