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Van Gogh's Ear

Members say: Slow, Ambitious, Great staging, Great singing, Disappointing
68
Critics
70
17 reviews
Members
68
44 reviews
 

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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Van Gogh frantically worked on several paintings at a time, experimenting with color and form. Time became his enemy as violent fits of madness and terrifying hallucinations consumed his being. Wrestling a fractured psyche with his determination to paint the beautiful, fragile world he saw, Van Gogh revealed his struggle to his brother Theo. Accompanied by live chamber music, this show brings the tormented creativity of Van Gogh to life.

 

Cast & Creatives (10)



Reviews (61)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
70
Avg Score

80
The New York Times

"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." Full Review

80
Theatermania

"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." Full Review

55
Lighting & Sound America

"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." Full Review

90
The Huffington Post

"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." Full Review

60
Theatre's Leiter Side

“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.” Full Review

65
CurtainUp

"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." Full Review

65
Talkin' Broadway

"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." Full Review

85
Woman Around Town

"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." Full Review

60
Wolf Entertainment Guide

"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." Full Review

70
Theatre is Easy

"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." Full Review

75
Theater Pizzazz

"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." Full Review

35
TheaterScene.net

“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.” Full Review

80
Off Off Online

"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." Full Review

50
Show Showdown

"'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." Full Review

80
ZEALnyc

"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." Full Review

65
Village Voice

"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." Full Review

80
Theater Pizzazz

"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." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
68
Avg Score

62
Beautiful music, Beautiful staging, Odd writing

See it if You want to go to a classical music concert and see Van Gogh's paintings.

Don't see it if You want to see a play.

80
Absorbing, Clever, Slow, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You want a one man show mixed with a chamber music concert and a lieder recital . ..all excellent , amazing projections too

Don't see it if None of those things appeal to you

74
Disappointing, Slow, Great projections, Wonderful chamber music

See it if if chamber music, operatic arias, & vivid projections of Van Gogh's works are enough to compensate for a shallow portrayal of a complex man

Don't see it if You love Vincent Van Gogh. The actor was excellent but the lines were just depressing.

Also I know it was researched but there are so many of his letters that con... Read more Read less

64
Disappointing, Slow, Slow slow slow

See it if you enjoy chamber music and opera singing.

Don't see it if you want to delve into the character of van gogh....This show is more about staging, background pictures and music.

75
Intelligent, Quirky, Slow, Entertaining

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.

80
Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You like something different, multi-media theater, interesting staging.

Don't see it if You expect a traditional theater experience, don't like classical music and singing.

Also It's a very interesting concept that held my attention and fascination... Read more Read less

70
Ambitious, Slow, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You want to see something very different.

Don't see it if you don't like slow moving plays.

79
Ambitious, Intelligent, Quirky, Slow, Great singing

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

79
Ambitious, Clever, Intelligent, Great singing, Great staging

See it if for an interesting approach using classical music, art and word depicting a painter's mind

Don't see it if you're expecting more of the status quo in theater; it leans more to the music

89
Original, Ambitious, Clever, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if you want to see a truly unique hybrid entertainment.

Don't see it if you're looking for a comedy or you don't want to be challenged.

63
Ambitious, Intelligent, Indulgent, Slow, Great staging

See it if you enjoy wonderful, artistic visuals along with classical music. But the story get lost amidst the music as it recount the artist anguish.

Don't see it if you are not an art lover who enjoys classical music interspersed with operatic arias. Or you get easily bored.

85
Exquisite, Great singing, Great staging, Unique

See it if you want a to see and hear a beautiful blending of chamber music, vocal recital and theater, The staging is exquisite.

Don't see it if you are looking for a traditional play or musical. This may not be for you, Also, if classical music is not your thing.

81
This show will divide audience: some will see as ambitious effort to evoke vg's art through synthesis of words, graphics and music; others will find this to be a pretentious failure

See it if combo amazing projections VG paintings, VG movingly played by Carter Hudson, fine lieder/instrumental ensemble evoking VG's inner turmoil

Don't see it if much more successful as a concert than a play; but over time this "tone poem" makes you sense the manic pain behind VG's unique art

58
Indulgent, Confusing, Entertaining

See it if You like musicals. You like Van Gogh which I adore. edgy but not the most thought provoking. Mildly entertaining but be prepared to work.

Don't see it if You don't want to do work as this piece is hard to follow. It needs work and better writing. Wish I didn't have to work that hard.

62
'interesting, but too slowly paced.', Well acted, but it needed to be paced much differently., I truly wanted to enjoy this experimental theater/music hybred more than i did.

See it if You want to see more of Van Gogh's struggles. Great projections interest you. Classical and 'German?' music is your thing.

Don't see it if you need faster paced staging and acting.

24
So lacking in interest, insight and entertainment that the auidence wants to cut their own ears off!

See it if You are utterly fascinated by Van Gogh, yet know nothing about him or like classical music and opera taking the place of plot and dialogue.

Don't see it if You value your time--another case of a pretentious Times review costing innocents their hard-earned money

79
Absorbing, Clever

See it if You want to see a unique approach to telling Van Gogh's story, including art appreciation, music appreciation with some fine talent.

Don't see it if You do not appreciate creative sets and good musicians. You need to see cast interaction. Need playbill assistance to comprehend

80
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great staging, Wonderful projections and instrumental music

See it if you're open to an unusual mixture of drama, projections and music. A fascinating story, amplified by the music and art.

Don't see it if you want straight-forward plot movement and dislike innovative takes on a well-known story.

51
Ambitious, Disappointing, Slow, Great singing

See it if you can manage to concentrate solely on the beautiful music and luscious visuals, but most important --- tune out Vincent.

Don't see it if you expect to relate to VVG as an artist or as a person.

Also The director did a major disservice to the theater loving public, and ... Read more Read less

68
Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Slow, Great singing

See it if You like multimedia performances that incorporate projections, singing and acting.

Don't see it if You get bored easily.

90
Creative, intelligent, beautiful mise-en-scene

See it if to explore synesthesia, Van Gogh's, via letters/gorgeous projections/music; love between brothers; society v emotionally 'different' artist

Don't see it if prefer linear drama, not interested in VG or theme of artists in society

50
Ambitious, Disappointing, Insipid, Great singing, Great staging

See it if well performed classical music and projected Van Gogh's art.

Don't see it if Thin story and by intermission, he already got rid of the ear....why stay

75
Ambitious, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if likethe triple threat of play, opera and classical music staged in an interesting manner

Don't see it if You expect to see a traditional play and may not be crazy about opera

35
Creative, Intense, Disappointing, Slow, Unconventional

See it if You like something totally off the wall.

Don't see it if You want to see a traditional play.

62
Ambitious, Banal, Disappointing, Overrated, Slow

See it if See this show if you like slow paced semi musical performance. And, if screen projected art is more important to you than the acting.

Don't see it if Don't see this show if you don't like very slow semi musical performances with classical music that does not enhance the plot.