Vanity Fair
Closed 2h 45m
Vanity Fair
79

Vanity Fair NYC Reviews and Tickets

79%
(216 Reviews)
Positive
86%
Mixed
10%
Negative
4%
Members say
Clever, Entertaining, Great acting, Ambitious, Funny

About the Show

The Pearl Theatre Company presents a new stage adaptation of William Thackeray’s classic 19th-century novel, which exposes a society that cares more for good birth and good manners than skill.

Read more Show less

Member Reviews (216)

Sort by:
  • Default
  • Standing in our community
  • Highest first
  • Lowest first
  • Newest first
  • Oldest first
  • Only positive
  • Only negative
  • Only mixed
80
Intense, Clever, Ambitious, Absorbing, Edgy

See it if you like innovative staging, altho sometimes it's disruptive. The story is well-told w/rare lags. The moral: we often want the wrong thing.

Don't see it if you like realistic action on stage. Or you get bored after 2 hours (this is 2 1/2). I enjoyed this VF much more than the 2004 movie.

81
Fun, Creative, Entertaining, Thought-provoking

See it if you like reinterpretation of classics. Funny and fun, quirky and very creative. Hamill has managed to include comedy, pathos and heart.

Don't see it if You want classic theater. Some acting is uneven but others more than make up for it. Can get confusing at points but clarifies soon after. Read more

82
Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Delightful

See it if You enjoy period pieces with a TWIST! Very fun night at the theater. Super creative adaptation, Kate Hamill's writing/performance is amazing

Don't see it if You are purist and aren't receptive to new interpretations. It could use a 20min trim but Hamill has injected the story w/ lots of pizzazz!

86
Delightful, Entertaining, Quirky, Great staging, Clever

See it if You want to see a show that's really well written, acted and directed, but is rather unusual. Very clever without being gimmicky.

Don't see it if You're not willing to use your imagination. They do a good job keeping it clear who's who & what's what but they do do a lot with a little.

95
Delightful, Clever, Funny, Dizzying, Profound

See it if Wonderful mix of a farce and a serious drama. A circus of human desires for us to contemplate. When it gets too serious, mayhem erupts.

Don't see it if You won't enjoy a satire of 19th century British society, with a cheeky narrator breaking the fourth wall. Read more

84
Ambitious, Entertaining, Intelligent, Relevant, Good acting

See it if Hamill's perceptive adaptation of Thackeray's over stuffed novel is both trenchant & stimulating Tucker's staging works more often than not

Don't see it if At nearly 3 hrs could easily lose a half hour w/o harm enhancing relevancy to modern times Burlesque staging sometimes gets in drama's way

85
Charming, Entertaining, Funny, Great staging, Clever

See it if irony, satire and plain old humor float your boat. This clever production of a character driven classic held my attention for 2.5 hours!

Don't see it if you expect a simple translation of novel to play. A lot of theatrical elements have been added to enrich the staging of the familiar plot.

77
Ambitious, Confusing, Slow, Enjoyable, Disappointing

See it if You are a fan of Thackeray and of Eric Tucker's direction, enjoy novelizations of classic novels on stage & seeing portrayal of women

Don't see it if you expect something like Tucker's Sense and Sensibility or Midsummer Night's Dream, not fond of 18th century literature or small casts

Critic Reviews (22)

The New York Times
April 3rd, 2017

"Ms. Hamill and Mr. Tucker’s 'Vanity Fair' is a breathless thing and often too hectic. But this show is a gift to actors and a goody bag for its audience...Mr. Tucker encourages the actors to indulge themselves. But they’re having such a high old time that their pleasure is infectious. Less successful are the direct-address monologues Ms. Hamill has interpolated, which state themes too baldly, and dance sequences set to the likes of 'Thriller,' which blare the play’s contemporary bona fides."
Read more

The Wall Street Journal
April 3rd, 2017

“Ms. Hamill’s ‘Vanity Fair,’ which is being performed to coruscatingly brilliant effect by the Pearl Theatre Company, is a masterpiece of creative compression that is at once arrestingly original and faithful to its source material…The quick-change shape-shifting of the cast, the outrageous physical comedy of the staging, the startlingly witty use of props: All are Mr. Tucker’s now-familiar trademarks, and all add immeasurably to the show’s impact...Really ought to transfer to Broadway.”
Read more

Theatermania
April 3rd, 2017

"Thackeray's delicious wit and satirical side-winks often get lost in this ambitious, sometimes unfocused translation...More straightforward storytelling might have better served this almost three-hour-long production. The actors never fail to impress as they race about the stage and deliver some truly inspired moments...But more often than not, the hit-and-miss jokes let the air out of this colorful balloon of a show, and the second act becomes downright dour."
Read more

BroadwayWorld
April 3rd, 2017

"'Vanity Fair' has a little bit of everything to make it one of the most intriguing adaptations of a novel I have ever seen...Becky is such a fascinating character, and watching Kate Hamill in this role was such a pleasure...That is not to undermine the extremely talented cast that joins her in the telling of this story: individuals that each play a myriad of interesting characters with such vigor and conviction, they make it look easy."
Read more

Lighting & Sound America
April 6th, 2017

"Hamill has performed a highly efficient act of distillation, exposing the solid structure underlying Thackeray's sprawling satire...Aided by a nimble company of seven, Hamill and Tucker roll out scene after scene right out of a satiric engraving in Punch...I hasten to add that Tucker, who never can let well enough alone, does from time to time indulge himself...These moments are soon over...This production never lets us forget that Thackeray's satire routinely cuts too close for comfort."
Read more

TheaterScene.net
April 11th, 2017

“Thackeray's 784-page novel on love, money and social climbing has been adapted into a concise and cogent stage play by Kate Hamill, who has also given herself a magnificent role as she previously did in her Jane Austen adaptation. Director Eric Tucker has obtained the most out of his accomplished and skillful cast. This ‘Vanity Fair’ is a TKO putting a seemingly huge and unadaptable 19th-century novel front and center on the stage of the Pearl Theatre. Thackeray would be pleased.”
Read more

Theatre is Easy
April 2nd, 2017

“Hilarious…The ensemble cast is uniformly excellent. The male actors skillfully play multiple roles…Hamill is pitch-perfect as the feisty and flinty heroine…As a writer, Hamill has made some inspired changes to Thackeray’s novel…'Vanity Fair' isn't perfect. I could have done with less of the passing gas humor, done as a group effort—but it got laughs, so what do I know…But these are minor quibbles…A fresh, fast-paced, and wildly entertaining take.”
Read more

Theater Pizzazz
April 3rd, 2017

"Great and glorious, equal parts cabaret, circus and non-judgmental morality play...Go see the play. It’s fun, interesting and often even touching...Kate Hamill, the adapter and star, and Eric Tucker, the director, are a smashing duo, as in turning classic stories into theatrical smash hits...I thought the second act could have been cut slightly. As for Eric Tucker’s direction, triple wows for turning an ancient classic into a fun show with a considerable undercoating of content."
Read more

CurtainUp
April 3rd, 2017

"Even with an ideal space for Bedlam's style of classic adaptions and scenic designer Sandra Goldmark on board to support Eric Tucker's directorial vision, wrestling Thackeray's epic character and plot-stuffed novel into a manageable stage work is a daunting undertaking...This production will be richest for those who are familiar with the novel...Tucker helps make the character and scene shifts seem effortless...But it's hardly enough time to do justice to this doorstop-sized classic."
Read more

Front Row Center
May 21st, 2017

"Ms. Hamill’s play gives us a vivid, panoramic satire of English men and women striving to rise through marriage or inheritance...The production is imaginatively staged...Ms. Hamill, in addition to being a terrific adaptor of text for the stage, is also an actress of great strength and charm...The entire acting company deserves high praise for creating engaging, often deeply humorous, compelling characters."
Read more

Front Mezz Junkies
May 21st, 2017

"A clever and creative adaptation...It’s a stellar reframing of a puppet play for a modern audience who may be bored by the straightforward historical approach to such classics, and need a little Bedlam in their drama. Emotionally it’s a bit distant, but it makes up for that with frivolity and fun...A smart and excellent portrayal by Hamill full of slyness, wit, and style."
Read more

Theatre's Leiter Side
April 2nd, 2017

“This is theatre having fun with itself as a game people play, using familiar props in unfamiliar ways, and openly sharing its performance with the audience...This works in limited amounts but...it becomes a self-defeating device that deflates interest in the material it's meant to serve...The cast...shows good humor, versatility, and intelligence but the demands of making their characters engagingly real while also subjecting them to so many audience-distancing japeries proves insuperable.”
Read more

Wolf Entertainment Guide
April 7th, 2017

"An eye-catching, attention-grabbing show that, although too long, lives up to Hamill’s conception with effectiveness. The trade-off is that while one can admire the acting, the costumes, the effects and the overall impact, this is not an approach that can engender very deep pro and con feelings for the characters, who mostly one-dimensionally play out their respective lives...My greatest pleasure was watching Hamill make the most of her role as Becky. She is exceptionally talented."
Read more

W
April 19th, 2017

“Clamorous incomprehension...Some of the actors play it straight, others are so over-the-top one winces at every appearance…Direction is as uneven as acting. It’s as if the production can’t make up its mind…Hamill creates a Becky Sharp with less grace, charm or seductive attributes–virtually everything that enabled the character to rise–than insistence…The play is periodically entertaining, but chaotic (not freewheeling) in a style I find too often self-defeating.”
Read more

The Huffington Post
April 3rd, 2017

"Hamill had a remarkable and deserved success adapting 'Sense and Sensibility' and she’s done it again here...The direction, the acting, the tech elements all work in concert but above all it’s the canny script of Hamill that shines. She captures the sweep of the novel and its many ideas with spot-on choices...If the evening is more intellectually stimulating than emotionally gripping, ultimately that’s due to the limitations of what Thackeray created in his Punch & Judy of a morality tale."
Read more

Off Off Online
April 7th, 2017

“The Pearl’s seven-member cast is a well-oiled ensemble…All the actors are adept at transforming themselves…The principal weakness of this 'Vanity Fair' is its stylistic indecisiveness…Hamill and Tucker have invested this 'Vanity Fair' with theatrical gusto, a sense of contemporary relevance, and a full measure of merriment. If 21st-century irony, the prevailing voice of Bedlam, drowns out Thackeray’s dryly satiric take on Regency England, that’s unlikely to matter to most playgoers.”
Read more

T
April 23rd, 2017

"Hamill takes a decidedly feminist approach to 'Vanity Fair,' which is particularly fitting in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s loss...Hamill has streamlined Thackeray’s novel into a treatise on judging morality, no matter the era. She plays Becky as a strong-minded 'Nasty Woman' who believes she is capable of anything. Parsons is terrific as the demure Emmy...The five other actors all expertly play multiple roles, both male and female, blurring gender lines while also making fun of them."
Read more

Off Script with Dan Dwyer
April 10th, 2017

"Ms. Hamill, among Off-Broadway’s most intelligent young playwrights, and Mr. Tucker, among its most inventive directors, team up again, distilling Thackeray’s novel to vivid, contemporary expression...An exemplar of making the literary theatrical. I’ll go even further and declare that 'Vanity Fair' is what theatre is all about, even if, at every turn, Hamill, Tucker and company are asking—so entertainingly, so disarmingly—'Who are YOU to judge?'"
Read more

Z
April 4th, 2017

“The satirical tone of the story can wear thin...Yes, it’s imaginative—just getting seven people to play 20 or 25 or 30 roles requires heroic imagination and energy, and Kate Hamill, the author and star, and Eric Tucker, the director, are nothing if not imaginative. But there’s something amiss…This work curdles more than charms...It’s ambitious, very ambitious. But it doesn’t live up to its ambitions."
Read more

Edge New York
April 4th, 2017

"As much as the production attempts to energize itself with movement, it fails to do so...Ironically, despite its best efforts, the play drags at moments, and part of the fault lies in the writing of the play itself. Hamill's adaptation is unfortunately overwritten...The main problem in this adaptation: the amount of time it spends telling its audience what to and what not to think of its characters...Despite the script's problems, Hamill is still a delight to watch as Becky Sharpe.":
Read more

Philadelphia Inquirer
April 5th, 2017

“A marvelous production…Except for the two women, the rest of the wildly accomplished cast play multiple roles. They all shift from character to character and gender to gender, with high-precision timing…Directed by Eric Tucker with a featherlight touch and a lively tempo, it becomes all the more remarkable that we are, from time to time, caught up in the plot, moved by events, worried about the characters’ fortunes, and eager to know what happens next.”
Read more

N
April 7th, 2017

"It’s a terrific production, altogether satisfying...Eric Tucker directs with enormous precision and humor. The stage is constantly animated. The pace never flags and we never weary of these 19th-century characters who behave so badly and are so like us...There are moments when the playwright throws rather too much at us at once, and we’re confused. But The Pearl Theatre Company has mounted a great success."
Read more

Watch This Next (3)

85
Excellent
92 Reviews
Opens Feb 01
NYC: Midtown W

Featuring Michael Jackson's greatest hits and a book by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage.

83
Great
45 Reviews
Opens Feb 01
NYC: Midtown W

Five generations of a French Jewish family are threatened by displacement in this world premiere. 

80
Great
93 Reviews
Opens Jan 26
NYC: Midtown W

Tony winner Phylicia Rashad stars in the Broadway premiere of Dominique Morisseau's Skeleton Crew.