War NYC Reviews and Tickets

69%
(74 Reviews)
Positive
59%
Mixed
30%
Negative
11%
Members say
Thought-provoking, Ambitious, Great acting, Confusing, Original

About the Show

Lincoln Center presents the New York premiere of Obie-winning playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' drama about a family forced to deal with the ghosts of its past.

Read more Show less

Member Reviews (74)

Sort by:
  • Default
  • Standing in our community
  • Highest first
  • Lowest first
  • Newest first
  • Oldest first
  • Only positive
  • Only negative
  • Only mixed
55
Boring, Confusing, Edgy, Unfocused, Long

See it if you're willing to tolerate stretches of boredom and incoherence for occasional glimmers of insight and intelligence.Some strong performances

Don't see it if you want BJJ to know what he's doing. Terrible jumble. Gorilla parts demeaning. Second act is much stronger, if you stay (many left).

75
Entertaining, Uneven, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if Interesting idea interposed with realistic themes.Believable writing. Solid performances. Relatable, sought-provoking, moving.Very enjoyable

Don't see it if Tool that makes it interesting in the beginning is overused turning the protagonist into narrator.Meyers is miscast agewise (not talentwise)

Critic Reviews (23)

The New York Times
June 6th, 2016

"This is a heavily confused play about cultural confusion, a consideration of identity that never settles into a coherent identity of its own…It is so replete with ideas and arguments—and tries to cover so much territory within a confined space—that it chokes on its ambitions. Not that many of the ideas, and the various ways in which they’re presented, aren’t provocative in themselves…This production still seems to exist in limbo in ways that its seriously gifted writer never intended."
Read more

Time Out New York
June 6th, 2016

"The play’s violence is emotional and rhetorical, not literal, and derives from tensions about race and class; the playwright’s sharp voice resonates above those of the individual characters, who register semi-symbolically…'War' pokes the audience with racial discomfort—in this case, by playing with culturally loaded simian themes...The race it’s most concerned with is the human one."
Read more

The Hollywood Reporter
June 6th, 2016

"Veering uneasily between naturalistic drama and stylized surrealism, the work doesn't fully succeed on either level…There's no denying the play's cerebral ambitions, even if the playwright is dealing with more themes than he can comfortably handle...Director Blain-Cruz wrestles with, but never pins down, the play's unruly disparate elements...A fluidly staged, visually imaginative production whose technical elegance provides an intriguing contrast to the messiness of the dramaturgy."
Read more

Variety
June 6th, 2016

"A bit of a buzz-kill. The play has something potentially interesting to say about language as a means of defining our common humanity and asserting our individual identity. But in its current over-thought, overwrought, and overwritten state the idea is stalled in the format of a strained domestic drama… Although he loses sight of the subject in the heat of the domestic drama, Jacobs-Jenkins seemed to have been onto something about language."
Read more

New York Daily News
June 9th, 2016

"Jacobs-Jenkins’ overloaded play about the need to connect and communicate set in motion by a matriarch's stroke is at war with itself. It careens from theme-to-theme as it toggles between realistic moments and surreal sections. In a production packed with overacting, Rachel Nicks’ natural and quietly affecting performance is refreshing. After the author’s terrific 'Gloria' and 'An Octoroon,' I’ll follow him anywhere. But this latest work goes nowhere."
Read more

Theatermania
June 6th, 2016

"This whip-smart play uncannily captures the family politics that rupture around the mortality of a parent...Director Lileana Blain-Cruz negotiates between two distinct planes of existence with showmanship and efficiency...With 'War,' Jacob-Jenkins proves that family dramas can be intellectually stimulating, formally innovative, and emotionally engaging all at the same time."
Read more

BroadwayWorld
June 7th, 2016

"Jacobs-Jenkins has never been one to back off from the possibility of making his audience feel uncomfortable...'War' is a play that is loaded with ideas, surprises and some of the sharpest writing around...As characters debate issues of communication and identity, Blain-Cruz's graceful production smoothly transitions from the real to the surreal, as the playwright's intriguing situation twists and turns."
Read more

Talkin' Broadway
June 6th, 2016

"Engrossing, and at times shocking...So rich and unusual is all this, in fact, that it sets a standard the second act is not capable of meeting. Though it resolves all the necessary plot implications, it gets there by way of a bunch of conventional, and too often uninteresting, arguments...If this lapse in subtlety hurts the evening as a whole, it's about the only one there is. Director Lileana Blain-Cruz keeps everyone else on point, and beautifully blends the competing realities."
Read more

The Guardian (UK)
June 7th, 2016

"Compelling ideas and events are introduced, then left dangling. Yet this is preferable to the handful of on-the-nose speeches in which Jacobs-Jenkins tries to explain notions or metaphors too explicitly...But Jacobs-Jenkins is a truly exciting playwright, capable of writing in an archly naturalistic mode and in ways that reach beyond realism...However inchoate or unresolved 'War' may seem, this is an artist who doesn’t monkey around."
Read more

B
June 6th, 2016

"I arrived with high expectations. Unfortunately I was disappointed. Although I credit the playwright for his ambition and imagination, I did not feel that he had produced a coherent work…The focus is divided among too many themes…Particularly in the second act, there are too many long monologues that interrupt the flow…I can’t fault director Lileana Blain-Cruz for failing to bring all the disparate elements together better."
Read more

The Huffington Post
June 6th, 2016

"There is too much that is too hazily rendered. While part of the art of the playwright is that he regularly leaves us with open questions, his prior plays did not leave us scratching our heads…The cast of seven does well...Prime honors, though, go to Woodard...'War' is, indeed, provocative and thought-provoking. But I left Jacobs-Jenkins’ 'Gloria' wanting to rush back and see it again. I left 'War' wanting to go back and see 'Gloria.'"
Read more

Newsday
June 6th, 2016

"Uncertainty may be the objective of the playwright, whose work often roils blatant and subtle assumptions about both personal and racial identity. And yet there are so many backstories, so many challenging ideas in 'War' that its inability — or unwillingness — to coalesce leaves an unfinished feeling...We learn the world is stranded in racial history and everyone is trapped in a primal zoo. We also learn we wish we knew more."
Read more

Financial Times (UK)
June 7th, 2016

"Like many younger playwrights, Jacobs-Jenkins seems more comfortable writing exposition-laden speeches than dialogue. Director Lileana Blain-Cruz thus struggles to create a consistent sense of dramatic rhythm over the course of the two hours...They say war involves great stretches of tedium punctuated by moments of terror and excitement. 'War' suffers from a similar imbalance."
Read more

Village Voice
June 8th, 2016

"Branden Jacobs-Jenkins's fascinating, meditative play is a family drama with existential scope, the story of a single clan that widens, in both subtle and ambitiously strange ways, to contemplate inheritance and belonging — not just to parents but to ancestors, racial identities, and the species as a whole...'War' — elegant and thoughtful — is at times more driven by concept than action. But these are concepts that bear extended contemplation."
Read more

As Her World Turns
June 27th, 2016

"What is identity? How is it tied to our family? To our race?...Each of these questions could occupy its own play, and by splitting focus to grapple with all of them, 'War' lacks a certain direction. But it stayed with me and I found myself mulling over parts of the show in the days after I saw it…There are a lot of ideas jumbled up into 'War,' and it’s mostly compelling, despite that it lacks the necessary cohesiveness to be a truly outstanding play."
Read more

Our Theater Blog
June 25th, 2016

"Jacobs-Jenkins indulges in the trendlet of breaking the fourth wall. In his case the surreal and supernatural, integral to his story, is aided by Roberta’s addressing the audience. His is not a realistic play. Under Lileana Blain Cruz’s direction, it offers what is nearly an out-of-body experience. The techno effects, with lighting by Matt Frey and sound by Bray Poor, and a minimalist set by Mimi Lien, conspire to give 'War' its raw, and visceral power."
Read more

250 Word Reviews
June 6th, 2016

"The title simultaneously refers to a family at odds with each other, the aftereffects of a grandfather’s WWII military service, and a look at how what was affects what is...Strong performances and a touch of heightened theatricality help 'War' rise above the average American family drama. Director Lileana Blain-Cruz beautifully balances the play’s realism and metatheatrics, drawing the audience into the play both literally and figuratively."
Read more

The New York Times
December 8th, 2014
For a previous production

"Though acted with spleen and tears, these encounters are more intellectually than emotionally engaging. Yet 'War' turns out to have a rare poetic intricacy and cohesiveness, and you’ll find yourself reassembling its jigsaw pieces in your mind afterward. Like the rest of Mr. Jacobs-Jenkins’s work, it deals with the importance of talking about identity — both socially constructed and primal — and the nigh impossibility of doing so accurately or even sensibly."
Read more

Talkin' Broadway
January 1st, 2014
For a previous production

"‘War’ is magnificent yet imperfect....It is transfixing at times and its overall impact is pervasive. The playwright does not give, though, Tate much room for interpretation or nuance. The character is one dimensional…This is a strong, emotional, deep-rooted family drama…'War' is an evolutionary work and acute, intellectual, imaginative individuals have combined talents to sculpt and embody the Yale Rep presentation."
Read more

CurtainUp
January 1st, 2014
For a previous production

"Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' new play is a promising but jumbled evening, far from fully formed. Rather, it's a cornucopia of ideas, fragments, bits that seem to have festered in the mind of a talented writer…It's a jigsaw puzzle with pieces from several games— a work in desperate need of a more hard-nosed dramaturge...Director Lileana Blain-Cruz tries her best to wade through all the clutter, with mixed results."
Read more

Connecticut Arts Connection
December 5th, 2014
For a previous production

"Director Lileana Blain-Cruz does coax good character portrayals…The playwright, however, fails to find his message in ‘War'…The coma scenes...are confusing and distract from what could be an interesting play about family dynamics…Jacobs-Jenkins doesn’t develop them or the themes enough to engage us. Folks leaving the theater were asking ushers what the ape scenes were about."
Read more

N
December 2nd, 2014
For a previous production

"Bolder presentational choices could have been made. In some cases, the actors don’t seem up to the changes in pacing, volume, and emotion…You don’t expect a show like this, with its suspenseful death-and-mystery plot, and its attempt to connect its characters’ troubles with centuries of mistreatment of Africans, to be fluid. You do want it to be less disjointed, though. 'War' talks the talk, but its strategy lacks focus, and it loses some of its key battles for clarity."
Read more

Examiner
December 4th, 2014
For a previous production

"‘War’ proves to be one thrilling, exciting and definitely risk-taking mess, further demonstrating the promise of the dynamic African-American playwright whose originality and audacity are gaining him critical acclaim…But this new play is packed with so many ideas and so much entertaining social commentary, that it tends to lose focus…The only guarantee is that Jacobs-Jenkins leaves you with a lot, quite a lot, to think about."
Read more

Watch This Next (3)

85
Excellent
115 Reviews
Ends Nov 13
NYC: Midtown W

Deirdre O’Connell lip-syncs to recordings of playwrights Lucas Hnath's mother.

Buy
84
Great
260 Reviews
Open run
Six
NYC: Midtown W

An exuberant, pop celebration of 21st century girl power featuring the wives of Henry VIII.

Buy
81
Great
117 Reviews
Ends Nov 14
NYC: Midtown W

The true story of Reality Winner told through text from the FBI transcript of her interrogation.

Buy