We're Only Alive for a Short Amount of Time
Closed 1h 25m
We're Only Alive for a Short Amount of Time

We're Only Alive for a Short Amount of Time NYC Reviews and Tickets

(86 Reviews)
Members say
Absorbing, Intense, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing

About the Show

Lortel Award-winning writer/performer David Cale ("Harry Clarke") returns to The Public in his musical memoir of hope, family, and transcendence. 

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Member Reviews (86)

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962 Reviews | 338 Followers
Memorable, Engrossing, Touching, Haunting, Riveting

See it if you want immersion in theater that's funny, moving, tragic, tender, harsh. Personal tragedy becomes art. Triumph of writing/acting. Gr band

Don't see it if you want a gr singer (Cale isn't) or gr lyrics (soft rhymes/repetition). Ending is abrupt. But the piece envelops you...kidnaps you. Read more

691 Reviews | 212 Followers
Quirky, Lyrical, Versatile, Intense, Inspiring

See it if Inspiring solo autobio, overcoming horrific dysfunctional family. Many touching moments. Beautiful musical accompaniment. Full of feeling.

Don't see it if His vocals are not the strongest, but I enjoyed their creativity. His passion borders on mania, which can be a lot to take.

677 Reviews | 187 Followers
Slow, Poignant, Good storytelling, Absorbing

See it if you want to see an adept monologist paint a family portrait in words & song, full of fear, violence, vulnerability, pathos, hope & flight.

Don't see it if you're really not interested in hearing about another working-class dysfunctional family & the beleaguered son's triumph over adversity. Read more

687 Reviews | 113 Followers
Great acting, Ambitious, Quirky, Slow, Disappointing

See it if Cale's autobiographical solo drama/ tone poem is moving, often riveting and a little indulgent Well performed esp as his mother Barbara

Don't see it if Problem is a slack dramaturgy; veering from the tabloid to the maudlin w/ Barbara often dominating drama Recitative songs grow tiresome

585 Reviews | 220 Followers
Unusual, Quirky, Overrated, Slow, Absorbing

See it if You love solo shows where one person plays multiple characters — and you’re okay with a very slow-build plot. (The first half is boring.)

Don't see it if You dislike when writers perform their own work — especially when it’s a musical and the performer isn’t a skilled singer.

488 Reviews | 125 Followers
Emotional, Thought-provoking, Profound, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if Beautiful self portrayal of a hellish childhood & the ability to remain hopeful, loving & kind. Musicians & accompaniments are beautiful.

Don't see it if not interested in theme of rising above family dysfunction. Cale is not a good singer/songs not particularly melodic - heartfelt instead.

483 Reviews | 54 Followers
Imaginative. well performed and very interesting storytelling.

See it if You appreciate solo shows with music.

Don't see it if You don't like solo shows.

431 Reviews | 132 Followers
Quirky, Intense, Deft storytelling, Absorbing, Melancholy and joy, both

See it if Written/perf by Brit re his life. Cale evokes several characters very deftly in speech/song. He survives true crime horror w tenderness.

Don't see it if It's dark & funny & warm & mesmerizing, but he's an oddball guy w a not-so-hot singing voice. If you don't like quirky, I'd avoid this.

Critic Reviews (21)

The New York Times
June 27th, 2019

"Lands in the gap between drama and anecdote. It doesn’t help that Mr. Cale is often more compelling when playing other people than when playing himself...Under Mr. Falls’s delicate direction, Mr. Cale makes complicated creatures of them all...The variety of colors Mr. Cale is able to wring out of his voice as he sketches them in song is remarkable. Yet as David Egleton turns into David Cale and the story rushes into the present, the tension inevitably slackens."
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Time Out New York
June 27th, 2019

"David Cale gets harrowingly personal in the musical memoir We're Only Alive for a Short Amount of Time (⭐⭐⭐)"
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New York Magazine / Vulture
June 27th, 2019

"Cale has a voice that warbles, strains, flutters, cracks, and soars. He’s not going for flawless or classical or even consistently beautiful. What he’s got is character — a depth and range of expression and a life force that pours out of him like the frothing mouth of a river...Cale’s play isn’t a tragedy, though — it’s a kind of passage. It’s unblinking and curious, vulnerable and open-hearted without being soppy."
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The Hollywood Reporter
June 27th, 2019

"The unprepossessing, balding Cale is no great shakes as a singer, and the songs feel more like musical fragments than fully formed numbers. But the score, coupled with Cale's soulful, impassioned delivery, casts a quiet spell, enhanced by the gorgeous chamber music arrangements played by musicians seen only in shadow. Even when the proceedings turn markedly dark, the writer-performer invests them with a humor and humanity that make his individual story seem universal."
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June 27th, 2019

"'We're Only Alive for a Short Amount of Time' unexpectedly becomes an exorcism of pent-up human emotion, which Cale unpeels with the exactness of a forensic analyst. It is a brutal, honest look at what makes and unmakes a family, and reminds us why we should value the time that we have, since we never know how short it's going to be."
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July 2nd, 2019

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Lighting & Sound America
June 28th, 2019

"David Cale's new piece at the Public is his most personal, and also his gutsiest. In solo works written for himself and others, he has conjured a universe of richly imagined characters; here he turns his sights on himself and the members of his immediate family, who provide him with some hair-raising material."
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Talkin' Broadway
June 27th, 2019

"A tale that is entangled in the brambles of a troubled childhood is soaked in so much treacly romanticism that it loses its power to disturb an audience, even if it continues to haunt its teller...Cale quietly and with touches of humor and song fills us in with the broad outlines of his childhood...After a while, however, the straightforward narrative segues into a series of monologues in which Cale takes on the personae of his mother, his father, his grandfather, and his brother."
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