What Did You Expect?: Election Year in the Life of One Family, Play Two
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What Did You Expect?: Election Year in the Life of One Family, Play Two

What Did You Expect?: Election Year in the Life of One Family, Play Two NYC Reviews and Tickets

(82 Ratings)
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant

About the Show

Tony Award-winning playwright and director Richard Nelson returns to The Public Theater with part two of his new three-play cycle about a year in the life of the Gabriels of Rhinebeck, New York.

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Show-Score Member Reviews (82)

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52 Reviews | 22 Followers
Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Resonant

See it if you want to experience theater up close and personal. It is a glimpse of our lives that we can brilliantly watch objectively.

Don't see it if You like your shows big and loud. It is an intimate piece that makes you wanna do life all over again and hopefully get it right this time.

509 Reviews | 338 Followers
Great acting, Great staging, Entertaining, Absorbing, Resonant

See it if See it!! Very impressive acting. So naturalistic. Wonderful writing. Very engaging throughout

Don't see it if You don't want to see a play where all the action takes place around the kitchen table. It is interesting (and funny!), but also intense

144 Reviews | 38 Followers
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Resonant, Relevant

See it if If you like thoughtful Chekhovian family plays with great acting.

Don't see it if If you want obvious, cliched dysfunctional family dramas and you don't like to listen closely.

553 Reviews | 285 Followers
Seamless ensemble work, Great staging, Great writing, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if you enjoyed part 1 of this trilogy, or you are a fan of the Apple family plays. Superb ensemble work. Requires attentive listening.

Don't see it if you have trouble focusing on people sitting around a kitchen table and talking. If you need action or moving scenery, skip it.

102 Reviews | 90 Followers
Absorbing, Great acting, Refreshing, Relevant, Intelligent

See it if want to see second installment of a great family drama/comedy served up at a family dinner table.

Don't see it if you aren't a fan of fast paced smart diagogue

104 Reviews | 20 Followers
Absorbing, Great writing, Great staging, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if If you like an intimate,fly on the wall experience this is for you.it is so real that you feel you know these people.

Don't see it if It's very subtle and you have to really pay attention or you won't get it

448 Reviews | 89 Followers
Absorbing, Delightful, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Profound

See it if You care about the contemporary American experience during this election year. Love amazing acting.

Don't see it if Need action on stage.

353 Reviews | 107 Followers
Quietly profound, The acting is amazing, must be seen, You might need to lean forward to hear everything, Get yourself there if you can find a ticket

See it if You like a meaty drama that doesn't hit you over the head. Even people who aren't political animals will enjoy.

Don't see it if You wouldn't enjoy a play that encourages you to think about it afterward and interpret what you saw.

Critic Reviews (26)

The New York Times
September 18th, 2016

"'What Did You Expect?' wears its topicality with modest stealth...It is a testament to Nelson’s well-honed craft, and that of his cast, that these topics are seldom addressed directly yet are embedded in the play’s every fragment. His family cycles inhabit the here and now with an unobtrusive thoroughness I’ve never encountered elsewhere in the theater...Every performance here glows with a compelling, specifically embodied mixture of trepidation and hope."
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Time Out New York
September 20th, 2016

"The show blends into the world around it; likewise, the plays themselves blur into one another…But while it's warmly familiar and gorgeously performed, ‘What Did You Expect?’ sometimes misses its step. Writing at top speed (three plays in a year!), Nelson takes insufficient care over his textures: overfull with cultural trivia and self-referential winking, ‘Expect's’ less strong than the first Gabriel play ‘Hungry,’ itself hastier than the whole crop of Apples. Still, there's nourishment here."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
September 17th, 2016

"By exploring the underwater part of the iceberg whose visible tip is politics, Nelson is challenging the idea of what political theater can be...The extreme naturalism of the writing is made delightful by the intelligence and humor of the characters...To keep material that deliberately abjures extremes of expression from turning merely mild, an extreme form of naturalistic acting must take up the slack…The Public’s cast is heartbreaking in its fierce, ordinary, believability."
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September 20th, 2016

"Plunkett, a Tony winner, has anchored both the Apple and Gabriel family stories, giving life to the under-the-skin anxieties of the times while embodying the quiet but ineffable force of Nelson’s subtle dramaturgy. The playwright’s evanescent staging compels us to listen, and the storytelling thrums with power that, like the upright Bechstein that’s soon to disappear, is felt profoundly in its absence."
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New York Daily News
September 17th, 2016

"The play serves up a slice of humanity. It takes an intimate view of one family to look more universally at all people...Talk is peppered with direct and indirect allusions to the candidates and the chaos. All that anxiety doesn’t make the Gabriels’ intimate challenges easier — or make for the calmest dining experience. There’s no heeding the age-old rule not to discuss politics at mealtime. The stakes are too high...So pass the casserole — and the antacid."
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September 19th, 2016

"'What Did You Expect?' bears a strong if superficial resemblance to the playwright-director’s beloved series of plays about the Apple family. Both families live in Rhinebeck, N.Y. , struggle with the loss of a patriarch, and are deeply unsettled by the state of the nation. But the sensitive, literate Gabriels are an intellectual and economic notch below the Apples, which makes this quintessential American family more vulnerable — and more precious."
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The Hollywood Reporter
September 17th, 2016

"While the play is undeniably static, such timeliness and the talented ensemble's fully lived-in performances ensure that you're utterly drawn into the family's world. The effect is akin to eavesdropping on a private family conversation, so intimate that when a bottle of wine is opened you feel mildly insulted not to be offered a glass...This edition particularly benefits from Maxwell's increased presence."
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AM New York
September 22nd, 2016

"These kinds of plays are often called 'portraits' because they emphasize subdued, ultra-realistic acting and quiet interactions over climactic storytelling or overt movement. There is much to admire about the scope of Nelson’s project, his empathy for middle-class, aging individuals struggling to get by and the superb work by the six-member cast, but it can be difficult to remain interested in this for 100 slow, uneventful minutes."
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