Already closed | 1h 45m | East Village

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

From 81 member  reviews
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. More…

'What Did You Expect?' brings us back to the Gabriels' kitchen, with the country now in the midst of the general election for president. Over the course of one evening in the house they grew up in, history (both theirs and our country's), money, politics, family, art, and culture are chopped up and mixed together while a meal is made.

Member Reviews (81)


Great acting, Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant
Avg Score

Absorbing, Intense, Relevant, Resonant, Intelligent

See it if You like subtle theater with a flare for nuance. You like ensemble casts w/ the dynamic pairing of Maryann Plunkett and Jay O. Sanders

Don't see it if You want a fast paced, obvious show.

Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Ambitious, Great acting

See it if u enjoy intensely engrossing plays and superior ensemble acting. I was riveted from the first moment to the last sigh. The production is A+.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy the above. Really, it's a superb example of modern American theater at its best. Political, but, mostly, personal impact.

Disappointing, Indulgent, Slow, A bit borin, Uninteresting

See it if you want to support The Public Theater.

Don't see it if you want an absorbing story. The election was supposed to be a major part of the play, but it was hardly mentioned.

Slow, Quiet, Unobtrusive, Disappointing

See it if you saw the first installment of the trilogy and are committed to seeing the rest.

Don't see it if you're craving absorbing drama -- this family is super low-key even when in conflict.

Absorbing, Great acting, Exquisite, Masterful, Intelligent

See it if you love Richard Nelson's plays. I love this series and the Apple family too. I'm not exactly sure why they work but they really move me.

Don't see it if you expect a lot of action. It's more like eavesdropping. But in the most illuminating way. Go.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if You care about our current world and levanto the left. Beautifully real and insanely intimate

Don't see it if No big grand life changing moments. Just real and quiet family dynamics.

Ambitious, Great acting, Great staging, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if number 2 in a three part, this one is very family focused. brother sister, two sister in laws and mother from Rhinebeck. reflection on life

Don't see it if if you dont like limited dialogue. Taking play with a family around the kitchen table, strife and struggles in Part two of 3 part play

Disappointing, Great acting, Slow

See it if You like great acting. Good moments throughout delivered by a strong cast.

Don't see it if You think theater should move, jolt, surprise, be about something. When some is reading out loud at the top, you know you're doomed.

Intelligent, Original, Relevant, Resonant, Slow

See it if You want a thought depiction of resilient but economically stressed lower middle America family in current times

Don't see it if You are really expecting a current political commentary, want fast moving plot or have hearing deficiencies

Absorbing, Entertaining, Bittersweet, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if you love simple story telling, beautifully rendered. Easily heard even when the actors backs are to you-Thank you. See it.

Don't see it if you don't want to think how people get/ find themselves in difficult situations with no easy answers.

Great acting, Disappointing

See it if More of a statement than a play concerning a family caught up in the political/ economic fall out in U.S. Rather inert but well acted.

Don't see it if The current economic/political atmosphere in the U.S. doesn't interest you.

Intelligent, Relevant, Entertaining, Disappointing

See it if You enjoy lowkey super-realism. Nelson has not interwoven the politics into the domestic stories as he effectively did in the Apple plays.

Don't see it if Expect plays to have a compelling story. This is character exposure against the challenges of contemporary America.

Absorbing, Great acting, Original, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if You're worried about the upcoming election, even if you're not heavily invested in politics. You want to see a very relatable play.

Don't see it if You don't like dark drama

Also Although this is the second in a three part play cycle, it's not imper... Read more Read less

Great acting, Great writing, Masterful, Slow

See it if As others have said, the cast and writing was so comfortable in its skin that we felt as though we were a fly on the wall at a family dinner

Don't see it if So what?

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.

Ambitious, Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Moving

See it if you're up for a masterfully-executed quiet, absorbing, & profoundly-intimate ensemble drama

Don't see it if you can't with a play about the economic precarity & existential crises confronting middle-aged, middle-class white people in upstate ny

Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You have seen the first and will see the third play In the Gabriels. Brilliant writing, staging, acting..

Don't see it if I think you should see it...although this strikes me as the least of the three, seen altogether they are transporting.

Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Absorbing, Exquisite

See it if you enjoy terrific, naturalistic theater.

Don't see it if you need an action-driven plot.

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

Absorbing, Great writing, Great staging, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if If you like an intimate,fly on the wall experience this is for 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

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy naturalistic drama, family drama, or plays about American life right now. If you enjoyed The Humans, give this a try.

Don't see it if You're in the mood for broad comedy; you don't like plays without intermissions (1 hour 40 minutes).

Absorbing, Great acting, Delightful, Relevant, Intelligent

See it if You liked the first of the Gabriel plays-hunger. Same excellent acting, relevant politically and socially. You feel like you know the people

Don't see it if Looking for flashy fast paced theatrics with cliff hanging story.

Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant, Thought-provoking, Great acting

See it if you want to listen to intelligent conversation of a family discussing wide-ranging issues while preparing food in a kitchen venue.

Don't see it if You have no appetite for a play that features intelligent conversation, but little action.

Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You like the Apple Family plays and want to see a more down to earth family dynamics

Don't see it if You need to have a plot line and need action. It is a family conversation (an no one is looking at their phones!)

Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing, Masterful, Slow

See it if You enjoy shows like The Human. This is a conversational play. You're watching a family go through life. You're observing.

Don't see it if You prefer a play with higher stakes. This is a very mellow play with 'real' people. Not Huge animated characters.

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 th...
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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 texture...
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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 e...
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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 m...
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