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What I Did Last Summer

Members say: Clever, Great acting, Funny, Banal, Entertaining
72
Critics
71
18 reviews
Members
75
6 reviews
 

With her husband overseas near the end of World War II, Grace takes her teenage son and daughter to spend the summer on Lake Erie.

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When Grace's son takes up with the town outcast, the entire family must confront the expectations of a society that holds conformity in the highest regard. Grace finds that her attempt to restore normalcy may have only fractured their relationships further, in the second show of A. R. Gurney’s Signature Residency.

 

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Reviews (24)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
71
Avg Score

70
The New York Times

"There’s a crudeness in the patterns of conflict and resolution that propel 'Summer' toward its sigh of an ending. Mr. Simpson’s production asks us to consider these shortcomings using the same generous spirit with which Mr. Gurney’s play is written...Because in this rendering, 'Summer' is a playwright’s coming of age as reflected in the writing of the play...These self-conscious framing devices give 'Summer' an emotional substance it might otherwise lack." Full Review

75
New York Post

"The Valuable Lesson play tends be predictable: Somebody somehow ends up learning a heartwarming thing or two about life and one’ s self. This is exactly what happens in 'What I Did Last Summer,' but it’s easy to overlook the story’s banality since the show’s warmly engaging, inventively staged and elevated by a wonderful cast." Full Review

70
BroadwayWorld

"Despite some formulaic predictability, Gurney's 1983 play has an arch charm about it and director Jim Simpson's crisply-staged production is well-acted and pleasing...the play never digs deeper than the expected conflicts that pop up in such stories. Gurney writes up some very funny slice-of-life scenes and the production never fails to entertain, but 'What I Did Last Summer' never pulls you in emotionally." Full Review

85
Theatermania

"An imaginative riff on this era of cookie-cutter living, shaken by the profound platonic romance that unfolds between a boy and the teacher who shows him his own potential...Gurney uses the play to tell the story of his own childhood 'Anna,' adding another fascinating layer of history to the memory play and insight into its author's own creative journey." Full Review

45
New York Magazine / Vulture

"A playwright is really asking for it when he creates, in a semiautobiographical work, a conflict whose glorious resolution is the writing of the play itself...Alas, it never makes the case that its two halves are even related, let alone that they add up to something important. And if the proof is supposed to be what we’re seeing onstage — well, I’m not sure the boy learned enough of a lesson from Anna’s sacrifice." Full Review

85
New York Theater

"A.R. Gurney’s knowing and affectionate coming-of-age comedy set during World War II is being given a deliciously acted production...On an almost bare stage, save for a bench and a shopping bag or two, the stage directions are projected as if typed (we hear a typing sound) on the backdrop. But these attention-getting oddities have a purpose, which becomes clearer by the end of the play." Full Review

70
Broadway Blog

"Although the dialogue is often amusing and there’s sentimental interest in the period, little in the two-act play is more than skin deep, even if, at the end, a tear wells up in your eye when Charlie and his muse must come to their inevitable parting...Simpson’s work is like a shiny veneer painted over a flimsy product that might not quite be all it seems if you could see beneath the surface." Full Review

70
New York Theatre Guide

"Charming staging and graphic effects that are brilliant in their simplicity and whimsy...Throughout the play each of the characters arrives on stage to suggest this play is about them, breezily breaching the 'fourth wall' to comic effect. Gurney reminds us that we are all the stars of our own soap operas." Full Review

65
New York Daily News

"Easy-to-like revival of A.R. Gurney’s modest 1981 memory play...'What I Did Last Summer' has some laughs but little sting. But thanks to the strong acting and staging, the show provides a mellow buzz." Full Review

70
Deadline

"Exceptionally engaging...'What I Did Last Summer' is a portrait of the artist as an obnoxious, whiny, demanding, horny, belligerent, mouthy teenage boy, long time ago. Charlie, is the most annoying boy since Neil Simon’s Eugene Jerome. Like Eugene, Charlie’s saving grace is that we know he will grow up to become, in this case, A.R. Gurney, whom we admire as the author of tons of plays we’ve loved over the years." Full Review

30
Newsday

"Simpson stretches these few meta-moments into a style that feels gimmicky and superimposed on the essential naturalism of the play...Familiar coming-of-age revelations are punched up into grating bellows...Rather than a play about an annoying time of life, this is an annoying play." Full Review

70
WNBC

"I didn’t enjoy 'Summer' as much, but the playwright’s rhythmic dialogue is easy to fall into step with. Gurney never tries to convince us that Grace or Anna has the right moves in mind for Charlie—by summer's end, it’s clear everyone’s angle comes with a dark side. Charlie? At least he can grow up and write a play about it all." Full Review

85
Stage Buddy

"Through a clever use of rear projections we often see hundreds of scattered letters that then begin to form actual images, adding yet another - almost metaphysical - layer about how the world might very well exist only because we have the words to describe it. A charming production if there ever was one, 'What I Did Last Summer' forgoes facile sentimentality for a clever use of meta. It’s an unforgettable show about choosing what memories to treasure." Full Review

95
Act Three - The Reviews

"A hidden gem amongst the pile of off-Broadway plays out there. From it's construction to its unique music and rhythm to its cast - this show shines as bright as the north star in the evening sky...The entire play is enjoyable but when it wraps up - actually the very last line - you will leave the theater with a heart slightly warmer and full than when you entered." Full Review

85
American Theater Web

"It’s a charming - and familiar - story that’s made invigoratingly fresh by both Gurney’s style and exceptional performances...By the time 'What I Did Last Summer' reaches its bittersweet conclusion, audiences will, most likely, find themselves grinning while also thinking about some of their own foibles and perhaps a few of their own missed opportunities from their teenage years." Full Review

80
New Jersey Newsroom

"A leisurely dramatic comedy that is neatly laced with nostalgic touches regarding the World War II home front, 'What I Did Last Summer' moves easily from scene to scene. The characters at times endearingly confide their thoughts directly to the audience. If it is not a compelling play, it certainly is a pleasant one that bears the hallmarks of Gurney’s perceptive works regarding upper middle class/WASP existence during the twentieth century." Full Review

85
Entertainment Weekly

"Perhaps it’s the wartime, summer-on-Lake-Erie setting, but there’s something cozily familiar about What I Did Last Summer, A.R. Gurney’s 1982 autobiographical coming-of-age drama that’s currently receiving a tender revival...Some call Gurney old-fashioned. But last I checked, there was no expiration date on American coming-of-age stories." Full Review

70
Motherhood Later

"Various members address the audience, and each likes to think that the play is about them. This tact grows a bit wearisome. And, while the play itself feels thin, there is an understated charm to the simplicity of it. Definitely not one of Gurney’s best, but in the deft hands of director Jim Simpson, and the capable cast, it becomes a pleasant enough, well staged production." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
75
Avg Score

70
Indulgent, Banal, Cliched, Well-acted, Self-congratulatory

See it if you love ARG's work. I find it dull, and often annoying. WIDLS added special effects (drummer, script projected), but they failed to enliven

Don't see it if you want something fresh. If you like the tried-and-true, this was a perfectly acceptable coming-of-age story, well-acted/competently staged

Also I'm catching up on old reviews. I never get the appeal of AR Gurney. T... Read more Read less

82
Funny, Romantic, Banal, Cliched, Entertaining

See it if You like classic, American coming-of-age stories.

Don't see it if You want something new and weightier.

75
Clever, Great acting, Great writing

See it if you're a fan of A.R. Gurney (it's his best work that I've seen) and you like strong performances.

Don't see it if you don't like straight plays.

89
Funny, Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you like christine nelson - she was excellent - as was the entire cast

Don't see it if you aren't into off broadway so much

50
Disappointing, Overrated, Slow, Dated

See it if you like Gurney's work.

Don't see it if you're not a fan of slow plays that have nothing earth-shattering to say.

70
Absorbing, Clever, Delightful

See it if interested in small theater. I had seen this show as a first , performed for many but financially I was able to afford this good show only

Don't see it if You have no interest in small theater companies .