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What We're Up Against (WP Theater)

From 18 critic and 90 member reviews
Members say: Relevant, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Intelligent

About the show

WP Theater presents the Off-Broadway premiere of Theresa Rebeck's comedy, a darkly funny and all-too-relevant exploration of gender politics in the workplace. More…

"Why is it still like this?” Janice sighs to Eliza. It’s 1992, and Eliza is the brainy new recruit at a small-shop architecture firm. But she’s struggling to get a foothold on even the lowest rung of the company ladder, and starts making moves to blow the lid off their pandora’s box of office politics and social maneuvering.


“With its undeniably sharp perspective and neat archetypal characters, ‘What We're Up Against’ is guaranteed to infuriate — which is why you should see it...The story is dramatically compelling, the rage behind it undeniably authentic, and the characters are recognizably human...Even if you disagree with Rebeck's take on the way women are treated in the workplace, it is impossible to resist this ever-unfolding Machiavellian tale...An uncomfortable but vital night at the theater.” Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

“Directed by Campbell-Holt with a fluid pace, engaging blocking, and a fine eye for social satire...A top-notch cast of favorites from the stage, screen, and TV delivers Rebeck’s sardonic laughs with well-crafted comic portrayals that are not so exaggerated...An entertaining and sorely-relevant production that makes us laugh, even as we shake our heads, roll our eyes, and grit our teeth at the outdated practices that still sadly prevail in our present-day culture.” Full Review

The Culture Mom

“It’s not about sexual assault, but rather office politics, gender imbalance, and equality, all which are issues that pertain to what we are hearing about today...Delves into office politics in a smart, refreshing way. It’s honest, real, and its dialogue cuts right through the heart of a problem that persists in nearly every workplace. The combination of direction, acting, the set, the 1990’s haircuts and costumes, the music that plays between scenes – it all works for me.” Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“Rebeck's…stingingly smart…dramedy about sexual politics…Forget about the play's being set in 1992…or that it's not about physical exploitation; the topic couldn't be more pertinent…You have to buy the one-sided depiction of the men…to appreciate Rebeck's argument…Its actors are all well cast, although the eye-catching Rodriguez is not your conventional image of an architect. Playing against type, she establishes herself as the sharpest pencil on the drafting table.” Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"'What We’re Up Against' relies on some sitcom-y dialogue, and some standard dumb male tropes, though ultimately I found it to be an honest and realistic depiction of what it’s like to be a woman in the workforce...All of the actors are extremely well cast and committed to their roles...Perfectly directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt, 'What We’re Up Against' feels like a realistic depiction of a toxic office." Full Review

The New York Times

“Ms. Rebeck’s play isn’t about sexual harassment. It’s about all of the other ugly ways that a woman can be foiled and dismissed, ostracized and worn down, when she’s just trying to do her job. It’s also about what happens when she dares to show her anger...As sitcomish as it sometimes feels, ‘What We’re Up Against’ has a complex view of its characters and their dynamics...The cast is an impressive assemblage of talent...Oddly, though, the flashiest roles belong to men.” Full Review

Village Voice

"An enjoyably sardonic comedy...With its frequently humorous and sadly all-too-relevant look at sexist attitudes, 'Up Against' is an apt programming choice for WP, which here provides a well-tuned production...Shows Rebeck’s dexterity as a smooth and entertaining storyteller...If some viewers might wish that the playwright had presented deeper characterizations and sharper satire, anyone who has ever worked in an office can attest that paper cuts are awfully painful, too." Full Review

Stage Buddy

“Relies very heavily on its dialogue. Fast-paced and yet annoyingly overly verbose at times...The play was relatable to anyone who has ever worked in any kind of office at any time; it was certainly not a black comedy, but more an accurate reflection of the day-to-day office politics with a funny observational commentary spattered throughout. The characters were certainly well established but never seem to grow." Full Review

Motherhood Later

"Packs as much a sexism punch even today...The show features a likeable, accomplished and feisty cast...There is nothing new here...but the strong cast brings the story home. With little character development, we might as well just know them for their gender and role at the firm, thus the focus becomes the takeaway, which asks or rather pleads...Why haven’t things changed?! Sadly, there is no satisfying answer, nor is the play as ultimately satisfying as it might be." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"There are a few twists and turns that could be cleaner...Adrienne Campbell-Holt doesn’t bring out the layers, as much as Ms. Perez did and I found myself comparing the two productions, with Life Force Arts, Inc bringing much more well rounded production...Ms. Rebeck’s play is dark, timely, foul-mouthed, juicy and seems like it is placed in the '50s not now, but the truth is we have not come along way, baby." Full Review

Time Out New York

“A bitterly funny workplace comedy...This is prime Rebeck territory—driven characters locking horns in pursuit of a prize—and the current political climate makes this 1992 play seem frighteningly timely...'What We’re Up Against' is not as fully realized as Rebeck’s later works; the premise wears thin, and the characters can come across as mouthpieces for a message. But director Campbell-Holt and her accomplished cast, send sparks flying as genders and generations collide.” Full Review

Theater Life

"An all-too-timely, darkly humorous play...Director Adrienne Campbell-Holt focuses attention to keep the hour and 45 minutes of dialogue brisk...The questions are typical of those asked by those defending themselves against charges of sexual bias and who point to women who stand up for themselves as having attitude problems, so the audience can understand the viewpoints of the coworkers as well as Eliza." Full Review


"It's a solid setup, which leads to a mildly satisfying comeuppance. But nothing about Rebeck's play is particularly surprising or, more importantly, challenging, unless, I suppose, you happen to share Stu's mindset. And, if you do, you're probably not hanging out at the Women's Project Theater." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"Fast-paced, entertaining direction...The chief problem: Eliza emerges as the only three-dimensional person onstage...Creating such easily hateful characters sets up an imbalance of power between Eliza and everyone else, which allows Rebeck to preach to the choir...She wields her messages like blunt objects. But who am I to say that we don’t all need a good smack in the head from time to time?" Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"The play couldn't feel more dated...A provocative premise, but Rebeck's writing fails to do it full justice. The characters are so one-dimensional they might as well have their defining traits tattooed on their foreheads; the dialogue is repetitive and exclamatory; and the storyline feels padded despite the relatively brief running time...The performers bring a fierce energy to their characterizations that goes a long way toward compensating...It rarely rises above the level of cliche." Full Review


“Good timing turns out to be the production’s strongest asset. While Rebeck’s script is certainly thought-provoking, it is also somewhat superficial and full of two-dimensional characters. Fortunately, a first-rate cast and Campbell-Holt’s mostly astute direction help elevate the proceedings...‘Why is it still like this?’...One wishes Rebeck had chosen to actually explore the answer...In the end, what the audience is up against in feeling satisfied is the playwright’s laziness." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“'What We're Up Against' suffers from nagging little structural problems that occasionally prove undermining...The play that houses it could stand a firmer foundation...The play tries to occupy a middle ground between satire and drama that really means it, never really paying full tribute to either approach...The dialogue could use more zing at times...It suffers from a certain fuzziness of presentation that keeps it from landing a knockout punch." Full Review

The Huffington Post

“It’s so heavy handed, starting with the aggressive title...The problem with Rebeck's play is that the argument she wants to put forward is so clumsily and obviously handled that viewers who would be inclined to agree with her by the time she arrives at her closing line will have long since been put off...Angry she should be, but there’s a way to temper it and thereby register her anger even more effectively.” Full Review

Masterful, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Great acting

See it if you want a sobering but unfortunately still true view of women in the workforce. The writing is brilliant!

Don't see it if you think that women have been integrated into the workforce and that sexism doesn't exist.

Relevant, Riveting, Great writing, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you want to see an important, absorbing and delightful play dealing with a toxic office situation.

Don't see it if you don't want to see a relevant play about office politics.

Also This is a wonderful play that gives you something to think about and d... Read more Read less

Clever, Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant

See it if see also

Don't see it if see also

Also A 95 by partner and an 88 gets a 92. The entire cast have his/her role... Read more Read less

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

See it if Extremely well acted, totally engrossing show. And totally relevant.

Don't see it if you have no interested in issues regarding women in the workplace. Play takes place in 1992. Still, unfortunately, totally current issues.

Absorbing, Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Relevant

See it if you love great dialogue and great acting and want a relevant story about being a woman in the workplace that touches on many timely issues.

Don't see it if Why wouldn't you see it?

Entertaining, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if you'd enjoy a well-acted, plot-driven, not-preachy play about sexist challenges a talented young woman faces in a professional workplace.

Don't see it if you think there's nothing more to say about sexism in the workplace.

Also Very impressed that the Women's Project has assembled such a stellar c... Read more Read less

Up up and away

See it if Play has snap, crackle and pop. Writing is near flawless, a female David Mamet. Direction is excellent. Stage design is brilliant. KR bomb.

Don't see it if You hate polemics disguised as plays or obscene dialogue. You hate actors with distracting tattoos. One actor has his hands full. Good grief

Also Krysta Rodriguez is clearly the attraction, even in a play with Marg H... Read more Read less

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

See it if You enjoy intelligent, work place dramas, that reflect on relationships between the sexes. You're interested in women's advancement.

Don't see it if You only enjoy lighter dramas, comedies. You long for ALL aspects of life in America, of decades ago!

Also Loved seeing a new work by superb writer Theresa Rebeck!

Great writing, Relevant, Resonant, Must see, Upsetting

See it if you want to see an extremely well-written and incisive look at sexism in the workplace that makes you squirm in how accurate it is.

Don't see it if you want to leave the theater feeling good about the world.

Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Profound, Relevant

See it if you're interested in a nuanced portrayal of how women are systemically kept away from positions of power in the workplace

Don't see it if you can't handle the truth.

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

See it if You like plays that are about relevant topics with excellent acting.

Don't see it if Plays about social issues are not interesting to you.

Rich material, Useful, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if you’ll benefit from examples of how NOT to act at work (esp. a new job)—whether you’re skilled but unpopular, or privileged but talentless

Don't see it if you’ll use “unrealistic" characters as an excuse to not engage w/ the conflicts: woman/man, young blood/old pros, alpha-female/beta-female

Also A well-constructed thought-experiment of a play: if you tried to prove... Read more Read less

Resonant, Relevant, Profound, Thought-provoking, Spot-on

See it if you'd like to understand the depth and scope of the misogyny that got us a human twatwaffle running loose in the White House.

Don't see it if you'd like to cling to the belief that sexism isn't a systemic, relentless nightmare that propels mediocre/bad men above exceptional women.

Also Set in the early 90's, this play shows how far we really *haven't* com... Read more Read less

Clever, Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Resonant

See it if Smart script, crisp dialogue, perfect actors, great sets. Fascinating window int 1990s gender issues at work. Lots of funny moments!

Don't see it if You don't like shows set at work or are looking for a musical. Otherwise, there's no reason to not see this witty play!

Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant, Absorbing

See it if You are not tired of workplace dramas. You enjoy the twists and turns of the way sexism plays out in an office setting.

Don't see it if You can’t deal with lots of raw language. You have no interest in realism you are looking for fantasy. Realism portrayed is painful to watch

Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Great acting

See it if You enjoy entertaining plays about serious subjects.

Don't see it if You dislike feminism.

Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant

See it if This play was written 25 years ago, but feels like it could have been ripped from today's headlines. It feels eerily current and timely.

Don't see it if You want something light or a musical.

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

See it if You're a fan of Rebeck or the cast, you'd like to see how a 2011 play set in 1992 about the glass ceiling holds up,

Don't see it if You're not a fan of office set, issue plays which frustrate because not a lot has changed since'92, don't like seeing people at their worst

Smart, Great acting, Relevant, Resonant

See it if Deft script and superb performances help this 90’s work shine in 2017. Krysta Rodriguez is exceptional. Nice, intimate show.

Don't see it if Don’t like workplace dramas or issue about equality or harassment.

Funny, Edgy, Intense, Clever, Relevant

See it if Over-the-top comic satire of blatantly sexist office. Recently hired young woman is smarter than everyone else. Fireworks ensue.

Don't see it if You don't like caricatures. You don't see the humor in foul language. You can't laugh, scream and cry at the same time.

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing, A show for all women to see

See it if You like intelligent writing and thoughtful subject matter. Placing the play in 1992 makes you realize how little progress has been made

Don't see it if You aren't interested in women in the workplace. The male characters are not nuanced but in this case it works

Great acting, Entertaining, Relevant, Wonderful writing, Excellent direction

See it if you like shows about misogyny, office politics, clever and perceptive writing, superb acting and direction.

Don't see it if you dislike shows about women's issues, dark comedies and satirical, somewhat stereotypical, characters.

Clever, Must see, Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to see a show with political and feminist themes

Don't see it if You want a big budget play/musical, as this is off-Broadway.

Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Clever

See it if Very satisfying evening on sexual harassment with excellent acting and writing seen a number of Rebeck plays and this one held up well

Don't see it if Do not like timely topics

Great acting, Relevant, Intelligent

See it if love a great ensemble. The cast is extraordinary, led by Krysta Rodriguez who is absolutely magnificent.

Don't see it if you're a misogynist

Cast & Creatives (12)