Already closed | 1h 30m | Midtown W


From 75 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Disappointing, Clever, Funny, Indulgent

About the show

The author of "Men in Boats" returns to Playwrights Horizons with a new comedy that tracks and subverts patriarchal narrative tropes throughout the ages. More…

From the show:

From the brawny castles of 16th Century France, to the rugged plains of 1960s Idaho, to the strapping fortresses of 1920s India, all hail the remarkable stories of Great Men! — and their whiny, witchy, vapid, vengeful, jealous wives. In this kaleidoscopic, time-hopping comedy, Jaclyn Backhaus pushes past patriarchal cliché to reach an ecstatic breakthrough, untethering stories and history — and language itself — from the visions made by men.

1h 30m | Already closed | Peter Jay Sharp Theatre (Midtown W)

Member Reviews (75)


Great acting, Disappointing, Clever, Funny, Indulgent
Avg Score

Clever, Great acting, Edgy, Disappointing, Confusing

See it if you like feminist plays & unexpected twists, learn why women feel so unempowered, like non-linear plots that jump in time, odd happenings

Don't see it if you need a linear plot following same characters, shocked by ill-treatment o women, yearning to stand up on your own& living for who you are

Feminist credo: shows how wives from various historical eras have been overlooked; all over the place; how did this get produced?

See it if 1st several scenes where famous/not-so-famous historical wives rendered like TV “Real Housewives” amusing at times; cast better than script

Don't see it if skits are thin & jokey; final “woman let me roar” scene is tedious & sophomoric

Entertaining, Resonant, Great writing, Great staging, Great acting

See it if you can. This is a wildly entertaining show that manages to both split your sides and crack your mind wide open.

Don't see it if you're expecting something stuffy and buttoned up. This show's raucous energy manages to bolster the dramatic punch it packs.

Quirky, Great acting, Funny, Clever

See it if Four time period about women in comedy form (modern language).

Don't see it if Light weight show. Ending does not fit.

Also Enjoyed watching but the last scene it did not fit in the show to me.

Inconsistent, Funny, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if you enjoy good acting, funny & witty moments; interesting take on the treatment of women through the years; some laugh out loud moments.

Don't see it if you are looking for consistency amongst the three vignettes; third vignette seems out of place; don't appreciate satire or lots of cursing.

Ambitious, Resonant ideas, Disappointing, Not epic, Delightful

See it if 4 interrelated, skit-like shorts by Backhaus; 1 w/ a hilarious Hemingway parody that will be most appreciated by women who love Hemingway.

Don't see it if you’ve no tolerance for affected irreverence. Too little time to develop intimacy that would make the serious parts authentically impactful.

Also Feels a little raw in both good & bad ways. The show is, unfortunately... Read more Read less

Indulgent, Intelligent, Ambitious, Funny, Clever

See it if A mixed bag. The stories of 3 wives at different eras. Some vignettes worked and were entertaining. Game performances.

Don't see it if Others did not. A bit confusing as to who was who. The vignette at "Oxbridge" University was a little too obvious.

Intelligent, Didactic, Cliched, Funny, Ambitious

See it if you like entertaining theater that furthers the cause of liberating women from patriarchal stereotypes.

Don't see it if you don't like to be preached to in a show that presents it's message in a fairly one dimensional, stereotypical way.

Indulgent, Great concept, Disappointing, Clever enough

See it if The show begins brightly and absorbingly with a fresh look at history that might have been had women been in charge.

Don't see it if The end bogs down in self-indulgent, even embarrassing, rant on womenhood, motherhood and feminism. Even a feminist will have issues with it

Entertaining, Funny, Uneven

See it if 4 short vignettes of the theme of "wives" throughout times. Quirky style - eg modern language in a 1600's setting.

Don't see it if You want one cohesive story. 3 of the 4 vignettes work well, but the 4th goes so far off that it breaks the unity of the show.

Confusing, Bold

See it if Explorations in breaking the patriarchal narrative and norms with a historic, colonized not-only Western lens.Some entertaining wacky points

Don't see it if Mishmash of times, contexts, ideas, and acting styles can get confusing / too norm-breaking, subversive.

Also Diversity: 3 of 4 of the cast are South Asian! 3 of 4 of the cast are ... Read more Read less

Quirky, Refreshing, Great staging, Clever, Delightful

See it if Clever and fun look at women through the eras-- four short segues through time with singing dancing a lot of irreverence, some humor and

Don't see it if some piercing insights. The sets were magical and oh so clever, but the four vignettes were inconsistent and got a ittle plodding at the end

Also the very best sequence was the memorial planning with Hemingway's wive... Read more Read less

Indulgent, Disappointing, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting

See it if You want broad comedy, female bonding, very good performances, and what felt like sketch comedy from Carol Burnett. Unevenly entertaining.

Don't see it if You want a tonal consistency. The final scene was so jarring from the rest. This isn’t wrong—I just hated it. There is comedy, drama...

Uneven, Clever

See it if you want to see a very, very funny opening scene even though it goes downhill from there; you like seeing 4 actors play different parts;

Don't see it if you expect to enjoy all four scenarios;

Disappointing, Muddled, Indulgent, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if If you really want to support a play that has some interesting ideas but doesn't succeed in realizing them.

Don't see it if you prefer work that is more disciplined, insightful and clear-headed.

Relevant, Indulgent, Ambitious, Funny, Clever

See it if You’re interested in a work that explores women’s roles & portrayals in history (great Hemingway wives sketch) in funny unusual ways

Don't see it if Not really a play. Three sketches, the third of which was more a pep talk for women. Never comes full circle (though tries to)

Also I love anything that highlights women in history and anything that enc... Read more Read less

Simplistic, Disappointing, Banal

See it if you're looking for a light-weight show about the patriarchy and for tidy little nuggets of feminism through an avant garde theatrical lens

Don't see it if you're expecting a deep meditation on the patriarchy beyond the simplistic thought, "we need to tell our daughters they can be anything!"

Thought-provoking, Great writing, Entertaining, Clever

See it if you want a different view of how the women behind the men think.

Don't see it if you think women should stay quiet.

Relevant, Great staging, Great acting, Entertaining, Delightful

See it if You enjoy good acting, staging, lighting in a well written fun play about the plight of being a woman. Very entertaining.

Don't see it if You are a male chauvinist.

Mercifully short, Goes nowhere, Confusing ending, Collection of sketches, Shrill

See it if You are a Playwrights Horizons subscriber or have scheduled to usher for it and don't want to cancel. You are a fan of Adina Verson.

Don't see it if You don't want to watch a bunch of sketches and spin their wheels and make no point. An ending that is confusing and entirely dissatisfying

Tedious, Disappointing

See it if you are interested in knowing how things may have been different over time if women were in charge.

Don't see it if I found it to be tedious and could not wait for it to end.

Disappointing, Too long, Uneven, Creative staging, Great acting

See it if you enjoy creative, well-acted, nicely-staged, funny shows that provide a clever look at women in history and raise good feminist issues.

Don't see it if you can't deal with a play that starts off well but goes somewhat downhill as the show progresses and culminates with a disjointed final act

Also This is a play that starts on a really upbeat note with the "Wives" of... Read more Read less

Great staging, Quirky, Ambitious, Relevant, Clever

See it if You feel that women have always been overshadowed by the men in their lives, but can look at this situation with a sense of humor.

Don't see it if You are looking for high drama, as opposed to light treatment of a serious problem (women's suppression by men).

Effective acting, well staged, suspenseful as it builds towards a gruesome conclusion

See it if You want to see an exploration of human behavior soul searching interesting

Don't see it if You want to confront a troublesome subject

Disappointing, Ambitious, Quirky, Funny, Great acting

See it if you want to support Playwrights Horizons entirely, and not just their hits.

Don't see it if you need a coherent through-line or something with a little modesty/humility.

September 16th, 2019
“In ‘Wives,’ the Other Halves Have Their Say: Jaclyn Backhaus’s slapdash comedy, at Playwright’s Horizons, travels through time to coax oppressed spouses out of their powerful husband’s shadows.”
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September 16th, 2019
“‘Wives,’ in Four Exuberant Feminist Conversations”
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September 16th, 2019
“The ‘Wives’ of History Are Breaking Free From Their ‘Man’-Made Storie: Jaclyn Backhaus writes new versions of Catherine de' Medici and Ernest Hemingway's exes for a world premiere at Playwrights Horizons.”
read more
September 17th, 2019
"Jaclyn Backhaus' Frantically Funny and Freestyle 'Wives' Comments on Patriarchal Pigeonholes"
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