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

Funny, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you like plays that are comments on gender roles and done with a light witty style. The settings keep moving. Small cast keeps it fun.

Don't see it if you want a traditional narrative play with a big cast and sets. This presents big ideas within a smaller frame.

Indulgent, Excruciating

See it if you are related to the playwright or any of the actors.

Don't see it if you are a crabby old man.

Also rubbish! 10 seconds in, and every fiber of my being cried: FLEE! but i... Read more Read less

Slow, Fluffy, Disappointing, Confusing

See it if you'd like to see historical matters told from the point of view of the women (wives) of the time.

Don't see it if you're expecting a complete, coherent, experience. This feels more like work in progress.

Also The idea is good but the execution is disappointing. The writer has id... Read more Read less

Funny, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy seeing history from a woman's point of view.

Don't see it if you have no sense of humor.

Great acting, Funny, Clever

See it if if you like great theatrical comedy and loved men on boats this is for you

Don't see it if you don't want laughter or expect too much structure

Thought-provoking, Edgy, Dizzying, Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if You love anachronistic, feminist witchy theater happenings that know where they've come from and are burning brightly towards somewhere.

Don't see it if You need clear traditional narratives and/or approaches to history/theater. You need answers spelled out. You think history is great men.

Creative and well acted show that loses steam

See it if You like creative scenes that are funny and well staged

Don't see it if You don't like a satirical look at some famous marriages.

Also This is a very good effort by the playwright, Jaclyn Backhaus ("Men on... Read more Read less

Great writing, Entertaining, Delightful

See it if you like to explore the role of women in relationships throughout history and different parts of the world

Don't see it if You want a linear plot throughout the whole show, and not thematically tied short plays


See it if there is one part that is worth seeing the Hemingway vignette

Don't see it if confusing and last part is not worthy of watching.

Enchanting, Great staging, Great singing, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if It's a wonderful example of modern storytelling of a plot you know. And although you know the ending, it hits you like a punch in the gut.

Don't see it if if you don't like modern takes on an old tale. It's difficult to come up with a reason someone wouldn't like this show.

Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Delightful

See it if you're interested in new feminist plays

Don't see it if you're not interested in new feminist plays

During previews
Banal, Great acting, Indulgent, Overreaching, Uneven

See it if The first 2 scenes were very funny and clever. Great performances.

Don't see it if The 3rd scene had nothing to do with wives, nor with the flow of the other 2. It's absurd, not about wives and very cliched.

Also The last scene is severely misplaced in this play. Completely does not... Read more Read less

During previews
Entertaining, Uneven, Funny

See it if You enjoy funny comedic performances. Show is formatted as short vignettes with a common theme.

Don't see it if I really liked the show up until the last scene, which wasn't cohesive with the theme of the previous scenes.

During previews
Disappointing, Confusing, Slow, Banal

See it if If you want a play that tracks women over different time periods. For the most part well acted.

Don't see it if If you want a coherent play that makes sense. A play that needs a lot of fine tuning and reworking.

During previews
Great acting, Indulgent, Banal, Disappointing, Unfunny

See it if to see 4 brave, talented actors yuk it up & try to hold together a trifling historical comedy about the chronic marginalization of women.

Don't see it if u hope for a sharp comedy (or even a mildly funny one!); u expect a play that "subverts patriarchal narrative" to actually feel empowering.

Also Not a single funny thing is said for the entire 90 minutes in what is ... Read more Read less

During previews
Thought-provoking, Edgy, Resonant, Funny, Disappointing

See it if Backhaus' sharp, lazer beam view of history thru "her-story" eyes Funny, poignant, very well acted (esp Adina Verson) it's wildly ambitious

Don't see it if Starts off very strong (esp the 'wives of Earnest Hemingway') w/tart, pungent writing but gets derailed w/spacey female empowerment ending

During previews
Brilliant in parts, Terrific cast, Unintegrated, Uneven

See it if a series of 4 feminist-themed sketches, 1 of them brilliant, 3 of them not, sounds to you like a worthwhile evening in the theater.

Don't see it if you are looking for play that integrates its parts.

Also “Wives” in effect is an anthology of 4 somewhat related sketches that ... Read more Read less

During previews
Intelligent, Great acting, Clever, Ambitious

See it if Significant others(not all spouses) frustrated at their oppressive lot in life,cross time periods to make a statement in sketch comedy form.

Don't see it if History books weren't recording them, but the ladies were there, too.Playwright attempts to bring attention and right this wrong, but fails.

During previews
Needs work, Quirky, Great staging, Great acting, Clever

See it if you like witty dialogue and some very funny scenes. The play has a lot of potential but it needs work done.

Don't see it if you like a show where all the scenes work together.

Also I saw the second preview. It had 10 fewer minutes than the first previ... Read more Read less

During previews
Insipid, Indulgent, Disappointing, Confusing

See it if You find it absolutely hilarious (like some in the audience) when the women call each other "b*tch" or keep saying the F word over & over.

Don't see it if You can't make any sense (like me) of who these 3 women & 1 guy were supposed to be. 4 different scenes & they're different people in each?

During previews
Semi-funny, Quirky, Indulgent, Disappointing

See it if You can get out after the first two vignettes. Steep downhill after that.

Don't see it if As others have noted, the King Henri and Hemingway's wives pieces were mildly amusing.

Also The final piece might as well have been spoken in Swahili. It was that... Read more Read less

During previews
Refreshing, Intelligent, Ambitious, Dizzying, Entertaining

See it if like quirky snapshots throughout history of what it means to be a wive. funny, well acted and staged.

Don't see it if essentially separate stories woven together loosely. a bit disjointed.

During previews
Interesting character work, Time hopper, Confusing, Full of questions, Quirky

See it if You like non-linear, impressionistic, gender-challenging theatre.

Don't see it if You need cogency or clarity.

During previews
Must see, Indulgent, Great writing, Hilarious, Clever

See it if You like genre-bending, searing comedy that explores gender roles and self-conception across time, place, and culture. Witty writing.

Don't see it if Actors playing multiple characters in different scenes isn't your thing. Non-linear narratives with a clear normative thrust disturb you.

Also One of the most promising, interesting, and funny plays I've seen late... Read more Read less

During previews
Unfocused, Disjointed, Disappointing, Hit and miss satire

See it if Funny skit of Ernest Hemingway's wives dissing the author and all he represents.But that's just 1/4 of the show.

Don't see it if You don't wanna to see a work very much "in progress". Three SNL skits leading to a very self-indulgent and puzzling finish.

Also Very disappointing start to the Playwrights Horizons season. This play... Read more Read less

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"
read more

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