Atlantic Theater Company presents a darkly comic play about the underside of domesticity, the complexity of the brain in chaos, and the thin line between sinking and survival.
Rachel has it all: marriage, house, career. So why does she suddenly have this creeping feeling? Did she leave something behind? Or is there something in the walls? Her husband thinks she needs time; her psychiatrist suggests positive thinking. Then the visions start.
“‘Animal' moves. Its action is thrilling. Its stakes, though deeply wrapped up in Rachel’s inner self, are made real in her relationships. It’s also funny…The acting is superb…Gaye Taylor Upchurch’s direction offers an intuitive map for us to navigate this tricky territory…The play seems to waltz through a minefield of overwrought material, which is a testament to the specificity and originality that Lizzimore brings to her writing, and the simplicity the cast brings to their performances.” Full Review
“To spend an entire 90 minutes on stage portraying a woman who is losing – or lost – her mind takes a special kind of talent. Luckily, it’s one that is possessed by the mesmerizing, fearless Rebecca Hall, who delivers an indelible take on such a woman in Lizzimore’s fascinating British import under Upchurch’s savvy direction…The play’s fascination lies primarily in watching Hall as she goes through a shocking gamut of emotions and behaviors." Full Review
“Is it the enigmatic contours and dramatic contrivances, or the in-your-face honesty and coherence of this fine play that keep one riveted to the action?...Hall gives a brilliantly unnerving but essentially convincing performance…Splendidly staged by director Gaye Taylor Upchurch to emphasize the play's need for minimalism…‘Animal’ may be providing a heavy dose of the psychotic. But who will complain when it's being doled out by the terrific Rebecca Hall?” Full Review
“It's not that complicated but it is open to interpretation to a large degree…It's only at the very end that you figure out the 'what is going on here' part— and you'll have to connect the dots as far as who are all these people to Rachel—but it's an intimate, black box drama that keeps you sitting upright and on the edge of your seat. Bravo.” Full Review
“Hall, partnered with her real-life husband, the wonderful Morgan Spector playing her onstage husband, pulls us deep inside the mind of Rachel, a woman who is suffering from some mental complexity…Struggling against some dark cloud that hangs overhead is what Hall is most effective at in ‘Animal’…It’s hard to know what is real in this finely crafted story…The climax eventually comes, crashing in all around her in a moment of eye opening clarity, but is it too easy a pill to take?” Full Review
“Hall’s performance in Lizzimore’s drama is a force of nature...What’s most amazing about Hall’s performance (fueled by Lizzimore’s stinging dialogue) is the seemingly infinite variety she displays…Playwright and actress, guided by the sure hand of director Upchurch, collaborate to reveal a deeply troubled woman…One doesn’t necessarily expect the roller-coaster ride that is 'Animal' to come to a conclusion, no less one that is neat. But it does...Viscerally it’s ever so slightly anticlimactic." Full Review
“The role of Rachel is the kind of part actresses dream of and Hall's bravura performance is a thing of wonder…It's a beautifully realized production with deft direction by Gene Taylor Upchurch...Despite the cast's riveting performances, it must be said that ‘Animal’ may not be everyone's cup of tea. It is relentlessly grim and deeply unsettling...Serious theatregoers will appreciate the craft but it left this writer wondering for whom ‘Animal’ is specifically intended.” Full Review
"'Animal' feels intimate and domestic, but by that same token, it feels confined, even claustrophobic as its protagonist veers off into the realm of psychosis...Hall's Rachel is funny—darkly, bitingly funny but funny nevertheless—and sarcastic...Hall is fascinating to watch...Not much happens in this short, 85-minute play...Still, 'Animal' resists exploiting its reveal and instead makes a statement about domesticity, mental illness, and gender that feels important and relevant." Full Review
"The confusion one might feel trying to follow Atlantic Theater Company's production...is no doubt an intentional reflection of the emotional state of its central character...Rebecca Hall, as Rachel, as gives the kind of gutsy, layered performance that keeps viewers intrigued while the playwright slowly drops bits of information that lead up to a puzzle-completing conclusion...Though the 80-minute piece lacks a satisfactory conclusion, Hall is always a captivating presence." Full Review
“Claire Lizzimore shows herself to be a master of theatrical legerdemain…‘Animal’ doesn’t provide a very profound analysis of the mental condition on display here. Lizzimore’s play is, however, very flashy theater…Hall presents the human equivalent of the bass clef here, and in her fury is never strident. It’s a big performance, and director Gaye Taylor Upchurch is wise to mute the other actors…Its final let’s-explain-everything scene, though, is unsatisfying.” Full Review
“Hall is astonishing in her ability to convey the subtleties of this inner tug-of-war…Considering the skill with which we're kept off balance through the majority of the play, it resolves incongruously neatly, and with a surprisingly pointed diagnosis. The overly explanatory ending takes away some of the raw punch…However, if all for the sake of bringing an underexplored facet of woman nature to the stage, a moment of human clarity is forgiven.” Full Review
"As Rachel unravels—thrillingly, in Hall’s hands—we’re always at least a few steps ahead, right up to the supposed shocker of a final twist. It’s easy to see why Hall was drawn to this material: She gets to span the emotional gamut, from brittle to ferocious. And although Rachel’s off-the-wall digressions outshine the central narrative, this intimate production presents an exceptional opportunity to witness, up close, an actress of Hall’s force probing the limits of custodial rage." Full Review
"Hall is an actress of such coruscating intelligence that she can even make madness seem lucid...The twists packed into the latter part of 'Animal' are surprising, but they are also self-defeating...Such game-playing keeps us guessing but also undermines the play's serious intentions...Still Upchurch's production keeps us vitally interested in what is happening to Rachel...If 'Animal' doesn't quite have the impact it aims for, it has many gripping passages." Full Review
"Rejoice, Rebecca Hall fans. That marvelous mistress of misery is back...After 85 minutes of exhausting, escalating emotions, the play is suddenly wrapped up and tied in a bow by an unexpected and unsatisfying explanation. I felt manipulated...Upchurch’s direction had a few things that annoyed me...If you are an avid Rebecca Hall fan, as am I, you will be rewarded. If Hall is not your cup of tea, skip it." Full Review
"Lizzimore is betting that the audience will buy in to 90 minutes of analysis and hallucination before learning what has gotten Rachel here in the first place. And thanks to a talented cast, crisp direction by Upchurch and some poetic touches by the playwright, the gambit mostly pays off. Still, it is hard not to feel a little cheated by the play’s outcome. The reason for Rachel’s trauma, which I will not give away, is so utterly unpredictable it diffuses the angst that precedes its discovery." Full Review
"No one can play a woman on the verge better than the brilliant actress Rebecca Hall...In Clare Lizzimore’s fascinating but ultimately disappointing new play 'Animal,' she again proves how galvanizing she is as someone going though the depths of emotional turmoil...The conclusion comes a bit too swiftly and tidily and is not entirely believable. Still, we are blessed with seeing an actress on a nearly bare stage whose every word you hang onto." Full Review
“Although Rachel's version of the disorder is perhaps a bit extreme, its enactment and the reactions to it can be quite absorbing. Still, 'Animal's' focus on her mental issues and the consequent lack of suspense or developing action begins to make it seem longer than its hour and 20 minutes…The cast maintains a consistent level of truthfulness, with Hall—whose voice, posh British accent, and intonations are dead ringers for Emma Thompson's—offering just the performance you've come to see.” Full Review
“Brilliantly played by Rebecca Hall, Rachel is one hot mess, and it’s the actress’ sterling performance that makes Clare Lizzimore’s gimmicky drama worth the discomfort…‘Animal’ can be a bit of a slog—slow-paced and lacking in narrative momentum…The glib resolution feels more redolent of a playwright’s trickery than an exploration into the human condition…Hall’s superb performance provides the main redeeming element.” Full Review
"The cast do well at coloring in the various shades of the play’s imaginatively inside-out progress through a stricken mind. However, 'Animal' ultimately struggles to ground its swirl of ideas in a specific person with a particular story, as Rachel suffers from double duty as both focal point and a mystery...For most of the play, she is an effective mouthpiece for a potent social critique, but strangely nebulous as a character...Watching it is ultimately a detached experience." Full Review
“‘Animal’ ultimately disappoints and even infuriates…But the play, directed with clinical focus by Ms. Upchurch, has the virtue of allowing us to sit within touching distance of Ms. Hall as she plumbs the depths of toxic unhappiness. It is a pursuit to which she brings the expertise and bravery of a veteran spelunker…The scariest thing about this half-cooked play is that even after its catchall denouement, it’s still Rachel’s nihilism that feels like the most legitimate way of looking at life." Full Review
“Unfortunately, the material is replete with tired, female-cracking-up clichés, and coasts mostly on Hall’s considerable stage presence. For a while, that’s good enough… Hall’s performance devolves into a series of noisome rants...The dialogue reeks of playwriting, especially as we’re able to telegraph the clumsy direction that the story is going…Hall deserves sharper, tougher, better material. For a performer capable of such exquisite emotional control, 'Animal' is too off-the-leash.” Full Review
“Rebecca Hall is so striking and sympathetic in 'Animal' she almost makes up for shortcomings in Clare Lizzimore’s play. Almost — but not quite…The play is designed to be a puzzle…Eventually the root of Rachel’s problem comes out in a late-in-the-game revelation you don't see coming. But surely the issue plaguing Rachel would have come up in therapy, so the twist feels like the author is playing mind games with the audience. Although the play wilts, Hall stands tall." Full Review
“Hall hits all the notes...I just wish this play were as good as she is...Lizzimore seems more interested in the gimmick of the guessing game than in making us truly care about Hall's character…I'll admit I was moved once the reveal was unveiled but that's mostly because someone close to me is going through a similar experience. Still, it's even more maddening that Lizzimore's resolution is far more pat than real life's could ever hope to be." Full Review
See it if you like shows that make you think.Nothing is presented all tied up in a bow.Terrific acting.Great directing.This one is a real gem. GO!
Don't see it if you like things that the Mint Theatre does.This one is heartbreakingly beautiful, funny, touching, and makes you think. Do not miss it.
See it if You want to see some of the best acting I've seen in a long time. Particularly Rebecca Hall is outstanding.
Don't see it if You don't like plays that don't follow a linear timeline and perhaps don't tie everything up with a pretty little bow at the end.
See it if Woman struggles with trauma induced mental issues. The play has a lot to say about an aspect of life that I can't mention.
Don't see it if You have to suspend your disbelief to buy into the revelations, but look beyond that to the character's history and her real battle.
See it if you're a Rebecca Hall fan, you enjoy writing filled with grit and honesty, you enjoy new, innovative approaches to lasting themes
Don't see it if mental illness and depression are not issues with which you are comfortable, WWIIl stories bother your duties tomorrow,
See it if you appreciate great acting...a master class! Rebecca Hall is magnificent
Don't see it if you want sets, costumes, silly fun and/or are are intimidated by actors withing an arm's length
See it if you're looking for an intimate theatrical experience with first-rate performances and honest writing about a delicate subject.
Don't see it if you're in the mood for something light and fun. This show is great, but its subject matter might bring you down.
See it if you like the kind of plays that focus on the relationship between people and the contemporary problems they might face...clinically British
Don't see it if you can't handle stillness or surreal imagery or plays with heavy dialogue
See it if You like plays about mental illness, effects on relationships,Rebecca Hall is superb!
Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with twisted realities, and mental illness;physical and emotional confusion and abuse
See it if you are interested in new theories or health phenomena. Good script sad about the only person of color being a thief, but overall good.
Don't see it if you don't care about the health conditions that affect women. Don't like plot twists.
See it if You enjoy great acting & writing. Dark at times. A happy ending is always welcome.
Don't see it if You have a hard time dealing with marital complexities & everyday life.
See it if you want to see a great performance by a very talented actress, Rebecca Hall. the show keeps you engaged even during it's dark depictions.
Don't see it if you and easy, light evening of theatre. this requires thought and emotional investment.
See it if you are looking for an out –of-the-box theatrical experience, with twist.
Don't see it if you find an intimate examination of a marriage partner a little too close for comfort.
See it if Hall is one of the best actresses on stage today, fierce, sardonic, mercurial; see this play to see her performance
Don't see it if not easy play: tale of Hall's character's mental illness is confusing but causes audience 2 share Hall's disoriented perspective
See it if you want to see a great performance by Rebecca Hall. You may get frustrated or confused but just stay with it.
Don't see it if you like everything explained up front or don't want to deal with a serious subject.
See it if love great acting. Rebecca Hall is remarkable and play should be seen just for her, but all the actors are excellent.
Don't see it if don't like character studies. Not all the play is up to a high standard and the "reveal" was disappointing but go for the ideas & acting.
See it if Excellent acting and good character development offset a too-convenient denouement. On balance, a worthwhile evening of theater.
Don't see it if You are not comfortable witnessing the painful disintegration of a personality and a marriage.
See it if great acting--Rebecca Hall especially; it's an interesting psychological drama. Bare-bones staging, but it's a solid, 90 minute show
Don't see it if you want a big production, don't enjoy watching a mental breakdown
See it if you would like to see the incredible work of Rebecca Hall, while ignoring poor writing. She carries the play and makes it so much better.
Don't see it if you are not into psychological plays or quirky story-telling. Some may find it confusing, while it can also seem very straight-forward.
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