Behind the Sheet
Closed 1h 30m
Behind the Sheet

Behind the Sheet NYC Reviews and Tickets

(78 Reviews)
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intense, Relevant

About the Show

EST's new drama confronts the history of a great medical breakthrough by telling the forgotten story of a community of enslaved black women who involuntarily enabled the discovery. 

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Member Reviews (78)

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424 Reviews | 99 Followers
Earnest, overly long production with no passion

See it if You are interested in a didactic telling of what I would expect to be a fascinating subject. Program notes made me want to learn more.

Don't see it if You want a fleshed our depiction of this subject. Read more

160 Reviews | 59 Followers
Does the end justify the means?

See it if You understand we can’t wish the past away. You accept the collective guilt of slavery and medical experiments on enslaved women.

Don't see it if The screams of women undergoing painful operations without the benefit of anesthesia. You can’t climb one steep flight of stairs. You mind Read more

22 Reviews | 5 Followers
Slow, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intense, Great staging

See it if You want to learn about a sadly-undertold part of medical history

Don't see it if You are turned off by historical works or graphic medical work on stage

128 Reviews | 34 Followers
During previews
Intelligent, Slow, Resonant

See it if you would enjoy a play where the history of medicine and the history of slavery intersect in America c. 1850.

Don't see it if you object to history plays that take significant liberties with the history they’re presenting. Read more

101 Reviews | 11 Followers
During previews
Slow, Thought-provoking, Intense, Disappointing, Absorbing

See it if you are interested in historical drama and medicine

Don't see it if you’re looking for a musical

87 Reviews | 12 Followers
During previews
Slow, anachronistic, inventive, weirdly contemporary

See it if You like contemporary takes on historical horrors, with strong black female cast

Don't see it if You like character development, plot and fidelity to historical fact Read more

Critic Reviews (11)

The New York Times
January 17th, 2019

"The production takes on cumulative power in its steady, cleareyed depiction of a time when it was a given that pain would be borne uncomplainingly by human beings regarded as chattel...This is, for the most part, a straightforward, conventional work that is not above plying the clichés of scientific breakthrough dramas of yesteryear...But the context, in this case, casts shifting, unsettling light on such classic elements...'Behind the Sheet' may be a quiet play. But its echoes are thunderous."
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Time Out New York
January 17th, 2019

"With a sizable cast of nine actors, some playing multiple roles, the plot sprawls off into too many directions; the scenes about the doctor’s marital life and scientific experimentation aren’t as involving as those that center on his subjects. But it’s reassuring that, although the women fear that no one will remember them, Simpson has seen to it that they won’t be forgotten."
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January 17th, 2019

"Simpson is still developing her voice as a playwright...Each scene is a little too long and shaggy, there are a few too many characters, and certain plot points fall by the wayside. But Simpson must be commended for giving a voice to the voiceless and it's a brave, unflinching piece from top to bottom. The amount of thought and care that went into its development is evident...'Behind the Sheet' may not be a perfect play, but it's a story that deserves to be heard."
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New York Stage Review
January 17th, 2019

"Simpson’s hewing to the recorded facts does sometime give her play the feel of a medical-journal essay, but she has a few dramatist’s wiles up her sleeve to enliven the serious ambience. Her biggest achievement is creating three-dimensional lives for the suffering women...There’s no way of saying that 'Behind the Sheet' is an easy play to watch. It’s hardly mere entertainment. But Simpson’s drama is bold, deserving of attention and understanding."
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January 22nd, 2019

"Obviously, this is a play for which any sort of a happy ending will be deeply compromised, but what Simpson does so beautifully is show us how these women overcome their suspicions and envy to find support...It's tempting for playwrights to work toward such an end by wallowing in sentimentality. However, it never seems that Simpson, Robert or the talented women portraying these characters are pulling frantically at our heartstrings. The plot unfolds simply and satisfyingly."
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Theatre is Easy
January 19th, 2019

“’Behind the Sheet’ is a double-punch in the gut, equally disturbing as an account of medical history and a portrait of life on antebellum Southern plantation. Robert subtly directs a production characterized by earth tones and bathed in warm light. Considering its gruesome subject, the show is surprisingly gentle on the audience’s psyche. Eschewing visual shocks and focusing on human connection, Robert does justice to Simpson’s play and leaves a lot of room for the actors to shine.”
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Front Row Center
January 19th, 2019

“’Behind the Sheet’ tells a story from the early days of gynecology...This absorbing play centers around a particularly debilitating complication arising from difficult child births...Simpson has crafted a drama without sensationalism. Given the unbelievable reality on which it is based, the restraint of both the writing and the intelligent, inventive direction by Robert is near miraculous...The only complaint I have is the pervasive haze...Nevertheless, ‘Sheet’ is not to be missed.”
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Theatre's Leiter Side
January 24th, 2019

“Persuasive in subject matter, writing, and performance…Whether Sims's subjects were willing or not, 'Behind the Sheets' honors them as unsung women whose anguish contributed to women's health…Simpson takes various liberties in altering history for dramatic effect…All of the acting is surprisingly restrained, almost more conversational than theatrical, which works-up to a point. For all its realistic ambience, the…overall tone remains so low key that…it eventually begins to drag.”
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