Chess Match No. 5
Closed 1h 30m
Chess Match No. 5
65

Chess Match No. 5 NYC Reviews and Tickets

65%
(55 Reviews)
Positive
58%
Mixed
26%
Negative
16%
Members say
Slow, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Absorbing

About the Show

SITI Company and Abingdon Theatre Company present the world premiere of an avant-garde work inspired by American composer, writer, artist, and philosopher John Cage. 

Read more Show less

Member Reviews (55)

Sort by:
  • Default
  • Standing in our community
  • Highest first
  • Lowest first
  • Newest first
  • Oldest first
  • Only positive
  • Only negative
  • Only mixed
50
Quirky, Overrated, Indulgent, Edgy, Confusing

See it if you want something different. I have to agree with the majority though

Don't see it if Our lowest rating.. My 60 and partner's 30 did it in.. It is for those who want to MAJORTHINK..

70
Confusing, Great acting, Intelligent, Slow, Riveting

See it if You have some familiarity w/John Cage. You want a play about big, philosophical ideas. You like abstract & non-linear plays.

Don't see it if You're expecting a plot. You have no familiarity w/John Cage. You don't want philosophy and big ideas. Read more

Critic Reviews (16)

The New York Times
March 28th, 2017

"They are not visibly doing theater, if that means plot, traditional characters or singing cats. Except, of course, that they are. You just need to recalibrate your expectations…‘Chess Match No. 5’ is a cerebral peek into an artist’s worldview…Will Bond, displaying the impish smile of an eccentric scientist, and Ellen Lauren, whose deceivingly detached inflections recall Laurie Anderson’s, putter around the stage in a manner that feels aimless and deliberate...Go with an open mind—and ears.”
Read more

Time Out New York
March 20th, 2017

"Even as it quotes Cage, 'Match' resists him, and the resulting performance is respectful, warm-hearted, lovely…and inert...There should be an interesting tension between Bogart and Cage—there's so much that's different, they should come together in a crash. But the SITI method sands and polishes and burnishes 'til there's no salient edge left. Though the piece is about Cage, it doesn't use Cage: aside from the chess games, all of Bogart's structures are rigid."
Read more

Theatermania
March 19th, 2017

"Clarke's finished product onstage is—in the most objective sense of the word—boring. And yet, it's so Cage-like in spirit, you almost can't fault Clarke or director Anne Bogart for crafting 'Chess Match No. 5' in just this meandering way...Nevertheless, this sensory stimulation can't bear all the weight of keeping us engaged for the entirety of the plotless conversation between He and She...And yet, you leave the theater seriously questioning whether boredom is a fair basis of criticism."
Read more

Lighting & Sound America
March 23rd, 2017

"Works best as a kind of tribute to a singular figure in 20th-century culture, done with great affection and no small amount of charm...The text doesn't really assist in understanding the line of Cage's thought, and the director's slick, often amusing direction may be at odds with his rather austere ideas. For most of its running time, 'Chess Match No. 5' feels likes an accomplished, but not particularly illuminating, piece of staging that may be a little too superficial for its own good."
Read more

Theater Pizzazz
March 27th, 2017

"While backgrounds of various interdisciplinary areas will provide entertainment, depth of field for individual audience members isn’t necessary to enjoy this delightful romp...Choreographer Barney O’Hanlon designed movement with a sense of play and gentle ease...The spare but resonant framework of 'Chess Match No. 5' allows us to enjoy the light show, ponder John Cage reflections on life and art and philosophy, and consider images as images and sounds as sounds."
Read more

Front Row Center
March 21st, 2017

“It gets dense and there is no real story, yet I was thoroughly entertained...This is a show that must be grasped with an open hand. If you try to make too much of it, hold on to any one moment too long, or ‘figure it all out,’ you won’t like it. If you can let it just flow over you and just notice how some of the mind bending makes you feel, you will definitely enjoy yourself...The sound design in this show is a complex masterpiece…By the end of the show, I had tears in my eyes.”
Read more

T
March 19th, 2017

"There is nothing like watching theatre directed by SITI Company’s Anne Bogart. Her attention to detail is unparalleled and her signature staging that includes crisp and precise movement is transformative...A remarkable production...With smiles and precise gestures here, a few dances there, and with scintillating words everywhere, the remarkable talents of Bond and Lauren open the door to the possibility for members of the audience to rehearse their own conversations."
Read more

Theatre's Leiter Side
March 19th, 2017

"Rarely dramatic and primarily intellectual, the dialogue covers Cage's thoughts on his work process, aesthetics, music, art, and life; it can now and then be stimulating, even funny. Because of its patchwork structure, the conversations jump around in subject and manner. But since everything spoken exists in a theatrical vacuum where the speakers, regardless of how well acted, are essentially intellectual abstractions, their words frequently become like the sounds that Cage considered music."
Read more

Times Square Chronicles
March 19th, 2017

"All I could think of was I am trapped in hell with an adult Mr. Rogers in a nightmare for 90 minutes...Loud noises interspersed with vapid conversation, all while playing chess, and I need aspirin, because I now have a headache...Bond and Lauren are obviously talented, though I seriously find Bond highly annoying...As for the direction and conception by Bogart, I hope to never see anything like this again. It was the most tortuous 90 minutes of theatre I have ever spent as a critic."
Read more

Theater In The Now
March 24th, 2017

"Trying to ingest the words and make sense of them in the grand scheme of the piece is like finding a needle in a haystack. But if you open your mind to the nearly five senses production, there’s something to take away from 'Chess Match No. 5.' But no matter what, it went on a little too long...It’s easy to appreciate the individual moments but as a whole composition, 'Chess Match No. 5' is sadly unsatisfying...Fun for the first five minutes. Then it seems to drag on and on."
Read more

Off Off Online
March 24th, 2017

"Probably best described as a 'performance piece,' since it lacks sufficient plot or conflict to qualify as a play...'Chess Match No. 5' engages the ear and eye and, from time to time, the intellect...But all this activity and all the on-stage artifacts don't make a case for the theatricality which Cage claimed for his aesthetic...It's all pleasant enough (and, thanks to the particular performers, thoroughly charming); but it's bloodless, unemotional, and forgettable."
Read more

T
March 21st, 2017

“Through cleverly choreographed staging, the dialogue, so much of which is dry and didactic (as well as often being revelatory and very funny), never bogs things down; in fact, it all becomes rather playful…West’s superb sound design is like a character unto itself…If you’re looking to make sense of it all, you’re out of luck...If you submerse yourself in the concepts and ideas being espoused by the man and woman (as well as the outstanding sound and lighting), you’re likely to enjoy 'Chess.'
Read more

TheaterScene.com
March 29th, 2017

"A delight...'Chess Match No. 5' presents its own set of intrigues, exquisitely unfolded by our superb performers using John Cage’s very own words in director Bogart’s very own milieu...We find ourselves seeing as minutely as we ever have and listening every bit as carefully...Will Bond and Ellen Lauren are so singularly accomplished, so good at what they do that they positively shine. This is acting of a kind rarely seen in the city. And even more rarely heard."
Read more

Z
March 22nd, 2017

“While both Bond and Lauren are visibly talented actors, they were definitely challenged by their material…Ms. Bogart knows what she’s doing when it comes to directing, despite the less-than-amusing subject matter…Bogart succeeds in giving Cage's work a voice in a proper stage presentation…On the whole, ‘Chess Match No. 5’ may suffer from its source material being directed to such a specialized target audience, whereby the overall impact may be lost on many."
Read more

N
March 30th, 2017

"The play isn’t a drama at all. It’s a Socratic dialogue, a lesson on the nature of music...Interesting as these ideas are, the dialogue alone wouldn’t absorb us in the play. What’s more, there’s no plot or specific characterization. What involves us is the astonishing moment-to-moment life of the two actors, Will Bond and Ellen Lauren...Ms. Bogart’s direction is impeccable...'Chess Match No. 5' is a terrific explication of musical and philosophical ideas, a marvelous tribute to Mr. Cage."
Read more

W
March 29th, 2017

"The company has combined writing, direction, acting and the creativity of an entire ensemble to develop what can only be called a remarkable production...Bogart has directed it with careful attention to each moment, each nuance, and each in relationship to the whole. The performances of the production’s two actors are extraordinary. They have mastered incredibly challenging roles, totally embodying their characters and never allowing the attention of the audience to waver."
Read more

Watch This Next (3)

85
Excellent
109 Reviews
Ends Nov 13
NYC: Midtown W

Deirdre O’Connell lip-syncs to recordings of playwrights Lucas Hnath's mother.

Buy
84
Great
259 Reviews
Open run
Six
NYC: Midtown W

An exuberant, pop celebration of 21st century girl power featuring the wives of Henry VIII.

Buy
81
Great
115 Reviews
Ends Nov 14
NYC: Midtown W

The true story of Reality Winner told through text from the FBI transcript of her interrogation.

Buy