Already closed | 1h 30m | Midtown W

Chess Match No. 5

From 55 member  reviews
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.  More…

SITI actors Will Bond and Ellen Lauren create a unique live art performance, part chess game and part music happening, which explores the words and ideas of a visionary artist. Come experience the wide-open mind-bending brilliance of Cage’s insights about the world, art, music, philosophy, and the adventures that life presents. Conceived and directed by veteran theater maker Anne Bogart.

1h 30m | Already closed | June Havoc Theatre (Midtown W)

Member Reviews (55)


Slow, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Absorbing
Avg Score

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..

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.

Also I didn't get everything in this play. I lost them a few times. However... Read more Read less

Dated, Pretentious, boring

See it if you have patience for art-speak drivel that has pretensions to grandeur but is empty of meaning. Full of erudite references to nothing.

Don't see it if you expect insightful writing, character development, relevance and meaning. You are looking for an intermission to escape.

Thought-provoking, Resonant, Intelligent, Great acting

See it if You enjoy a production that makes you think

Don't see it if You're looking for a simple story

Slow, Edgy, Ambitious, Confusing

See it if You're a big fan of Cage and avant-garde theater and enjoy wondering what the he and she are up to. Some use of sound and light fun.

Don't see it if You can't handle 90 slow moving min with philosophical talk. I wanted to like it but the chess moves were like watching paint dry.

Funny, Great acting, Confusing, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if you like John Cage, interesting plays about avant garde music/musicians, and thought-provoking, quiet, good acting.

Don't see it if you don't like slow pieces, meta, and unconventional pieces that lack a traditional story. I liked it, but it was weird and not for everyone

Excruciating, Quirky, Indulgent, Ambitious, Provocative

See it if artistic philosophy, creativity, provocative

Don't see it if no plot, drama

Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Quirky, Thought-provoking

See it if don't mind something avant-guard, philosophical and imaginatively presented

Don't see it if need a conventional plot and have short attention spans

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Quirky, Slow

See it if You are a great fun of John Cage; you want to see some experimental theater works which discuss time, sound and space.

Don't see it if You like plot-driven or traditional plays. Nothing really happened during the play and the dialogues can be incomprehensible.

Confusing, Dizzying, Excruciating, Tiring, Boring

See it if You enjoy watching actors make toast, drink coffee, play chess, and talk nonsense for 90 minutes. Trouble falling asleep? Not at this show!

Don't see it if You want to see a play that's about something. This was about NOTHING! 90 minutes of my life gone forever!

Ambitious, Excruciating, Indulgent, Slow, Disappointing

See it if You are willing to spend 90 minutes watching two actors play chess while pretending to talk about philosophical and obscure concepts.

Don't see it if You don't like pretentious theater that tries ( and fails ) to be " avant-garde " and challenging. This is a boring and inert production.

Thought-provoking, Experimental, Innovative, Fun, Ambitious

See it if you like John Cage's ideas. Like abstract, conceptual, even absurdist theater. Want your thinking expanded or your assumptions challenged.

Don't see it if you want traditional theater. Aren't familiar with (or willing to learn about) Cage's ideas. Need a clear plot; this is ideas-driven.

Also It's all about expectations. If you go expecting (& wanting) a relatio... Read more Read less

Enchanting, Unique, intelligent

See it if u want 2 c John Cage's work & ideas come alive under Ann Bogart's genius/u want 2 c Siti's s Will Bond & Ellen Lauren exude brilliance.

Don't see it if if u don't want to think, need a story

Confusing, Edgy, Great acting, Quirky, Challenging

See it if You like Endgame, Sandbox, Exit The King, The Chairs. . . and outstanding actors

Don't see it if Like comprehensible stories with linear plots

Cliched, Banal, Disappointing, Excruciating

See it if you are a fan of John Cage and his seemingly "esoteric" philosophical musing about art and life, maybe.

Don't see it if are looking for a show with any semblance of plot or want to have the ideas of John Caged doled out to you . . . tediously.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, And super original.

See it if your are a little tired of kitchen dramas and plays with a linear story and you are open to a different type of show, super well done.

Don't see it if you like regular plays and are not open to enjoying something out of the box. People are going to hate it or love it, and that's good.

Brainy, Overwritten, Great acting, Banal

See it if you love Will Bond and Ellen Lauren so much you wouldn't miss anything they are in.

Don't see it if you have no patience for brainy plays with a lot of text and not much of action.

Also I really wanted to love a SITI Company show about John Cage but walked... Read more Read less

Confusing, Disappointing, Indulgent, Excruciating, Slow

See it if you enjoy pretentious "avant garde" performances which are thought provoking for some.

Don't see it if you are a fan of John Cage. Do not like pretentious plays that seem like they go on and on and on for ever. This play was a long 2 hours.

Also A fellow member of the audience told me that see thought the play was ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Slow, Intelligent, Ambitious

See it if You are a fan of any of the following: Anne Bogart/Viewpoints, John Cage, two people shows.

Don't see it if You don't see the wonder in everyday.

Dated, Great acting, Indulgent, Intelligent, Slow

See it if you enjoy John Cage and don't care much about plot

Don't see it if you're looking for a linear (or any) story

Also It was uncanny how much that guy looked like John Cage! Good casting, ... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Profound, Thought-provoking, Confusing, Weird, but interesting.

See it if You want to know more about a modern, provocative composer who was a brilliant philosopher.

Don't see it if You want constant action and just want to relax, without having to think.

Also I kind of liked it.

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Must see, Great acting, Experimental

See it if you are a fan of experimental theater, a fan of John Cage or of Anne Bogart/SITI Company. Enjoy spectacular sound design and unique lighting

Don't see it if you only like musicals, narrative plays, hate experimental theater or require plot and characters to enjoy a performance; You hate John Cage

Also Find Anne Bogarts essays and lectures on theater deeply inspiring, but... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Resonant, Slow

See it if You like experimental/ devised theater, or John Cage. You like philosophy, and you like letting your mind wonder and consider things.

Don't see it if you don't like experimental theater, performance art, 2 person minimalist shows, or if you need plot, message, or concreteness.

Also This is definitely not for everyone but I'm a fan of experimental thea... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Profound, Great staging, Great acting, Abstract

See it if You enjoy experimental theater done by masters of their craft

Don't see it if You have a short attention span or get lost in big ideas

Confusing, Disappointing, Dizzying, Excruciating, Indulgent

See it if You hate yourself. Seeing this was the worst experience I have ever had at the theatre

Don't see it if You value your eyesight. My wife and I could not watch this show because the lighting made our eyes hurt so much we had to close them.

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 eccentri...
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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...
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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 th...
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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 aust...
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