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

Chess Match No. 5 NYC Reviews and Tickets

(55 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. 

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Member Reviews (55)

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506 Reviews | 1002 Followers
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..

563 Reviews | 194 Followers
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

263 Reviews | 56 Followers
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.

263 Reviews | 30 Followers
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

238 Reviews | 77 Followers
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.

216 Reviews | 29 Followers
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

181 Reviews | 37 Followers
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

179 Reviews | 26 Followers
Excruciating, Quirky, Indulgent, Ambitious, Provocative

See it if artistic philosophy, creativity, provocative

Don't see it if no plot, drama

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.”
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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."
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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 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."
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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."
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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."
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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.”
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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."
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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."
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