New York | 1h 30m | Already closed

City of No Illusions

From 3 critic and 21 member reviews
Members say: Quirky, Relevant, Entertaining, Funny, Clever

About the show

In La MaMa and Talking Band's world premiere experimental drama, a funeral home near the New York/Canadian border becomes a refuge for two asylum seekers.  More…

The funeral directors are two sisters whose lives become intimately, farcically, and, at times, dangerously entwined with the refugees. The funeral home is a portal between the living and the dead, and the border at the edge of our country is a potential gateway to a new life. A mysterious group of musicians show up- a shadow band that occupies a permeable space between the borderlands.



80
Theater Pizzazz

“’City of No Illusions’ provides the right bit of magical realism...It has a glimmer of humor, wrapped within the larger, blunt recognitions about death that could surround us, at any time...What makes ‘City of No Illusions’ unique is that it is a bit gruesome, while simultaneously being joyous. The most memorable thing about this play is the script that cuts into the psyche, asking the audience to take a careful and deep look at the journey that some might take to the afterlife.” Full Review

55
The Reviews Hub

“Against a backdrop of lovely live music, a rather predictable kitchen-sink-style realist plot unfolds...It feels as though the issues supersede character development...The need for human connection and seeing beyond differences is a driving force of this play, and the moments that achieve it play out beautifully. There is ample charm and well-mined humor...But ultimately the execution falls a bit flat...Intent and energy are wonderful things, but they can only take one so far." Full Review

40
The Theatre Times

“A political comedy...A jumbled and absurd fusion of character and plot...As enchanting as the shadow band’s music is, what purpose they serve on the stage, their cryptic lyrics confounding an already wonky plot, is unclear...And Zimet’s presentational staging, basic and uninspiring, contrasts badly with the mythical goings on at this mortuary. But the impulse to set a meditation on the refugee crisis inside a funeral home is a creative one, however obvious the metaphor.” Full Review


89
Delightful, Funny, Great singing, Quirky, Relevant

See it if you enjoy offbeat stories. This one takes place in a funeral parlor whose workers have issues. Great musicians perform as a Greek chorus.

Don't see it if you hate looking at dead bodies and dislike the whole concept of death. But you'll miss a very clever, funny story!

84
Fun, Smart, Unfinished, Topical, Diverse

See it if you want to experience an engaging, topical play brought to you by several legends of downtown theater & several much younger colleagues.

Don't see it if you are looking for high budget entertainment.

Also In the early 1970s I saw Tina Shepard, Ellen Maddow & Paul Zimet in a ... Read more Read less

80
Funny, Quirky, Thought-provoking, Political theater, Fabulous use of space

See it if you enjoyed the vibrant anti-war theater of the 1970's. Politics and social values with humor and imagination. Good music too.

Don't see it if you expect a traditional well made play. The characters and situation are all farcical embodiments of the message.

78
Relevant, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Confusing

See it if You are down for a complex investigation of people on both sides of immigration issues with music and a great diverse cast.

Don't see it if You demand preaching from the left at this downtown institution, or if you seek your light entertainment without a core of serious issues.

78
Ambitious, Entertaining, Edgy, Funny, Relevant

See it if you like plays with alot of humor and live music

Don't see it if you need a clear well laid out plot

76
Quirky, Resonant, Uneven, Entertaining

See it if You enjoy plays about current issues stitched together with elements of magic realism.

Don't see it if You are bothered by somewhat uneven acting and music that distracts rather than adds, & minimal character development. Enjoyable but weird.

75
Clever, Cliched, Quirky

See it if You are interested in immigration issues, or just like a rather simple show with an interesting variety of actors and characters.

Don't see it if You want something deep that will keep you thinking.

Also The music is nice - there is a 3-piece girl ensemble that plays music.... Read more Read less

75
Funny, Great staging, Quirky, Resonant, Confusing

See it if You like supporting new works with elements of multimedia, relevant political undertones, and great acting.

Don't see it if You're not a fan of plays with slightly abstract elements, you're uncomfortable with the discussion of immigration issues

71
Ambitious, Great staging, Quirky, Relevant, Satire

See it if Experimental undocumented worker satire with live music. Make-up favouring funeral parlour attendant brings heart to hot-button issue.

Don't see it if No escaping terms/images/situations ripped from daily news cycle. Real casket. Dead body on a gurney switcheroo and other sit-com elements.

Also Sample dialogue:"You don't seem like an ICE agent.You don't seem like ... Read more Read less

69
Banal, Cliched, Relevant, Indulgent

See it if If you want to see a show about illegal immigrants. Good music. A story told that is different

Don't see it if A show that needs work. Story that overshadows the characters. Bit slow at times.

51
Ambitious, Cliched, Disappointing, Indulgent, Quirky

See it if You want a work in progress that is all over the place.

Don't see it if You are looking for depth in developed themes. The acting leaves a lot to be desired.

89
During previews
Clever, Edgy, Great staging, Quirky, Relevant

See it if cute & quirky E Village ensemble of diverse actors & musicians use comedy to tell immigration tale set in a funeral home in Buffalo = Yes!

Don't see it if historic LaMama not fancy--in fact, no heat in the hallways last night (left my hat & coat on) No famous movie star actors--no intermission.

Also "Theatre of the Ridiculous" with a dash of magical realism, performed ... Read more Read less

80
During previews
Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if Very funny in the beginning, lagged in the middle but they made a Funeral home a great premis for drama and fun. Good plot.Incredible acting

Don't see it if If you are squeamish about dead people on the stage. Hate Buffalo. Have no interest in immigration and ICE and plight of refugees or music.

80
During previews
Clever, Hilarious, Refreshing, Resonant, Quirky

See it if if you want to see a show about immigrant/refugee experiences, if you like experimental theatre

Don't see it if if you don't like music and dancing, if you prefer something very serious (this takes the topic seriously but is still lighthearted & fun)

79
During previews
Clever, Relevant, Quirky, Entertaining, Unfulfilled ending

See it if You want to see a well written/acted play that’s got a lot of outside the box moments. Really engaging and likable then just abruptly ends.

Don't see it if If you’re expecting to see the same old thing. This felt new and unique which unfortunately also means it didn’t all work. But most did.

Also I really liked this a lot...till the end. Got the feeling the playwrig... Read more Read less

78
During previews
Entertaining, Great acting, Great singing, Relevant

See it if you like off-off B’way, good acting & singing. Funny & poignant story about illegal immigrants & delightful women operating a funeral home.

Don't see it if you’re not a supporter of off-off B’way or plays that are still in development. The author has made a good effort, but still needs some TLC

77
During previews
Entertaining, Relevant, Funny, Clever, Quirky

See it if you'd like some light entertainment on the immigration/discrimination/religion issues of the day with unique music woven into and around.

Don't see it if you want a serious play without the overused door hops here. There are quite a few basic scene changes and the ending is abrupt.

68
During previews
Relevant, Quirky, Disappointing

See it if you like shows with music in it, about relevant topics about immigration, shows that are told with a bit of humor.

Don't see it if you like a solid story that moves quickly and has a deep meaning to it or you like art with a lot of power to it.

Also I was expecting to really like this show but it ended up falling short... Read more Read less

68
During previews
Ambitious, Slow, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Confusing

See it if You are interested to see a play on various issues ( illegal immigration, refugee crisis, ICE, family dynamic, activism etc, )

Don't see it if You arent open to new ideas, theater that explores and tries new things.Some parts were really funny, some were cliche,but oddly enough good

Also The play still seem to be a work in progress, but it could be a good o... Read more Read less

65
During previews
Disappointing

See it if You want to see new work and don’t care about content.

Don't see it if You want a thought-provoking night at the theatre.

50
During previews
Entertaining, Resonant, Quirky, Relevant, “ unfinished “

See it if You want to see a play ( with music ) about illegal immigrants/refugees ( and they problems ) in Buffalo NY.

Don't see it if You expect a well written/acted play. Maybe because it was one of the first previews but unfortunately this play feels rushed and unfinished


Cast & Creatives (19)