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New York | 2h 0m | Already closed

Dolphins and Sharks

From 16 critic and 38 member reviews
Members say: Relevant, Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

About the show

Labyrinth Theater Company presents the world premiere of this timely comedy, which grapples with income inequality, gentrification, and cutthroat capitalism. More…

Yusuf studies philosophy. Xiomara is ambitious. Isabel keeps it real. These are the employees of Harlem Office, a neighborhood copy shop, where promotions are rare and raises are even rarer. But when one employee is given the chance to move up, friendships are tested and loyalty turns out to be less valuable than cold hard cash. Soon cutbacks and office politics have everyone fighting to keep their jobs and their sanity in this searing new play about clocking in, clocking out, and rising up.

2h 0m | Already closed | Bank Street Theatre (West Village)

NY Theatre Guide

"It is going to be my best show of 2017. I cannot imagine how another show is going to be able to top the experience...This seminal work blew me right out of my skin...Chilling and uncompromising...It’s a brilliant, brilliant text...All of the performers bring every ounce of their energy, focus, and commitment to telling this necessary story...This play is a working-class anthem that needs to be sung everywhere." Full Review


"A brilliant new play…Encapsulating the cruelty of 21st-century capitalism in one retail outpost, Tyler conveys a gut-level understanding of this world in which more and more is expected for less and less...Director Charlotte Brathwaite builds the tension of this seemingly mundane workplace drama slowly and surely, leaving us gasping for breath by the end…The production benefits from excellent performances…It's a strikingly accurate depiction of where we are as a society.” Full Review

Stage Buddy

"A stunning new play...In a superb examination of the intersections between race and socioeconomic class, playwright James Anthony Tyler’s work opens up the internal workings of a customer service job, questioning the validity of a system in which it is impossible for any of the players to win. Tyler crafts nuanced characters supported by sharp dialogue...Tensions are brought higher still through the cast’s excellent performances, skillfully directed by Charlotte Brathwaite." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"It's not a particularly original work, being a workplace drama such as regularly appears on New York stages...but it holds together so well and is so smartly acted and staged it stands out among the crop of recent Off-Broadway openings...The dialogue is often raw and nasty—the 'n' word gets a lot of play—and the actors get right in each other's faces, spewing words faster than speeding bullets. Still, every intonation is as natural as life." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"The play is a fiercely comic, provocative, and, at times, harrowing work that explores with great insight the tense socio-economic and racially charged landscape...A real strength of the play lies in the way that the atmosphere changes gradually...Charlotte Brathwaite directs all of this with the precision of a choreographer...It is a great tribute to the playwright and to the cast that everyone 'keeps it real,' with performances that are completely character-driven." Full Review

Theater In The Now

"Tyler’s text is colloquial and realistic. He has a strong sense of character development and personal relationships...Even with the stakes being perfectly high, Tyler could benefit with some shrinking. 'Dolphins and Sharks' could be shorter...Brathwaite’s vision was superb. The way she guided her company through the retail world while isolating the important themes allowed Tyler’s truth to hit a bit harder...Tyler wrote vibrant characters but this ensemble elevated them, drawing from truth." Full Review

Village Voice

“James Anthony Tyler's smart new play, expertly directed by Charlotte Brathwaite…‘Dolphins and Sharks’ owes much of its power to Brathwaite's stellar production. The ensemble cast is excellent, imbuing their characters with sympathetic detail…The production's strength lends the play a sophistication it might otherwise sometimes lack. Tyler's writing is packed with thoughtfully observed psychology, but becomes structurally repetitive in the second act, as screaming matches pile up.” Full Review

Theatre is Easy

“The drama that results from these overlapping conflicts is absorbing, and the excellent cast goes all in…From time to time, Tyler’s dialogue puts his message right into the characters’ mouths, turning what is mostly an extremely well-crafted portrait of a specific environment into a polemic. Despite leaning a bit too much on metaphor, ‘Dolphins and Sharks’ is an engaging addition to the theatrical conversation about the people American capitalism has left behind.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Daily power struggles are entirely credible under the direction of Charlotte Brathwaite, who masterfully incorporates movement sequences...Some of the repetition becomes wearisome. However, there is a satisfying and simple truth to the main characters trading stories about their home lives...Playwright James Anthony Tyler...keeps it real. The language is rhythmic, and the negotiations are incessant. The tiers of struggle are felt before resolution is approached." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"A blisteringly funny comedy...Tyler’s deck is stacked. Yet it’s hard to mind his heavy hand since he deals us one ace after the other...A whip-smart look at race and class – one that frequently smarts, too. The actors are a real treat to watch...Brathwaite’s direction exposes layers of the characters’ turmoil in the cast’s strong performances...Tyler might overplay his hand at times, but we all cash in on the chips of his stinging dialogue and mordant exploration of ambition, race and class." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Under Charlotte Brathwaite's direction, the tension level is constantly on the rise...All five roles feel fully lived in, thanks to the aces cast...A lot of passion has gone into staging 'Dolphins and Sharks,' but a little light and noise goes a long way, and the production might benefit from toning it down a bit. That doesn't mean Tyler doesn't have a knack for writing scenes that ripple with tension and confrontations that crackle." Full Review


“The play's roles, as written by Tyler, are distinctive and minutely observed; and, under Charlotte Brathwaite's sensitive direction, the superb cast makes quite a meal on what the author has given them…Tyler's dialogue crackles with street credibility; and the events of the play are generally believable. Despite its strengths, though, the script is overlong. Parts of the twisty plot are predictable; and, in the second act, bickering among the co-workers becomes wearisomely repetitive.” Full Review

Off Off Online

"Under director Charlotte Brathwaite, Tyler’s play unfolds with masterly plotting, but with excessive visual frippery left intact from the script...Luckily, the flashy overkill doesn’t obscure the playwright’s dramatic abilities and urgent voice...The five actors are superb...Unfortunately, the play ends with a jarring and unnecessary moment of agitprop, yet this work confirms that Tyler’s voice is not only necessary, but one worth listening to." Full Review

Front Row Center

"Flavored with sharp observations on race, the economy, class, and culture. The dialog is zingy, the pace is crisp, and the ensemble cast works supremely well together...Kudos to director Charlotte Brathwaite for moving the tale along so nicely. Where the playwright’s youth betrays him is in the ending of the play. There really isn’t one...Tyler has an exciting new voice in the theater and I’m interested to see what it will say when he matures a little." Full Review

The New York Times

"What comes across most forcefully in this overstuffed workplace drama is tedium: the ceaseless petty bickering of employees amid a surfeit of exposition about their jobs...At the very top of the play, things look promising...But this is a production divided against itself. Between each flat scene, Ms. Brathwaite imposes jolting moments of sensory overload: a confusion of projections, flashing lights, video and high-volume sound that contributes little to telling the story at hand." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"The themes resonate as cliché and the characters appear as stereotypical. The proceedings and plot do not offer any new information or constructive solutions to several systemic problems addressed...The extremely competent cast earnestly tries to overcome flat scenes with undeniable energy, swift dialogue and excellent timing...Despite these admirable performances 'Dolphins and Sharks' is like the cash drawer at the Harlem Office at the end of the day. It comes up short!" Full Review

Absorbing, Clever, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if All I can say about this show is that it's dope.

Don't see it if There's no reason to not see this show. See this show.

Also Great script, great set design, great acting, and a really relevant an... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant, Great writing, Great staging

See it if wish to see 5 talented actors delving into the multi-cultural racist views with clever insight.Many powwere struggles ensue. Great sets and

Don't see it if from above.. Scenic Design Super.. Only negative could be some rapid dialogue..

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if You want a entertaining, well acted & thought provoking show that exposes you to aspects of real life you may not know.

Don't see it if You don't want to see shows that expose you to life outside of your normal bubble.

Edgy, Masterful, Relevant, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you are into cutting edge direction and extremely relevant and real writing with excellent acting to boot! It's REALLY good.

Don't see it if you are offended by the rawness and reality of 2017.

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you want smart, provocative, engrossing, new work done by powerful, hilarious actors in an expertly-staged and sharply-designed production.

Don't see it if you hated RASHEEDA SPEAKING; this play has shades of that one, but is grittier and more erratic (in great, realistic ways, in my opinion).

Clever, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You like a new show with great effects, good acting, set in Harlem - what happens when a peer is promoted to manager. Resonant ,compelling

Don't see it if You don't like new plays in small theatres about with attitude about race and the man. Or flashing lights. Thanks

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Profound

See it if You enjoy ensemble acting. Story reminds us that at some point colleagues who rise to manager positions go from us to "them." You know them.

Don't see it if You don't like dramas about the working classes and the issues influencing their ability to rise to success.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if if you want to see a play that keeps you constantly absorbed in an important story

Don't see it if you only want to see light hearted tales.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Hilarious

See it if You're interested in seeing/understanding the sacrifices people have to make and how it affects friendships.

Don't see it if You're tired of hearing about American struggles.

Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you like smart, character-driven plays about contemporary life; if you like superlative work by charismatic cast (w/awesome projections)

Don't see it if you can't w/stylized interstitials &/or new plays that are still slightly overwritten; if you are not entertained by workplace anxieties

Intelligent, Intense, Relevant, Riveting, Great writing

See it if you're into stories about working people

Don't see it if you don't care about the issues of the middle or lower class

Funny, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you enjoy a fast-pace talking serious-comedic play about office politics in a small environment

Don't see it if you're offended by certain language

Funny, Absorbing, Great acting

See it if You want to be entertained but you want some meat on the bone. Funny, realistic look at dead end jobs in Harlem.

Don't see it if You have trouble with understanding street lingo, and don't care about marginalized populations.

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant, Great writing

See it if Tyler's tight, well written play about vicious office politics in Harlem copy shop. Fine ensemble shines in cut-throat economic environment

Don't see it if Brathwaite's staging a little too showy & distracting but not overly harming A slight scene trim could help pace Great immersive set

Clever, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you enjoy funny workplace comedies with a social sting and great performances, wondrous set, creative use of video, projections and movement

Don't see it if you find workplace plots hit too close to home, you've been negatively impacted by the economy, you can't relate to entry level workers

Funny, Great acting, Intense, Cliched, Great staging

See it if You like superb set design. Racial plays (black and Hispanic cast). Office comedy/ drama. A lil preachy, but, pretty good.

Don't see it if You hate the "N" word. Office dynamics. Issues with gentrification, specifically Harlem. Cussing. Slavery references & hating "the man".

Clever, Edgy, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if You have an interest in seeing power struggles in the service industry. Racial stereotypes play a big role in this production.

Don't see it if You are not interested in the plight of the working man or woman

Also Interesting interactions between the characters in the play. You get a... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Relevant, Great writing

See it if lower working class struggle, sex, race and class issues

Don't see it if dislike the above

Clever, Great acting, Refreshing, Relevant, Great writing

See it if you enjoy well written plays that tackle social issues while also telling an entertaining story

Don't see it if you prefer lighter plays

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Riveting, Hilarious

See it if You like unconventional theater delivered in ghetto vernacular...no holding back in down to earth interaction and telling it like it is.

Don't see it if You need a traditional stage where you easedrop on the action. Here, you feel caught in the middle from your still comfy seats.

Also The acting is energetic and appropriately loud. Language might turn so... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You want to understand the critical importance of paying at least the minimum wage or better a living wage.

Don't see it if You think profit trumps fairness.

Intelligent, Relevant, Humorous

See it if Good cast , relevant story but COP Out ending. Humorous.

Don't see it if Noise level and static unnecessarily high. Creative idea that was overdone.

Funny, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if your interested in a contemporary story that's easy to digest and clever at the same time

Don't see it if your looking for a more classic theatre without urban language

Absorbing, Ambitious, Cliched, Well staged, Definitely relevant

See it if you seek believable conflict between the characters, but

Don't see it if you expect a realistic ending. Mouthing epithets is not a way forward any more than "Just say No" was an answer 30 years ago.

Absorbing, Great acting

See it if Well-acted real-time workplace drama about the workers who are trying to support themselves & their families at the Harlem copy store.

Don't see it if Has a bizarre abrupt ending.