Partial Comfort presents the New York premiere of Greg Keller's comic drama exploring issues of race and economic disparity in America. Directed by Andre Holland ('Moonlight'). More…
It's summertime in New York City, 1992. In NYC's hazy pre-Giuliani, pre-cellphone, pre-Metrocard days, a black kid and a white kid meet in a chance encounter on an uptown D train, chatting hoops, hip hop, and history. Over the course of one afternoon, fear, guilt, longing and a cigar filled with weed allow one kid to take the other to a place neither ever imagined possible.
“‘Dutch Masters’ is an intriguing, tense and thoughtful two-hander that rifts on race and class while exploring a relationship between two young men who meet, apparently by happenstance, on the subway. It tries to understand why these two young adults see life, often even the same incidents, through completely different eyes. Sometimes the views are aligned, but more often disparate vantage points preclude a common understanding. It is wonderful.” Full Review
"Engrossing and racially charged two-character drama...with its shattering plot twist...In 70 gripping minutes, Keller takes this familiar premise in a compelling direction. His biting dialogue reflects the divisive era...Holland's kinetic staging mines all the tension possible with his varied pacing. The play's Pinteresque qualities are fully realized by Holland's strong grasp of stagecraft...Though its primary theme of race is vividly imparted, 'Dutch Masters' succeeds as well as a searing ... Full Review
"Tightly structured by Keller and beautifully directed by Holland...The source of their emotional bond gradually unfolds to become the heart of the play...The first half of the play unfolds almost like a mystery story...Every time you think you have a handle on it, another piece of data emerges and shifts the frame...The whole thing snaps into place. Everything you’ve seen before make perfect sense, and the whole scope of the play becomes both larger and more intimate." Full Review
"A concise yet impactful work that manages to pack in a lot about troubled race relations in the US...Duff and Jake Horowitz's performances are especially vivid in highlighting the contrasts between the two characters, with Duff's alternately charismatic and terrifying extroversion bouncing off Horowitz's general nervous anxiety...A viscerally gripping experience...also a thought-provoking one, bound to inspire reflection long after its immediate intensity has worn off."" Full Review
"Keller's skillful writing and directorial talent by Holland have created a work of racial inequality that resonates...Erick (a tour-de-force performance by Ian Duff) is a young black man riding the NYC subway...What starts as a harmless and then irksome exchange...morphs into a distressing and volatile encounter that reveals clear-eyed picture beneath the hazy gauze of ignorance...This production paints a powerful and eloquent statement of our nation's challenges and lack of progress." Full Review
"One of those plays that dares you to ask yourself some difficult questions...Expertly played by these two fine actors, they talk, with great discomfort and suspicion, about books, summer school, weed, girls, and plans for the afternoon. The connection between the two ricochet around, giving us a great deal to play with in terms of what is going on inside their heads...The interaction is tense with this conflict of viewpoints, but also hilariously well-played." Full Review
"We learn why when Steve leaves the train with Eric and goes to his apartment, a little more than halfway through...This is the moment at which 'Dutch Masters' becomes more engaging and more pointed...Requires a suspension of disbelief...Both the playwright and the director help guide the two talented young cast members into giving performances that manage to keep us tense and in suspense." Full Review
"Holland has every sense of pacing of the play, written by his former NYU colleague, Keller. His script calls for frequent shifts in status, and the filmic quality of the performance feels like additional scenes could easily be spliced in. Holland also seems to love the everyday slice of life, perhaps, a vision of his younger self. Eric, played by Duff, is extraordinarily present. Steve, played by Horowitz, builds moments with an incredible sense of truth." Full Review
"A good, tidy play, in its structure and even in its metaphors...The script asks provocative questions about appropriation and responsibility, but mostly it titrates its information in a slow, suspenseful drip, gradually revealing more and more about the circumstances that have drawn these two young men together. Each revelation reorients the relationship a couple of degrees...If 'Dutch Masters' were messier, it might be even better." Full Review
"Under the direction of actor André Holland, the impressive young cast navigates the play’s shifts and ambiguities beautifully...Keller’s script lets us down in the final moments, the action coming to an abrupt, anticlimactic stop. The situation it depicts may, indeed, have no neat resolution, but these characters deserve a better ending. It’s a testament to how well the rest of 'Dutch Masters' works that its disappointing conclusion is so jarring; overall, it’s a ride worth taking." Full Review
"Holland crafts powerful stage portraits that play on Duff's swaggering buff blackness and Horowitz's timid, well-meaning whiteness; their physical interaction suggests a tense game of chess that keeps threatening to spill over into violence or sex...Although their star turns yield moments of heartbreaking drama, 'Dutch Masters' remains a one-note issue play. The basic situation is implausible...The back-and-forth interrogation that ensues seems formulaic." Full Review
See it if You enjoy shows that presents a cultural divide that becomes faded through sheer will.
Don't see it if You don’t enjoy shows about race, or if you don’t like being anxious during a performance.
See it if you are interested in realistically drawn characters, insights into class conflict, income inequality, race relations and remarkable acting.
Don't see it if you like lightweight plays, entertainment without "messages," and believe that income inequality and race conflict are "overblown."
See it if you love theatre exploring dissonant perspectives of young adults with common experiences but different race, education, and economic class
Don't see it if you prefer light themes, comedy, or musicals, avoid violence, conflict, guilt, or cannot sit 70 min without interval orvtravel to the LES
See it if This was a fantastic show! I totally recommend it to anyone. So impressed by the acting and the story and the staging.
Don't see it if would recommend this show to anyone interested in entertaining theater that makes you think.
See it if Great acting, writing. Hope this show will live on with future iterations.
Don't see it if you hate small stages? (Unless a show is terrible, I can never think of something to say under this category).
See it if you want two young up and coming actors tackle a great script dealing with race and class, great directing too from actor Andre Holland
Don't see it if you want a light and fluffy night at the theatre, or something that wont challenge your views on race in usa
See it if You're up for seeing contemporary racial tensions (circa 1992) distilled into a well-written and extremely well-acted two-hander.
Don't see it if You don't like small shows (in terms of the size of the cast, the lack of famous actors, and the length of the play) handling big themes.
See it if you want to see a play that is a relevant, thoughtful examination of race and class in America. In 1992. Not sure why its not present-day.
Don't see it if you are easily flustered by heated discussions around race and entitlement, as well as economic disparity. This would push your buttons.
See it if if you enjoy exciting new productions that are frightening, funny, profound, & ultimately deadly serious acted by two incredibly gifted men
Don't see it if Contemporary plays dealing with race aren't your thing.
See it if You are interested in the small and personal collisions of race in America, like intimate 2 person dramas.
Don't see it if Like Zoo Story, this requires the audience to look past the mechanics of how these 2 start to connect. If you can do that, you’re fine.
See it if you like seeing great young actors with amazing synergy. If you prefer relevant themes of race and economics
Don't see it if you are not into intimate works and prefer more glitz. This one is quiet and a bit unsettling.
See it if You want excellent acting, twisting plot, humor and pathos in discussion of impact of race on relationships and society
Don't see it if You want elaborate production and are uncomfortable with frank discussion of race
See it if you can overlook a contrived set of circumstances to focus on real issues of racial and socioeconomic prejudices. Well acted even if obvious
Don't see it if you are put off by plot detours and surprises that seem artificial. or if you are uncomfortable with racial and social tension
See it if you want to see an uncomfortable interaction with lots of tension yet humor mixed in throughout.
Don't see it if you want to be able understand the whole scenario and the purpose of the interaction.
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