Emma & Max NYC Reviews and Tickets

(28 Reviews)
Members say
Great acting, Intense, Disappointing, Absorbing, Great staging

About the Show

Todd Solondz ("Welcome to the Dollhouse," "Wiener-Dog"), known for his style of dark, thought-provoking, socially conscious satire, makes his theatrical debut at The Flea.

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Member Reviews (28)

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Clever, Quirky, Great staging, Great writing, Great acting

See it if A delusional nanny is terminated w/ consequence. Solondz doesn't sacrifice his dark & quirky sensibilities for the stage.Great scene changes

Don't see it if The long final 5-minute monologue drags.For a satire of race & class, the point is well taken for scene changes in character, but belaboured

Great acting, Quirky, Refreshing

See it if Enjoy quirky dialogue with characters that one loves to hate and others we feel sympathetic towards. Great use of space and staging.

Don't see it if Need a full story with an arc versus separate scenes that tie together.

Confusing, Dark

See it if you want to see stereotypes of all 4 characters onstage and a bad treatment of a terrible tragedy.

Don't see it if you don't want to see stereotypes of characters. The topic is very dark and the play is essentially three monologues.

Ambitious, Disappointing, Indulgent, Slow, Intense

See it if you are a big fan of Todd Solondz, I suppose. Or if you want to see four actors try valiantly to make the show work. The set is attractive.

Don't see it if you like dialogue. This show is basically three long monologues with some lines between them. The pace is really slow due to scene changes.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging

See it if Good play about racism .

Don't see it if You want light fare.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great staging, Intense, Masterful

See it if You want to see one of our leading chroniclers of suburbia extend his reach to the stage. You like dark satiric takes on society.

Don't see it if You have a hard time detecting satire -- or do not like commentary where all sides are shown to be problematic.

Confusing, Intense, Quirky, Slow, Ambitious

See it if you enjoy shows with a heavy set element, including projections; you enjoy shows that don't have linear or very clear plot lines

Don't see it if you don't enjoy heavy drama, triggered by child endangerment Read more

Great acting, Intense, Funny turns excruciating, Disappointing

See it if you're a Todd Solondz fan and want to see what he does in another medium

Don't see it if you're expecting a heartfelt and affecting comedy. This thing gets uncomfortably dark in the final segment. Read more

Critic Reviews (16)

The New York Times
October 15th, 2018

"In physical terms, Mr. Solondz has translated his cinematic-eye view into a specifically theatrical vision with admirable success. There’s not a misstep in the staging...'Emma and Max' is always fascinating to look at, even if it’s in a masochistic way...Listening to what it has to say is another matter...From the moment we meet the whiny, needy, terminally solipsistic Brooke and Jay, it’s clear that they’re fish in a barrel, just waiting to be speared and gutted."
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The Hollywood Reporter
October 14th, 2018

“Much of the play is composed of long, rambling monologues that feel stilted and overwritten, designed to make thematic points. And the final scene...seems mainly designed for cheap laughs...Solondz overly indulges his writing, resulting in an evening that feels static and talky. It's no fault of the actors, who do credible work despite their schematic characters. Still, ‘Emma and Max’ ultimately feels more exploitative than illuminating of the tragic event that inspired it.”
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October 25th, 2018

"There are many plays that evoke feelings and entertain and do everything that an admirable piece of theater is meant to; I cannot say, though, that these plays are as poignant or as tragically beautiful as 'Emma and Max'. I can't remember the last time I not only stepped out of a theater in awe of what was just seen...It is so hard to come up with the perfect form of praise for everything this show is, without also thinking of how the show affects me...This production is, simply put, wonderful."
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Lighting & Sound America
October 16th, 2018

“’There is next to no dramatic action in ‘Emma and Max’...Inertia is the play's default state as it lurches from one long aria of bad faith to the next, delivered by characters so repellent that the only sensible reaction is to tune out...The action move at a snail's pace...Becker and Servitto wring every last drop of bile from the roles...The play is less about race than Solondz's distaste for his fellow humans.”
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New York Stage Review
October 14th, 2018

"Solondz appears to have spotted the dangers upper-middle-class liberals can face in their supposedly insulated lives...Perhaps because Solondz eventually noticed that as written Brooke and Jay are more suited to comedy sketch than legit drama, he shifts the action to Brittany about three-quarters through...Solondz, better at this point as stage director than playwright, needs a more solid way to make his points in the current political climate of vague liberal inclinations."
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October 19th, 2018

"Making an impressive stage debut with 'Emma and Max,' satirist Todd Solondz proves that he is a very astute man of the theater. As acted by its shrewd quartet of players, 'Emma and Max' is a devastating portrait of entitled urban white liberals who have never actually looked in the mirror to see how deep their prejudices go. 'Emma and Max' may not be an easy play to watch but its rewards are great."
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Theatre is Easy
October 26th, 2018

"Even while shedding light on the ugliness present in American society, 'Emma and Max' still manages to create great aesthetic beauty. There may not be any hope or redemption for these characters, but Solondz has created comedy and commentary out of fictional lives that might just be closer to reality than we think."
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Theater Pizzazz
October 18th, 2018

“’Emma and Max’ is a trap set to deceive us all...Hyper-relevant dissection of our fears, favoritism, shortcomings...The audience will relentlessly laugh at a character until a tragic detail of their past is casually revealed...All of this is made possible from accomplished and skillful performances...The brilliance lying within ‘Emma and Max’ is that no matter how villainous some characters may appear or how irrational we are to forgive their trespasses, we can’t stop rooting for them.”
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Front Mezz Junkies
October 14th, 2018

"It’s a powerful and downright awkward exploration of hopes and despair, devastation and survival in typical Solondz fashion...An insightful and dangerous collision of concepts, weaving a thesis on race with almost more clarity and skill then Solondz’s film work, pushing hard on the humor while holding our head under water until we laugh or scream for air...The waves hit hard, even while making some of us laugh with shock, horror, and frustration."
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Exeunt Magazine
October 23rd, 2018

"The themes that have occupied Solondz throughout his three-decade film career – chiefly, the casual cruelties we inflict upon each other, and the inability to process a capacity to do harm – take center stage, translating well to the new medium...Although the dialogue occasionally veers toward the ridiculously overstated, Solondz manages to never lose a thread of sincerity in his portrayal of these characters."
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New York Theater
October 14th, 2018

"Dryly funny and uncomfortably dark. Its unsparing and unrealistic depiction of unlikeable characters seems almost purposefully designed to offend. I found it off-putting, sure, but also provocative and compelling, helped by the grounded acting of an excellent four-member cast...With the help of an inventive design team, Solondz creates a stagecraft that you might have called cinematic even if you didn’t know his background."
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October 17th, 2018

"It's a well-acted, intermittently interesting, but overly garrulous, tortoise-slow, oddly shaped play satirizing…the racial attitudes of white…liberals, as well as the nasty effects…of white privilege… Each actor makes a distinct impression, and Solondz's attractive physical production…achieves its goals. Still, 'Emma and Max''s overly broad characters lack the humanity needed for audience empathy, its dramatic structure…is distractingly lumpy, and its satire's point is too quickly blunted."
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October 29th, 2018

"Wickedly funny and all too real...The play is a sharply observant skewering of the status quo in a Trump America that continues to encounter racism, bigotry, and hatred every day and where the term 'privilege' has become a dirty word...It’s also a place where payback can be a bitch, where there are consequences for physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. It’s not a happy situation, but it’s damn funny and frighteningly realistic, a mirror brilliantly held up to a society in crisis."
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October 21st, 2018

"The play is a black comedy and social satire blazing with wit aimed at reckless self-indulgent white privilege...Brooke and Jay's preposterous behaviors are hilarious, cringeworthy uncovering the detritus of their insular daily lives. The set changes are plodding and all manned by Brittany. The clever scenic design adds depth and fluidity. The final act takes a drastic and deeply disturbing turn...The acting by the cast is first rate especially by Ms. Love."
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Stage and Cinema
October 17th, 2018

“All are guilty in ‘Emma and Max’ yet no one is evil. They’re all people trapped in their bodies, in their histories, in their circumstances...Solondz has tremendous empathy for his characters. In his world evil is not born of a desire to do bad or to hurt. It’s born of wanting to love and be loved, of desperation, of compulsion, of exhaustion, of the need for justice, of wanting to defend oneself and protect one’s loved ones.”
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Off Off Online
October 17th, 2018

“Solondz’s playwriting debut lacks the gut punch of his film work. For Solondz, race and class can only be understood in concert with each other...The children are the battlefield on which the main characters act out their grievances. This thematic ground has been done to death, by Solondz and any number of artists. Yet while it’s admittedly low-hanging fruit, the play dissects its tropes with wicked glee."
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