New York | 2h 0m | Already closed

Holy Ghosts

From 4 critic and 49 member reviews
Members say: Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Intelligent

About the show

Romulus Linney’s drama sees a group of faithful, broken Pentecostal outcasts finding solace, understanding, and strength in one another as they wrestle with their own serpents and discover their divinity. More…

Fleeing an abusive marriage, Nancy finds herself surrounded by a religious flock and their charismatic shepherd. When Nancy’s husband, Coleman, hunts her down, battle lines are drawn and a fiery war begins. 

2h 0m | Already closed | Urban Stages (Chelsea)

Show Showdown

“The show is about 80% exposition/story-telling, but it works, beautifully...I worked on the last NY production of ‘Holy Ghosts,’ 40 years ago. I was quite impressed with the show, had a major flaw. It turns out that play holds up very well--and this production actually fixes the flaw...Jones gets credit for the fix and for directing a smooth, clear, touching production that builds nicely and convincingly...The excellent cast is anchored by a strong and subtle performance by Palmer.” Full Review


“Outstanding revival...Jones and his actors take great care ensuring that the play never gets out of control...Jones adds a nice touch having worshipers occasionally look into the audience as if to bring them into their circle...Because Linney’s writing is so powerful, the service and play’s climax is controlled...Jarrett and Palmer are believably heartbreaking...This production’s heart is worn by Wassum’s Mrs. Wall, the church organist.” Full Review

Manhattan Digest

“Not the most action-filled piece, but it’s not intended to be. Instead, it is a slice of life drama...Watching this story unfold is fascinating and ominous...The amounts of grace, care, and compassion shared by this congregation are deeply touching. Yet beneath it lies a troubling, blinded cult-like mentality...Jones painted a respectable portrait for city slickers who are otherwise unfamiliar with this world...It might send you on a journey through your own soul.” Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"Director Judson Jones has not overcome the script’s structural failings. The dialogue seemed a little forced and the transitions weak, but mostly Mr. Jones could not overcome his cast using shouting as a substitute for emotions...We love Theatre East’s mission of fostering new plays of social relevance through New York and World Premieres. Unfortunately, this production isn’t their best." Full Review

Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if you are interested in the human condition. Such an interesting, surprisingly moving and excellently executed thought provoking piece.

Don't see it if you're not the least interested in what drives human beings to believe in a higher power.

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Profound, Intelligent, Great acting

See it if you like psychological dramas and are interested in the intersection of psychology and spirituality

Don't see it if you have short attention span and need a short play with lots of visual effects

Also Great screenplay and great acting. Even though it's set in the 1960s o... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Delightful, Entertaining, Ambitious, Great acting

See it if You are interesting to learn how people different from yourself react to and have he need for religious connection

Don't see it if If you are closed minded and snobbish

Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy well-cast plays w/ 15 committed actors. A solid script and production that provokes thoughts on religion, community, & marriage.

Don't see it if Lots of yelling, but appropriate for the story.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You want to see a well performed, well directed and well acted play showing the need for community.

Don't see it if you dislike plays about religion.

Also The play was excellent, but could have been somewhat shorter.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intense, No matter your opinion of backwoods "holy roller" religion, it will be challenged and deepened by this compelling drama. a must see,

See it if You needn't be religious to be riveted by this play--in fact it's better if you aren't. I didn't think I'd like it but it blew me away.

Don't see it if You have zero curiosity about the ways lonely damaged people find one another and make a community nor any interest in their accomplishments

Absorbing, Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you appreciate complex characters in a unique setting: a Pentecostal snake-handling church! Characters are not caricatured or stereotyped.*

Don't see it if You are triggered by depictions of domestic violence; you don't like plays about religion; you like big shows with a lot of set changes

Also *As the church members' stories unfold, esp. in Act II, their reasons ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great singing, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to feel like you're at church, enjoy some great music, singing and acting. You want to see what can happen in religious settings.

Don't see it if You are offended (you shouldn't be) by a performance about the Pentecostal faith. You don't want to feel like you are in church.

Also I was totally entertained at this performance. I enjoyed the singing a... Read more Read less

Absorbing, powerful, ensemble acting, entertaining

See it if You like absorbing southern drama, dramatic story telling, great ensemble work, surprises and colorful characters

Don't see it if You don’t like southern, religious genre pieces, slow evolution of storyline or emotional, personal revelations

Thrilling, Affecting, Thought-provoking, Well played, Unusual

See it if you’d like to take a clear-eyed but sympathetic look at a slice of rural, religious America that doesn’t often make it to the NYC stage.

Don't see it if the thought of sitting through big chunks of a Pentecostal service makes you queasy.

Also The script to the acclaimed playwright Romulus Linney’s early (ca 1971... Read more Read less

Riveting, Unusual, Intense, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you want to see a story that you rarely ever see get told, thoughtful and detailed directing, brave actors

Don't see it if you are judgmental about religion or Southerners, you are looking for something light hearted

Also Went into this play not knowing I would like it so much. What an unusu... Read more Read less

Oddly intense, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if You like large ensemble pieces that start out seeming like one thing but eventually reveal some truths that are real eye openers/plot twist.

Don't see it if You’re not willing to open your mind to some pretty out there ideas as rational and as reasonable ways of coping.

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

See it if you want to experience a slice of life in which religion and real-life situations provide comfort and conflict in a diverse rural population

Don't see it if you do not want to be subjected to a specific religious view that includes bible interpretations, a long service, including hymns and prayer

Absorbing, Riveting, Resonant, Great acting, Great writing

See it if If you’re a Romulus Linney fan. This is a really great small production with a great cast.

Don't see it if You’re looking for something light or a musical.

Great acting/directing, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Interesting, A bit to long

See it if you like plays that explore humans using religion to help cope with their interrelationships, emotional states and psychological health.

Don't see it if dislike struggling with how to interpret themes relating to people's attitudes toward atypical religion in rural America.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Great staging

See it if you want to see a large cast show, which is rare in such a small space. Nicely acted, well staged, quite absorbing and atmospheric. It works

Don't see it if you are bothered by religious subjects, you don't care about southern rural culture, you don't like rather slow-moving and developing shows.

Absorbing, Profound, Intense, Traditional structure, Too long

See it if you enjoy a character driven plot with dramatic twists. Well presented with some lovely monologues.

Don't see it if old fashioned well made plays are boring for you. This one is a bit longer than it needs to be.

Riveting, Intelligent, Great acting, Funny, Edgy

See it if you want to understand more about snake handlers and what draws people to do this. Strong performances and insightful characters.

Don't see it if you hate Christian music or religious themes.

Great acting, Intense, Excruciating

See it if You are interested in plays concerning religion and interactions between attendees in a church service.

Don't see it if You do not have patience to sit through a longer than necessary play, and do not like violence and references of death.

Also The actors gave outstanding performances. However, I felt that there w... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great acting, Entertaining, Absorbing, Relevant

See it if you're interested in why people turn to fundamentalist religions, you like interesting staging and writing

Don't see it if you're protective of your religion, you need a concrete ending

Great acting, Ambitious, Unusual

See it if If you like well-cast ensembles doing exquisitely detailed acting.

Don't see it if You don't like hymns or slightly overlong plays.

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

See it if you are interested in what drives people to turn to extreme religious groups for comfort; you enjoy a well acted and written drama

Don't see it if you only like musicals; or need a big splashy production or big name actors in a drama; you have an extreme fear of snakes (real or not)

Absorbing, Ambitious, Entertaining, Intelligent

See it if you're interested in a moving play about an unusual Pentecostal sect filled with offbeat characters. A blend of comedy and drama.

Don't see it if you don't want to see a play about a strange Pentecostal sect

Slow, Absorbing, Intense, Relevant

See it if an ensemble drama set in present day & immersed in a congregation's effort to ease one another's pains intrigues, or you're a fan of Linney.

Don't see it if you shy away from topics relating to religious fervor & practices, or to domestic abuse; you'd prefer light, comic fare & more linear story.

Evocative, Sermonizing, Thought-provoking, Slow, Intense

See it if you want to experience the emotion & theatricality of a revival service of rural Southern Pentecostal snake handlers in search of redemption

Don't see it if you're turned off by shouting & histrionics; you hope for a denunciation of religious extremists [The religiosity is depicted with respect].

Also Although there's a narrative at the center of Holy Ghosts (about a you... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (22)