New York | 1h 35m | Opens Oct 17

Imagining Madoff

From 9 critic and 11 member reviews
Members say: Thought-provoking, Great acting, Absorbing, Intense, Intelligent

About the show

New Light Theater Project presents an encore presentation of this drama, which explores themes of greed, willful blindness to the truth, and the beauty and danger of absolute faith, either in God or in men. More…

"Imagining Madoff" finds Madoff in prison, determined to control his own narrative for history as he dictates to a visiting biographer stories about his childhood, his family, women, money, and an all-night meeting he had with Holocaust survivor and poet, Solomon Galkin.


“Remarkable, three-person play...It is an intense and fascinating fictionalized view of Bernie Madoff, the man behind the Ponzi scheme that devastated countless people's financial fortunes...The play's scenes shift deftly between Madoff's prison cell, the study of Solomon Galkin, and the witness stand where his secretary testifies...An outstanding piece of theatre...Audience members get a close up perspective of the drama and tension of the story.” Full Review

Woman Around Town

“This whip smart, tightly written, 2010 piece approaches everything through conscience...The deftly written play ends well, just where it should, posing questions that echo. Deb Margolin is a craftsman of high order...Director Jerry Heymann moves his cast seamlessly from one environment to another and skillfully within more limited environs. His three players evidence different speech patterns and physical attitudes. Timing is impeccable.” Full Review

New Yorker

"So engrossing and philosophically lively...The cast of this belated New York City première, directed by Jerry Heymann, is exquisite: as Madoff, Jeremiah Kissel prowls the stage like some eloquent but enigmatic animal; as Galkin, Gerry Bamman pinpoints the tragic intersection of wisdom and obliviousness. And Jenny Allen adds a rich third dimension as Madoff’s secretary, who struggles to presume her own innocence in her testimony at his trial." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"Putting her imagination into overdrive, Margolin sets the Ponzi prince inside a three-character drama...She's created a moving figure in Galkin and even more of a riveting tough in the focal Madoff...Anyone telling me that Kissel’s performance—directed for all he’s worth by Jerry Heyman—isn’t one of the absolute best on a Manhattan stage right now will have an argument on his or her hands...It’s here, ripe and raw for the rest of our theatergoers’ imaginations." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Thoughtful, loquacious, and sometimes mystical and abstruse; it's also irregularly dramatic and, despite some emotional histrionics, only rarely moving…An intellectual fantasia relating the Madoff scandal to themes of ethics, morality, truth, Judaism, the Torah, the Talmud, the Midrash, faith, lust, guilt, trust, suffering, and betrayal. That's a lot to unpack in an hour and 35 minutes…Lively, if not always consistent, performances…More discussion than drama, more pilpul than provocation." Full Review


"Margolin’s somewhat stiff though entertaining three-character fantasia...Jenny Allen is entrancing...Ms. Allen exquisitely provides comic relief and an innocent everywoman perspective with her aching sincerity...Jeremiah Kissel swaggering in a power suit gleefully gives us the ballsy Madoff we desire...Margolin’s thoughtful dialogue is often amusing, the characters are vividly drawn, and the structure is a simple framework that gets stale due to the lack of plot." Full Review

The New York Times

"The show is not docu-theater. Unfortunately, the change also undermined the stakes by pitting a real villain against a made-up victim — especially one who feels as generic as Galkin...Even at just over 90 minutes, this production, directed by Jerry Heymann, feels baggy at times and takes a while to find its footing...Madoff is forcefully rendered by Mr. Kissel as a brash, vulgar and possibly insecure man, yet he yields little insight into why he did what he did." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Margolin's play delves into the mind of a notorious criminal and comes up with not much at all...The Madoff presented by Margolin is garrulous and more than a little loutish, filled with conversation that only circles the ugly, uncomfortable questions that continue to hover, unanswered...Instead of confronting the everyday facts of Madoff's wrongdoing, the play is marked by a constant reaching for symbols and allusions that often seem weirdly off-topic." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"Every conversation seemed false. At first I thought it was because the actor playing Madoff played nine tenths of the play directly to me, literally...It was disconcerting...The conversation between Galkin and Madoff seems more like the tale of the big bad wolf and little red riding hood...The cast is competent. Director Herman does the best he can with the small space, but there was nothing new learned here and again nothing seemed based on reality...There is a much better story here." Full Review

Poetic, Humane, Intense, Talmudic, Insightful

See it if you’d like to experience a deep, imaginative exploration of what leads “great” men to deceive the people that trust them.

Don't see it if you only like traditional plays: This one plays with the form.

Also Deb Margolin’s “Imagining Madoff,” making a belated NYC premiere, is a... Read more Read less

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

See it if You are interested in explorations of morality, and the breadth of moral responsibility, in light of Madoff’s crimes.

Don't see it if Spending 90 minutes with a reprehensible person is more than you can bear.

Also This is dense and intellectually challenging. Drink a cup of coffee be... Read more Read less

Jewish themes, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Good performances by all

See it if Quite a performance by Jeremiah Kissel in particular, but all three actors were excellent.

Don't see it if You have no interest in reliving the Madoff scandal.

Also Very small theater, open seating so arrive early if you want a very go... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Masterful, Absorbing

See it if You want a sharp piece of theater covering a horrible moment of greed that nearly completely collapsed our economy.

Don't see it if The subject matter is too painful or if you. Lot of lives were ruined by Bernie.

Entertaining, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to see an interesting show

Don't see it if you've had enough of madoff

Great staging, Great acting

See it if Beautiful poetic language and terrific performances. Allen is wonderful.

Don't see it if You want a history play. This is a fictionalized memory play exploring motivation, greed, guilt, idol worship and a host of other ideas.

Ambitious, Intense, Intelligent, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you want a drama expressing what might have been some of Madoff's motivation and his total lack of morality, not historically accurate

Don't see it if you have no interest in Madoff either as a person or his motivation to do what he did. You were a Madoff victim and don't want any reminder

Thought-provoking, Profound, Great acting, Clever

See it if Interesting insight into Madoff. Good acting. Not quite what I expected, but enjoyed nontheless.

Don't see it if Not at all fluff. Thought provoking into a totally self absorbed man. Leave the theater thinking about this man.

Disappointing, Ambitious, Banal

See it if If you are interested in the madoff schemes and some of the people who both worked for him and were taken in by him

Don't see it if You remember the headlines and no patience for a man who could steal from a Holocaust survivor

Dull, Great acting

See it if You want to see an extremely compelling performance from the terrific actor playing Madoff.

Don't see it if You don't want to see this performance lost in an unfortunately dull play.

During previews
Absorbing, Great writing, Resonant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if you're fascinated with the mental state of someone who is charming and dangerous. Because it's imagined, it has genuine bite. Not a bio-play

Don't see it if you like theater that doesn't force you to be mentally engaged – or makes you think.

Cast & Creatives (3)