New York | 1h 30m | Already closed


From 18 critic and 27 member reviews
Members say: Funny, Clever, Quirky, Ambitious, Edgy

About the show

The Flea Theater presents the world premiere of this dramedy about a young woman infatuated with an inanimate object. More…

Erica, shy and more than a little socially awkward, is in love with Dee. The problem is that Erica's politician mother, her friend, and the nosy residents of their Massachusetts small town don’t understand at all, because Dee is a letter in the Dairy Queen sign. 'Inanimate' explores objectophilia, feeling like an outsider, listening to your heart, and finally finding your tribe.

The Reviews Hub

“Robideau’s script admirably balances humor with compassion for his subjects…Under Courtney Ulrich’s direction the skilled cast’s treatment of the material aids in building sympathy for its characters…Performances are thoughtful and actors are fully engaged…‘Inanimate’ is a wildly funny show, but never loses sight of its characters’ humanity...This is an excellent show to open The Flea’s new space; it’s thoughtful, relevant, and utterly enjoyable—well worth the time.” Full Review

Stage Buddy

"'Inanimate' is a somewhat misleading title for such a buoyant, funny, and heartwarming journey of self-acceptance and love...Each laugh is genuine and plentiful. Each emotional moment is sincere and pitch perfect...Robideau treats his characters and subject matter with a sincere respect and compassion. He emphasizes the importance of community while feeling isolated in dealing with disappointment or grief." Full Review


“One never knows whether to laugh or to cry at Erica's predicament which makes human relationships difficult. Nevertheless, the writing is often poetic and the acting is first rate. Led by Lacy Allen as a charmingly confused Erica, the cast devours their roles with the authenticity of a new classic. ‘Inanimate’ joins the ranks of plays by Annie Baker and Lucy Thurber which deal with characters in dead-end towns in New England.” Full Review

Applause! Applause!

“When Erica was in 9th grade, she fell in love with a stapler. Later, she got into bigger things - like a gazebo, and now, a Dairy Queen sign. She also speaks to lamps, stuffed bunnies, and can openers. The challenge for the audience is to decide whether Erica is mentally ill. Perhaps we should be tolerant and supportive of her sexuality. This is a thought-provoking play with an extraordinary cast. If you can handle the subject matter, I highly recommend it as the must-see show of the season.” Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"'Inanimate' succeeds in taking us down a very funny and touching road into the real world of Objectum Sexuality that seems perfectly timed in our world’s preoccupation with others' sexual preferences and/or gender affiliation. Wonderfully directed by Courtney Ulrich, we cheer on Erika and her gradually eye-opening and embracing of herself, not as an outsider, but somewhat of a pioneer...It’s powerful, exciting, and a whole lot of fun." Full Review

The New York Times

“As directed by Courtney Ulrich and performed by the Bats…this play unfolds as a sort of normcore comic variation on ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ which insists we regard its central relationship as worthy of high flights of poetic fancy. Such a perspective could so easily lean toward smirky voyeurism or cloying cuteness…But ‘Inanimate’ wins us over by contextualizing its exotic subject in the bedrock of the familiar…The script is freshest when it sticks to Erica’s transformative worldview.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"The playwright poetically captures Erica relaxing into her emotions with telling details that ring true...This production shines when it allows Erica’s freak flag to fly, and settles into the distinctly oddball and delicious comic stylings of the various embodied objects and everyone’s passionate oddities. All the actors are able and game...The only plot line that feels appended, despite a fine performance by Tressa Preston, is Erica’s older sister Trish." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

“Full of heart, compassion, and just enough inappropriate sexual innuendos...Allen shines as the awkward woman who doesn’t understand why she feels the way she feels…Borden steals the scene every time he is on stage with his presence and genuine comedic appeal...Robideau’s script is clean and fun. A bit long, but the subject is very well handled…Courtney Ulrich’s direction is spot-on….‘Inanimate’ pulls you in from the first moment.” Full Review

Applause! Applause!

“This play aimed true in almost every regard. The dialogue was crisp; the set (scene, costume, lighting, and sound) design was on point; and the acting, phenomenal. Beyond that, ‘Inanimate’ intrigued me with its oddities and left me wondering about the intricacies of the human mind. Regardless of the conclusions you may draw from seeing this play, which is about Erica having sexual relationships and feelings for inanimate objects, I am certain you will be entertained.” Full Review


"The play manages to navigate a sometimes uneasy line between a comedic take on an unconventional relationship and a more serious story about the difficulty of coming to terms with our desires...When the play ventures away from what's the central triangle of risks losing its footing...The charm of 'Inanimate' is its ability to intrigue us by the suggestion that another world lives within our own...'Inanimate's' tenderness and quirky humor make for a lively combination." Full Review

New York Theater

"'Inanimate' is full of humor, but, much to his credit, playwright Robideau is never mocking. He makes Erica not just sympathetic and credible, but the winner of every argument...But if some of these object personifications are inspired, the director also has to take the hit for the highly uneven seven-member cast...The play could probably benefit from some trimming in any case...Even so, 'Inanimate' a pitch-perfect choice to inaugurate 30 Thomas Street." Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"A good choice to carry on the Flea’s reputation for offbeat material...The Bats are clearly enjoying their roles and their enjoyment is infectious. Director Courtney Ulrich’s staging is confident and fluid. The subplot about the sister’s ambitions does not blend well with the rest of the play. At times it is difficult to decide whether the playwright intends for us to feel sympathy or bemused scorn for Erica’s condition. It’s an edgy play that’s not for everyone." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“Robideau's writing veers between realism and surrealism, mingled with poetic expression and an accent on the comic, but he manages to make Erica's dilemma sympathetic without turning her into a freak…Still, it's never quite clear just how much he's parodying Erica's OS and how much he's taking it seriously…Courtney Ulrich's imaginative direction, helped enormously by Megan Culley's terrific mood-setting soundscape, keeps the intensity level high throughout.” Full Review

Village Voice

"Robideau cheerfully exploits his heroine’s unusual turn-on — and her surreal inner life — for quirky laughs, not overtly cruel ones...Erica and Kevin are appealing and the subject is potentially fascinating, so it’s a shame Robideau seems content with sight gags, shallow psychology, and a goofball plot...Ulrich and the Flea’s young actors, the Bats, keep it broad, bright, and zany, but a couple more drafts could have pushed the script past the Judd Apatow stage of semi-edgy rom-com." Full Review

Off Off Online

“The energy and eagerness of youth are both strengths and weaknesses...The actors aren’t helped by the tonal shifts and absurdism in the script nor, perhaps, by their lack of life experience. That applies to Robideau as well…The actors’ likability makes up for some of the flaws...Absurdism requires some kind of realistic underpinning as a jumping-off point, but here absurdism and purported realism lie cheek by jowl with each other, and they are at odds." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"The Bats do a wonderful job with this material. Lacy Allen stands out as the central character, portraying Erica’s quirky sexuality without turning it into an SNL skit...Director Courtney Ulrich tastefully navigates delicate intimate moments involving a can opener...But the play feels conflicted in tone and genre. Is this a ridiculous, quirky comedy or an honest exploration intended to challenge our tolerance of an alternative lifestyle that may seem too peculiar to accept?" Full Review


"It’s an excellent premise for a play. But, Mr. Robideau, why do those who practice objectum sexualis have a thing for a thing?...Robideau is instead content to have us say 'Isn’t this bizarre?' for 85 intermissionless minutes...Give Robideau credit, though, for getting one important aspect right. He never goes for laughs when detailing Erica’s condition...And let’s not criticize director Courtney Ulrich, who stages 'Inanimate' with integrity." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Even a playwright with the combined skills of O'Neill, Kaufman and Hart, Wilson, and Vogel would be hard-pressed to make this syndrome comprehensible...For most of its 85 minutes, it appears to be running around in various directions, its sheer energy often signaling desperation...Ulrich's direction gives the action more pace and pizzazz than you might think possible...The performances by the Bats...are a pleasure...But, given its setup, 'Inanimate' is dead on arrival." Full Review

Clever, Ambitious, Edgy, Funny, Relevant

See it if 1st of all, the "New Flea" is awesome; beautiful & gender-neutral bathrooms! This play is not for the close-minded. 90-min, refreshing topic

Don't see it if Alternative sexuality, cussing, darkness, small town, otherness, etc are all displayed here. A tough subject matter handled delicately.

Edgy, Romantic, Funny, Intelligent

See it if delightful premise, very enthusiastic staging and acting, nicely self-aware and manages to stay both ironic and unobtrusively romantic.

Don't see it if you want a completely PC treatment of the subject of alternative sexuality.

Also I can't know the playwright's intention but the end result serves just... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great writing, Hilarious, Intense, Resonant

See it if You want to see theatre as it should be: risky, thought-provoking, and well-acted. A truly fantastic production and show.

Don't see it if You don't like smaller theatre experiences and aren't open-minded about sexuality.

Funny, Clever, Edgy, Masterful, Intelligent

See it if From the writing to the brilliant actors to the tech... this is as perfect as off-off-Broadway gets. Ingenious, thought-provoking & FUNNY!

Don't see it if you lack even an ounce of tolerance for any sexual orientation other than whatever you consider normative. This is about TOLERANCE!

Also What an exciting and brilliant way for The Flea to christen its new th... Read more Read less

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

See it if You like small, well-acted, story-driven productions that challenge norms. A beautiful play about finding out and accepting who you are

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with anything outside the norm, with stories about sexuality or finding yourself. GA, but front row long/accessible

Also Lead actress an amazing talent to keep an eye on. All supporting actor... Read more Read less

Edgy, Resonant, Quirky, Romantic, Funny

See it if I found this lovely story both moving and eye-opening. It made me ponder how distinctive and special each person can be.

Don't see it if You don’t have an open mind for unusual sexuality. You don’t have a soft spot for romance.

Edgy, Quirky, Great acting, Great staging, Thought-provoking

See it if You like cutting edge plays and are open to learning about an unusual form of sexual attraction. The Flea Theatre is in its new home.

Don't see it if You like conventional love stories and linear plots. Do not like small, intimate theaters.

Also The Flea Theater has moved into its new building on Thomas Street. The... Read more Read less

Intense, Thought-provoking, Great costumes, Strong lead performance, Humorous

See it if You are interested in convincing portrayals of alternate love choices.

Don't see it if You need all your plot lines to go somewhere or if you want your plays fully formed; alternate sexualities turn you off.

Also The play's strength centers on creating a believable, convincing lifes... Read more Read less

Clever, Funny, Quirky, Intelligent, Delightful

See it if you enjoy edgy theater that helps you care about and understand people on the fringe.

Don't see it if you object to watching a play about non-traditional forms of sexual attraction.

Also In its new home the Flea still never fails to disappoint.

Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Quirky, Refreshing

See it if for an unconventional and amusing take on the inanimate world

Don't see it if offbeat topics might not be your cup of tea

Ambitious, Entertaining, Quirky, Great acting

See it if You appreciate creativity and fine acting.

Don't see it if You don't like quirky.

Refreshing, Clever, Delightful, Absorbing, Wacky

See it if explorations of alternative sexualities interest you. If you like a good coming-of-age story with a totally unique twist.

Don't see it if you have trouble understanding/sympathizing with people with alternative lifestyles, desires, sexualities, or ways of being.

Also The play was slow to start for me. I had trouble getting into it at fi... Read more Read less

Clever, Funny, Quirky, Romantic, Ambitious

See it if you will enjoy a unique piece of theater involving a subject you might not be aware of; you like seeing talented young performers

Don't see it if you would be uncomfortable with a play that centers around object sexuality, involves a gay character, and such.

Thought-provoking, Quirky, Edgy, Ambitious

See it if You like non-straightforward plays about esoteric subjects performed by enthusiastic young actors with great gusto

Don't see it if You are not entertained by the examination of odd human behavior and have trouble following intricate plots.

Ambitious, Funny, Entertaining, Great acting, Different

See it if you’ll enjoy strong, consistent performances and smart, economical production design even if the play's intentions aren't 100% clear

Don't see it if you want to be able to explain to someone else the meaning of what you saw; you don’t want to feel very conservative in your theater tastes

Also This show’s likeable and funny—but I wish I knew what we were laughing... Read more Read less

Funny, Great staging, Quirky, Edgy, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to see a clever play about sexual attraction to inanimate objects, in a fine production in the Flea Theater's new building.

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with offbeat sexuality and don't like plays with rough edges.

Also The production is topnotch with a fine cast, great costumes and sensit... Read more Read less


See it if You have a taste for the offbeat. The unusual story follows a coming of age tale for one of alternative sexuality.

Don't see it if You were thinking weird might be wonderful. It is different, but awfully normal too, and there seems to be no magic about it.


See it if You wanna support young theatre.

Don't see it if Save for the interesting take on dialogue with inanimate objects, the writing is pretty bland.

Also Great performances from the man who plays Kevin and Erica, the sister,... Read more Read less

Tonally inconsistent, Quirky, Slight, Spirited, Disappointing

See it if you want to see something weird, different and challenging. You like unconventional love stories.

Don't see it if you'd be frustrated by an inconsistent tone wishing you to take this issue seriously in the midst of broad, over-the-top acting and staging.

Funny, Clever, Quirky, Fluffy, Ambitious

See it if You enjoy quirky characterization

Don't see it if You're allergic to twee

Intense, Thought-provoking, Funny, Touching, Great acting

See it if You like shows balancing comedy and vulnerability; you think your love life is hard...

Don't see it if You're uncomfortable with diverse sexuality; you cannot relate to dysfunctional family relations

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting

See it if You appreciate good writing and creative acting.

Don't see it if You have no compassion or a closed mind.

Absorbing, Clever, Enchanting, Entertaining, Great writing

See it if you like to be entertained, challenged, enlightened, experience emotions form frustration to anger to delight, be inspired

Don't see it if you're a dud

Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Refreshing, Absorbing

See it if You're ready for an accepting world and a new understanding of sexuality

Don't see it if You want commercial theater lights & music

Ambitious, Clever, Intense, Must see, Thought-provoking

See it if you're ready for an emotional and intellectual journey of discovery, as well as if you admire strong acting in challenging roles.

Don't see it if you prefer not to examine your assumptions and preconceptions.

Cast & Creatives (16)