New York | 1h 10m | Already closed

Karen Finley: Unicorn Gratitude Mystery

From 7 critic and 15 member reviews
Members say: Funny, Intense, Edgy, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

About the show

Karen Finley, a name synonymous with performance art and boundary pushing, presents the world premiere of three short works. More…

In 'Unicorn,' Finley humorously explores America's obsession with the unattainable white-horned mythical creature. Armed with a healthy dose of cynicism, 'Gratitude' finds Finley obsessing on the narcissistic tendencies that fuel contemporary gentrification. With 'Mystery,' Finley dives deep into the language, emotion, and the loss of control that can happen when we give in to our fear of the unknown.

New York Theatre Review

"As Finley’s giddy triptych unfolds, she illuminates the power of counterfactual thinking in both fairy tale realms and national politics...Finley possesses a wacky sense of style and a go-for-broke physicality, but her real weapon is her voice, with which she luxuriates over the syllables of her text...It may not be possible to fully comprehend or contain the worlds Finley conjures. But it’s that space for feeling, whether it be fearful, joyous, or raging, that creates a space for catharsis." Full Review

The New York Times

"Time has not reined in Karen Finley’s fire…Decades on, and she still has the uncanny ability to go from zero to fury in a split second…Ms. Finley can also be wickedly funny...Like the first two, the last piece makes some wild turns, touching upon the concept of blondness in Hollywood and society’s exploitation of war and veterans. The connection between all those elements may be a little fuzzy, but no matter — Ms. Finley knows anger; she also knows entertainment." Full Review


"Performance artist Karen Finley is angry, topical, and provocative in her new show 'Unicorn Gratitude Mystery.' She’s also hilariously funny...Trump may be easy prey for someone with Finley’s arts and smarts, but she continues to find new, sometimes startling angles of analysis and attack...Karen Finley may paint with a broad brush her conclusions about the psychology of Trump, the Clintons, and our culture’s hordes of believers in easy answers. But the paint is red-hot as ever." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"This Obie Award-winning performance artist clings to myth like she clings to her microphone, considering freedom, jewel tones, and archetypal power of the mythic figure. Juxtaposing imagery of the horned beast with the politics of the day, Karen Finley proves with 'Unicorn Gratitude Mystery' that she really knows how to spit it...Finley is absolutely irreverent, and uncommonly on time." Full Review

New York Theater

"Some might consider them little more than profanity-filled screaming rants and non sequiturs...A point that is a major theme of her work: How loathe Americans are to face the grim realities in our society. Finley has a method beneath her work’s apparent madness; an art to her seeming random self-indulgence...If it’s hard to call what Karen Finley does in 'Unicorn Gratitude Mystery' political theater, her provocations resonate with surprising power." Full Review

Front Row Center

"Finley’s work is very retro...It's free-flowing and not always easy to follow, but that is not Finley’s intention. She is there to engage and challenge...Finley saves the best for last when she drops all the costumes, lets down her hair and reads a story/prose poem. It was this last Finley who pulled me in completely. The Finley with nothing between her and the audience is the Finley that strikes the deepest and the most profound note." Full Review

Time Out New York

"There's plenty of breakneck obscenity, but some element of shock is gone…Yet there are other surprises here, ones that emerge out of a piece that starts as chaos and coheres as it goes along. Be ready, though, the 90 minutes contains much that is discombobulated and self-indulgent…Finley has a particularly emphatic way of making subtext into text...It's a Finley show, so she smears a lot of crap on that body—but somehow, she also seems to be clearing some of the bullshit away." Full Review

Raunchy, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intelligent, Funny

See it if You want to experience one of the all-time great performance artists as she takes on the election and more.

Don't see it if You can't handle a sharp and unflattering critique of your candidate or don't like strong language or sexual imagery.

Thought-provoking, Profound, Intelligent, Funny

See it if you like performance art & want to see "the Queen of Performance Art" in her new show. Finley does stream-of-consciousness like no one else.

Don't see it if you like linear text, plot or character driven performance. Or if you are a Republican.

Riveting, Old-school performance art, Politically potent, Uneven

See it if you can endure a really tough, cynical, satirical, profane presentation of the state of American values both today and yesterday;

Don't see it if you are politically naive ( especially if under 40); can't face American superficiality, faults & skewed values; you believe in "magic"

Disappointing, Edgy, Original, Funny, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy social commentary with a whimsical bent. There are some lovely moments but not quite as many as I had hoped for.

Don't see it if you are expecting chocolate sauce.

Intense, Edgy, Clever

See it if You like mostly funny, intense, political is personal and personal is political standup/performance.

Don't see it if You are looking for a plot driven story, this is stand up performance. That it was mostly read from her script can be off-putting.

Raunchy, Great writing, Edgy, Funny

See it if you like political performance

Don't see it if you don't like agitprop performance art

Hilarious, Dizzying, Relevant, Intense, Funny

See it if You want to someone else's view of our current political climate.

Don't see it if You're not okay with profanity or if you're uncomfortable with people talking about sex.

Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Edgy, Ambitious, Entertaining

See it if you like-performance art-solo shows-performers taking on various roles-stand up comedy-poetry readings-political commentaries

Don't see it if you want-character development-three dimensional characters-a plot/story-an elaborate set design-an overarching theme/moral

Intense, Intelligent, Funny, Clever

See it if You like intelligent performance art.

Don't see it if You object to raunchy or political humor.

Raunchy, Intense, Ambitious

See it if Provocative, edgy comedy dealing with political subjects.

Don't see it if You like more mainstream entertainment and are offended or bothered by sexual topics.

Disappointing, Indulgent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Overrated

See it if You're a Karen Finlay fanatic. I've seen (and loved) her before, but the night I saw this, it was not a focused, riviting memorable show.

Don't see it if Youre expecting another home run by her. Also, this is performance art-do not expect the usual 1 woman show. This challenges-but disappoints

Intense, Edgy, Confusing, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if You like performance art. If over the top takes on the election entertain you. If you like Karen Findlay it is a great example of style.

Don't see it if If you like subtlety, are offended by sexual content or making fun of candidates. You find loud, over the top comedy difficult.

Also I personally am not that intrigued by this style of performance so to ... Read more Read less


See it if you are a Karen Finley fan.

Don't see it if you dislike the experimental and the avante-garde.

Also This was easily the least enjoyable show I've seen in decades. I would... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Great writing, Funny, Clever, Absorbing

See it if you can think outside the box!

Don't see it if you're square!

Exquisite, Enchanting, Absorbing

See it if you want to experience a living legend.

Don't see it if if you aren't flexible!

Cast & Creatives (6)