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Later Life

From 20 critic and 91 member reviews
Members say: Entertaining, Slow, Great staging, Dated, Intelligent

About the show

Keen Company presents A.R. Gurney's comic drama about a middle-aged man and woman who meet at a cocktail party and ponder beginning the relationship that eluded them 30 years ago. More…

While the pair rediscover each other and themselves, a bevy of delightful guests rally behind them. With poignancy and laughs, this classic Gurney play reminds us of the infinite possibilities in life just waiting to be pursued. A romantic tale of missed connections and hope for new beginnings.

Lighting & Sound America

"It's a cool, expertly mixed cocktail, spiked with an extra dose of bitters, and surely only Gurney could have pulled it off...Jonathan Silverstein's direction finds a nearly ideal balance...Without deft direction and sensitive performances, 'Later Life' could break into two very different parts, but, thanks to Silverstein and his cast, the scenes featuring Craig and Markell, in addition to providing a comic countermelody to the central characters' melancholic waltz, make an essential point." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"Mr. Gurney was no four-hit wonder, and the Keen Company’s off-Broadway revival is a welcome reminder that there are glittering gems lurking amid the paste...Unflashy conversation pieces like 'Later Life' don't play themselves. They must be knowingly cast and intelligently directed to make their full effect, and Keen Company, here as always, is up to the challenge...Silverstein has staged 'Later Life' with skill and sensitivity...The cast is satisfying, especially Mr. Lau." Full Review

Front Row Center

"Charmingly romantic revival...It is a mix of funny and poignant tales that neatly sum up the state of educated Caucasian New Englanders of the 1990s...Under the gentle direction of Jonathan Silverstein, the play of course depends on the sparks and timing between Lau and Garrick. Both are up to the challenge with Lau letting Austin’s emotions ever so slowly simmer while Garrick reveals an inner beauty to Ruth’s wildness that any man would find hard to resist." Full Review

Off Off Online

"Bittersweet and very funny, 'Later Life' is a theatrical pearl...The greatest assets of this revival are Markell and Liam Craig as a succession of wacky party guests. These two have the comic timing of old pros; and, with quicksilver changes of togs, wigs, and dialect, they blunder on and off the terrace, interrupting the earnest, sometimes eloquent conversation of the might-yet-be lovers...In Gurney’s world, hope, joy, and hilarity always complement the pain." Full Review


"A lovely looking revival. It once again showcases Gurney's skill at creating a play that reveals something deeper and sadder beneath its light-hearted and comic surface...Occasionally 'Later Life' injects a few too many lines that nudge the audience into awareness of the feelings behind the civilized masks. And though the play's is likely to appeal most to audiences at the same stage of life as Austin and Ruth, that's not to say that younger viewers will be left unmoved." Full Review

Theater Life

"If America has its own Chekhov, it would have to be A. R. Gurney. As Chekhov, in his short career as a playwright (he died of tuberculosis at 44), illuminated and elucidated the woes of landowning Russians, Gurney in his long career (the playwright died last June at 86), has chronicled the trials and tribulations of that native American species, the WASP." Full Review

City Cabaret

"A gently witty/poignant look at the society and its values that Gurney has written about his whole life...Under the hand of director Jonathan Silverstein, Lau and Garrick both bring out the likeable qualities in their characters while stressing the 'if only' aspect of Gurney's play...The various supporting players are enthusiastically played by two actors, Liam Craig and Jodie Markell in a revolving door of colorful characterizations living different lives with delightful humor." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"A smooth sail through lovely calm waters; charming, engaging, and somewhat electric, keeping us all guessing and engrossed within Gurney’s smart back and forth...This well written piece, full of civil and witty dialogue, crowded with too many chatty, eccentric, and slightly over-done guests, with some bland food, just made me want to slowly make my way out the door of this party smiling politely saying ‘thank you, and good night’, having had a generally nice time." Full Review


"We are solidly in A.R. Gurney territory: waspy, and well-heeled...Secondary characters are inhabited with brio and wit by Jodie Markell and Liam Craig, even if some of them as written are a bit dog-eared and thematic: the computer geek, the newly transplanted couple from the South, the prematurely retired Brandeis professor who channels his philosophical disquiet into an effort to quit smoking, the retired couple who can’t agree on their retirement." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"It seems so dated that its frequent topical references are almost quaint…'Later Life'…depicts a potential romance between two…middle-aged people…Their tête-à-tête is continually interrupted by a string of eccentric party guests...played by the same two actors…Markell and Craig lack the chameleonic, comedic virtuosity to pull off the stunt…With Garrick's doll-like features, knowing warmth, and distinctive voice, if I had to choose one reason for this play's later life, it would be her." Full Review


"In his affable but uptight banker Austin, Gurney has created a sympathetic and entertaining embodiment of the breed. The play’s punch is lessened, however, by some stretches of glib dramaturgy, made all too evident in this appreciative but uneven revival...The suspense in this production is never terribly enthralling...On the other hand, Laurence Lau as Austin gives a finely etched rendering of a polite, chronically reserved fellow." Full Review


“The tale of a would-be, could-be romance between two unhappily married, middle-aged people--Austin (Laurence Lau) and Ruth (Barbara Garrick)--never really comes together, due to the constant interruptions from ‘Sally and Others’ and ‘Jim and Others’ at a party which reunites them, many years after they first met on the Isle of Capri, when Austin was stationed with the U.S. Navy.” Full Review

On and Off Broadway

"Gurney deals beautifully with the ache and the sadness of a life not lived...Gurney supplies his resourceful players with material that is textured; and what emerges are the revelations that help to define Ruth and Austin so that the play ends just where it should...A fine play, a small gem that serves to remind us that A.R.Gurney will be remembered as long as there’s an audience for good theater." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"It keeps us guessing until the end and offers its quartet of actors ample opportunity to shine. Which these four certainly do...While we're aware that it's well-formed stage dialogue, dangerously close to repartee, we get quite actively involved in their dilemma and root for somebody to make a move...They're a touching twosome, and the Keen Company has presented them admirably in this 25th anniversary production of a work that shows even lesser Gurney is well worth a visit." Full Review

The New York Times

"The revival is most notable for its lucidity. It’s a gentle production that lets Gurney speak for himself, without flashy interpretive obstructions...I came away from this production with new respect for 'Later Life'...This production doesn’t ultimately provide the emotional payoff we were hoping for, but it reminds us of what a craftsman Gurney was, and how many rueful shades of warmth he could find in frozen lives." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"Capably directed...Agreeably acted...Lau gives Austin a sense of wistfulness...Garrick seems a tad coy...but she relaxes into a more genuine personal mode...'Later Life' is not an especially profound psychological study. But it succeeds as an effective portrait of a gentleman whose cautious restraint prevented him from joining the party...Congenial in tone, economic in form, and a thoughtful, if affectionately satirical, consideration of old-school values and manners." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"This New England soirée has some disappointments, as does this A.R. Gurney play, though it is not the fault of Jonathan Silverstein's delicate production for Keen Company...Silverstein takes his time, which is fitting for a Gurney play, though it sometimes it feels slow. This may not be the most exciting play, but it does feel true to life. Sometimes we make mistakes. And sometimes the best part of the party is the view." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"It’s a challenge to play Austin and Ruth in a way that is true to their natures but also makes the audience care about them, even root for them...Lau, projecting a world-weary charm, fares better than Garrick, who plays Ruth in such a skittish and flinty way...Markell and Craig are skilled character actors. Both (but Markell in particular) deliver some smart and lively turns during the course of the play." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Attempts to connect with the two fully-rounded people on stage are constantly thwarted by the comings and goings of a bunch of stereotypes. Through no fault of Markell and Craig (who do nice work), their brief passages on stage don’t afford them the chance to develop fully-drawn characterizations...If in the long run, 'Later Life' proves problematic, it still provides a number of 'keen' qualities that make it worth a visit." Full Review


"Under Jonathan Silverstein's direction, 'Later Life' looks terrific but ultimately has the emotional excitement of a game of solitaire....These two characters could have been enough for a solid two-hander if Gurney had spent more time unpacking their lives, fears, and hidden desires, but instead he chose to include several other characters who act as cartoonish foils to Austin...That's not to say that director Silverstein hasn't inflated the tires of this 80-minute one-act as much as he could." Full Review

Delightful, Entertaining, Romantic, Hilarious, Great staging

See it if you love simple storytelling and the nuance of a classic Gurney play.

Don't see it if you're interested in edgy material of musicals.

Entertaining, Great staging, Relevant, Romantic, Thought-provoking

See it if You like A.R. Gurney plays.A cocktail party with enticing conversations,drama of life with second chances.Interesting folks make for laughs

Don't see it if If you don't like Gurney's work.

Also Afterwards Show Score arranged for a meet & greet with cast plus behin... Read more Read less

Clever, Dated, Funny, Great writing, Romantic

See it if you like social comedies. You like unexpected little moments.

Don't see it if you go mostly for good performances.

Profound, Refreshing, Riveting, Thought-provoking, Romantic

See it if Mid-, late-life love & romance brilliantly observed by this wise playwright. Ultimately, very moving when faced with missed chances & loss.

Don't see it if You don't have patience for a wise play, full of life lessons, running under 90 minutes. Excellently cast and Keen Co. production. Bravo!

Great acting, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if You enjoy plays that leave you thinking. You appreciate great staging and acting.

Don't see it if You want a musical or action play.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Funny, Touching

See it if you are a fan of Gurney, you enjoy light comedies that contain an underlying thread of seriousness & believe love late in life is possible

Don't see it if Gurney's WASP, upscale characters do not appeal to you nor do cerebral comedies, you don't like plots about people too set in their ways

Clever, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if you enjoy unwinding stories.

Don't see it if you don’t like plays with a series of secondary characters arriving and departing in sequence.

Entertaining, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if you like thoughtful, well written plays about second chances from a sincere, heartfelt company.

Don't see it if you're looking for a fast-paced thriller.

Also The set and lighting was completely entrancing. So beautifully done.

Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if You are a fan of A.R.Gurney. A short sweet play about how people basically do not change even when new alternatives are presented.

Don't see it if If you prefer musicals or light dramas.

Slow, Quirky, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Clever

See it if you want to see two talented actors take on a half-dozen quirky characters each. The set is enchanting, as well, and Laurence Lau is good.

Don't see it if you expect a really interesting script that says something profound. This script doesn't work, in my opinion. And the leading lady is weak.

Funny, Entertaining, Clever, Nostalgic, revealing

See it if you like A.R. Gurney, Old Boston, or Henry James's story "The Beast in the Jungle."

Don't see it if you have no interest in old-money New England WASPs.

Also Touching and amusing high-concept play by WASP chronicler Gurney depic... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Great staging, Intelligent

See it if You want to see a play about what ifs and romance. Fate is the deciding factor in this piece. And so is making connections.

Don't see it if You want more modern plays or musicals

Best quick hair & makeup changes i've ever seen, Pleasant, Interesting for those interested in a.r. gurney

See it if I loved the quick changes of Liam Craig & Jodie Markell. They were (almost) unrecognizable in the multiple parts they played.

Don't see it if ...You want a show with a lot of action.

Also Laurence Lau and Barbara Garrick looked great together. Story doesn't ... Read more Read less

Cliched, Disappointing, Funny, Slow, Uneven

See it if you like Guerney, one of our best playwrights I think.Set is AMAZING!Acting was uneven.Lawrence Lau overcame lackluster direction &was good.

Don't see it if you want to see a cohesive cast.Lau was the only one I believed.Plot is interesting.Direction was heavy handed and lackluster.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Intelligent, Quirky, Resonant

See it if You're interested in seeing the relationship challenges of over-50's adults. You're a fan of A.R. Gurney's work.

Don't see it if You'r e not interested in relationships limited to white, upper class folks. Some of the references are dated.

Banal, Cliched, Great acting, Slow



Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if the frigidity of WASP life interests you. Gurney's the master and this play captures the frozennes and compare it. The set is five-star.

Don't see it if you want to be emotionally moved, despise close-ups of suburban home parties or don't like it when one actor plays multiple roles.

Banal, Slow, Boring, Great set, Funny at times

See it if You like AR Gurney. I have seen a number of his plays and some are better than others.

Don't see it if You don't like drawing room comedies where nothing really happens.

Also I thought the set was great. It wanted a balcony like that. Otherwise,... Read more Read less

Great acting, Great staging, Banal, Cliched, Dated

See it if You like drawing room comedies

Don't see it if You want to feel connected to the characters in the play

Entertaining, Intelligent, Relevant, Dated, Engaging

See it if If you like a play that looks at the paths our lives and whether we have the ability to change that path.

Don't see it if If you're expecting a conflict & resolution plot-line from a casual cocktail party.

Entertaining, Cliched, Disappointing, Fluffy, Overrated

See it if Not the first show I would recommend. A little slow and obvious. The book left the actors out on a limb and never saved them.

Don't see it if Not Gurney's best although similar in theme to many of his productions. Nice that the ending was ambiguous nothing else required any thought


See it if you like a character-centric show looking back at life's trials and look forward to what could be next. Comic character vignettes are fun.

Don't see it if you want an action packed evening. Some references are dated.

Intelligent, Quirky, Relevant, Resonant, Cliched

See it if Minor league Gurney given a finely polished production by Silverstein & company Well acted by leads (though party guests start to wear thin)

Don't see it if Usual Gurney themes of longing & missed opportunities amid upper classes often comes across banal Could use more humorous self-awareness

Disappointing, Great staging, Banal

See it if You are a fan of Gurney's & just want to see everything he wrote. Some good acting; some less so.

Don't see it if You don't want to see the relationship elude them again.

Entertaining, Dated

See it if You like shows that take place in Boston. You like stories about missed connections and romance/friendship later in life.

Don't see it if You do not like when actors play several characters at once (there are two main actors & then two who play all the other parts).

Cast & Creatives (11)