New York | 1h 15m | Already closed

Life According to Saki

From 25 critic and 71 member reviews
Members say: Clever, Entertaining, Delightful, Great acting, Funny

About the show

Inspired by the life of early-20th-century British satirist Hector Hugh Munro, this debut play from children's author Katherine Rundell makes its US premiere after winning the Top Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. More…

1916. In the trenches of the Battle of the Somme, a soldier tells stories. That soldier is Munro, under the pen name Saki. Beginning with early misrule and school-age rebellion, his tales move on to the complexities of adulthood: obsessions and games, charm and chaos, friendship and jealousy, and, finally, death. Munro was over the age of conscription when WWI broke out in 1914, but volunteered to fight. He was killed by a sniper two years later. His witty, absurd, and strangely optimistic stories are brought to life by an ensemble cast and the occasional puppet.

1h 15m | Already closed | 4th Street Theatre (East Village)

NY Theatre Guide

"A breath of fresh British air that has infiltrated the East Village and charmed the pants off us all...It’s unique and elevating and dark and dangerous and delicious...Katherine Rundell has written a play that operates on many intriguing levels...Director Jessica Lazar has created a physical language for the piece to match the layered text...A must-have, shaker baby, snow globe that you just want to climb inside." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"These tales are performed with precision and impeccable comedic expression by a troupe of six very hardworking actors...It is a marvelous piece of work told marvelously...It’s also delightfully silly. Silliness is really key here. What makes these stories so memorable is the full-on, high-energy delivery and the way these talented actors throw themselves headfirst into the tall tales...They are a beautiful and talented group of performers." Full Review


"While 'Life According to Saki' is laden with too many riches for one evening, it is a very diverting show with its eccentric and unconventional stories which retain their relevance after all these years. Saki's off-beat humor still seems extremely modern." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Playwright Katherine Rundell has a deft touch for coalescing the stories of Saki with the life of Saki...Rundell is aided by the brilliant director Lazar, whose guidance has helped to create a seamlessly connected ensemble with choreographer Addison. Evoking aspects of children’s theater, the cast effortlessly embodies different characters by switching use of a wardrobe piece or prop...Those that love independent theater will be regretful indeed to miss out on this fine production." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"The production’s success sits squarely on the backs of the hard-working performers, who transfer between roles with ease and keep the production consistently delightful to watch...Make no mistake–this is an entertaining show, with constant humor and a lightheartedness that puts a cheery face on horrifying events...If we must be exposed to the darkness in the world–and we must–'Life According to Saki' reminds us to find the light." Full Review

Manhattan With a Twist

"The clever pace at which this production moves makes the evening an entertaining one...The ensemble of 'Saki' tackled each story with courage, using their bodies to transform the environment and give us a sense of the world around them...While not every tale worked as well as others, the ones that worked made us easily forget those that didn’t...Jessica Lazar’s direction reassured us that this show is not to be missed." Full Review

Theater In The Now

"A pleasurable evening of wit, storytelling, and truth...It was very well directed and choreographed. The actors seemed extremely comfortable with the movements and each other, therefore they mastered them. There was not a detail overlooked...The entire company works together and does this piece justice. Women definitely led this play down the right path though; from the female writer to the director to the female company members that stole the show...'Saki' is highly recommended." Full Review

New York Theatre Wire

"Macabre and whimsical, dark and comic at the same time, a clever satiric pen pointed at self-absorbed aristocrats of the early 1900s, Katherine Rundell’s 'Life According to Saki' is a delicious evening of theater...The production’s cast, with an appealing David Paisly as Saki, are a perfect ensemble where the actors move as if they are choreographed...The production features a bit of vaudeville, a lot of the shaggy dog mixed with ghost story, the fanciful alongside the absurd." Full Review


"Directed with energetic precision by Jessica Lazar...The talented members of the Atticist troupe (this is its impressive debut production) artfully operate furry and feathered puppets...When not puppeteering, the actors easily take on and cast off gender-swapping roles as they dart from story to story...The whole thing is so very English in both content and style that it may not be every American’s cup of Darjeeling. But this American enjoyed it quite a lot." Full Review

Plays to See

"Charming and endlessly inventive staging...A nimble cast of six manipulate themselves and a small assortment of props to suggest myriad animals, starchy English characters, and settings...The ensemble transforms kaleidoscopically again and again as do each of the players...All this gleeful stagecraft is really what stays with you, more than any particular story...Playwright Rundell might have given us an early brush with mortality so we feel what’s at stake." Full Review

New Republic

"With only the most minor of costume changes and using minimal props, the cast dart in and out of identities and worlds fluidly and with total conviction...The only irritating aspect of this production is innate to its subject matter, and may not affect American viewers. Nostalgia for the British past has got a little gross in recent years...But some details have been updated for our time...This play is an experiment, but it has succeeded." Full Review

The New York Times

"It’s perfectly enjoyable as a whimsy-splashed showcase for fresh-faced talent. But the distinctive perversity of the author it riffs upon ultimately eludes the talented creators...Under the direction of Jessica Lazar, the rendering of his stories...brings out their most accessibly theatrical elements...Ms. Rundell has made a few adjustments...Saki’s figures of speech are occasionally tweaked for contemporary ears, not necessarily for the better." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"It's the show's overall inventiveness rather than its contents that make a visit most worth one's while...'Life According to Saki,' which runs only little more than an hour, is best appreciated as a brief introduction to Saki's writings. Still, the stories seem now only of passing interest, they're far from hilarious, and they possess little dramatic weight; in short, there simply isn't enough here worthy of rediscovery." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"There’s plenty to admire: imaginative directing, spirited acting, a mesmerizing Bunraku puppet, an anachronistic dig at our new president and moments of wit and pathos...'Saki' is an evening of moments, unable to sustain itself...'Saki' simply overestimates both the framing device and the power these short stories have when translated to the stage...The stories about life back home in England are meant to contrast with the life in the trenches but that is never fully developed." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"The stories resist being dramatized. Many of them are remarkably brief...Under the direction of Jessica Lazar, the company is adept at popping in and out of various characters. There are a few felicitous staging moments...But in general, 'Life According to Saki' works its framing device rather too relentlessly...You may find yourself leaving the theatre further strengthened in the conviction that Saki's humor is best enjoyed on the page." Full Review

Plays to See

for a previous production "Jessica Lazar’s production is visually rich...It’s all beautifully executed: simple visual touches bringing the stories to life, and an ensemble of six who make a verbally complex text accessible and engaging…It’s great that Atticist Productions have drawn attention to these neglected texts – Saki’s stories maybe even compete with Anton Chekhov’s for their imaginative brilliance and astute character observation. And this production does them a great service. Brilliant stuff." Full Review

Broadway Baby

for a previous production "Whether you’ve never heard of Saki before or consider yourself a die-hard fan, this production is sure to please…The script provided by Katherine Rundell is a solid piece of writing, and although Saki’s work does most of the heavy lifting, the show is peppered with plenty of gags and bon mots. It must have been a task adapting the stories for the stage but they are all pitched perfectly…The cast are exceptional at inhabiting the myriad of characters they play." Full Review

The List

for a previous production “Deftly blending joyful surrealism with existential pause, ‘Life According to Saki’ is a sunny yet poignant celebration of a man who made a fine art of taking the light seriously and the serious lightly. On top of a sharp script, pacy narrative and a slew of impressively dynamic performances, the production gives the feeling that Hector Hugh Munro, on top of being a keen social commentator, a brave soldier, and a dab hand with a pen, was an all-round lovely chap.” Full Review


for a previous production "The variety in his writing offers many opportunities for creative theatre…Many parts had me laughing at the eccentric personalities portrayed, and I was impressed at how versatile the actors were…’Saki’ was a show I didn’t want to end–a true delight to watch. There was a story for everyone, and the show as a whole stands as a creative and entertaining adaption in memory of a great writer. With a fantastic cast and charming use of puppetry, it’s one I would happily watch again.” Full Review


for a previous production "Wonderfully staged, hugely appealing...An impressive ensemble play out the adaptations...This is framed by David Paisley’s wonderfully gracious portrait of Monro…The script weaves Saki’s stories into an exploration of his life that is hugely fanciful yet always rooted in reality, and extremely funny...Jessica Lazar’s direction is constantly inventive. The whole production is an object lesson in how to combine text, theatrical technique and the talents of the cast." Full Review


for a previous production "The well-disciplined ensemble conjure up each short story in turn, playing mischievous bachelors, domineering great-aunts and even the occasional cheetah with great aplomb. There are plenty of laughs throughout, as Saki's stories are splendidly witty…All of this is imaginatively staged with a simple but effective set…This highly entertaining production will serve as an excellent introduction to the master of the short story form." Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

for a previous production "Rundell’s subtle, thoughtful adaptation strips away the Edwardiana, retaining all Saki’s dark wit while revealing the humanity that underpins it. Combining first-rate puppetry, masked theatre and slick ensemble choreography, Jessica Lazar’s eclectic direction is alive with energy (though the occasional projections felt like unneeded garnish). Funny, poignant and elegantly crafted, this is the perfect tribute for the centenary of Munro’s death." Full Review

British Theatre Guide

for a previous production "Katherine Rundell has combined a modicum of biography with dramatizations of a selection of the stories, proving that Saki really was special…The stories that they animate are generally humorous but with a sharp edge, often directed at harsh aunts or dolts…Atticist presents a show several levels above the average Edinburgh fare and, whether as a reminder of the pleasures of Saki or an introduction, this is an 80-minute show to savor." Full Review

Grumpy Gay Critic

for a previous production "Rundell has managed to capture the whimsical essence of Saki’s stories and wildly juxtapose them against the horrors of WWI. But what’s more is that Rundell builds in little and deeply empathetic snippets about the life of the man himself...In trying to include all the best bits, it ends up being a bit too long and pacing drags a little towards the end...Life has never been so knowing and whimsical in the tentacles of 'Life According to Saki’s' tales: effortless charm by the gilded spoonful." Full Review

Three Weeks Edinburgh

for a previous production "This ambitious adaptation is brought to life by a strong cast...The stories displaying Saki’s piercing satirical wit are the most successful adaptations. Later, more serious stories are less assured, and a production crammed so full of ideas and devices (puppetry, dance, masks and more) might have benefited from excising them for a leaner run time. As it stands, the show runs a little long, but otherwise it’s a solid adaptation, bolstered to intermittent excellence by its performers." Full Review

Ambitious, Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Intelligent

See it if You enjoy Saki's stories.

Don't see it if You need elaborate sets and costumes.

Entertaining, Imaginative, Great acting, Great writing, Clever

See it if One has an affinity for short stories. The tales are framed within a moment when stories are less likely to be told. Fairy tales & mortars.

Don't see it if Off-kilter war stories are uninteresting to you.

Absorbing, Epic, Great staging

See it if if you like thoughtful, clever staging and excellent acting with a very clever staging. Also, I hope the show stimulates an operetta.

Don't see it if if you do not like to see shows on a higher intellectual level. Also the venue was not well ventilated and had many steps.

Delightful, Clever, Intelligent, Quirky, Great writing

See it if You like your plays with equal measures of humor, satire & inspiration. You like clever interpretations of classic writing.

Don't see it if You don't like social satire. You prefer more traditional interpretations of classic writing. You dislike puppetry & video projection.

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if you're tired of dysfunctional families and the f-bomb in plays; this is charming story telling with some puppetry wrapped in a clever settin

Don't see it if you enjoy high drama; angst filled situations; over blown sets. This show has none of that - just wit and charm.

Ambitious, Clever, Great staging, Refreshing, Seamless acting teamwork

See it if You want to see Hector Hugh Munro's short stories visualize in vignette form within the frame of WWI trenches cleverly narrated & staged.

Don't see it if No interest in literature by Saki & WWI setting. Dislike unlinked stories within a story that is heavy in Children's Theater format.

Also This is a refreshing British imported play cleverly scripted & directe... Read more Read less

Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Funny, Quirky

See it if you would enjoy a small-scale ensemble piece with more imagination than glitz, versatile performers and an amusing episodic structure.

Don't see it if you are looking for a linear plot, or if you are not entertained by edwardian-style quirky british humour.

Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if In a WW1 trench HH Munro/Saki's Edwardian short stories are brought to life by a gifted, creative, young, British cast.

Don't see it if want a big budget production in a big budget setting telling one story; don't enjoy puppetry even in moderation and when well done

Also The ensemble seamlessly glides from character to character & story to ... Read more Read less

Clever, Inventive, Great cast, Edgy, Resonant

See it if You'd like an evening of quick-paced purely theatrical storytelling that attempts the difficult double duty of quirky Saki stories plus bio.

Don't see it if Dry British wit of a certain era's not your thing, or you need an absolutely linear plot or you're not open to the imagination of your youth

Also Yet one more terrific production to come out of the Edinburgh Festival... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy humor mixed with the pathos of impending doom partnered with great acting and imaginative staging

Don't see it if You prefer traditional staging or prefer your comedy to be without any seriousness or doom

Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if you like the writer Saki/Hector Hugo Munro, you like puppetry, & charming short shows.

Don't see it if you don't like British humor

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Delightful, Enchanting

See it if You like something new and fresh.

Don't see it if You only like big, Broadway shows.

Clever, Enchanting, Entertaining

See it if like watching a very talented group of young actors doing interchangeable parts and puppetry w/o missing a beat

Don't see it if not interested in the life of a upper-class clever, gay man who wrote stories and was shot and died in WWI

Also Actors act out 6 of Saki's stories while interweaving stories of his o... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging

See it if You want to delve into Life According to Saki. You want to see a well acted play by a great group of performers. You want to laugh.

Don't see it if You don't want to hear great stories. You don't like plays that have really interesting puppetry. You don't want to see a great performance.

Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Quirky

See it if You're open to unconventional theatre and want to experience excellent short stories on the stage.

Don't see it if You're wearing really warm clothing - the theatre is super hot. Also, if you only like musicals, don't bother.

Great staging, Ambitious, Quirky, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy unique stories enacted by a talented cast in an intimate setting.

Don't see it if you cannot appreciate an odd sense of humor or a macabre story such as "Esme".

Also This play was my first exposure to Hector Hugh Munro's unusual stories... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Hilarious, Intelligent

See it if You like comedy and WWI themes, you like English accent, and humorous while sober attitudes towards life.

Don't see it if You want a coherent story. This play is literally a collection of stories in the same social background that are not related to each other.

Great acting, Quirky

See it if You appreciate an ensemble peice from a very talented young group, and you can get planted in a distinctly British style.

Don't see it if You don't care for a WWI set show with vignettes that entertain but don't necessarily work together cohesively.

Clever, Quirky, Delightful, Entertaining, Funny

See it if You're interested in a witty, satirical production of Saki's short stories. It made me want to read his work.

Don't see it if Really no reason not to see it. You don't have to be familiar with Saki's work to enjoy it.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Relevant

See it if you read Saki stories in High School and wondered why you liked them so much or you wanted to see the top pick at the Edinburgh Fringe Fest.

Don't see it if small gem shows in small theaters in interesting neighborhoods are not your thing and you don't like Odd Fellows Ice Cream.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Quirky

See it if You enjoy small setting, out of the ordinary, great acting, really interesting but not always consistent, end stories were the best

Don't see it if You don't enjoy unusual or unpredictable

Absorbing, Clever, Enchanting, Entertaining, Funny

See it if You want to have a little fun! You enjoy ensemble casts playing multiple parts. This was funny and smart and a pleasant way to spend a night

Don't see it if You really wanted a look at Saki's life. This is more a story of HIS stories. You don't like vignette stories and want to see more of Saki.

Entertaining, Funny, Quirky, Refreshing

See it if you want to smile at a joyous production in which a talented cast wins you over with charm and British wit

Don't see it if you don't like small plays in intimate venues and are looking for more of a spectacle

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Funny

See it if you enjoy charismatically told, whimsical tales that play out like the visual representation of a child's witty near-nonsecal imagination.

Don't see it if you want stories that are not tales within a story, something that's not going to make you sad out of what originally seemed like joy.

Also An honestly beautifully told story. The way the characters were establ... Read more Read less

Delightful, Exquisite, Intelligent, Lively

See it if you're a fan of Saki, "story theater," and WWI. This is evocative, inventive work, economically presented.

Don't see it if you want traditional plays with one story and three-dimensional characters. It's a Fringe-style show, done exquisitely well.

Cast & Creatives (13)