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Life According to Saki

Members say: Clever, Entertaining, Delightful, Great acting, Funny
82
Critics
79
25 reviews
Members
83
71 reviews
 

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.
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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.

 


Reviews (96)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
79
Avg Score

70
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

55
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

65
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

85
TheaterScene.net

"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

80
BlogCritics.org

"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

95
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

90
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

85
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

85
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

80
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

85
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

85
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

85
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

60
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

80
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

80
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

90
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

90
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

80
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

90
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

90
FringeGuru Edinburgh

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

85
AllEdinburghtheatre.com

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

85
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

75
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

85
BroadwayWorld

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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
83
Avg Score

77
Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if SAKI

Don't see it if You don't have any interest in quirky

90
Clever, Delightful, Intelligent, Great writing, Entertaining

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.

85
Funny, Delightful, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

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

78
Funny, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you'd enjoy the short macabre stories of Saki (think Roald Dahl's adult fiction) brought to life inventively by a talented, attractive cast

Don't see it if you expect a single story w a beginning, middle, and end. A disjointed experience without a clear direction, though entertainingly performed

80
Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Enchanting, Entertaining

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.

78
Beautifully staged, Not enough saki, Englishmen with perfect teeth & complexions, Well scrubbed talented young actors, Needs more humor

See it if short stories translated to the stage, well scrubbed young talent, Edinborough Fringe transfers, SAKI, or puppetry are your thing

Don't see it if WWI memorabilia, British authors, trench warfare, WARHORSE, are not your thing

80
Funny, Quirky, Refreshing, Entertaining

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

75
Ambitious, Enchanting, Great acting, Intelligent, Slow

See it if You appreciate final ensemble acting. Can suspend disbelief and embrace fun fictional tales retold.

Don't see it if You need linearity. Need a comfy seat in a comfy theatre -- neither available here.

Also The theatre is not accessible (many stairs required) and the audience ... Read more Read less

70
Sad, Enchanting, Fluffy, Touching, Imaginative

See it if Staged version of several of Saki's short stories. Sad because his lively imagination was snuffed out by the war.

Don't see it if I didn't find the stories compelling. They're cute. The small theater was hot and stuffy. I became sleepy.

81
Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Great writing, Great staging

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.

70
Creative, Clever, Well acted

See it if You like historical stories told through a creative lens. The actors do a great job at playing various characters throughout the play.

Don't see it if You dislike smaller productions or actors playing multiple roles.

80
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.

80
Clever, Intelligent, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if you like good acting, clever staging but do not require any depth to the piece.

Don't see it if You want a true feel for the pungency HH Munro.

Also I enjoyed it but it was quite fluffy, I took my time writing a review ... Read more Read less

60
Great acting, Disappointing, Slow

See it if you want to see 6 of this British writers short stories played out in about 70 minutes. They were neither poignant nor funny. disappointing.

Don't see it if you are looking for good storytelling with a purpose. Very disjointed. The actors did a good job though.

86
Clever, Edgy, Inventive, Resonant, Great cast

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

80
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Great writing, Whimsical

See it if Delightful show. Touching and creative. Fable-like. Creative staging and really talented cast. Great whimsical entertainment.

Don't see it if small production. Not lavish. You don't care for separate stories framed by an overall theme. You prefer high drama.

85
Absorbing, Delightful, Great acting, Entertaining, 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.

93
Clever, Delightful, 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.

80
Delightful, Exquisite, Refreshing, Charming, Entertaining

See it if You want to be transported into the charming world of Saki's witty short stories

Don't see it if You might be confused by a show that constantly jumps from real facts ( World War I ) to smart and mischievous short stories and back.

84
Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Intelligent, Hilarious

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.

86
Ambitious, Delightful, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

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

60
Delightful, Slow, Great staging

See it if You like like imaginative storytelling which cleverly utilises puppetry, imagery and ensemble based performance.

Don't see it if You are disengaged by stories that break the conventional play construction methods (beginning middle end)

Also My biggest fault in the play was the script. I enjoyed the idea - a wr... Read more Read less

84
Ambitious, Great acting, Quirky, Entertaining, Great staging

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

80
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

78
Funny, Ambitious, Quirky

See it if you appreciate short stories, inventive staging, and talented performers.

Don't see it if you're looking for something truly moving and profound. While there are some genuinely funny moments, not every choice is effective.

Also If you're a big fan of Saki's stories, this may not be the show for yo... Read more Read less