Already closed | 1h 15m | Chelsea

Norma Jeane Baker of Troy

From 54 member  reviews
Members say: Confusing, Disappointing, Ambitious, Great acting, Excruciating

About the show

Renée Fleming ("Carousel") and Ben Whishaw  ("Skyfall," The Crucible") star in a dramatic work by Anne Carson exploring the lives and myths of Marilyn Monroe and Helen of Troy—iconic beauties who lived millennia apart. More…

"Norma Jeane Baker of Troy" is a partly spoken, partly sung performance piece by poet, essayist, and scholar Anne Carson, staged by Katie Mitchell in The Shed’s 500-seat Theater.

1h 15m | Already closed | The Shed / Griffin Theater (Chelsea)

Member Reviews (54)

MEMBERS SAY:

Confusing, Disappointing, Ambitious, Great acting, Excruciating
56
Avg Score

39
Excruciating, Insipid, Nonsensical, Pretentious, Indulgent

See it if no reason to go.

Don't see it if not even if you must see one of the actors.

Also this was a total mess. Flemming doesn't even speak in the first 30 min... Read more Read less

22
Pointless, Boring, Excruciating, Disappointing

See it if You want an excuse to check out Hudson Yards or The Shed.

Don't see it if You don't want to be bored. The first 30mins of this show is literally a man dictating a script to a woman who is typing. Seriously? lol

Also The lighting is so dark that you can barely make out the faces of the ... Read more Read less

60
Oddly engrossing, Ambitious, Pretentious, Confounding, Original

See it if u want to see 2 riveting performers sing/speak/recite their way thru a mannered, artsy, sluggish avant-garde experiment in a new arts space.

Don't see it if ur a Whishaw or Fleming fan & expect an easily accessible piece of theatre. [This is strictly for fans of Carson or nonconformist theatre.]

Also The obvious draw of this piece is the star power of Fleming & Whishaw ... Read more Read less

65
Indulgent, Edgy, Confusing, Cliched, Ambitious

See it if As it hypotically moves in & out of clarity, seems to be less about Greek saga as about women's empowerment Whishaw & esp Fleming quite good

Don't see it if Writing is dense, opaque & willfully esoteric yet strangely compelling as an exotic soundscape Monroe/Helen figure conjures doomed soul

60
Confusing, Disappointing, Edgy, Indulgent, Great singing

See it if only if you are a devoted fan of either Renée Fleming or Ben Whishaw.

Don't see it if you have no patience for pretentious, confusing, underlit productions.

65
Indulgent, Slow, Disappointing, Confusing

See it if you're a fan of Renee Fleming or Ben Whishaw. The soundscape is interesting and the set is beautiful.

Don't see it if you want a play that will hold your attention. It is a poetic play and experimental, but that should not mean boring and indulgent.

80
Two superstars in a captivating duet

See it if Ben Whishaw dictates a screenplay about Helen of Troy to Renee Fleming who sings some of it. Ben's obsession with Marilyn gets in the way.

Don't see it if Unconventional theater that's not for everyone. But it's thrilling to watch Ben Whishaw become Marilyn right before your very eyes.

31
Boring, Slow, Excruciating, Great singing, Disappointing

See it if you are fans of both terrific performers and don't care what they are doing.This is dull, overwrought, over written and way too long.

Don't see it if you can avoid it.It really felt as if I had just wasted 90 minutes, plus travel time, plus time away from my dog, plus money for the ticket.

41
Stultifying, Indulgent, Excruciating, Disappointing, Confusing

See it if You love experimental poetry or performance art.

Don't see it if You want to hear Fleming’s operatic splendor or see Whishaw’s acting brilliance.

Also Conceptually interesting, but an incomprehensible mess in reality. Dar... Read more Read less

96
Riveting, Intelligent, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if Fleming and Whishaw are masterful. Complicated and absurd ... intelligently fun.

Don't see it if Not for everyone and that’s ok.

55
Indulgent, Excruciating, Dizzying, Great acting, Confusing

See it if What the ever loving fuck was that? Ben Whishaw and Renée Fleming were fully committed, so that's something.

Don't see it if This is not theatre. It is something approximating performance art. I guess.

58
Convoluted misconception of conflicting concepts

See it if Renee Fleming and Ben Whishaw are enough to keep your attention for 90 minutes; both performers are excellent despite the "play".

Don't see it if you are hoping for a lot of great music, acting or even context for either Greek women heroines or Marilyn Monroe.

92
Great singing, Great acting, Thrilling, Truly original, Absorbing

See it if You're willing to be taken on this journey led by two phenomenal performances by Whishaw and Fleming.

Don't see it if You're looking for something straightforward because this isn't at all.

Also There were MANY walkouts during the performance I attended which I fou... Read more Read less

49
Dull, Boring, Excruciating, Not that hard to follow, but, why bother?, Tragic waste of two talented performers

See it if you're eager to see New York's newest Broadway style theatrical venue or you really want to see Renee Fleming and Ben Whishaw in person.

Don't see it if you expect a coherent, thought-provoking play or if you don't want to spend 90 min feeling like 90 hr in a mostly impersonal, dark theater

60
Intense, Disappointing, Slow, Indulgent, Edgy

See it if both performers are terrific; Renee's voice is sublime. There are several excellent lines - but most of the text is deliberately obscure.

Don't see it if It's much too long; hard to hear the dialogue & hard to see. So edgy as to be alienating and there's little effort to communicate

Also with the audience- it's maddening. There is lovely, painful poetry bur... Read more Read less

71
Indulgent, Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if The two cast members Ben Whishaw and Renee Fleming are of interest to you in a very abstract play.

Don't see it if Strange subject matter about a young man obsessed with Helen of Troy and the recent death of Marilyn Monroe.

49
Quirky, Indulgent, Dizzying, Ambitious, Confusing

See it if You enjoy experimental theater, or want to see something that is strange and weird.

Don't see it if You need a clear plot, don’t enjoy plays that take a lot of chances.

71
Intriguing, Confusing, Great staging, Great singing, Great acting

See it if you enjoy out of the box theatre. It was confusing yet interesting. I didn’t quite get it, yet I found it entertaining.

Don't see it if you like traditional theatre or expect an obvious storyline.

79
Clever, Great acting, Great singing, Indulgent, Ambitious

See it if If you want to see the actors perform beautifully and are at least reasonably familiar with Greek myth and Marilyn’s life. Very abstract.

Don't see it if If you insist on a clear plot being spelled out for you, or you will spend too much time trying to figure out who their characters are.

Also This is still theatre, not really performance art. Performance art wou... Read more Read less

75
Turn on a damn light, Ben whishaw & renee fleming, Ambitious, Great singing, Great acting

See it if It’s more a poem than play and harkens back to that moment in Greek civilization when spoken poetry morphed into theatre. Great performances

Don't see it if This is a tough piece and is not for every taste, It looks like a a new for but is quite old. Just have patience and listen.

80
Great writing, Great acting, Enchanting, Absorbing

See it if If you like word puzzles and being forced to think.

Don't see it if This is definitely not for everyone. will have you scratching your head at times

Also This is NOT everyone's cup of tea but, for me, I found it mesmerizing ... Read more Read less

50
Excruciating, Quirky, Dizzying, Confusing

See it if You like mystifying 'off the wall' plays which has a confusing dialogue and libretto where ancient Greece is conflated with a sixties icon

Don't see it if You like a play with a defined plot, any sort of clarity of spoken or sung words or a clear point.

Also This is an exceedingly confusing and bewildering play with two charact... Read more Read less

50
Edgy, Confusing, Ambitious, Great acting

See it if Two great performances....but to what end? The premise was interesting but far too buried in incomprehensible narrative.

Don't see it if I can't recommend this one to anyone but an opera fan who wants to see Renee Fleming in an unusual role in a small space.

Also The Shed is a cool space, although you go through a maze to get to the... Read more Read less

39
Quirky, Excruciating, Disappointing

See it if If you want to see the new theater at the Shed

Don't see it if One of the worst plays I have ever seen. Felt sorry for the two actors cannot believe they inaugurated the new theater with this disappoint

85
Absorbing, Intelligent, Uneven, Great singing, Great acting

See it if you want to see the two great performers in an unusual performance piece

Don't see it if you are not well versed in Greek mythology or if you require a plot with a clear through-line


April 10th, 2019
""Less a play than a staged poem...Carson is not the most immediately accessible of writers. Nor is Ms. Mitchell one to lead her audiences by the hand...Sometimes Carson’s conjunctions of figures past and present can seem both too obvious and too obscure. The show’s surprisingly predictable conc...
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April 9th, 2019
"A piece that is luxurious and glossy, and that radiates intellect and pedigree...But ‘Norma Jeane' never manages to be more than...its superparts. It is stifling in its self-conscious gorgeousness...Although everyone involved is at the top of their games, ‘Norma Jeane Baker of Troy’ is not affec...
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April 10th, 2019
“’Norma Jeane Baker of Troy’ is an embarrassment...’Norma Jeane Baker of Troy’ is a bore, for Carson’s ‘verse’ is flat-footed, clunkily colloquial and very political...A humorless two-person ‘melologue’...Clark’s score is a monotonous wall-to-wall carpet of synthesized drones and sound effects......
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April 9th, 2019
“Despite Whishaw’s vocal and physical flexibility, the production eventually starts to feel like a pretentious, rambling bore. Followers of experimental theater may be able to make sense of the piece, however, and fans of Whishaw and Fleming may also find it somewhat interesting."
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