Already closed | 1h 15m | Chelsea

Norma Jeane Baker of Troy

From 55 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 (55)


Confusing, Disappointing, Ambitious, Great acting, Excruciating

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

Slow, Edgy, Confusing

See it if You are fans of Renee Fleming. You like a totally off the wall show. Very very very slow. But in the end I was moved.

Don't see it if You don’t want to experience a new theater and a new ( slow) piece. If you want big and flashy musical numbers. You are tired.

Confusing, Ambitious, Clever

See it if you like the two actors, Renee Fleming and Ben Wishaw who are terrific even if the production is the epitome of strange.

Don't see it if you like a linear narrative with unambiguous themes and language.

Resonant, Relevant, Great singing, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if Ben Whishaw incredible Fleming's voice amazing. NOT for everyone, Greek myth of Helen meets Hllywd myth of Marilyn. War, sexism, suicide

Don't see it if You need narrative and linear. This ain't it. It's more like one of Anne Carson's poems with music and fantastic actors/singers

Confusing, Ambitious, Great acting

See it if you want to experience something different and unique. it is a polarizing piece and won’t be for everyone. it is truly ben whishaw’s show

Don't see it if you want a cohesive storyline and enjoy more traditional theater

Great writing, Enchanting, Confusing, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if you love either of the actors, you like experimental theater of poetry

Don't see it if you want a linear plot or story. there is no story here really, it's just a poem adapted to the stage

Also Ben Whishaw and Renee Fleming do an incredible job with what they are ... Read more Read less

Mesmerizing, stylish, layered, intelligent

See it if You need to have a taste for Greek theatre, meta-theatrics, chamber opera, poetic language, and/or experimentation to appreciate this play.

Don't see it if The stylish, noirish atmosphere created by the talented set & lighting designers sets the tone for this work, in which the Euripides version

Also of Helen (the one where she's not even in Troy but off in Egypt) bumps... Read more Read less

Great acting, Dizzying, Absorbing

See it if you really like Ben and Renee and are alright with a somewhat confusing storyline

Don't see it if it is important to know exactly what is going on...

Great design, Disappointing, Slow

See it if You like opera and Katie Mitchell's work and don't care too much about plot or elaborate stagging.

Don't see it if You care about plot driven peices and get bored easily.

Quirky, Great acting, Ambitious, Clever, Enchanting

See it if You are a fan of Norma Jeane as well as a fan of mythology itself. It was a very enchanting and eccentric piece of theatre.(in the best way)

Don't see it if You aren't going in with an open mind and you aren't a fan of an opera/play hybrid & you aren't a fan of a more 'modern' take on theatre.

During previews
Weirdly hypnotic even when ambiguous, Polarizing work (not for everyone), Untraditional theatrical art, Poetic and haunting, Artistic

See it if poetic, imaginative, open-minded; a fan of divine Ben Whishaw, provocative Anne Carson; and/or operatic star Renée Fleming; a word-lover.

Don't see it if expecting a straightforward, clear, and traditional drama; you are uncomfortable watching events unravel without unambiguous consequences.

Also The Shed's world-premiere/first preview/inaugural show. In Norma Jeane... Read more Read less

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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