ONCE UPON A (korean) TIME NYC Reviews and Tickets

(32 Ratings)
Members say
Great staging, Absorbing, Ambitious, Confusing, Clever

A meditation on the Korean American experience through the lens of traditional fables.

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Show-Score Member Reviews (32)

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350 Reviews | 163 Followers
Relevant, Great projections, Great writing, Haunting, Beautiful

See it if you are interested in learning about different cultures. This beautiful piece explores Korean history in addition to its fairy tales

Don't see it if some of the material is difficult & uncomfortable, so not for anyone unwilling to sit with that. But I enjoyed learning about a new culture.

90 Reviews | 9 Followers
Heavy, Entertaining, Ambitious, Clever, Absorbing

See it if Want to learn about key events in Korean/Korean-American history through the lens of traditional Korean folktales; great acting

Don't see it if Don't want to engage with wide variety of heavy subject matter, or see trauma depicted onstage Read more

531 Reviews | 63 Followers
Intelligent, Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging

See it if to learn about Korean history told with a mashup of Korean folk tales. Staged very well. Entertaining and heartbreaking at the same time

Don't see it if want fluff or shows laid out in a very linear fashion.

511 Reviews | 131 Followers
Korean story-telling on an epic scale

See it if Excellent staging uses Korean folk tales to illustrate how we got into the LA uprising, the Korean War and other inexplicable events.

Don't see it if The best of contemporary theater using traditional story-telling. Skilled acting and riveting visuals. A unique theatrical experience.

55 Reviews | 4 Followers
Enchanting, Delightful, Clever

See it if You enjoy learning about fairytales. Fantasy mixed with a queer history across generations. Great set and lighting.

Don't see it if You causally use racial slurs at Thanksgiving when hanging with your MAGA buds.

331 Reviews | 72 Followers
Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great staging, Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if Pena's innovating staging, an engaging ensemble & Isaac's unique dramaturgy combine to create a gripping, historically epic Korean panorama

Don't see it if As appealing as the Korean folk tales are, they are sometimes not as interesting as the historical circumstances they are in relation to

398 Reviews | 119 Followers
Quirky, Great staging, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if You are interested in Korean folk tales interspersed with significant events in the history of Korea.

Don't see it if You don’t have the patience to see it all come together in the end. A bit too much “modern” speech when it’s not necessary.

1015 Reviews | 302 Followers
Great staging, Clever, Entertaining, Intense, Quirky

See it if you like to expand your horizons with new theatre - here a dive into Korean culture with mostly good acting & great projections & costumes.

Don't see it if you want to hear it all-some soft voices and background sounds that interfere. Read more

Critic Reviews (10)

The New York Times
August 31st, 2022

"The shifts between time periods, and between realism and fairy tale, are not always fluid...'Once Upon a (korean) Time' doesn’t quite fulfill its promise, but it suggests that Isaac has more stories to tell."
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New Yorker
September 2nd, 2022

"The play works the same way, moving us swiftly across images that catch at us, and lodge, and recur, even after the play is over."
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August 31st, 2022

"There is no 'happily ever after' in this presentation of Korean fairy tales, just 'and they lived.' Sometimes, survival is the best you can hope for when so many don't even get that much."
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Lighting & Sound America
September 2nd, 2022

[This] inventive chronicle play weaves historical traumas and folk tales into a seamless braid that, over the course of a century, extends halfway around the world. Just as the musical Into the Woods treats classic fairy tales as expressions of primal feelings about (among other things) family, romantic love, and the passage of time, Isaac's gritty, often violent, multigenerational drama shows how, for his characters, Korean myths are a form of spiritual sustenance, a thread of continuity that makes sense of their troubled, turbulent lives. To showcase these stories, he has created an intricate, compulsively gripping narrative of his own.
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Talkin' Broadway
August 31st, 2022

"The play concludes on a distinctly upbeat note that leaves us with a great appreciation for those who survived and for those who were lost along the way."
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New York Stage Review
August 31st, 2022

"'Once Upon a (korean) Time' is spectacular, and much of its mesmerizing spectacle is due to the production’s many contributors."
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August 31st, 2022

Commissioned by the Ma-Yi Theater Company, Daniel K. Isaac’s brilliant ONCE UPON A (korean) TIME was born out of the actor-playwright’s realization that he knew way more about Shakespeare and the Western canon than his own rich Korean culture of folk tales and origin myths. He has fashioned, over the course of five scenes, beautifully layered storytelling in situations clouded by utter despair, without sacrificing great brushstrokes of humor.
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Exeunt Magazine
August 31st, 2022

"To say it’s an ambitious piece is an understatement, yet, because of the mostly smooth execution is feels quite natural for the stage. ... But sometimes the play crumbles a bit under the ambition and it is a little murky as to exactly what is happening."
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