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New York | 1h 20m | Already closed

Orange Julius

From 14 critic and 30 member reviews
Members say: Confusing, Great acting, Ambitious, Absorbing, Intelligent

About the show

Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and Page 73 Productions present the NY premiere of this drama about the relationship between a transgender child and their dying Vietnam vet father. More…

Nut grew up the youngest child of Vietnam vet Julius in '80s/'90s working-class America. As Julius suffers the toxic effects of Agent Orange, Nut worries their time together may run out before they can embrace something essential about their relationship. Paging through forgotten photo albums and acting out old war movies about brothers-in-arms, Nut leaps through time and memory, tracing the complex intimacy between father and child when the child is transgender, fighting for mutual recognition before it’s too late.

1h 20m | Already closed | Rattlestick Theatre (West Village)

Time Out New York

"Kreimendahl's excellent new play...An out-of-order scattering of memories from one trans boy's life…Kreimendahl is the god in these details, creating a portrait of real family dynamics far more ‘realistic’ than those in a dozen well-made plays…Wills directs with an uncommonly intimate grip; the cast is superb, and the execution is confident and effortless. If these are Kreimendahl's own memories, it’s a blessing that such fragile things are being treated so tenderly." Full Review

The Huffington Post

“Through the fine acting and energy of the cast (particularly Barbagallo) and the intensely personal dialogue, ‘Orange Julius’ really makes an impact with is evocation of nostalgia, fear, longing, and other youth-specific emotions. It seems so personal, in fact, that we wonder just how much of the play is auto-biographical…The heart of ‘Orange Julius’ is the universal human desire to connect. It’s that same heart that will have its strings tugged at the play’s emotional conclusion." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"A quietly powerful piece that gets under your skin...The entire cast gives solid support to Mr. Barbagallo, who takes over the stage and makes us pay attention to detail. It is a powerful performance. Director Dustin Wills keeps our attention and Kreimendahl’s writing is strong with a much needed hint of wit. I do wish we knew more about Nut's substance-abuse issue...I also wanted to know more about a brother, who is spoken of in passing as if he is a footnote." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"The play defies space and time to tell the complex story of the narrator’s relationship with their estranged father...Jess Barbagallo delivers a deeply moving performance...Barbagallo moves between ages, spaces, and the realms of fantasy with the skills of a shape-shifting doppelgänger. Payne is equally adept at shifting from the young soldier to the aging father...'Orange Julius' is a rich cathartic look at the journey of one searching not only for identity, but authentic acceptance and love." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"’Orange Julius’ offers a keen insight into the complications a veteran’s psyche and illnesses throw into an already complicated household…The play enjoys extra dimension courtesy of Barbagallo, who demonstrates palpable angst as Nut, a likable, bewildered kid who tries to make the best of a bad situation...What we see here is a family ruined by a war that should never have taken place." Full Review


"Barbagallo is an affable and engaging narrator, which is a good thing because much of the story is delivered through direct address to the audience. Unfortunately, some passages get the balance between show and tell wrong...Luckily, this flaw in the script is mostly assuaged by Wills' illuminating and efficient staging...Despite the playwright's inability to fully embrace the form of playwriting, Kreimendahl delivers a sensitive and moving portrait of Julius and his family." Full Review


"The production is impeccably cast...Under Dustin Wills' direction, the cast keeps the action moving at high velocity...An amalgam of accomplished writing, effective design, and sensitive performances...At least to a degree, the play fails to stir an emotional response to match its considerable psychological insight or to achieve a sense of catharsis...If this fine cast can't break hearts with Kreimendahl's material, no one can." Full Review

The New York Times

"Directed with ambition and uncertainty by Dustin Wills, it’s a muddled play that tries to tell too much...Nut is — like the playwright, and like the terrific Mr. Barbagallo — transgender. That is not the play’s central topic, but it is inextricable nonetheless as the action shifts between past and present...'Orange Julius' is interesting principally for its perspective, though Mr. Barbagallo and Mr. Payne are lovely together, and Mary Testa gives an appealingly down-to-earth performance." Full Review

Village Voice

"Kreimendahl's drama is a sympathetic, eloquent (and, at times, repetitive) effort…There's a lot to like about ‘Orange Julius:’ its articulate, forthright personal narrative; its attention to veterans' experience…Still, Kreimendahl's play would benefit from a ruthless edit: As Nut's story continues, scenes and themes begin to echo, then repeat—making the viewer long, by the end, for some shift in the drama's structure—and fewer flashback scenes would make each journey to Vietnam more striking." Full Review

New York Theatre Review

“Moving and often heartbreaking…As Nut, Jess Barbagallo is extremely winning…It’s the Vietnam scenes where the show and the script get a bit unfocused...These scenes, while artfully executed, eventually felt a bit repetitive and lacked the emotional weight of the family drama…While elements of this production don’t always fully cohere, Kreimendahl has created a vital, important work that finds quietly revolutionary ways to smash expectations to explore gender in the theatre." Full Review


"On the one hand, it is a punch in the gut dramatizing the cold hard facts of disintegrating with this disease; on the other, the non-linear time scheme is difficult to follow, offering more questions than it answers. What 'Orange Julius' really is could be described more accurately as a screenplay or a teleplay with cuts and fades. There is a powerful work hiding in this material but it still remains unshaped." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"It’s as a memory play that 'Orange Julius' falters...Barbagallo beautifully captures the mixture of guardedness and openness that Nut strikes with everything he says. Still, the memory monologues sometimes have an air of packaged anecdote rather than emotional journey, feeling repetitive rather than revelatory. Director Dustin Wills seems to be pushing toward a clear stylistic distinction between the three realms that may not be serving the unity of the play." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"'Orange Julius' is supposed to be a play, and what Kreimendahl has supplied is a lengthy narrative occasionally punctuated by little illustrative episodes. Between moments of real insight, the script wanders -- badly...Wills' direction keeps the play moving fluidly, striking a tone in which love, loss, amusement, and exasperation combine to plausible and sometimes moving effect. Even if 'Orange Julius' never finds its dramatic source, it never feels less than truthful." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"Earnest, well-meaning, and politically correct but none of these ingredients is sufficient—at least in Dustin Wills's decently acted and well-staged but often lethargic, hour-and-a-half production...—to strongly recommend it...The play's loose, sometimes dreamlike structure only serves to intensify its dramatic monotony. There are numerous incidents but...there's little enough tension or conflict to hold one's attention or to make one wonder about what's coming next." Full Review

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Resonant, Great writing

See it if Truthful, elegant, moving. A tender & devastating family portrait, a funny and vulnerable father/son story. Superb cast, production.

Don't see it if it meanders and digresses a bit-- go with it. It builds gentle but inexorable momentum.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Intense, Confusing, Slow

See it if you have any connection with a veteran and or a difficult relationship with a male figure in your life

Don't see it if you want a perfect happy ending where everything is pretty and neat

Great acting, Intense, Personal, Provocative, Earnest

See it if you want to see a drama that explores the effect of the Vietnam war on the soldiers and their families, or enjoy coming-of-age stories

Don't see it if Despite the title, "Orange Julius" is a drama with some heavy and challenging themes. It has some humor, but it's not a sugary, frothy play.

Also The main character of the play is Nut, a young transman growing up in ... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant, Indulgent

See it if you'd enjoy a well-performed family drama in which the main character addresses the audience throughout.

Don't see it if a non-linear story will irritate you. The narrator jumps back-and-forth between different memories for the entirety of the play.

Ambitious, Profound, Confusing, Great staging, Needs reworking

See it if Interested in the Vietnam War, psy. trauma, agent orange & the damage to vets & their families with notes on parent/child relationships

Don't see it if You dislike plays related to war. Not in the mood for a serious play of mental & physical breakdown or transgender child & his father.

Also This is an ambitious play to showcase the horrific effects of the Viet... Read more Read less

Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Profound, Resonant

See it if like non-linear, reflective family dramas; really well written and acted, but it is disturbing and uncomfortable

Don't see it if don't like to be challenged, need linear storytelling

Great acting, Quirky, Confusing, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you enjoy a family drama peppered with Agent Orange. It is engrossing but seemingly without direction.

Don't see it if you need a linear story with clarity.

Thoughtful, Challenging, Poetic

See it if You can put aside the desire for a well made play, and can deal with an episodic, almost random structure. Let it work in its own fashion.

Don't see it if You want a beginning and an end with a logical story in between. You don't mind passing on a strong performance by a beloved downtown player

Boring, Intense, Quirky, Confusing, Excruciating

See it if You want to see a play narrated by a transgendered character.

Don't see it if You want to be able to follow what's going on.

Great acting, Confusing, Slow, Interesting

See it if you are excited to see a show about a trans character that is not a coming out story.

Don't see it if you aren't interested in the Vietnam War (honestly, the scenes with war flashbacks were very confusing); you don't like nonlinear timelines.

Great acting

See it if you like small intimate stories about family in war time and loud noises.

Don't see it if you are sensitive to fog. Or have a hard time following non linear stories.

Indulgent, Banal, Confusing, Slow

See it if you enjoy memory places that go back and forth in time and location at a confusing pace & has characters undeveloped & uninteresting.

Don't see it if you don't like 90 minute memory plays about the effects of the Viet-Nam war and its effects on the veteran's future and family.

Thought-provoking, Confusing, Half-baked

See it if You like to see up-and-coming playwrights before they hit the mainstream.

Don't see it if You have a low tolerance for non-narrative theater and are a big fan of plot.

Ambitious, Clever, Thought-provoking, Confusing, Innovative

See it if you love an amazing set that is highly functional. The acting was also great. You will enjoy the mix of comedy and sincerity.

Don't see it if you are looking for a story that is always easy to follow.

Unengaging, Unfocused, Incomprehensible, Rare misstep for rattlestick

See it if you can tolerate a bad script to see some solid acting. Garage door is well used. Some impressive special effects.

Don't see it if you have no patience for an unintelligible mess. What was this play about? Hot topics w/o insight. Vietnam portions were especially cryptic

Great acting, Disappointing, Just didn't click

See it if I love most shows at the RS. This was a rare miss. When I read what it was about I was very excited. This is my kind of show but it just

Don't see it if never moved me. The acting however was great. Everyone was perfectly cast.

Banal, Confusing, Disappointing

See it if you must see a show about subject of being transgender.

Don't see it if you do not want to be confused because there are too many topics and characters just running on and off stage. Just a big mess.

Boring, Confusing

See it if You want to support emerging writers, a few good actors and a great venue/program (page73 is great)

Don't see it if You want to be entertained or inspired. The time shifts(?) and transgender themes were not cleverly or clearly presented.

Also The storytelling method of having the protagonist narrate everything t... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Non-linear

See it if you enjoy a nuanced, engaging story - plus some marvelous performances - with an inventive structure.

Don't see it if you can't handle non-linear plays.

Funny, Quirky, Romantic, Confusing, Entertaining

See it if You enjoy thinking about what you're watching and how things connect.

Don't see it if The ideas of a confusing strange romance and death pain you.

Ambitious, Disappointing, Slow

See it if You enjoy 1st person narratives where the central character explains the entire story as it unfolds. good play for a trans perspective

Don't see it if You aren't into memory plays or a non linear story. after a while I got tired of listening. Lots of entrances and exits.

Also What I liked is that it was a play that featured a trans main characte... Read more Read less

Dizzying, Great acting, Indulgent, Disappointing

See it if You like one person plays where the central character is surrounded by other characters swirling around them.

Don't see it if You want a story you can sink your teeth into instead of just trying to track all the things going on.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Intelligent, Masterful, Must see

See it if you like complex, intelligent, and bold new work. The play is structured in a non-linear way, moving fluidly through time. Masterful work.

Don't see it if you're too blinded by a need for linear realism to be comfortable in any other theatrical environment.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You care about the future of this art form. Theatre needs plays like OJ. It is compelling and daring from start to finish.

Don't see it if Your tastes are more commercially oriented, or if you demand that theatre simply be entertaining and unchallenging

Also This is an excellent example of what downtown/non-commercial theatre h... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you want to see excellent storytelling that combines war with family dynamics in a unique and breathtaking way.

Don't see it if you don't like non-linear or experimental theatrical experiences or stories about war.

Cast & Creatives (13)