Members say: Great acting, Great staging, Absorbing, Intense, Ambitious

About the show

Denise Gough reprises her Olivier Award-winning role in the U.S. premiere of this drama, a raw, heartbreaking, and truthful performance about life spinning recklessly out of control.

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Emma (Gough) was having the time of her life. Now she’s in rehab. Her first step is to admit that she has a problem. But the problem isn’t with Emma—it’s with everything else. She needs to tell the truth. But she’s smart enough to know that there’s no such thing. When intoxication feels like the only way to survive the modern world, how can she ever sober up?

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

“A thrilling, devastating and, yes, deeply unreliable look at recovery...The staging gives the illusion that something dynamic and new is happening...But I kept waiting for something bigger than fine stagecraft — and even Gough’s ingenious performance — to kick in...However valuable and accurate 'People, Places' is as a portrait of the addict’s nightmare, the play really wants to weigh in on a more fundamental issue about addiction and responsibility. And on this note it seems to waffle." Full Review


“A superbly astute theater piece...Herrin's invigorating production is unlike anything we've ever seen in terms of sheer creativity...When it seems like Macmillan’s about to take a dramatically easy route, he doesn't hesitate to throw an 11th-hour wrench into the works...This play is written with a complex understanding of real life...Gough's full-on performance is almost hard to watch at times because of this starkly authentic physical and emotional nakedness.” Full Review


“A sensorially thrilling show...As a production and a performance, ‘People, Places & Things’ is a fireworks display. Narratively, though, the play follows a traditional pattern, one you can predict...The piece shows real sympathy for those in recovery, and Gough is giving an old-fashioned, barnstorming, operatic performance. If it doesn’t bother you that there’s something false at the story’s core, then, hell, lean back and let the experience take you away.” Full Review

Village Voice

“Herrin’s staging and the acting approach (by a strong ensemble) hews to a baseline of gritty naturalism. But the script is studded with brainy debates...Gough is so spontaneous and visceral, you nearly forget how hard she’s working — how many pivots and layers the role requires...A meticulously detailed portrait of a woman traumatized by a homogenized culture and parental neglect, who shovels mountains of drugs into the hole of her modern, excavated self." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Herrin and his team have all sorts of ways of signaling the depth Emma's distress...Macmillan's bluntly unsentimental handling of Emma's recovery is hair-raisingly evident...Throughout, Gough gives the kind of performance of which careers are made - hilariously awful when drunk, dazzlingly on the offensive when sober, and, finally, moving, as she learns to let down her guard, only to absorb psychological blows...The rest of the production is equally assured." Full Review

Theater Life

“The first 20 minutes display the most bracing collaboration of playwright, actors, director, and designers in recent memory...The remainder of this harrowing play’s two hours lives up to this devastating beginning...MacMillan leads us on Emma’s soul-churning journey to sobriety, realized with daring imagination by Herrin and his inspired team...The clear-eyed script is refreshingly cliche-free...Gough brilliantly portrays the whirling kaleidoscope of Emma’s psyche.” Full Review

New York Theater

“Gough’s is not the only extraordinary performance...All ten cast members do a spot-on job, and director Herrin puts them and the design team to great use, with some inventive moments of stagecraft that are downright thrilling...Some will see ‘People, Places’ with a running time of about two hours and a half hours, as overlong and repetitive. But I found it worth the wait for the penultimate scene...It was also one of the most moving scenes I’ve experienced this season.” Full Review

Broadway Blog

“Although leavened by dark humor and eye-popping visuals, this play-so pertinent during our present opioid crisis-can be heavy going…Gough…gives a physically and emotionally grueling performance that bravely avoids sentimentalizing the character; in fact, by the end of the long first act, you may find your patience for her unrelenting hissy fits…wearing thin…Sarah's drug-fueled episodes allow director Jeremy Herrin and movement specialist Polly Bennett to concoct dazzling theatrical moments.” Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"It's the human core of Gough's fearless performance that keeps you glued...While the group scenes can be somewhat repetitive and overwritten, the playwright strikes a considered balance between respect for the methods of recovery and skepticism about their limitations...Herrin's directorial flourishes, impressive and bracingly physical as they often are, do tend to pad the text, making it seem stretched at two hours and 20 minutes." Full Review

The Huffington Post

“Actress Emma (Denise Gough giving nothing less than a brilliant performance) falls apart from excessive drinking and drugging during a performance of 'The Seagull’...The scene during which she confronts her parents is perhaps MacMillan’s most effective—after a series of extremely effective play-long sequences directed by Jeremy Herrin...Macmillan lets no one off the hook in a work that makes a case for the undeniable benefits of rehabilitation.” Full Review

New York Daily News

“Although elements of Duncan Macmillan’s play feel all too familiar (toxic parents, inevitable capitulation), a vivid, no-holds-barred star turn and striking staging distinguish the London import...Gough, in her New York debut, gives an explosive, wildly emotional performance. She is matched by a visceral, pulsing production that worms its way the addict’s addled brain.” Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

“Denise Gough is getting it all perfectly right in the phenomenal ‘People, Places & Things.’ It’s a whirlwind performance...In no way is this production, directed by Jeremy Herrin, standard in the slightest. It flies high, above any expectations that could exist, and then excels beyond even that...Every word and moment has intense meaning in Emma’s life and great importance in the overall arc of this fascinating tale...Gough is transfixing, and to miss her in this would be a crime.” Full Review

The Wrap

“Denise Gough, the lead actor, isn’t just good. She’s great playing Emma, an actress-addict who just can’t stop imbibing every drug known to man…Emma is also wildly funny...Unfortunately, Macmillan saved nothing but platitudes for the therapist and all the other patients…Whenever the 12-step talk interrupts one of Emma’s fascinating tirades, director Jeremy Herrin invariably comes to the rescue.” Full Review

Broadway & Me

"The brilliant way in which this tale about a woman's struggles with alcoholism and addiction is told deserves all the accolades that the production has been getting...A demanding role that requires the actress playing Emma to be simultaneously funny and poignant...Gough totally delivers...I'm saving my loudest hurrahs for the totally imaginative staging by Jeremy Herrin that includes dance-club music and choreographed segments." Full Review


"Likely to be noticed primarily as Gough's New York debut...But Macmillan's Grand Guignol voyage through the demolished mind of an addict is far more than a vehicle for Gough's virtuosic performance...Macmillan's drama is a timely depiction of the physical, psychological, and social impact of addiction. It's hard to imagine the sundry crafts of theater being brought together more expertly to dramatize the peril and pain of life at the mercy of drugs." Full Review


“‘People, Places & Things’ employs all sorts of clever visual tricks to disorient the viewer...Macmillan follows a fairly rote arc, of breakdown, recovery, relapse, and tentative recovery; you've seen countless variations on this story before…Gough is indeed extraordinary...But you also never quite escape the feeling that she and the show's creators are working overtime to mask the banality at the play's core." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

“Macmillan’s play is a searing exploration of a still-taboo subject, brilliantly elucidated through its parallels with his own chosen art form...Emma comes roaring into chaotic, devastating life in the person of Denise Gough...The rumors are true. She is that good...Macmillan and director Herrin expertly walk the line between morbid humor and excruciating honesty...But the brilliance of ‘People, Places & Things’ is that empathy — vital though it may be — is no cure-all.” Full Review


“The hype that surrounds an award-winning performance on one side of the Atlantic can often preclude its impact if and when it arrives on the other side. This is not the case, I'm happy to report, with the overwhelmingly powerful performance of Denise Gough who deservedly won the Olivier Award as Emma in ‘People, Places & Things,’ a new play by Duncan MacMillan, which premiered in London in 2015, and is now enjoying its American premiere at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“A play that blows the top of your head off...Some of the most inventive direction I’ve seen in years, a committed company, and a sensational central performance by Denise Gough...’People, Places & Things’ offers a number of compelling insights into the desperate struggles of the addict...There’s the over-arching question: ‘What is recovery?’ Emma attempts an answer at the play’s end—and it’s worth it to take the journey with her, just to hear it.” Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

for a previous production "Gough acts zonked and evasive, withdrawal-jittery, insecure through the process and even more candidly so at its end, for Macmillan rightly questions the shortcomings of such a one-size-fits-all curative ideology. More cleverly still, he invokes parallels between the mindset of the addict and that of the actor...To say that the play doesn’t quite match the production is to say that it is merely very good indeed; Gough, however, is magnificent." Full Review

London Theatre

for a previous production "Acting so raw, so tangible, so felt, so passionate, so wounded yet alive, so down but never out, that it thrills and astonishes...Gough steals this fierce, uncompromising play with a heart-stopping intensity...Macmillan and Herrin bring a documentary-like fly-on-the-wall integrity to the storytelling...The play, though it is undeniably harrowing and hard to watch at times, is so full of empathy and feeling it works when you embrace it...Unmissable theatre—the play of the year." Full Review

Time Out London

for a previous production "Gough is stunning in this powerful new play...For all the initial, broad black comedy and the flourishes lobbed in by director Jeremy Herrin, Gough gives a masterclass in nuance and subtlety. It is the best London stage performance since Mark Rylance’s in ‘Jerusalem’...It is a titanic performance in a slightly flawed play...Macmillan’s writing is notably thinner when it comes to the minor characters...What might have felt like a clever-clever script in other hands has been taken over by Gough." Full Review

The London Evening Standard

for a previous production "Gough gives the greatest stage performance since Mark Rylance in 'Jerusalem'...Gruellingly honest...The arc of the character, and thus of Gough’s remarkable, truthful performance, is awe-inspiring and utterly convincing...A profoundly moving acceptance of flawed humanity. If all this sounds a little daunting, take heart: Macmillan’s lovely writing is never less than slyly humorous and Gough certainly knows how to deliver a funny line...It’s a supremely confident and well-oiled production." Full Review

What's On Stage (UK)

for a previous production "Emma is an absolute firecracker of a role and Gough portrays her magnificently...It's a tortuous physical and emotional journey that Gough plays with astounding commitment...It's a sharply observed story that has a strong ring of truth to it...It features all the highs and lows of life while deftly highlighting just how limited treatment for addiction is today...It's a strong work on its own with writing that stands up and whacks you round the head." Full Review

Express UK

for a previous production "Gough gives a career-defining performance...It is the kind of performance that makes the play appear far better than it actually is. Herrin’s production is full of theatrical chicanery and effects...Beneath the loud bangs, the sputtering lights, the strobes, and Gough’s incendiary performance, there lies a surprisingly conventional play...While there are some moments of clarity and powerful writing, Macmillan’s determination to mine every cliché about actors beggars belief." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Great acting, Profound, Great staging

See it if Deep, meaningful performances do this script well. A glimpse of addiction and the ripples it creates for those around the addict.

Don't see it if You don’t want to see a play about a difficult subject. While I agree the play and performances were masterful, I Struggled to connect.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Profound, Great writing

See it if you like intense, emotional plays. Incredible performance by Denise Gough and beautiful writing and staging.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy plays. And it has already closed so it can no longer be seen ):

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Great writing, Great staging

See it if An absolute masterclass in acting. Intense and creatively staged. Heavy topic of addiction dissected like a slap in the face. Amazing!

Don't see it if The topic of addiction is interesting to you. If you don’t like heavy plays. It is intense.

Great acting, Intense, Heavy, Inventive staging, A bit too long

See it if To see the phenomenal performance of Denise Gough. If you like serious theater that isn't always easy to watch.

Don't see it if you want something light. This isn't that. If you aren't interested in plays about addiction and recovery.

Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you’re into destructive & constructive ways to handle life's disappointments; you liked Trainspotting, Russell Brand’s drug documentaries

Don't see it if you’ve never been the only dissenter or had to suppress feelings for your/others' benefit; your desires always match those of the group

Also This show is really well done. The writing is great and quickly transp... Read more Read less

Funny, Disappointing, Great staging

See it if You want to see thrilling scenic design.

Don't see it if You want to see a show with a point.

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Riveting, Great staging

See it if You like unconventional new works with inventive staging, a strong central character and an emotionally charged journey.

Don't see it if You don’t like loud noises or want something more traditional.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Resonant, Great staging

See it if Denise Gough is a tour-de-force. Staging and directing masterclass.

Don't see it if Uncomfortable with the dark, raw ... hard hitting emotions and reality,

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if you want to watch an intense play about drug addiction and recovery.

Don't see it if you are bothered by flashing lights and loud music. They use it for some scene changes, and it can be overwhelming.

Indulgent, Banal, Cliched, Great staging

See it if The staging is spectacular,the actors are good,you have seen this story before, st Ann's warehouse is marvelous. Take a trip

Don't see it if It's repetitive,to long,and you have seen it before.BUT the staging is worth the price of admission

Edgy, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging, Super great staging

See it if you liked A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night as the same set designer did it. Really well performed. St. Anne's Warehouse fabulous

Don't see it if you're not interested in going to Brooklyn and seeing how terrific DUMBO has become

Funny, Great acting, Must see, Relevant, Great staging

See it if you want to see a masterfully acted drama, with some laughs. about a woman struggling with drug & alcohol addiction in a rehab facility.

Don't see it if you're not comfortable with stories about drug or alcohol addiction. If you can't be in a room with strobe lights.

Also I also saw this play 2 years ago in London and Denise Gough and this e... Read more Read less

Standard-issue story of arduous recovery and tenuous rehab, redeemed by searing central performance and innovative design/staging

See it if you want to see Denise Gough in a fearless, raw performance; you appreciate unconventional staging techniques; are keen on recovery programs

Don't see it if you are triggered by substance abuse, violent emotions, addictive pathologies; occasionally assaultive light and sound cues

Also I was underwhelmed by the play itself, despite Gough's galvanizing per... Read more Read less

Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you enjoy a brutal and raw narrative of addiction and human struggle

Don't see it if those imagery disturbs you already

Also gotta see it twice cause i just really likeit a lot

Edgy, Great acting, Disappointing, Great staging

See it if You like serious drama about the realities and complexities of addiction. With strong acting and set design

Don't see it if You want light fluffy theater or a novel surprising development of the theme

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging

See it if some of the best staging I have ever seen accompanied by a compelling story (although a bit too hammered in) and wonderful acting.

Don't see it if you need something upbeat.

Let's give it up for the entire cast

See it if you want to see a great all around cast in a very new and hip theater setting

Don't see it if you are looking for something light and cheerful. This show is about drug addiction.

Also Everyone is praising the main actress and she does and incredible job ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Riveting, Great staging

See it if You want in every sense an acting 'tour de force'. An astonishing performance by Denise Gough which brings home the awfulness of addiction.

Don't see it if You don't like 'real life' drama which goes right to the very heart of a modern issue and which has an inconclusive ending.

Dizzying, Edgy, Intense, Masterful, Relevant

See it if An addict journeys out of fog into her shrouded past and future. Incredible acting. Stunning staging. Gut wrenching climax with a twist.

Don't see it if You are not interested in an intense drama with dissonant sounds and flashing lights. You don't enjoy expressionist staging.

Intense, Powerful, Great staging

See it if you like realistic drama about the dangers of addiction and familial relationships; you prefer smaller casts and simple yet powerful staging

Don't see it if you're triggered by addiction; you're looking for something light

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

See it if you enjoy tour de force performances

Don't see it if you're sensitive to strobe lights, subwoofers, or profanity

Also Denise Gough's performance is spectacularly brilliant. The writing is ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Great staging

See it if You want to see masterful acting. The plot and visuals presented in this production are raw and emotional. Thought-provoking

Don't see it if You are triggered by drug and/or alcohol addictions. The story is very intense.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Relevant

See it if You want to see an actress completely give every bit of herself onstage. Denise Gough is indescribable! She was a force! Raw, true emotion!

Don't see it if You are not a fan of loud music, strobe lights, intense storyline of drug use. This play is a gut punch with intensity on so many levels.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you want to see one of the year's most masterful performances and an engaging, wonderfully staged production in the beautiful St. Ann's.

Don't see it if you're looking for a recovery story that truly covers new ground.

Absorbing, Clever, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you like great acting

Don't see it if don't like loud noises and flashing lights, seeing a rehab

Cast & Creatives (19)