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. More…
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?
“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
“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
“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
“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 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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
"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
"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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
"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
“‘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
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
for a previous production "The depth of the piece, the empathy you feel, and the extraordinary cast simply represent theatre at its best...This play tampers with humanity at its most raw, finding what many think and feel but perhaps are not aware of...MacMillan’s text is excellently realized by Herrin with some deeply human, real performances...There’s an energy about Gough's performance that I have never felt before, with an almost sickening certainty that something spectacular is and has happened." Full Review
for a previous production "Once in a while a piece of theatre comes along that's so riveting you almost forget to breathe while watching it. Such is the case with Duncan Macmillan’s uncompromising examination of addiction, featuring a mesmerizing performance by Denise Gough...Gough carries it off with aplomb and takes the audience on a roller coaster of comedy and heartbreaking tragedy...It’s all superbly marshalled by Herrin, who seamlessly blends the hallucinatory and real worlds." Full Review
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
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
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
See it if you are prepared for a thought-provoking deep dive into the trials and tribulations of an addict searching for meaning
Don't see it if you like light and fluffy shows
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
See it if you're interested in feeling things - or examining why you're afraid to feel things - or want to see a spectacular performance by Gough.
Don't see it if you're triggered by drugs / addiction, or if loud noises and strobe lights are an issue for you.
See it if You want to see a masterful actor in her prime, a very talented ensemble, and inventive, engaging staging.
Don't see it if You don't like flashing lights, fast cuts, addiction as a topic.
See it if you don't want to miss one of the best story-driven dramas to hit off- Bway in years. Brilliant staging, an outstanding cast
Don't see it if you don't like dark humor, depictions of addiction and pain; although there are many beautiful & funny moments
See it if before you knew anything about the show, itself, you thought, St. Ann's + The National Theatre = gold.
Don't see it if you can't handle theatre that makes you uncomfortable at times.
See it if you want to see clever staging and use of light and sound. And, of course, the completely engrossing performance from Denise Gough.
Don't see it if you are adverse to flashing lights and intense sounds, or if you are sensitive to topics of addiction and drug use.
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 ):
See it if You want to see an extraordinary performance by a great actress. Harrowing and excruciating but worth the pain. Brilliantly staged
Don't see it if You can’t imagine going through addiction recovery as a play. Want something light. This is gutwrenching
See it if You want to see a true master at work in Denise Gough. She brings an outstanding sense of truth to the brilliant words of Duncan Macmillan.
Don't see it if You can't watch heavy truths on stage. Otherwise you would be crazy not to see this.
See it if you want to see a tour-de-force performance by a strong, powerful woman, edgy stories don’t scare you, and you like epic new plays
Don't see it if you are sensitive to stories about addiction, don’t like foul language, or are irritated by loud noises and flashing lights
See it if You enjoy an extreme view on a part of society you haven't experienced before. You like looking at situations in a different light and sound
Don't see it if You don't like cussing, loud music or real life discussion about drug use
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.
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.
See it if you want to see a breathtaking performance by Denise Gough. Also, highly creative direction by Jeremy Herrin. Kudos also to Barbara Marten.
Don't see it if seeing a person going through rehab makes your feel uncomfortable.
See it if you enjoy powerhouse acting and superb production of a relevant topic today of drug addiction. Denise Gough is phenomenal! Don't miss her!
Don't see it if you have seen too many plays about recovery or don't enjoy plays about drug addiction.
See it if you like great acting and great theater. I originally saw this in London and jumped at the chance to see Denise Gough again. She is amazing!
Don't see it if you don't want to see a "painful" story.
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