Poison
77

Poison NYC Reviews and Tickets

77%
(35 Reviews)
Positive
77%
Mixed
20%
Negative
3%
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Slow, Intense, Thought-provoking

About the Show

Origin Theatre Company presents the English-language premiere of Dutch playwright Lot Vekemans' two-hander about two lovers who reconnect after a painful separation.

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Member Reviews (35)

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70
Moving, Strong acting, Intelligent, Resonant, Intense

See it if you're fascinated by responses to grief. Strong acting. Some clunky/slow parts in script. Simple staging, set and costumes. Some plot twists

Don't see it if you want big production values or light fare. The couple seems well paired; changing tone feels real. Countertenor is over used.

65
Slow, Thought-provoking, Banal, Disappointing

See it if waiting 30 minutes to discover the nature of the relationship between a surly woman and an ineffectual man is for you. This is your show!

Don't see it if you go to the theater for amusement, emotional uplift or esthetics.

85
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Relevant

See it if you want to see two sterling performances by Birgit Huppuch and Michael Laurence in a European play that has worldwide appeal.

Don't see it if you don't like slow-starting plays that then slowly draw you in. This is also a deeply personal play that may make one feel uncomfortable.

85
The countertenor nearly did me in, but the play was meaningful

See it if you have ever had a relationship which felt unfinished. you like mostly calm, lucid examination of a shared point in time in the past

Don't see it if you want melodrama. you dislike COUNTERTENOR voices. you are uncomfortable with exposition of a painful past experience. Read more

80
Probing, Honest, Pacing is off, Well acted, Bizarre singing

See it if None of us, in fact, know how we will deal with grief or the guilt of ending the grief. Two fine actors' characters work towards...

Don't see it if ...understanding and forgiving each other. Painful, elegiac, and at times too slow, the actors are sometimes better than the script.

78
Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy a show that communicates complex and heart wrenching emotion with two character dialog and minimalist set.

Don't see it if you prefer lighthearted, fluffy entertainment that doesn't make you think or feel sad things.

100
Absorbing, Great acting

See it if you want good drama, excellent directing and acting

Don't see it if you find the topic of a son's death too upsetting

92
Cathartic, Absorbing, Painful, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if you've ever been privy to an imbalanced relationship, when one moves on while the other stays stuck. Also, if you enjoy terse writing.

Don't see it if You don't want to face a heart-breaking situation, one with which you may already be all too familiar. Read more

Critic Reviews (12)

The New York Times
November 23rd, 2016

"This austere play begins coolly but becomes, ever so slowly, a tear-jerker. Emotionally bare, at a few points scraped raw, it is never maudlin...Their defenses erode, hers more rapidly than his, and we see the tenderness that took root 20 years ago, when they first laid eyes on each other. It’s still alive in them, and that is what’s so searing: that they might have found their way through that lostness together, and come out of it so much less broken."
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BroadwayWorld
November 19th, 2016

"This translation of ‘Poison’ teaches so many lessons, on so many different levels, that it is truly astounding…This beautiful production brings so many simple ideas with major significance behind them to fruition…It is truly amazing how simple conversation that goes on between these two characters can create a play that is so impressive because of the emotional depth it is able to reach…I was honestly riveted...It's a truly poignant show that will bring tears to your eyes."
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Lighting & Sound America
November 30th, 2016

"She comes off as a nag; He is a little easier to take, but in neither case has the playwright supplied the telling details that might make them come alive as individuals. They remain as generic as their names, posed figures on a battlefield of sorrow…This is a dispiriting experience; rather than making real drama of it, 'Poison' oversells its tragedy, trapping it in a generic atmosphere of gloom. It wants to browbeat us into caring about its characters; that's not the way it works."
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TheaterScene.net
November 17th, 2016

"Finely performed, very well written and strikingly staged, Vekemans’ 'Poison' is an engrossing but heavy going 90 minutes...Ms. Vekemans’ dialogue has a precise, literary quality and though her plot and characters are familiar, she has crafted a compelling drama...Laurence and Huppuch have great chemistry together and beautifully perform this intense and difficult material...'Poison' is a challenging and insightful exploration of the human condition that has been perfectly rendered."
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Theatre is Easy
November 16th, 2016

"Grapples with the messy subject of grief, and does it in a thoughtful and energizing way...Huppuch and Laurence are magnetic. Under the direction of Erwin Maas, these two artists effortlessly unpack a text loaded with emotional unrest...Maas’ direction allows us to peer into this extremely intimate moment and reflect on our own messy conversations and their effects...A play for the lover of European theater and its tradition of tackling tough questions head-on, with no artifice or spectacle."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
November 17th, 2016

“A sparingly-produced, Beckettian two-hander, performed at a funereal pace, with much of its dialogue spoken at just above whisper level, creating less tension than watching grass grow...Both Laurence and Huppuch are respected actors but their muted performances, flecked with innumerable Pinter-like pauses, kept me at arm's length...Vekemans's play has received much acclaim elsewhere, thus making it another example of the adage that one man's meat is another man's poison.”
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Wolf Entertainment Guide
November 20th, 2016

"Annoying before it starts...It seems a total affectation to have to observe Laurence doing nothing except making one wonder when the play will begin...The dialogue comes across as a verbal dance of emotions, both articulated and repressed. Huppuch and Laurence are very good at what they do, and at times we feel for them as people whose lives were shattered...When She flies into a rage, the effect is withering."
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BlogCritics.org
November 16th, 2016

"This compelling play digs into the guts of a couple’s personal tragedy…Huppuch has an admirable capacity to reveal currents of feeling during the most restrained passages of dialogue, then to reach summits of emotion without ever going over their tops...Only in stretches of the last scene does the energy flag…Maas seems to direct with a light hand, allowing the actors to appear to truly live their story. It’s an impressive accomplishment all around."
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On Stage Blog
November 20th, 2016

"Vekemans’ writing is extraordinarily good at capturing ordinary people in an extraordinary situation. Her dialogue is often strikingly wanting, in exactly the way you would expect...The usual adjectives for a play about grief don’t apply here. 'Poison' is not gritty, raw, or unapologetic. It is grippingly real...Its understated pain telegraphs its understanding of pain. That is what makes it stand out, and is the strongest argument I can make for going to see it."
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Plays to See
November 16th, 2016

"It is easy to see why 'Poison' is an international hit...'Poison' has some of the best acting I’ve seen in some time. It is viscerally full and humane with none of the inconsistencies that damage one’s suspension of disbelief...Director Erwin Maas did a phenomenal job of crafting the show. He created the space that allowed the story to ebb and swell and gave the necessary room for such an operatic emotional journey."
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Off Off Online
November 20th, 2016

"A story of loss, pain and grief with an unspoken complexity...'Poison' explores grief and the different ways people process tragic loss, emphasizing the importance of communication...Though this couple dances around the pain, it is in the moments of silence, the irrational outbursts, and inside the empty spaces that the audience is let in and allowed to see how deeply challenging and complex it is to be human."
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The Huffington Post
November 15th, 2016

"Any play with only two characters requires a very palpable chemistry on the stage. Laurence and Huppuch deliver that chemistry, with equal amounts of both fine wordless acting and savage delivery of their dialogue. For the audience, it’s like watching a well-choreographed anti-mating ritual. The performances are splendid...'Poison' ultimately honors our expectations—but just like with the characters, it’s a long emotional journey along the way."
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