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Poison

Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Slow, Intense
78
Critics
78
12 reviews
Members
78
34 reviews
 

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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When when a former couple reunites, words are used to conceal the truth and maintain boundaries. Try as they might to avoid speaking about what occurred and what has happened since, their fragility and doubt seep through the cracks and wounds are opened anew. Starring Obie Award winner Birgit Huppuch and Drama Desk nominee Michael Laurence.

 

Cast & Creatives (9)


Reviews (46)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
78
Avg Score

90
The New York Times

"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." Full Review

40
Lighting & Sound America

"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." Full Review

55
Theatre's Leiter Side

“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.” Full Review

95
BroadwayWorld

"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." Full Review

80
TheaterScene.net

"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." Full Review

70
Wolf Entertainment Guide

"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." Full Review

85
BlogCritics.org

"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." Full Review

90
Theatre is Easy

"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." Full Review

85
On Stage Blog

"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." Full Review

90
Plays to See

"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." Full Review

80
Off Off Online

"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." Full Review

80
The Huffington Post

"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." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
78
Avg Score

87
Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Riveting, Slow

See it if You would like to witness a couple's self -therapy session dealing with the loss of their child, and marriage with subsequent rapprochement.

Don't see it if Going so deeply into wounds that you come out the other side isn't what you want from theater. The play is universal, and very cathartic.

67
Great acting, Disappointing, Terribly transparent twist

See it if Great acting is enough to satisfy. Absolutely professional, assured work by both actors.

Don't see it if Play insults audience intelligence. Anyone with common sense is seventy min ahead of story. Long wait for shoe to casually drop; pathetic.

69
Slow, Tense, Painful

See it if You can appreciate good actors in a slow moving hard drama

Don't see it if Melodrama and stilted pauses pain you of if you are dealing with a personal loss and want some distance in your theater experience.

Also These are strong actors dong their best in a very confining play. The ... Read more Read less

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.

52
Annoying, Indulgent, Overrated, Mediocre performances

See it if U don't mind sitting in a waiting room for 1 1/2 hours w/no sign that anything is gonna happen & an irritating German opera radio station on

Don't see it if I'd say this play may have lost something in translation to be such an international hit. Maybe they translated the wrong play?

80
Honest, Well acted, Probing, Pacing is off, 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.

70
Great acting, Overrated, Slow

See it if you'd like to watch a couple, years after their divorce, try to deal with the tragedy that precipitated the divorce.

Don't see it if you dislike slow shows. This is two people on a virtually empty set talking about the past -- and pausing a lot.

88
Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, A truthful requiem

See it if You're ready to watch two very fine actors work through pain, loss, and the truthful cathartic avowel of life, grief and change.

Don't see it if You want simple entertainment; you've neither the patience nor desire to see a deep meditation on grief & acceptance, or existential dramas.

Also A great intense & very long silence permeates the opening of Lot Vekem... Read more Read less

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

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.

Also Admittedly, this play starts out very s-l-o-w-l-y, but once it picks u... Read more Read less

85
Absorbing, Relevant, Resonant, Slow, Entertaining

See it if You like dramas exploring human relationships. The different way a divorced couple handled a tradgedy and the emotional fall out

Don't see it if You are not interested in an emotional discussion between 2 characters that goes on for 90 minutes. Minimal staging.

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.

Also I disagree with the precis of this play. ... Read more Read less

75
Great acting, Banal, Confusing, Overrated, Slow

See it if you want to see great acting. The script is long-winded and, quite frankly, boring. The pacing is uneven and the staging is limited.

Don't see it if you cannot sit through a rather slow-paced, pedantic look at past relationships. There are no surprises here - just a several moments.

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

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.

65
Thought-provoking, Banal, Disappointing, Slow

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.

89
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Slow

See it if grief for the loss of a child is very realistically enacted. One parent was able to overcome his sadness, to make a new start not the other

Don't see it if you can't partake such a sad story

77
Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Overly long

See it if See great acting in an extremely depressing play. Slow moving and sometimes redundant.

Don't see it if Looking for easy theater or to be cheered up.

78
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging

See it if You want to see a very moving play about loss, grief, healing acted by two great actors.

Don't see it if You don't want to follow a storyline that is complex, full of symbolism and has moments of Becket style pauses.

70
Intelligent, Intense, Resonant, Moving, Strong acting

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.

80
Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to see a human life drama with two fine actors with an uncomfortable subject matter

Don't see it if You are prone to big shows and musicals

65
Great acting, Intense, Slow, Talky

See it if you like simple sets, good acting, and not much else.

Don't see it if you like big productions, an engaging story and some action.

68
Ambitious, Relevant, Slow

See it if can sit through slow, anguished dialogues with hint of European origin.

Don't see it if cannot sit through slow, anguished dialogues with minimal setting.

76
Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if you can handle a 90 minute production of two people dealing with grief.

Don't see it if you can't handle a 90 minute conversation between two people dealing with grief.

48
Ambitious, Intense, Confusing, Excruciating

See it if you want to directly experience the frustration and pain of an ex-husband whose ex-wife is inconsolable. Her cup will be forever half-full

Don't see it if you want to see light at the end of the tunnel

81
Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if A two actor show. Set is simple. Subject can be painful for some, and emotionally draining.

Don't see it if You want something light and entertaining. This show goes deep.