New York | 1h 30m | Already closed

Roughly Speaking

From 5 critic and 59 member reviews
Members say: Relevant, Thought-provoking, Ambitious, Great acting, Absorbing

About the show

Inspired by more than 200 interviews with NYC homeless, the Platform Group's new play centers on Lightning Bolt, a rapper bound only by his wheelchair, on a not-so-typical day at the soup kitchen. More…

'Roughly Speaking' takes place during the course of one meal service, showing people stuck in a 'Waiting for Godot'-like existence. The play examines homelessness through the eyes of Lightning Bolt and a cast of diverse characters. For the regulars who wander in, this is just one more stop on their never-ending quest for food, shelter, and a bit of companionship. For the newcomers, it's a shattering reminder of how their lives have changed. 'Roughly Speaking' is a play about being trapped in a system which exists more to maintain the status quo rather than offer a way out.

1h 30m | Already closed | TADA! Theater (Chelsea)

NY Theatre Guide

"A moving passion project brought to life by a band of Broadway professionals. Based on the true stories culled from over 200 interviews with homeless NYC men and women, the actors do a tremendous job preserving the dignity of the characters’ story lines, which are intertwined with care and rooted in reality, not melodrama...A collection of small triumphs in a landscape of tragedy and strife, handled with honor by a gifted and dedicated cast." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Because of its documentary nature, 'Roughly Speaking' is like a collage of various portraits of people from the streets; it's like a staged version of the 'Humans of New York' project...Zeiger is able to capture with great clarity the characters’ unique ways of communication, and develops a wide range of heartfelt stories...'Roughly Speaking' is a theatrical event with a goal to create positive change in our society. It is truly the most important kind of theatre, and deserves much attention." Full Review


"Directed by Celine Rosenthal, this heartfelt new play is--for the most part--an empathetic window into the lives of a troubled few. Behind Zeiger’s tight script and a handful of admirable performances, 'Roughly Speaking' is an honest representation and dissection of the homeless culture in New York City." Full Review

Culture Catch

"Without having to say so directly, the production makes the audience aware of the extent to which homelessness is a systemic rather than an individual problem...Don't get the idea that this is presented as some sort of didactic lesson: it all comes organically from rounded characters who have friendships, aspirations, and humor. The production keeps the audience invested in them throughout...'Roughly Speaking' gives voice to those who are not usually given a platform to speak." Full Review

Review Fix

"Besides learning more about this underrepresented in literature and theater group of people, we also enjoy 'Roughly Speaking,' directed by Celine Rosenthal, for its artistic value and keen sense of humor that brightens up the grimness of the topic...'Roughly Speaking' teaches us to listen and pay attention to the homeless instead of feeling bad for them as we are walking by. It reminds us that each of these people has a unique story, which is worth hearing." Full Review

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Relevant

See it if If you want to open your eyes to the horror of some people's lives, which is not to their doing in most cases.

Don't see it if Homelessness and poverty depresses you.

Absorbing, Great acting, Serious

See it if If you like dramas about serious problems done in a humanistic manner. See it if you like to see good acting

Don't see it if you don't want to think about being homeless

Absorbing, Great staging, Great acting

See it if you like social subject masterfully acted by all. This play deserves attention at a more renowned venue.

Don't see it if You are not interested in a plays dealing with social issues.

Great staging, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you are interested in community service especially the plight of the homeless.

Don't see it if you need to have an easy, playful evening of theatre.

Entertaining, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Thought-provoking

See it if If you want to see a show where you look into the day of a homeless person. You are a caring person. You want to see something new.

Don't see it if You don't like hip hop or homeless people. You want a serious drama without music or things to think about.

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

See it if If you are interested in plays that have heart and speak to issues we are facing on our planet. Plays that create a call to action.

Don't see it if If you want to see light and fluffy.

Great writing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Refreshing

See it if You want a real look into the lives of the homeless of NYC.

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with homelessness and confronting it.

Thought-provoking, Ambitious, Relevant, Insightful

See it if Peeking into the lives of the indigent & less-fortunate strikes you. The normalcy of their situations could easily mirror any viewer's.

Don't see it if One is looking for a production of moderate scale. The topic might expose some to a grim reality that often is ignored.

Entertaining, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if You want a snapshot of the stories and struggles of homeless folks.

Don't see it if You are not a fan of rap. It's not my favorite genre, but I still enjoyed the play.

Edgy, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant, Quirky

See it if you enjoy timely material with a message. This is a strong, versatile cast, and every member fully commits to humanizing the homeless.

Don't see it if you want glitter and flash. This is a simple, bare-bones set. Don't see it if you want to avoid any sense of social responsibility.

Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy plays that deal with relevant issues in society

Don't see it if you are looking for something lighthearted

Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if you like thoughtful, poignant, funny plays with some rapping scattered throughout.

Don't see it if you are looking for something light and fluffy, or a big budget production

Entertaining, Great staging, Great writing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if you want to see a play that takes you into the mind of some of the homeless you might see walking around everyday.

Don't see it if you are looking for a musical or a story with a happy ending.

Also I enjoyed it, and makes you think about some of the people you may pas... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Great acting, Profound, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to see a show with social conscience. If you like personal experiences, monologues, point of views.

Don't see it if you need a plot-driven piece.

Ambitious, Absorbing, Entertaining, Relevant, Cliched

See it if you like plays that tackle social issues. This one, homelessness, touching and honest, but none of it was anything I didn't already know.

Don't see it if you're not in the mood for a well done cliched storyline.

Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You're interested in gaining perspective on what it means to be a part of the ever-growing community of homeless people in New York City.

Don't see it if You're not interested in current, relevant issues, especially in regards to the homeless population, or don't enjoy the rap genre.

Also Roughly Speaking is extremely ambitious, and extremely important. It's... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Thought-provoking

See it if You are interested in learning the realities of homelessness in NYC, through a passionate cast and creative story telling.

Don't see it if You are looking for a big production play. You are sensitive to topics like drugs, sex, and social imbalance.

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Heart-felt, Ambitious

See it if You want drama of people who find comfort, companionship and a warm meal at a shelter. This portrait features their dignity and humanity.

Don't see it if U are not up for the reality of homelessness that we see in the newspapers, or on park benches or subway platforms. This is not light fare.

Clever, Great acting, Relevant, Great staging

See it if You like real life topics.

Don't see it if You like musicals. Cannot stay focus

Relevant, Cliched, Disappointing, Indulgent, Thought-provoking

See it if A noble try: to educate the audience on the individuals who make up the homeless population in NYC through stories drawn from real life.

Don't see it if A clumsy, stilted effort which doesn't gel. There r some good performances, but author casts herself to no good end. Sits r forced & sloppy~

Quirky, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Cliched

See it if youlike shows drawn from real life that have a social conscience.

Don't see it if you don't like topical shows.

Overrated, Relevant, Ambitious

See it if You like socially conscious plays

Don't see it if You're offended by profanity

Also I think the subject matter is relevant but the play moved slow

Ambitious, Relevant

See it if The focus and advocacy for the homeless is nice and the acting was good. Very anecdotal, which got long at times. Appreciate the ambition.

Don't see it if You don't like to see small imperfect productions.

Indulgent, Relevant, Disappointing, Cliched

See it if you want to see a play about an important social issue, you love plays that are very human and have a lot of heart

Don't see it if you're expecting a fresh take on the topic. The message of the play is still an important one, but it's cliched.

Confusing, Disappointing, Entertaining

See it if You are looking to experience the stories of a variety of NYC Homeless people and their struggle to keep the faith.

Don't see it if You are looking for great staging, Great acting, a great story, etc.

Also This show was uhh, interesting. I didn't know what I was supposed to b... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (15)