safeword. NYC Reviews and Tickets

(131 Reviews)
Members say
Great staging, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Great acting, Edgy

About the Show

This new work explores power dynamics through BDSM and food and reveals how the people closest to us often have the most to hide.

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Member Reviews (131)

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Intelligent, Interesting, Absorbing

See it if You want to see a smart show about lies, secrets, communication and relationships set in a world of BDSM. Well done and not too explicit.

Don't see it if BDSM makes you uncomfortable.

Torturous, Talky, Ambitious, Unerotic, Slow

See it if you really liked Afterglow & want to see a fairly frank (if mostly chaste & clinical) look at BDSM, fidelity, identity & sexual boundaries.

Don't see it if u expect to satisfy ur prurient, voyeuristic curiosity via onstage titillation; u want more than clichéd characters in an awkward talkfest. Read more

Critic Reviews (8)

The New York Times
May 8th, 2019

“Gelman’s second play, ‘Safeword’, is hoping to do for bondage what ‘Afterglow’ did for open marriage. But here, the characters are unfinished, and overall the play promises more than it can deliver...Gelman, who also directs, seems more concerned with disproving myths and setting up perfect tableaus than he does in creating characters we want to spend time with. We’re never privy to what makes these people tick; they’re all painted in broad, generic strokes."
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April 25th, 2019

"Does 'safeword.' hold together as a gripping, well-written, original play that provokes meaningful discussion about BDSM — or, if not, at least provides some titillation? The answer is No...Few will be surprised by the ending of this story, which is curiously banal for such an intriguing setup...Despite the plot's triteness, the actors do their best to breathe life into Gelman's dreary dialogue."
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April 26th, 2019

"Asher here continues to mine the subject of human sexuality, but lightning has not struck twice. That is chiefly due to Asher’s misguidedly grandiose direction emphasizing stylish spectacle at the expense of the clunky plot...We’re physically distant from the characters which adds detachment from them as well. The main problem is the flawed writing...Though 'safeword.’'s promising premise is frustratingly realized it does impart pertinent facts."
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Front Mezz Junkies
May 17th, 2019

“It’s an honest attempt to unmask the preconceived notions of this world, but unfortunately...the whole thing whips back and forth from pleasing to awkward, even when it’s not intended...The actors work their damnedest to keep it together...working hard to make the play feel real and important...For a show that wants to titillate and excite, ‘safeword.’ falters, finding a way to be overly instructional and explanatory, and not as progressive, exciting, or interesting as intended.”
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Broadway Blog
April 26th, 2019

"'safeword.' attempts to introduce audiences to bondage, domination, and sadomasochism, but mostly, it’s a lukewarm drama with whips and chains...The scenarios often seem too contrived...The major problem with this play is in the approach. Gelman wins major accolades for highlighting difficult topics. Yet here, it translates into the stuff of corporate training videos...Consequently, it doesn’t give the cast enough material to savor. Pacing is also problematic."
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April 25th, 2019

"There's a promising premise here for a comedy-drama about secrets and lies, hypocrisy, identity, friendship, love, marriage, power, and sexual boundary crossing. But the tortuous, if not torturous plot, and the two-dimensional characters and dialogue remain bogged down in insufficiently witty, soap-opera clichés…The actors lack the charisma, energy, and charm to make us care one way or the other…Gelman's dull pacing drags the piece down well before it's over."
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Off Off Online
April 26th, 2019

"Gelman’s plot feels more contrived, and its effect isn’t as strong...Gelman has respect for his subject, but at times the dialogue sounds more suited to an educational video about BDSM...But there are serious problems both regarding Micah’s willingness and logical plot points...Once the characters’ credibility falters, so does the story’s impact. Nonetheless, the actors are fine."
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Manhattan Digest
April 25th, 2019

"Might call to mind some steamy, sexy, gay bondage tale, but 'safeword.' is about so much more...'safeword.' thoughtfully and carefully uncovers these themes through excellent writing and the appreciable talents of its cast...More perfect actors could not have been found to portray these complicated but sincere people, and under Gelman’s splendid direction this play makes for a moving and thought-provoking evening of theater."
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