New York | 2h 10m | Already closed

Scenes from an Execution

From 18 critic and 3 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Edgy, Absorbing, Ponderous, Mind-blowing

About the show

The Potomac Theatre Project revives the story, by Howard Barker, of a Venetian painter and her collision with the Doge of Venice. More…

1571. Venice has won an overwhelming victory in The Battle of Lepanto. The artist and sensualist Galactia is chosen to commemorate the triumph; instead, she fills a staggering one thousand square feet of canvas with violence, suffering and death. Another battle ensues between artist and state, with Galactia unremitting in the face of extreme adversity.

2h 10m | Already closed | Atlantic Theater Stage Two (Chelsea)

Times Square Chronicles

"It is the emotional, superb performance by Jan Maxwell, whose last role makes this a tragedy. This is acting at it’s very best and should not be missed...Richard Romagnoli directs this production with a subtle fierceness that pierces the idea of being caged...This is a must see!" Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"An absolutely gripping and often surprisingly funny evening of over-the-top theater...Richard Romagnoli directs all of this mayhem with complete assuredness, and while Ms. Maxwell stands at the center, the rest of the cast is equally up to the intellectual lunacy that prevails. And for a small production of a major play, much consideration has been given to the lighting design and the sound design. With 'Scenes from an Execution,' PTP/NYC absolutely lives up to its reputation for providing e... Full Review

The Public Reviews

"'Scenes from an Execution' is a masterpiece, as is this production. Its creators have done a fantastic job of crafting an experience that asks questions about truth and reality, but leaves the answers up to its audience. After all, that is art: Asking the question. Waiting for the answer." Full Review

The New York Times

"Jan Maxwell, who recently told Playbill that she was retiring from the stage, is providing audiences with a heartbreaking display of what they’ll be missing when she’s gone. I’d almost call her work in this first-­rate production, the performance of her had better make haste to observe this study of what one character describes “as a meteor cleaving her way through dark places” before it vanishes from sight." Full Review

Theater In The Now

"'Scenes from an Execution' is Barker at his finest. The narrative is clear. The story is sensational. And no matter when it’s presented, 'Scenes from an Execution' is wonderfully relevant. Director Richard Romagnoli tells the story simply and allows Barker’s stimulating language take center stage...'Scenes from an Execution' is poignant as ever." Full Review


"If the current revival of Howard Barker's 'Scenes From An Execution' is Jan Maxwell's stage acting swan song, she is certainly going out spectacularly...Director Romagnoli's intimate production features a fine ensemble, with visuals that nicely serve the darkly-humored text." Full Review

New York Post

"Maxwell’s giving a typically intense performance. The show is worth catching whether it’s her last rodeo or not...Barker's play is accessible and never less than compelling. Its dry dark humor helps...Richard Romagnoli’s solid production doesn’t compromise Barker’s ambiguities." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"Under Richard Romagnoli’s meticulous direction, the ensemble cast of this remarkably enduring and ever relevant play deliver captivating and riveting performances...Mr. Barker revels in exploring the mythos of womankind and his retellings of stories about powerful women are replete with delicious moral ambiguity and resounding shadows." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"This highly engaging play, written for radio in 1984, carries on a series of back-and-forth arguments about the trustworthiness of beauty, the role of the critic and the relationship between artist and patron, which for Galactia is the Venetian state... Maxwell is a Barker devotee, and her fierceness as an actress makes her well suited to his work...When Galactia is humbled and imprisoned, the performance finds fear as well as bravado, and the production goes from bright carnal colour to eer... Full Review


"Fortunately for director Richard Romagnoli, whose leading lady dwarfs the rest of his lackluster company, Barker writes Galactia as a mythically imposing figure, swallowing up everything that impedes her path to truth and creative fulfillment...The result is a thought-provoking and surprisingly accessible exploration of the line between art and artist, the divide between artist and audience, and the everlasting moral battle between personal integrity and, the art of making art." Full Review

American Theater Web

for a previous production "What may be most impressive about this production is its ability to convince us of the verity of Barker's script. By the play's end we have seen Galactia's painting in our mind's eye. 'Scenes' is not only powerful social and political commentary, it's also richly drawn and fulfilling drama." Full Review

The New York Times

for a previous production "The Potomac Theater Project has the right actress in the right play. The actress is Jan Maxwell, and her performance elevates a pretty good play to something near must-see status...Juxtaposed against a real war and debate over whether the public has been seeing the full picture of it, this is no comedy. It’s a political play, and a thought-provoking one." Full Review


for a previous production "A complex disquisition on women, politics, vanity, selfishness, sensuality, and the elusiveness of truth...The play is dizzying with alternating moods. So much is thrown at the audience in Act 1 that the head spins. But some semblance of order is imposed by, of all people, a critic named Gina Rivera, who recognizes not only the painting's worth but the damage to the state's prestige if it's suppressed." Full Review

Time Out New York

for a previous production "One of New York’s theater mysteries is how little we get to see plays by British dramatist Howard Barker. But one company, at least, has begun to fill the gap. The Potomac Theatre Project produces Barker in steady, stripped-down presentations, often with riveting central performances. The company has now brought in Broadway regular Jan Maxwell to exponentially increase its firepower. Stand back." Full Review

Scene 4 Magazine

for a previous production "Primary characters make no concession to sentiment, and all of them, to one degree or another, are fascinating monsters, driven by a complicated choreography with power that causes pain and dislocation as they cut their way through the world...For the most part, the director has crafted a balanced and energized production, and a Galactia who may be impossible to love but who demands that we pay attention." Full Review


for a previous production "Splendid actress though she is, Jan Maxwell can’t overcome the fatigue factor in the Art-vs.-Authority arguments advanced by Howard Barker in his didacto-drama, 'Scenes From an Execution," But once the bad guys come out to play in the second act, Maxwell has more reason to tear into her meaty role as Galactia." Full Review


for a previous production "While the playwright has serious matters on his mind, the tone is often light and humorous. If Romagno's revival doesn't always achieve the right balance between its grave and comic elements, it nevertheless features an exemplary performance from Jan Maxwell as Galactia. Even Maxwell is sometimes affected by the imbalance, but she is still the strongest element within this worthwhile production." Full Review

Indie Theater Now

for a previous production "It left me cold, and I've been trying to figure out the reason. I've come up with a few possibilities. First and probably foremost, the play itself IS cold. At least in Jan Maxwell's characterization, Galactia is an oddly passionless artist...And the performances here are wildly uneven. Maxwell still seemed to be struggling with some of her lines, and as noted shows little of the complexity that I imagine Galactia must possess." Full Review

Riveting, Mind-blowing, Great acting, Edgy, Absorbing

See it if You love Jan Maxwell and some of the best acting you will ever see on an NYC stage.

Don't see it if You don't like darker, edgy pieces in a black box style theatre.

Intense, Intelligent, Great acting, Edgy, Ambitious

See it if You like thought-provoking plays and are a fan of text/language rather than looking for fancy sets, costumes, and lights.

Don't see it if You're looking for light, mindless entertainment.

Thought-provoking, Ponderous, Great acting, Exquisite, Edgy

See it if you enjoy theatre that not only exhibit's brilliance, but radiates it from within. It is a timeless story about art, politics and betrayal.

Don't see it if you lack imagination or emotional depth.

Cast & Creatives

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