Fuzzy thedamned2
New York | 2h 10m | Already closed

The Damned

From 22 critic and 67 member reviews
Members say: Great staging, Great acting, Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking

About the show

Tony Award-winning director Ivo van Hove premieres of his adaptation of Luchino Visconti’s dark drama 'The Damned,' with the historic walls of the Wade Thompson Drill Hall forming the backdrop for this production. More…

Using the screenplay rather than Visconti’s film as a starting point, van Hove traces the disintegration of the wealthy Essenbeck family and their steel dynasty during the seizure of power of the Nazis in 1933 in Germany, reflecting the ideological debauchery of a society ready to make the most venomous alliances for the benefit of its sole economic interests.

Stage Left

"Breathtaking and terrifying...Mr. van Hove smartly observed the epic, tragic scale of this intimate story and its resonance for the global moment of upheaval in which it arrives on stage, and produces a visceral performance coursing with violence, sex, and brutality...It is thrilling to observe and to participate, even given the grisly substance of the play...One of the most profoundly unsettling, memorable, and perversely satisfying experiences I have had in the theatre." Full Review


"van Hove throws us into the center of the action and never lets us out of his disturbing and oh, so powerful grasp. He is a masterful puppeteer...A masterpiece of which its magnetic draw and imagination keeps the viewers entranced. Every actor is a veritable world unto themselves...van Hove smartly uses film in a myriad of ways to mine this thick and psychically dense material...Nothing is superfluous...It was as intense as it gets on the stage." Full Review

The New York Times

“Astonishing...Despite Mr. van Hove’s directorial relish for sweaty melodrama, which the cast delivers with gusto, flames burn cold in 'The Damned.' I mean cold enough to keep you shivering from beginning to end...The political attitudes of the characters, embodied with unnerving intensity and discipline by the cast, cover a range of viewpoints...This rich and merciless production makes it clear that they are indeed damned for all eternity." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Three reasons why you should…try your damnedest to see 'The Damned,' Dutch director Ivo van Hove's startling stage version of Italian director Luchino Visconti's 1969 film of that name: 1) a script of powerful social, political, and emotional relevance; 2) an awesomely magnetic, physically stunning, and occasionally shocking production; and 3) an exceptional acting ensemble drawn from the ranks of France's foremost classical company, the Comédie Française." Full Review

New York Theater

“Van Hove’s intense, extraordinary stage adaptation of Luchino Visconti’s 1969 film...A remarkable cast...Stagecraft that is ferociously inventive, unrelenting, and unsurpassed...’The Damned’ takes flight in eerie imagery and brutal metaphor...Van Hove is willing to take risks. In ‘The Damned’, what he and his collaborators do is not just impressive; it’s riveting.” Full Review

New York Stage Review

“Van Hove has captured the frenzy of the Visconti film and made it all the more powerful as it unfolds live in our laps...The masterful production might indeed be too intense for the faint of heart...The direct-from-Paris cast is phenomenal...As for the work of van Hove and Versweyveld, it is ineffective to try to describe what it is they do; it really must be seen and sensed and felt. To say that they expand the dimensions and capabilities of the stage only touches on the matter. " Full Review


"Nowhere has there been as clear-eyed and horrific a vision of what can happen when people do nothing about growing facism than in 'The Damned'...It is a brilliant and unsettling production that redefines our current political moment...Despite the occasional melodramatic element, it all feels like truth. And most true of all is when the camera turns on the audience...Everyone is a witness when a government falls. And if those witnesses do nothing, they are collaborators." Full Review

Village Voice

“This is, to put it bluntly, a holy-shit of a production if I’ve ever seen one. That the show crackles with so much life is all the more surprising...Somehow Van Hove cracks the material open, running a tight narrative spine through it while losing nothing of the essence...Van Hove forces you to watch, and listen...The play is almost as cinematic as its predecessor, the screen a canvas upon which Van Hove paints and a second stage in dialogue with the one below it...Couldn’t be more timely.” Full Review


"Breathtaking...The story churns forward with the brutal efficiency of an assembly line under Van Hove's unrelenting direction...The performances are crucial in selling Van Hove's most arresting moments, and this cast wholeheartedly rises to the task...Van Hove has staged a nightmare from the darkest recesses of humanity about the obscene madness that can result from so-called rational self-interest." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

“Methodically terrifying...Despite the magnetic pull of that screen, the production is at its most visceral when its merciless images play out in the bodies of its actors...There’s no petty attempt at audience-shaming, no finger wagging or spurious call to action. Instead, van Hove and his undaunted ensemble simply require that we look, long and hard, without blinking. Here we are, their story tells us. Again." Full Review

The Theatre Times

"A uniquely topical theatrical experience...Van Hove alternately evokes the stern grandeur of modern German opera and the forbidding terror of contemporary European metal in a distinctive mashup wholly his own. His 'Damned' is one which lingers in the imagination long after the cast assembles onstage for their final formation...The production wisely updates Visconti’s potent yet somewhat dated and overheated film for a contemporary audience." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"van Hove remakes ‘The Damned’ as a cunningly constructed endgame in which the ruthless pursuit of power inevitably ends in a pile of ashes...The staging is so sleek as to occasionally be confusing; if you haven't seen the film...An epic portrait of moral collapse...The uniformly excellent cast invests these dark and morally bankrupt doings with a reality that makes them impossible to dismiss. " Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"It is epic in proportions...It is Shakespearean in form, majestic and hypnotizing...One huge historical construct of melodrama and the infectious disease of greed, power, and domination...The metaphoric directions and abstract and symbolic deaths pile on the discomfort with an exceedingly creative eye...Never really finding its way to connect on a deeper level, remaining solidly in the intellectual yet disturbing sphere, rather than making our heart play a role in the proceedings." Full Review

Theater News Online

"Van Hove is well suited to this material...'The Damned' is as unsettlingly lurid onstage as it was on film...The technical mastery in evidence is seamless, and the company is astonishing...The final image will surely leave some in the audience rattled to the core, while confirming for others what many critics felt about the Visconti film: that it was Nazi kitsch on a grand scale. I must admit to falling somewhere in the middle." Full Review

New York Daily News

“Intriguing but enervating...While it’s easy to admire the ambition of ‘The Damned’, it’s difficult to hail it a complete success. The material is enigmatic to begin with and the adaptation can be confusing...Despite all of the violence, perversity and screaming, the show’s emotional wallop is surprisingly muted. Instead of sending shivers and unsettling, the show numbs...Still, the involvement of Comédie-Française...and van Hove makes this a must for theater lovers." Full Review

The Observer

"Greed, sex addiction, blackmail and craven excuses for Nazis…nope, no relevance to see here!...Neither the screenplay nor van Hove’s chic, mediated staging deepen our understanding of why Martin is so maladjusted...As usual, the design is impeccable, and you leave with images seared into memory...To me, respect and faint exasperation are perfectly sane dual responses to this polished global brand." Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

“The production makes such extensive use of video on a large screen that it comes across as neither fish nor fowl...There was gratuitous nudity, violence, depravity, and effects included for their shock value...Lugubrious pace and confused storytelling...Van Hove’s version makes clever use of video but runs on far too long after it has made its point...If you are a van Hove completist, or are eager for a chance to see fine French actors, you might find the evening worthwhile." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"van Hove strips away anything he regards as superficial to the basic text...Much of the goings-on in 'The Damned' are confusing as the society cracks and crumbles. Just who is who is often confounding, though I’d say those problems are more attributable to Visconti and his collaborators than to van Hove...While I admire van Hove’s theatricality, I find it insufficiently effective for a full endorsement of his take on a film about which I already have reservations." Full Review

The Wrap

"The effects range from stunning to ridiculous to stunningly ridiculous...Van Hove is beginning to repeat himself and others...What with all the Nazi sex and murder going on, 'The Damned' isn’t a colossal bore like van Hove’s 2010 revival of 'The Little Foxes' at the New York Theatre Workshop. But under his direction, both dramas are reduced...The actors are well-rehearsed; the camerawork, on the other hand, is pretty sloppy." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"It's a powerful, unfortunately timely tale whose impact should be momentous. Instead, the Comedie-Francaise production directed by acclaimed avant-garde director Ivo van Hove diffuses the story's emotional impact by relentlessly calling attention to its cleverness. The most obvious example of the production's self-consciousness is its extensive emphasis on video projections, a theatrical device that, even as it has vastly improved technologically, has by now become a shopworn cliche." Full Review

AM New York

“While I have consistently found van Hove’s aesthetic to be overblown, overindulgent, pretentious and bewildering, others have praised it as visionary, freethinking and electrifying. Those who like his work (or have yet to make up their minds) can check out his latest production...Eerie background music accompanies a lot of disturbing imagery...After the first 10 minutes, one can sense the audience divide into those who love it and those who hate it...Which side will you be on?” Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

for a previous production "A masterstroke...A dangerous, vast, and virtuoso production that confronts its time and context with chilling force...The production excels theatrically, technically, spatially, and musically...The synergy between Van Hove and la Troupe is evidently exceptional. The actors work together and individually to perfection, and are able to fill the vast space and focus on tiny details without it ever seeming forced." Full Review

Thought-provoking, Profound, Relevant, Resonant, Riveting

See it if you want epic theatre with intelligence and relevance

Don't see it if you want fluff

Great acting, Masterful, Resonant, Riveting, Great staging

See it if you appreciate avant garde theater at it's best. Absolutely amazing staging, directing, acting. Shocking, thought provoking play. A must see

Don't see it if Can't follow subtitles and stage at the same time

Masterful, Powerful, Unforgettable

See it if you enjoy intense theater, genius direction, memorable combination of stage & video and an experience that will haunt you days after.

Don't see it if you're offended by cruelty,violence and nudity on stage..but seriously the 20th century & our times force us to not look away - do not miss!

Great acting, Riveting, Powerful, Great staging, Relentless

See it if You like theater raw, like to be challenged, don’t mind subtitles, are challenged by actors stripping themselves bare (literal/figurative).

Don't see it if You’re offended by violence, nudity, the story Nazi Germany, need linear storytelling, like staging, hate multimedia, or want a happy show.

Also This is von Hove at his best/worst, depending on how you like him. Thi... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great writing, Confusing, Great staging

See it if This is tough theater,but incredibly exciting.there is not one thing that I would change. It’s in French ,but you will understand it.

Don't see it if Hard to understand,speaking French would help. The subject matter is tough,there is lots of nudity

Edgy, Exquisite, Great acting, Intense, Must see

See it if you want to see one of the most brilliantly staged, acted & directed plays this year. This intense play is a must see. You cannot look away!

Don't see it if Blood, Nudity or seeing a play in a foreign language will annoy you. This show deals with Nazi Germany if this is a trigger for you dont go

Also Ivo Van Hoves production of “The Damned” at the Park Avenue Armory is ... Read more Read less

Edgy, Intense, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if you adore Ivo's directorial work. This is not to be missed. A truly jaw-dropping, reflective + relevant piece that resonates strongly today.

Don't see it if you're triggered by intense violence, guns, nudity, and anything remotely shocking you could think of in connection to WWII era Germany

Great acting, Masterful, Profound, Great writing, Great staging

See it if profound and gripping visceral portrayal of a corrupt, powerful and evil German family that reflects the conditions giving rise to hitle

Don't see it if You would rather avoid a disturbing play that has violence and nudity, French supertitles and the use of multi media.

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Riveting, Great staging

See it if Chilling production beautifully done in great locale. The action spans the breadth of the Drill Hall. The performances are riveting.

Don't see it if Violent images are upsetting to you. Production utilizes supertitles, loud music,which could be off putting to some people

Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Masterful, Great staging

See it if You want to see a master director (Ivo Van Hove) use his considerable skills to tell a horrifying tale in exquisite ways.

Don't see it if You don’t like dark themes.

Also This is a visually stunning production with an outstanding French cast... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great staging

See it if you like smart original theater, especially in this case, a production that takes full advantage of the awesome space of the armory.

Don't see it if you believe that supporting evil is ever okay especially if "you don't have a choice".

Bleak, Revolutionary, Spectacular, Meticulous

See it if you want to see a new frontier in theatrical staging.

Don't see it if you are offended by excessive nudity and violence.

Absorbing, Masterful, Riveting, Great staging

See it if Ivo van Hove ... production, production, production. Comédie- Française is masterful. Devastating and dangerous.

Don't see it if French language of German family/story can confuse...look past.

Clever, Edgy, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Riveting

See it if You like shows that will keep you in the edge of your seat. It takes a while for the story to build but when it does wow!

Don't see it if If subtitles bother you. The whole play is in French! The subtitles also leave part of the story out in a way.

Also If you understand the language it takes it to a whole new level.

Ambitious, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Masterful, Excruciating

See it if you love the armory and great visuals and great acting and directing and staging

Don't see it if you dislike intense evil and horror and nastiness and perversity

Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Great staging

See it if Ivo van Hove + Comédie-Française create one of the most challenging, difficult, alarming, and crucial pieces of theatre I have ever seen.

Don't see it if Full frontal nudity, language, deeply troubling subject matter, multiple traumatic deaths. You will have nightmares.

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Profound, Great staging

See it if Brilliant Ivo can Hove staging of Visconte’s The Damned in masterful intensely staged and acted brutality and depravity of rise of Nazism

Don't see it if It is like nothing you have ever seen especially the Night of the Long Knives - brilliant and horrifying

Visual extravaganza, brilliant direction and staging

See it if you don't mind that it's in French with superscript

Don't see it if are nudity averse or have a problem with Nazi images

Also I zoned out of the story after a while as there was too much to read a... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Epic, Great acting, Resonant, Great staging

See it if you are prepared for a stunningly intense 2 hours. This builds from a family drama to an overwhelmingly nasty tidal wave of emotion.

Don't see it if you want something lighter. Everyone could get something out of this but it's not easy going...

Absorbing, Intense, Confusing, Great singing, Great staging

See it if This is long, but the story is interesting. Great acting.

Don't see it if This is not for everybody. Disturbing, Nude, violence, betrayed, power, evil, killing, WW II.

Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Masterful, Great staging

See it if You are okay with intense subject matter and are interested in uniquely staged, profound works of theater.

Don't see it if You don’t want to read supertitles and you are easily offended or don’t want to see difficult subject matter

Great acting, Intelligent, Great staging, Haunting, Sadly relevant

See it if to witness van Hove's epic, genre-busting adaptation of Visconti's Nazi Germany family drama about greed, loyalty & self-preservation.

Don't see it if you aren't prepared for relentless cruelty, unsettling nakedness & the indictment of our collective complicity in the bankruptcy of morality

Absorbing, Masterful, Relevant

See it if A brilliant portrayal how individuals, families and businesses get caught up and destroyed by harmful government policies. Brilliant staging

Don't see it if It's sometimes hard to follow the subtitles and action on a very large stage simultaneously. Very graphic, harsh death scenes and nudity

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Disturbing, Great staging

See it if a play about a family steel dynasty in the early days of Nazis with the nonstop horrors staged masterfully; very unique & gripping scenes

Don't see it if very, very many horrifying scenes including - a blood bath & those involving coffins (occupied) and an extremely disturbing final scene

Also The play is in French with subtitles and also with a video display in ... Read more Read less

Intense, Unconventional

See it if you are interested in innovative approaches to storytelling in the theater

Don't see it if you avoid intense, horrifying imagery and themes in your theater diet

Also The real star here is the brilliant theater director - Ivo Van Hove. S... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (5)