New York | 1h 22m | Already closed

The Glory of the World

From 13 critic and 20 member reviews
Members say: Entertaining, Confusing, Great staging, Indulgent, Ambitious

About the show

BAM presents a new play from writer-director duo Charles Mee and Les Waters centering on the Catholic monk and mystic Thomas Merton. More…

The Solo cups are overflowing at the centennial birthday festivities of renowned Catholic monk Thomas Merton, author of 'The Seven Storey Mountain.' Men in party hats assemble somewhere between Trappist monastery and plywood warehouse to toast Merton’s many faces, asking: What makes a man? As the night devolves, each facet of Merton’s contested image inspires more speeches, slow dances, makeouts, fist fights, and silent reflections, amassing a layered portrait of what it is to be a human being, full of contradictions and brimming with life.

Fort Greene Focus

"The Mee/Waters one-two punch knows how to get our heads going as well as our bellies laughing…Merton’s work is also utilized with textured, comedic aplomb...Like great art, it’s up to you to figure it out...But let’s make it clear — this production is satisfying, so satisfying. The stimulating experience will resonate far beyond your time sitting in the theater. And in the masterful hands of this honest-to-goodness collaboration, know that your time in the theater is nothing but sacred." Full Review

Front Row Center

"'The Glory of the World' is billed as a birthday party for Thomas Merton, Catholic priest, author, social activist etc. And I’ll say it is. Is it ever. More than that, however, it is a present day mythic tale that could be titled 'What Happens When Men Get Together With No Adult Supervision'…When lesser-thans try Merton on for size, it is not a perfect fit. Nor should it be. It is, nevertheless, a fascinating evening. It may not be your cuppa...But it certainly is mine." Full Review

Image Journal

"It recalls quite strongly the medieval Feast of Fools—a scandalous, almost blasphemous festival designed to turn the world upside down for a while…That sort of muddled, multi-faced origin is exactly right for 'The Glory of the World,' a party and a paean to a man who embodied contradiction, who turned his world upside...The play still manages to be shocking, even to an audience adjusted to misrule." Full Review

Arts International

"I have to say that I enjoyed the show though I didn't understand the concept of the play. I wanted to learn more about Thomas Merton and how and why he chose seclusion, meditation and the silence." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Much of the evening is spent in dance numbers or neon-lit mayhem, all of which seems to go on several moments too long...You may find yourself frustrated that a work about a thinker refuses to sustain any single thought. This, we realize in the show's final moments, is the point...By the end, the monk's decision to go into silence seems necessary, and bruised by the show that was, our own minds yearn towards it too." Full Review


"'The Glory of the World' feels hastily constructed and half-considered. Plot lines are introduced and then quickly abandoned…Les Waters directs with hyper-exuberance, as one would the workshop of a play that has not yet decided what it wants to be…'The Glory of the World' is a fascinating hodgepodge of whimsy. Still, it is difficult to say what sets this play — an extravagant diversion with the thinnest thematic veneer — apart from the latest Hollywood superhero flick." Full Review

The New York Times

"The dialogue tends to be overshadowed by the frantic antics...Only in its prologue and coda does the show provide some solid, graspable idea of Merton’s beliefs and practices. During these passages spiritual questions are projected onto the set...Granted, these queries can be gnomic and obscure, but at least they are food for real thought. Too much of 'The Glory of the World' consists of empty calories, like birthday cake with too much frosting." Full Review


"Sometimes lively, sometimes languid, sometimes amusing, sometimes frustrating production...Don't expect to learn much about Merton as the boys drink toasts, lip-sync, flex their guns and participate in a fourteen-minute battle royale of a brawl that's impressive in its execution but tiresome in its length....As abstract theatre goes, the piece certainly has its charms, though most of its individual moments, like clueless party guests, just don't know when to leave." Full Review

AM New York

"It seems as if Mee wants to emphasize the virtues of meditation by contrasting frenzied physical activity with its complete absence. But who wants to sit through 90 minutes of repeated nonsense juxtaposed against stillness? Others may find more meaning to it, or they may simply enjoy all the silly humor, but I personally found the Wikipedia entry on Merton more enlightening." Full Review

LEO Weekly

for a previous production "One of the finest, most startling pieces of theater you’ve ever seen...A series of surreal and darkly beautiful tableaus that sometimes feel like products of a feverish contemplative imagination and other times feel like a pure, unfiltered look into the real world." Full Review


for a previous production "A piece exploring Merton's ideas, history and legacy. And just as metaphysical revelation transcends the literal and conventional, the production goes far beyond even the greatest power of the written word to employ all avenues of performance in the realization of a complicated, raucous, glorious mess - the course any party worth attending inevitably takes...The audience is immersed in as creative and consuming an artistic expression of the persona of Thomas Merton can achieve." Full Review

The Courier-Journal

for a previous production "Perplexing but fascinating production...Waters deserves accolades for coordinating such a rush of energy, words and bodies on stage to create a work that resonates. At times, individual moments come off as odious and aggressive, but there are basic philosophical ideas at work here...What gives the chaos and noise of this play clarity is the lengthy moments of silence that bookend the production. With these, the play finds its yin and yang." Full Review


for a previous production "It was rather like a drunken, coked-up frat party where you, as an audience member, are the only sober person. Many of the college kids in the audience apparently found it hilarious. The adults looked bored. Some of them walked out...At around 80 minutes with no intermission, 'The Glory of the World' is far too long, given the paucity of its ideas...This looks like an exhausting and exhilarating piece to perform, and they deserve applause for the quality of their work." Full Review

Dizzying, Excruciating, Great staging, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You don't mind things that don't tell you what to think. This show simply asks, "how do I live?".

Don't see it if you don't enjoy shouting and monotonous spastic (but amusing) physical movement.

Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Great staging, Quirky

See it if you'd enjoy an esoteric version of Animal House. Come for the Merton, stay for the giant fight melee!

Don't see it if you don't enjoy plays or hate slow beginnings & endings. Also, don't see it if you take your own philosophies too seriously.

Ambitious, Entertaining, Edgy, Intelligent, Indulgent

See it if you are open to spectacle: raucous abandon and freeform musings on manhood loosely tied to an historical figure. A philosophical bro comedy.

Don't see it if you want structure and plot OR a biography of Thomas Merton.

Entertaining, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Original

See it if You like unique theatrical experiences.

Don't see it if You prefer plays with linear stories and structured plots.

Joyous, Challenging structure, Brilliant staging, Funny

See it if you're okay with a piece of theatre not necessarily being what is usually thought of as a "play."

Don't see it if you want something with traditional dialogue and drama.

Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Clever

See it if You like religious themes.

Don't see it if You don't like edgy interpretations.

Ambitious, Delightful, Entertaining, Confusing, Great staging

See it if you want to see a joyful, colorful show with a lot of chaos, you love physical theater.

Don't see it if you really want to see a straight-ahead play about Thomas Merton; you have an aversion to the cliches of avant garde theater.

Clever, Entertaining, Disappointing, Absorbing, Innovative

See it if You like me, I mean, Mee. It's a visual and verbal epigrammatic exploration of spiritual musing.

Don't see it if You really wanted a linear exploration of Thomas Merton

Entertaining, Chaotic, Amusing, Uneven, Fun

See it if You like physical theater, are open-minded about irreverent approaches to profound questions, and would enjoy the spectacle of men at play.

Don't see it if You know/care about Merton (the link is faint), require a plot, dislike plotless hyper-physicality. A 20-min fight scene is 17 min too long

Enchanting, Great staging, Hilarious

See it if different

Don't see it if youre easily offended

Confusing, Dizzying, Hilarious, Indulgent, Edgy

See it if You enjoy something unusual, experimental, inventive; you appreciate excess, you care more about presentation than narrative

Don't see it if You need narrative structure, you expect logic and sense, too much physical theater turns you off, you can't let things go

Ambitious, Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Overrated

See it if You're a Thomas Merton fan who wants to reexamine his legacy and question everything. Synchronized swimming or chainsaw battling abound

Don't see it if You expect the play to give you any answers or make any conclusions. So open-ended that it's clichéd. Ominously presented by all male cast

Long, Obscure

See it if You know little about Thomas Merton, and would like to know less.

Don't see it if Any situation other than the above prevails.

Indulgent, Excruciating, Dated, Cliched, Banal

See it if u like-what 17?-beefy men, some older, mostly younger, full of cliches of masculine behavior & self-indulgent crap-ola. Thomas Merton? B.S.

Don't see it if if u're embarrassed by theatrical talent indulging itself to a fair-thee-well plus gratuitous exploitation of holy guru, T Merton. S.T.F.A.

Absorbing, Confusing, Entertaining, Intense, Quirky

See it if You're looking for contemporary theatre and want something to be analyzing the next few days

Don't see it if You want a story or plot line you can understand and follow. Show seems random at best

Disappointing, Indulgent

See it if you like " Silly" trying to be smart. There were a few funny moments. But mostly is was self indulgent and all over the place.

Don't see it if I would say just skip it.

Entertaining, Absorbing, Clever, Edgy

See it if you would like to see what Sam Beckett would have done if he had been filled with joy

Don't see it if you don't like existential questions

Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Intelligent, Profound

See it if You love dudes being dudes and humans being humans.

Don't see it if You have an aversion to beautiful men twerking on walls.

Ambitious, Confusing, Edgy, Chaotic

See it if If you like provocative very experimental stuff.

Don't see it if You don't get philosophical edgy material

Confusing, Great acting, Indulgent, Random

See it if You are entertained by random strangeness and don't mind a lack of plot or character.

Don't see it if You have a low tolerance for nonsensical, sometimes silly art pieces.

Cast & Creatives (27)