“There’s a core of honest emotion at the center of Jeff Talbott’s ‘The Gravedigger’s Lullaby.’ That isn’t enough to redeem this new play’s problems, but it fuels a few poignant scenes in this fablelike story…The cast members handle the script with deftness…That script could stand to trim some self-conscious poeticism and to smooth a few uneven plot points…Some parts of ‘The Gravedigger’s Lullaby’ are often skewed. But its heart is always in the right place.” Full Review
"The bones of great drama are there, but the execution is stolid and sluggish, a problem sometimes exacerbated by Thompson's direction...The playwright has avoided any details that would ground the action in a specific reality. Similarly, the characters are lacking in shading...Whenever the actors get an opportunity, they seize it with gusto...Gripping scene-by-scene yet a little dull in its overall effect, an unsatisfying, yet startlingly different, work from a still-developing playwright." Full Review
"The conflict between the barely surviving gravediggers and the privileged Charles...reminds us of that between what we now call the 1% and the 99%. This, though, doesn't seem Talbott's purpose, which appears to be the revelation of how, even in the direst circumstances, love...can survive and even flourish...'The Gravedigger's Lullaby' is a minor genre piece that generally achieves what it sets out to do. If only that red herring didn't swim into view toward the end." Full Review
"Mr. Koch makes you feel for Baylen....Mr. Lawson brings the pain of never having escaped loss, combined with humor. I have long loved Mr. Beck’s work and, here again, he allows you to see a human side of someone who has more than everyone else...Jenn Thompson’s direction holds this piece together. She allows the pacing and the character study is fleshed out...Talbott’s script has some elements that need a little more subtlety, but there are easy ways to fix that." Full Review
"Emotionally involving due to its engaging performances, but ultimately unsatisfying because of its oddly, strategic lack of specificity, 'The Gravedigger’s Lullaby' is a grim, kitchen-sink drama...Playwright Jeff Talbott offers an overall well-written and plotted social drama that detours into a strident political battle over capitalism...The flawed script is energized by the impeccable production elements...Director Jenn Thompson’s staging is accomplished." Full Review
"Playwright Jeff Talbot’s character portraits are terrific...'The Gravedigger’s Lullaby' features pain, sacrifice, determination and commitment under grim, untenable circumstances, yet its overriding message is one of the persistence of human spirit...Anguish, resolution, and a single moment of joy, all seem authentic. We empathize rather than sympathize...Director Jenn Thompson does a marvelous job of defining her characters, right down to the way they carry themselves." Full Review
“The Gravedigger’s Lullaby’ will assure Talbott’s place in the current list of important writers for our theatre…Talbott builds it slowly from a simmer to a boil, finishing with a coda that is honest and satisfying, and gives resonance to the play’s title. A remarkable cast of four brings it all vividly to life...Ted Koch is playing the title role, and his performance is so grounded that from his opening moments alone onstage, he commands our attention…It’s a winner.” Full Review
"With both script and production design sidestepping temporal specificity, the play has a sense of universality that works quite well...Thompson's exquisite collaboration with her actors ensures that what's in the interstices of the dialogue and the silent sequences of the production is poetic, theatrical, and powerful...The well-calibrated pace of what the actors do when they're not talking brings a sense of real life, with its ups and downs, yet keeps things from becoming wearisome." Full Review
"A thoughtful and articulate depiction of those subsisting on the bottom rungs of society. Brought to life in an appreciative production...Director Jenn Thompson has staged Talbott’s work with both theatrical savvy and an open heart, guiding her four actors into beautifully drawn portrayals...The plotting may seem at times to rely too heavily on happenstance. However...his play vibrates with an up-to-the-minute resonance that overcomes any dramaturgical nitpicking." Full Review
"Despite good intentions and passages of real lyrical humanism, the play ends up making the same mistakes as the Left...Jenn Thompson’s direction is energetic and precise, and the acting is strong almost across the board, but in the end the play reinforces the very cultural narratives it purports to dismantle...'The Gravedigger’s Lullaby' deserves praise for trying to shine a light from Theatre Row into the homes of the dispossessed, but it’s ultimately too patronizing and solipsistic." Full Review
"There are believable, deep, layered human stories revealed by playwright and four stalwart performers, honed with subtlety and deliberate pacing under Jenn Thompson’s firm directorial hand...The world, in this production of this splendid play, is specific, charming, fearsome, intimate and haunting...Class divisions are tested by human tragedy but rigidly reassert themselves. Sex and physical risk and fear and redemption all combust and resolve, in under two hours. A marvelous creation." Full Review
"A timeless tale…Two parts ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ and one part Tennessee Williams…Koch inhabits this character with a gruffly sad gravitas that is part teddy bear, part dangerous, and quite honest. His scenes with coworker and fellow gravedigger Gizzer are perhaps the most captivating…These moments felt effortless…If you have an opportunity to see ‘The Gravedigger’s Lullaby,’ I highly recommend you do. It has highly relatable moments, some of joy and deep desperation.” Full Review
See it if great acting esp by Ted Koch.Lighting and Sound match to perfection. 90 minutes. Be ready for some woe"Not now, before" as the author says
Don't see it if You want a fun musical It is as somber as it can get. Some lives are tough to see. 90 minutes Tense action re: relationships among pals kin
See it if Talbott's blue collar drama wears its heart on its dirty sleeve but Koch's excellent Baylen has us in grip from his first sigh of exhaustion
Don't see it if Drama takes too long to reach its points about economic injustice & strives for a questionable mythic quality; good direction helps focus
See it if You like serious tough thoughtful plays. A gravedigger stuck in his life. Sad, touching, powerful. Super set. The lead actor is terrific.
Don't see it if You want laughs humor or light play. This is not that. There is a sex scene that goes on too long.
Also Only a week left before it closes!! Go.
See it if Plot free first half is acceptable. Scenes effortlessly held interest.
Don't see it if Playwright creates misdirection in final minutes, playing audience for cheap emotional impact. Wife cast against type. Too upscale for role.
See it if you enjoy wonderfully-acted and staged plays. The cast is stellar, the staging is clever, and the writing avoids falling into cliché.
Don't see it if you don't enjoy slow-paced shows about "the poor, working man." The script doesn't surpass previous ones in the genre, but holds its own.
See it if You want to see a brilliant contemporary drama that will keep you riveted from first word to last ! Realism is on stage.
Don't see it if You can't tolerate physical fighting and raw language and dialogue sometimes incredibly loud. No intermission in intensity in this drama !
See it if You'd like to see a well-written premier about hard working people just barely ekeing out a living.
Don't see it if You can't understand someone who gets so angry at the boss and his situation that he lashes out at a co-worker.
See it if You want a smart drama about the have and have nots. A family drama of trying to make it in life. Like gut wrenching peformances.
Don't see it if You don't want to acknowledge the real poverty that exists. That real people work the best they can & still don't have enough to live on.
See it if you like good acting about the subject of the haves and the have nots in this world. Great thesis on poverty and what it does to the people
Don't see it if You don't like depressive story lines about the wealth gap in this country.
See it if plays about class/financial struggles engage you and you can handle gut wrenching situations.
Don't see it if you want to leave the theater with a song on your lips and a smile on your face.
See it if You enjoy paying to listen to silence, there's a lot of it... you like watching snails race, that's the pace of the play. No Intermission.
Don't see it if You enjoy a good comedy...this one Ain't... You want to feel uplifted stay home...Seneca the Younger' s Medea is more uplifting.
See it if you love exploring the common man and the idea of blue collar workers getting profound
Don't see it if you have already seen Fences, Streetcar, Glass Menagerie, or any other well known play about working class patriarchy, this is nothing new
See it if You like plays that are powerful and show how characters struggling, barely making it in this world hold on. Great ending.
Don't see it if You like cheerful musicals and don't really care for intense drama
Get alerts about your favorite artists and theater companies