Already closed | 1h 35m | Soho/Tribeca

The Great Novel

From 25 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Funny, Ambitious, Clever, Relevant

About the show

In this world premiere, spurred on by recurring visits from her Jamaican Granny in the afterlife, Bertha seeks a new language for a narrative that only she can tell, uninhibited by the ghosts of literary convention. More…

For most of her adult life, Bertha has served as the Brennans’ housekeeper. While polishing the silverware and washing the windows, she dreams of honoring the promise she made to her grandmother long ago to write the next great American novel. But as she drafts her story, she can only see the imprints of the Brontë sisters, Dickens, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and most of all, the Brennans. 

Member Reviews (25)


Great acting, Funny, Ambitious, Clever, Relevant
Avg Score

Brechtian, Farcical, Innovative, Smart

See it if you’d like to see a very quirky but very sharp take on race & class in the US today.

Don't see it if you’re looking for a traditional play: This one is a rough but effective blend of farce & Brechtian epic theater.

Also The ride’s a bit rough. The ending is maybe a bit too sunny after all ... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Great staging, Great acting, Clever, Ambitious

See it if Put-upon-maid of spoilt adult "children," leaves the fold of 10 yrs. to write novel about their self-involvement.White face-paint revealing.

Don't see it if Twelve scenes meander. Mystical quality under-developed. Only single stand-out is Kopp as haughty Charlotte. Great set on a budget, though.

Also "Do you care about the trials & tribulations of a lippy, lippy white g... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Quirky, Great acting, Intelligent, Delightful

See it if you great acting. The style was really unique for this production, and it was a lot of fun!

Don't see it if prefers musicals or plays that don't challenge you to think.

Relevant, Profound, Intelligent, Clever

See it if you are open to exploring the complexities of race, unpaid emotional labor, love and the struggle to write your own story

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with reckoning with your own biases.

Entertaining, Must see, Relevant, Great acting, Funny

See it if you like theatrical storytelling. Beautiful production and a really terrific cast. Also, it was really funny.

Don't see it if you like traditional plays. Or if you are uncomfortable with a story that pokes fun at some of the ridiculous tropes of "great" literature.

Great writing, Great acting, Funny, Absorbing, Clever

See it if you like plays that deal with real issues in absurd and theatrical ways. Great cast and moving story.

Don't see it if you dislike small, intimate theaters, or hate plays that make you think.

Also Top notch design for indie theater.

Intelligent, Great writing, Great staging, Great acting, Funny

See it if You like intimately staged, well written plays with strong actors and design elements.

Don't see it if You’re in the mood for a drama or musical. Or if you are offended by actors in white face. A diverse cast utilizes this theatrical device.

Relevant, Funny, Entertaining, Clever, Ambitious

See it if you're interested in an exploration of the current conversation on race and who gets to tell their stories

Don't see it if you are looking for a light fluffy piece that doesn't go there

During previews
Quirky, Indulgent, Excruciating, Banal

See it if If you want to see a show that needs major development. Not ready for prime time yet. Show takes to long to develop.

Don't see it if Lines missed, characters not good nor likeable. A story that focuses to much on characters we dislike.

During previews
Intelligent, Entertaining, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if you'd like to see a good play about a wealthy family and the hired nanny/maid who is mistreated by each of them as she seeks her chances.

Don't see it if you are bothered by characters that grate on you from the beginning to the end without an ounce of growth. 10 different scenes in 95 mins.

During previews
Well intended, Funny, Repetitious, Slow, Disappointing

See it if plays about aspirations great and small inspire you. All the characters want something that the others are not helping them to achieve.

Don't see it if whining self-involved characters depress you.

During previews
Good acting, Interesting premise, Ambitious, Fitting set and props

See it if Housekeeper dreams of writing a novel based on her Jamaican ancestry, the white (faced) family she serves, and the English books she’s read.

Don't see it if Uneven acting. Color blind casting. Confusing mix of reality, imagination, and ghost.

During previews
Edgy, Great set, props, costumes, Flawed, Ambitious, Clever

See it if you know what the terms “emotional labor” & “the magical negro” refer to. Up-to-the-minute thinking on longstanding literary/media tropes.

Don't see it if Feels longer than it is. Reducing the number of title cards from 10 to 3 might be all it needs to feel shorter. Grandma role unnecessary.

Also Pros: Articulates what’s inexpressible in the service dynamic & in wha... Read more Read less

During previews
Promising, Great staging, Entertaining, Confusing

See it if you want to see a show that with a couple of tweaks could go from good to very good

Don't see it if you don't want to see a show with uneven acting that needs some work.

Also Mary Kathryn Kopp (Charlotte) shows significant growth from her qualit... Read more Read less

During previews
Ambitious, Disappointing, Long

See it if you want to see an unperfect rich family story and how unaware they are of each other.

Don't see it if you want a well-developed journey. 1st hour is repetitive and needs cutting. The resolution is unsatisfying and predictable.

Also The premise seemed very promising - sadly the execution leaves a lot t... Read more Read less

During previews
Fluffy, Insipid, Disappointing, Banal, Ambitious

See it if topic has some small merit,

Don't see it if A very bad script.

During previews
Uneven acting, Relevant, Indulgent, Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if you'd like to see a new play about family dynamics and racial relationships in the US; you want to support the creation of new dramas.

Don't see it if U dislike sterotyping;want to see a polished performance--I saw it the first night & there were too many flubbed lines.

Also Would a maid--or anyone else for that matter---love the father or 2 ol... Read more Read less

During previews
Indulgent, Sad, Cliched, Needs work, Ambitious

See it if See this if you want to support a playwright working on a piece

Don't see it if Don’t see it if you are looking for a finished work

During previews
Slow, Great acting

See it if You want to support some really great scenic and lighting designers.

Don't see it if The play struggles to find a tone or pace appropriate to it's message, we spend way too much time with characters we're not supposed to like

During previews
Enchanting, Entertaining, Funny, Clever, Great acting

See it if You like unconventional staging and performance of a straight play, enjoy stories involving family dynamics, enjoy strong acting

Don't see it if You need large productions and to be clearly aware of the time period in which the story is taking place, don't enjoy character-driven play

During previews
Beautiful design, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing, Great acting

See it if you want to see a beautiful story about a woman finding her voice. Plus, great acting and design all around.

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with white face (utilized by a diverse cast) or you prefer traditional storytelling.

Also This is the third show I've seen from Amina Henry, and I love her writ... Read more Read less

During previews
Slow, Excruciating, Indulgent, Cliched

See it if You are not put off by a poor performance and want to kill 90 minutes

Don't see it if You want good acting and an insightful script free from cliche. A lot of flubbed lines. A lot of lines that were poor to begin with.

During previews
Intelligent, Great writing, Great acting, Funny, Absorbing

See it if you like original storytelling and ambitious, thought-provoking plays. Terrific cast and production values for indie theater!

Don't see it if you prefer traditional theater/casting or would be offended by a diverse cast in white face.

During previews
Great acting, Funny, Clever, Absorbing

See it if you want to see a dark comedy about race, class and a woman finding her identity. Relevant and important story for today

Don't see it if You're looking for a big musical, action or a romance story

During previews
Great acting, Funny, Clever, Absorbing

See it if You want to see a new play that's funny and has a message. An important message.

Don't see it if You're looking for fluff.

June 16th, 2019
"If you're not a Charles Dickens or a Jane Austen or a Brontë sister, where is your place? It's a weighty question, and the answers inevitably dig up complex issues of racial and social hierarchies. Under Sarah Norris's direction, however, the production is stumbling a bit too much alongside its ...
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June 25th, 2019
“’The Great Novel’ reveals itself in the first few minutes without having anything additional to say...Norris' direction doesn't add any urgency...but her cast seizes such opportunities as they are given...Overall, this is an uncertain and rather mild treatment of a potentially incendiary subject...
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June 19th, 2019
“It’s an enervating 95 minute mashup of lesser Ionesco with helpings of Wes Anderson and the visual style of John Singer Sargent...'The Great Novel' is a non-realistic exercise that does have a heartfelt quality but from its opening moments to its fantastical finale it never coheres into a satisf...
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June 16th, 2019
"Small or no budget theatre often creates amazing, pure work. But the vast majority of these Off-Off Broadway productions operate under not-so-ideal conditions and sometimes the limitations of a truncated budget and abbreviated rehearsal period, mixed with blossoming experience, can lead to half-...
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