Already closed | Soho/Tribeca

The Invention of Tragedy

From 15 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Ambitious, Quirky, Edgy, Confusing

About the show

This absurdist work about a chorus of students trying trying like the devil to tell a simple story offers an examination of the post-9/11 world. Part of the Flea's "Mac Wellman: Perfect Catastrophes" series. More…

From the show:


A chorus of students, all alike and all unalike, are trying like the devil to tell a simple story—perhaps the story about the tragedy of the Sandwich Man, with sandwich boards upon which nothing is written, and hence, say nothing. The Invention of Tragedy is Wellman’s examination of the post-9/11 world and America’s general and genial acceptance of the Iraq war.

Member Reviews (15)


Great acting, Ambitious, Quirky, Edgy, Confusing
Avg Score

Absurdist, Profound, Refreshing, Great acting, Clever

See it if Nonsense poetry conveyed with strong feelings & expressions. Remarkable acting & directing. Uniquely creative experience.

Don't see it if You don't like weird absurdist plays. You need to make sense out of the spoken words. Delightfully playful, but meanders, w/o much plot.

Also I don't know how the actors ever memorized all those nonsense lines, a... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Confusing, Quirky

See it if you want to see simple spectacle on stage but not really understand it. It's out there! But moments are interesting and funny.

Don't see it if you want to understand what you are seeing. Some things resonate, other things- who knows???

Read the review in the ny times!

See it if You like being puzzled as to what is going on.

Don't see it if You prefer straightforward plots.

Intelligent, Resonant, Intense, Edgy, Ambitious

See it if you're into Wellman and making your own meaning. This is brilliantly directed. Really gets you thinking about conforming v. speaking out.

Don't see it if you want easily followable narrative. This is hilarious with great acting and great sets but very quirky and strange. Not for just anyone.

Absurd: definitely | confusing | worth staying | some outstanding actors

See it if you have patience, because by the end you'll appreciate its message. See it if you love seeing up & coming actors...Major bravos to Susan Ly

Don't see it if you do not like a message very well hidden in this absurdist plot.

Also I really liked it by the end ... STAY for the full message/the actual ... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Dizzying, Ambitious, Funny, Absorbing

See it if You are bored by traditional theatre and want to enter a netherworld that will put you in a trance, then move you beyond imagination.

Don't see it if You like your stories tied up neatly, your plot line to make sense, and your characters to have names.

Entertaining, Quirky, Hilarious, Thought-provoking, Great singing

See it if You love experimental forms of theatre! Also has a great run time (approx 60 min).

Don't see it if You are looking for a coherent, normative throughline of plot. It is a play based in emotion and action less than it is about words.

During previews
Brilliantly played, Brilliantly staged, Knotty, Choral, Brainy

See it if you’d like to see a brainy, updated version of the beginnings of Western drama in the emergence of an actor from the chorus, then another...

Don't see it if you are looking for anything like a standard-issue drama.

Also I’m a Wellman fan & loved this, a brainy re-invention for contemporary... Read more Read less

During previews
Confusing, Excruciating

See it if You want to see a play where a bunch of girls are dressed as animals. It’s very weird and zany

Don't see it if You like to understand what is going on. I was confused by the first 30 seconds and none of the play made sense to me

Also I did not intend to see this play tonight my plan was to see another p... Read more Read less

During previews
Great acting, Edgy, Absorbing, Confusing

See it if you're a Mac Wellman fan (and everyone should be, really), i.e., you know what you're getting into. Confusing but powerful, great production

Don't see it if you expect to come out with a well formulated idea of what you've seen.

Also The language is intentionally and exquisitely non-linear, at times obt... Read more Read less

During previews
Quirky, Ambitious, Enchanting

See it if You enjoy poetic language, physical comedy, and fables.

Don't see it if You like plays where people sit on couches and TV style naturalistic dialogue

During previews
Insane, Great acting, Delightful

See it if You like experimental. You have an open mind & imagination. You've never seen a Mac Wellman play before (like I hadn't). Fun before drinks!

Don't see it if Don't see it if you often find yourself saying "I don't get it" after a show

During previews
Refreshing, Edgy, Great acting, Entertaining, Funny

See it if you want to experience quirky, fun and experimental theater. It's beautifully directed with gorgeous music and amazing costumes & dance.

Don't see it if you only like traditional theater. This is different than what you may find on Broadway, but will still appeal to fans of musical theater!

Also To newbies of the playwright of Mac Wellman: Mac writes odd plays!! Go... Read more Read less

During previews
Quirky, Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Hilarious, Clever

See it if You're in the mood for a healthy dose of experimental theater in downtown Manhattan

Don't see it if You feel like being spoon-fed an easy show. The Music Man is probably playing somewhere...

During previews
Moving music, Great directing, Great acting, Clever

See it if You love challenging wordplay that portrays emotion, bold and clever staging, great acting, moving original music and cat ballets.

Don't see it if If you prefer dialogue that's straight up and easy plot lines.

September 25th, 2019
"In ‘Invention of Tragedy,’ Wordplay Over Plotlines: Mac Wellman’s ode to theater does away with character and basic grammar. Here, language baffles and delights."
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September 22nd, 2019
"Mac Wellman's mini-masterpiece 'THE INVENTION OF TRAGEDY' at The Flea Theater"
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October 10th, 2019
"Seeing 'The Invention of Tragedy,' certain names went through my head, such as John Ashbery and Edith Sitwell, poets who preferred the sounds of words over their meanings; it's certainly an approach, although whether it really works in a theatrical setting is debatable."
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September 24th, 2019
"On a school auditorium’s stage, young adults portray children as they perform Mac Wellman’s abstract fantasia with slight political overtones. Devotees of his idiosyncratic style may be enchanted while anyone else could be baffled. Brevity, playfulness and presentational polish are its virtues."
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