New York | 2h 0m | Already closed

The Naturalists

From 14 critic and 39 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Slow, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

About the show

Set in a rural hamlet in County Monaghan, Ireland, this world premiere is a story of secrets and atonement. More…

'The Naturalists' follows the story of Francis and Billy Sloane, whose isolated existence is shaken by the arrival of the mysterious Josie. It explores how we can be healed by the land, by each other and, maybe, by the perfect stranger.

2h 0m | Already closed | Walkerspace Theater (Soho/Tribeca)

Front Row Center

"Much of the finesse of Jaki McCarrick’s script is in the loaded, telling silences her characters share. I would argue the first act is indulgently long, but I wouldn’t trim the silences...This is fresh and authentic theater. The direction is deft. The characters capture you quickly; you never doubt them. The script is a glimpse of a moment fraught with all the breakage engendered in the Troubles before, all the specific damage visited on these four people, and all the slim hopes of redemption." Full Review

Off Off Online

"Act I of McCarrick’s play consists of arresting, occasionally cryptic, conversation that combines astute characterization and languorous exposition. The playwright’s accomplished dialogue affords glimpses of the three principals’ unconscious motivations and their degrees of emotional damage...This fledgling giving McCarrick’s drama a superb world premiere. The cast—a near-perfect ensemble in the first act—works together like the strings and bow of a virtuoso’s violin." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

McCarrick's world premiere play is bursting with love and light...and hilarious dark comedy...‘The Naturalists’ is about being open-minded and diligent in pursuit of love and redemption...It's also very funny...Rarely is nature's power to heal and draw people together so well-represented onstage, and with such humor—a real triumph for the cast, writer, and director. ‘The Naturalists’ is sure to remind you of something you'd forgotten about selfless love for folks around you, and the planet.” Full Review

Berkshire Fine Arts

"Fascinating play...Co-directed by Colleen Clinton and Lily Dorment, a lovely swing between former terrorist Francis’ poetic appreciation of the nature that surrounds them and Billy’s cruder cooking is immediately set up...The play is tender, gentle and appreciative of nature. The lilt of the Irish dialect captures the mood of the story and makes the dramatic evening both powerful and beautiful." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"A compelling look at how one’s 'secret' past can suddenly and unexpectedly encroach on the present and delay one’s progress into the future...The ensemble cast of 'The Naturalists' work brilliantly together to explore these dynamic characters whose engaging conflicts could not be more relevant...If directors Colleen Clinton and Lily Dorment could modify the convention of the scene changes, the action of the play would move more quickly without sacrificing any substance." Full Review

Stage Left

"The play is striking for its naturalism. Ms. McCarrick’s characters, especially as performed by this outstanding, all-Irish born leading trio, are painfully real and captivating to observe...You won’t find a better acted suite of scenes on any New York stage than the ones here...A tad long-winded and plagued by jarring scene-change music choices that are far too obvious and incongruous as a score, these faults fade in consideration of the fine performances throughout." Full Review

Epoch Times

"The play is an earthy depiction of a small group of individuals living on the edge of society...Most of the first act is spent in chatting, not going anywhere special. The two-hour show could profit by a little judicious cutting. But later, another man enters the picture and livens up the doings...The performances are quite good...Lovers of Irish theater and down-to-earth naturalism should like this one." Full Review


“McCarrick's play builds ambience with every word. The characters are definitive and haunted. When they share secrets or observations, it's just enough to feel satisfying yet realistic. The plot gets slightly muddied in the middle, moment feels out of place...The performers feed off of the rich text, bringing to life characters who are at once charming yet natural...‘The Naturalists’ is both quiet and loud, a lovely tale of making peace.” Full Review

The New York Times

"'The Naturalists' is a play that takes its time, in ways that are more and less successful. It’s also a play about time and about how change can happen very slowly and then very quickly...This is theater and we know this idyll can’t last. The anticipation of the crisis is agonizing...But the play and its desultory rhythms are a gift to its actors...The way each of them sustains the others is a thing as beautiful as any of Francis’s redwoods or violets." Full Review

The Reviews Hub

"A well-crafted family drama...The potential for an explosively gripping show is present, with a strong script and compelling performances, but in this particular performance, the direction felt slack...The stakes that playwright Jaki McCarrick has built into the script are high and tangible, and though the acting by the strong ensemble is formidable, the production tends to lack a luster that seems to be bubbling just below the surface." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"The play before us is a slightly strange thing, suffering from a pronounced case of split personality. So opposed are the moods of its two acts that at times it's like seeing two separate -- and diametrically opposed -- dramatic works. Cognitive dissonance, rather than spellbinding, is the order of the day...If McCarrick could liven up the first act and tone down the second, 'The Naturalists' would be far more coherent. Still, it is striking enough." Full Review


"A tender character study of a spirited young woman becoming the housekeeper for two troubled middle-aged brothers devolves into a clumsy hostage drama...Staging has steadiness and simplicity which serves most of the play well, particularly in the outdoor sequences that convey an awe of nature. Julie Voshell’s choreography enlivens the occasional dances between the characters...With fine tuning of its writing and staging, it could very well more cohesively succeed." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"This new play set in contemporary Ireland offers some moments of beautifully written prose and a carefully calibrated central performance. However, the production suffers from too much muted naturalism in the direction at the expense of legibility...It’s an interesting setting, with a fascinating character at its core. But the understated execution of the production can leave us drifting far too frequently." Full Review

New York Stage Review

“The performances at least are sincere...Unfortunately, between the Irish accents and everyone’s efforts to speak naturally, at times it is difficult to comprehend what anybody is saying...The fatal error is choosing to produce McCarrick’s faulty play, which initially holds some charm but eventually implodes. In addition to its significant motivation issues for the characters, the plot is overloaded with excessive back-stories...The characters talk on and on and on." Full Review

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting

See it if Irish play about relationships, family and politics. Each character's total different personality merges to show unity.

Don't see it if You have trouble with irish brogue. May have a slow start and over 2 hours long

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing

See it if Partner's 90 % and my 85%. Nice theater space. Set fits the mood. New role for John Keating done to perfection. Sarah Street very good.

Don't see it if Chat with your Irish pals or do a week in the "old" country to better adjust to t the speech patterns. Study the weekend subway changes.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if Powerful story about relationships and shared history impeccably acted with great writing and beautiful craftsmanship.

Don't see it if you don't like interesting surprises, don't like accented performances, but otherwise this intense thought provoking drama was excellent.

Absorbing, Intense, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if you like intelligent well made family dramas up close. Incredible performance by Tim Ruddy as the younger brother.

Don't see it if Irish accents pose a problem for you.Or you mind the inevitable cross-over into melodrama that Irish plays dealing with "the troubles" take.

Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Profound, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to see a well-written, well-acted show that presents many dilemmas. and like life, not everything is resolved.

Don't see it if you have difficulty with heavy irish accents. i liked this play very much, but missed some statements.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Slow, Great acting, Quirky

See it if you enjoy Irish plays, stories about struggling brothers, the continuing impact of "The Troubles," good acting esp. John Keating, new writer

Don't see it if Irish plays are not your thing, don't need to be reminded of the IRA, etc., not fan of slower character studies, onstage violence or accents

Great acting, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy a beautifully presented, involving play that isn't afraid to take its time to develop character and lay groundwork.

Don't see it if You get impatient. You have particular trouble with Irish brogues.

Also The accents here are very well-done; I believe much or all of the cast... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Slow, Thought-provoking, Funny

See it if you like thought-provoking theater; you like accents, travelling, and exploring other cultures; you like plays

Don't see it if you don't like gun shot sounds; you don't like accents; you don't like slower moving plays that build with time

Great acting, Great staging, Great writing

See it if Great acting and story telling about how people deal with emotional pain.

Don't see it if You don't like serious plays about the human condition.

Enchanting, Cliched, Great acting, Indulgent, Resonant

See it if You like a play that paints a beautiful picture of a landscape. You're interested in Ireland.

Don't see it if It's a wee bit slow, and while I wouldn't say it's cliche or anything, some of the paths are pretty well worn.

Entertaining, Human scaled, Human paced

See it if You have an evening to kill, and are content with a largely quotidian view into a peculiar Irish life in the country. This is a good thing.

Don't see it if You need big stakes, powerful declaiming, and things that impact your life today. Small is the way we live and this reflects it.

Absorbing, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if you enjoy excellent actors in ambitious plays. It doesn't totally succeed but there is a lot​ here to keep you engaged.

Don't see it if you can't sit for long plays that meander. The production lacks a focus and many of the important moments are not given room to play out.

Also All four of the actors do very good work. This company is one to watch... Read more Read less

Cliched, Disappointing, Great acting, Slow, Overrated

See it if you like Irish stories with good actors and a great set.

Don't see it if you want to see a play with great script and good direction.

Absorbing, Enchanting, Beautiful writing,, Great acting, Resonant

See it if you love gorgeous acting, like to be transported, love Irish writing, humor and complex characters

Don't see it if Worth seeing!!

During previews
Must-see / thoroughly entertaining, Jammin' scene-changing music (steely dan!!!), Great claustrophobic set / nice use of space / detail-oriented staging (props), Character-driven / absorbing / refreshing / interesting twist, Excellent performances / intelligent book

See it if you want to actually CARE about a play's main characters, warts & all: a lovable grunt, a gentle former brute, a sweet caring strong maiden.

Don't see it if you're not int'd in the dynamics of rural familial relationships set in Ireland. Nothing wrong w/hearing strong accents, forcing U to focus.

Also You have to be patient...... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you like Irish dramas.

Don't see it if you prefer lighter fare.

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Good writing, Intelligent, Riveting

See it if you want to see an absolutely astonishing performance by John Keating. All the case was excellent, but Keating was AMAZING. Just superb.

Don't see it if you're unwilling to listen to authentic Irish brogues.2 actors were difficult to understand at times. You don't "get" dark Irish humor.

Also The script was very good, not perfect, but good. I'd give the script a... Read more Read less

During previews
Edgy, Intense (eventually), Thought-provoking, Absorbing

See it if you like character driven pieces with good acting and interesting plot twists

Don't see it if You don't like actors speaking with accents or can't handle onstage violence

Also some of the lines are delivered too softly (and with brogues) so sitti... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Refreshing

See it if you appreciate a character driven play without bells and whistles to distract from good acting and plot.

Don't see it if you expect action or prefer plays not focused exclusively on story telling.

During previews
Deeply human, Too long!, Well played, Satisfying, Evocative

See it if you like a story that finds the human & even the lovable in some very flawed, scared human beings who somehow manage to lift one another up.

Don't see it if you have never acquired a taste for Irish stories steeped in lots of local color.

Also "The Naturalist" is too long by half an hour. Toward the end if its 1s... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Slow, Intense

See it if you want to see a story about two reclusive brothers who are confronted with the demons of their past when a young woman enters their lives.

Don't see it if you don't want to see a slow-burning relationship drama. The characters' secrets and motivations unravel over time.

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Indulgent, Slow

See it if It's a good story, well drawn characters who I cared about. Irish writing interests me.

Don't see it if You might not like the overly realistic style. And I had trouble understanding them about 20% of the time. They were too casual in places.

During previews
Absorbing, Great staging, Refreshing

See it if you're intrigued by the human psyche, Irish culture, carefully-detailed staging and production

Don't see it if you may be triggered/upset by several simulated gunshots in the play

Also I see that others have noted that this is a long play, but I thought t... Read more Read less

During previews
Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent, Intense, Irish story of lasting emotional damage after the ira and the troubles makes a poweful statement.

See it if You want to dive deep into the human cost of political violence and can make sense of the thick Irish accents.

Don't see it if You're unwilling to pay the close attention required to understand the Irish accents.

During previews
Great staging, Entertaining, Great writing, Intelligent, Slow

See it if you enjoy good character development by good actors in a well-written play with a good twist in the second act.

Don't see it if you are apt to loose a lot of the dialogue due to accents and low voices, plus it could be tightened up a bit, thereby making it great.

Cast & Creatives (12)