New York | 2h 15m | Already closed

The Place We Built

From 11 critic and 23 member reviews
Members say: Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Edgy, Clever

About the show

The Flea Theater presents the world premiere of Sarah Gancher's tale of friendship, idealism, and coming-of-age, set in current-day Hungary. More…

In a deserted neighborhood in post-communist Budapest, a group of young bohemians build a bar. Reclaiming the Jewish identity their parents’ generation abandoned after the Holocaust, they create a vibrant new subculture combining big ideas and intense debates with wild abandon and outrageous parties. But as authoritarianism and anti-Semitism make a surprise comeback in Hungary, they must fight to save the place they built.

Quick Theatre

"'The Place We Built' feels like an epic, life-changing indie documentary…It catches every little nuance about a modern grassroots political movement...We learn about some more than others, but even those characters that we learn very little about have a purpose for being there, a backstory for what brought them to this point in their life...The scenes set at a wild night at Seagull’s bar were some of the most well-directed scenes I have seen all year." Full Review

NY Theatre Guide

"A powerful, emotionally driven, coming-of-age piece...You become part of the play, immersed and included, as the characters narrate their story. It’s easy to connect with these characters, each one dynamic with a point of view…As a character-driven story, 'The Place We Built' nails it with its inclusion of political, religious, and youthful antics in modern Eastern Europe…The whole show is a culture shock in the best way: educational, hilarious, and also incredibly somber." Full Review


"The play’s many characters and complex structure teeters on the edge of confusion, but thanks to wily direction by Danya Taymor, it never tips into chaos...It’s a thoughtful and emotional piece of writing and performance, with superbly developed characters and slowly intensifying and gripping action...Thanks to the small space and the powerful writing and talented performers, we become part of their story, and their fight." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“'The Place We Built' is a big, rangy work, and it's the Flea's good luck that the director, Danya Taymor, has a gift for pointing our attention in the right direction, even when the stage is filled with chaotic activity. The cast is more than up to the task...The script is slightly overlong, and would probably benefit from a larger-scale production, but this is a very solid achievement, an excellent chance to make the acquaintance of an extremely promising playwright.” Full Review

Theater In The Now

"A politically charged docudrama that is raw, gritty, and purposely intense…This ensemble was stellar at bringing the energy…Gancher’s play isn’t necessarily strong in character so many of the featured players didn’t have much room to explore…Taymor did an impeccable job at bringing history to life in an compelling manner… Not all the pieces fit together, there were some occasional cracks. But no matter what, 'The Place We Built' inspires." Full Review

New York Theatre Review

"Crafted with authenticity and heart...This piece is epic, often Dostoyevskian, in its scope...Taymor’s direction is nuanced and layered. For so much happening all at once, she never allows the pacing to drag or feel bloated...Still, with so much to take in, several subplots could easily be trimmed...'The Place We Built' contains both illuminating character studies and a deeply relevant social message. It is an admirable and disconcertingly topical piece of theatre." Full Review


"'The Place We Built' turns out to be more of a theatricalized documentary than a play, however vivid, important, and revelatory its message. The conglomeration of episodes lessens the thrust of the real drama at the expense of exposition. The play is held afloat by its determined, if motley, cast of fierce young actors...Director Danya Taymor did what she could to mold Gancher’s rambling play into a sustained drama and mostly succeeds." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"A high-energy, politically relevant play…Neither the interviews nor the multitude of flashbacks successfully develop the play’s characters as they define themselves…The cast is uniformly competent and compelling. Danya Taymor’s direction is uneven…The strength of 'The Place We Built' lies in its theme of resistance and transformation…It is this youthful penchant for chasing hope that makes 'The Place We Built' engaging and relevant and worth the visit." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"My companion...was totally taken by it, declaring it one of the best things he’s seen in months;...I demurred, finding its structure scrambled and diffuse..., and, at two and a half hours, its running time overlong...The manifold perspectives, insufficiently developed characters, fuzziness about who, when, and what, and dilatory dramaturgy made me feel I’d stayed up past my bedtime. And that was before the intermission." Full Review

The New York Times

“Collectives often have a dispersive energy, and so, unfortunately, does this show. Giving essentially equal weight to multiple characters and situations, it rarely persuades us to care about any of them...And yet one performance, by Brendan Dalton as a nervous, closeted young musician named Mihaly, is a soulful standout...In those few moments, and a couple of others driven by music, the show pulses with the defiant idealism that we otherwise only hear the characters talk about.” Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

“A part of history that I was unfamiliar with and realize we should be paying more attention to...The space is smartly used thanks to director Danya Taymor...This is completely cast by the Bats who are normally so rawly talented, this time they are uneven and out of their comfort zone...The show runs way too long at 2 hours and throws too many issues at us at once without going in depth leaving us to do the research.” Full Review

Great writing, Great acting, Resonant, Intelligent, Original

See it if you enjoy theater that is overtly political but doesn't preach about the "right" thing to do, ensemble shows where everyone holds their own

Don't see it if you dislike mixing politics w/ your theater, aren't interested in engaging w/ non-American political settings, or need a well-cushioned seat

Thought-provoking, Original, Relevant, Great writing

See it if you like a play that makes you think, appreciate a lively and engaging cast, or question the politics of the world today. It's a winner!

Don't see it if you only like fluffy musicals or are uncomfortable in a small, intimate theater. If you are anyone else....see it!

Absorbing, Edgy, Insipid, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if You like experimental theatre, you like "downtown theatre," you like political theatre.

Don't see it if You don't like political places, you do not like Jewish history and current Jewish issues, you don't like ensemble theatre.

Absorbing, Clever, Exquisite, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You enjoy clever stories, immersive staging, beautiful character creation.

Don't see it if You are bored by historical, activism-based themes and people's stories in these contexts.

Thought provoking, Intelligent, Absorbing, Confusing, Edgy

See it if you enjoy plays that explore both anti-semitism & authoritarianism in the world today. Great performance by Brendan Dalton.

Don't see it if you don't like characters who are not fully developed. Also, if you don't like seating in uncomfortable chairs. You don't like long plays.

Absorbing, Clever, Original, Profound, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy stores that will make you think.

Don't see it if You're looking for something light and fluffy.

Absorbing, Great writing, Great acting, Relevant, Resonant

See it if Future possibile results of the political here & now in the US are a concern. Well written & acted drama of how choices/history can overtake

Don't see it if Serious historical & political drama with tight acting & writing that reflects current US events & issues in this election cycle offends.

Clever, Ambitious, Great staging, Original, Relevant

See it if you like a young acting troupe making challenging, non-linear story telling from multiple points of view.

Don't see it if don't like environmental theater flowered with politics and really uncomfortable chairs.

Ambitious, Absorbing, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if You like new plays and young actors

Don't see it if Don't like race blind casting in a show about ethnicity

Overly long, Thought-provoking, Original, Large ensemble cast, Good intro to historical and present antisemitism

See it if You are interested in political and social implications of modern day antisemetism and authoritarianism; broader implications for the US.

Don't see it if You don't want to be in the midst of loud party scenes, use of puppets to explain history, overly long to get to a rousing finale.

Great writing, Intelligent, Must see, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if You like shows about finding meaning and identity in the midst of political upheaval.

Don't see it if You're under 13 as you will probably have no idea what is going on.

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Funny

See it if If You like educational, funny, somber and partying with Bohemians.

Don't see it if If you don't enjoy shows that take place in intimate theaters.

Ambitious, Epic, Great writing, Resonant, Refreshing

See it if you ache for theater that feels like theater, about the best and worst (and funniest) parts of the human experience

Don't see it if you want to be spoonfed and/or are conservative

Absorbing, Ambitious, Epic, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy entering a world when you go see a play, you like sharp, political theater with a talented ensemble.

Don't see it if you like to feel removed from the action.

Absorbing, Enchanting, Delightful, Clever, Great acting

See it if You want to know about what's going on in Eastern Europe with the arts

Don't see it if Umm

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

See it if You like shows that are character based and thought provoking. You can follow quick changes in scenes. Like edgy, experimental, engaging.

Don't see it if You don't like loud music, lots of motion, small theatres where you feel like you are part of the show.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Edgy, Intense, Profound

See it if You're interested in political theater

Don't see it if you're a nazi sympathizer

Confusing, Edgy, Great acting, Funny, Absorbing

See it if Anyone who has been in a movement

Don't see it if You want a boring linear show

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if You want to experience a cultural story that you're probably unaware of

Don't see it if You lack an open mind about the world and how interconnected our sociopolitics are

During previews
Clever, Great staging, Intelligent, Original, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to catch a creatively staged new play about happenings in a post Soviet Era Hungarian bar challenging peoples dedication & politics

Don't see it if A rowdy youth driven ensemble replete w/the follies of youth & loud music leaves you cold. Given to diatribe & a bit too long-still v good.

During previews
Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Edgy

See it if you're interested in recent, uncomfortable history and politics. It stands on its own held up by great characters/performances though.

Don't see it if a lot of exposition and time-jumps are going to confuse/bore you. Low-tech production also might make it tricky to keep up with everything.

During previews
Edgy, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You are interested in historical episodic drama; politics and the Jewish experience

Don't see it if You need chronology or have no interest in history

During previews
Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you have an interest in history, and enjoy hearing it from those who were "there", told in an edgy and unique perspective.

Don't see it if you are not the slightest bit interested in history, and dislike large ensemble productions.

Cast & Creatives (23)