The Purple Lights of Joppa Illinois
Closed 1h 30m
The Purple Lights of Joppa Illinois

The Purple Lights of Joppa Illinois NYC Reviews and Tickets

(37 Reviews)
Members say
Great acting, Slow, Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking

About the Show

Atlantic Theater Company presents Adam Rapp's new play about an adolescent abandoned as an infant who meets her mentally ill father for the first time.

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Member Reviews (37)

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982 Reviews | 343 Followers
Unconvincing, Unappealing, Uncomfortable, Unending, Unenlightening

See it if you have endless patience for sloooow exposition. And for not-to-be-believed plot points and inconsistent characterizations.

Don't see it if you want the option to leave; it's performed with no intermission so you're held hostage. An unpleasant hour and a half, with little payoff.

716 Reviews | 157 Followers
Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Quirky, Edgy

See it if you like something slightly unusual but easy to get into, family & redemption stories, secrets revealed, characters not encountered before

Don't see it if you need everything explained right up front, have trouble with characters who may have done bad things, don't like yelling or silences

520 Reviews | 107 Followers
Clever, Great acting, Edgy, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if Adam Rapp is the greatest playwright of all time. I would score all of his plays on here above a 90. See this show!!!

Don't see it if If you are looking for a musical. I can't think of any reason not to see this show. Wish I could write more.

470 Reviews | 113 Followers
Disappointing, Banal, Slow

See it if You like a 1 hour 26 minute show to feel like twice that length. Or like slow moving shows with 2 minutes of a psychotic violent episode

Don't see it if You want to stay awake, as the story is very slow-moving and feels like something a kid would write.

406 Reviews | 188 Followers
Great acting, Original, Thought-provoking, Slow, Uncomfortable

See it if You like shows about mental illness,broken families and rebellious teens Are OK with criminal situations Like to feel uncomfortable

Don't see it if You dislike foul language Are under age 16 Find severe mental illness uncomfortable to watch Dislike hideous crimes

407 Reviews | 67 Followers
Absorbing, Confusing, Great acting, Edgy, Quirky

See it if You like quirky stories about psychotic people

Don't see it if You aren't open to mental health issues

349 Reviews | 58 Followers
Intense, Sad, Absorbing, Hopeful, Slow

See it if You want to see an unconventional family drama with good acting. Story is a bit episodic where it should be organic.

Don't see it if You are squeamish about mental illness.

266 Reviews | 60 Followers
Original, Resonant

See it if Like me, you love Adam Rapp and his sorely damaged characters who while unfamiliar, are recognizable as human to the core.

Don't see it if You want action and an upbeat plot involving "normal" people who don't have bad days or feel frustrated or think about killing themselves.

Critic Reviews (17)

The New York Times
June 10th, 2016

"Rapp’s sentimentality bursts out of the dark, dank closet with his latest effort. Directed with a tender touch and a refreshing respect for silence by Rapp...This juxtaposition of the exotic and the banal is clearly meant to elicit strong emotions for the audience. Yet the script often feels as inhibitingly self-conscious, suggesting a class writing assignment dutifully carried out by a precocious pupil who would rather be working on something else."
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Time Out New York
June 7th, 2016

"It helps to have vivid dialogue, an unpredictable plot and a meaty theme. In 'The Purple Lights of Joppa Illinois,' Adam Rapp has only information. Although he withholds it with some skill, I wish there were more going on here than mere suspense...'Purple Lights,' well acted and creepy, feels like a writer noodling over his first draft, not diving deep into a subject...Rapp directs his own script with careful detail, giving actors permission to nibble scenery."
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June 10th, 2016

"Rapp's most substantial play in several years...The plot gradually emerges through a series of skillfully distributed revelations...All of the actors deliver beautifully well-worn performances...As a slice-of-life drama, 'The Purple Lights of Joppa Illinois' succeeds on all fronts. It's a welcome return to form in the case of its author, whose earthbound writing has always had the essential power to shock and move without any unnecessary embellishments."
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June 17th, 2016

"Adam Rapp’s 'The Purple Lights of Joppa Illinois' is a 'little' play in that its ambitions are small and its dramaturgy is rather straightforward. Having almost no story, it is ultimately a character study of troubled people trying to deal with the hand they have been dealt. It does offer naturalistic acting that makes the play compelling even while it doles out its revelations in tiny doses."
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Theatre is Easy
June 7th, 2016

"Incredibly detailed writing and acting make this new play a must-see…A virtuoso four-person cast…To say there’s not a weak link is an understatement; every single moment in the show is compelling, organic and truthful. The detailed acting work matches, even perhaps surpasses, Rapp’s exquisite writing. This cast is devastatingly believable...It oscillates between being howlingly funny and profoundly sad. This emotional rollercoaster of a play will not disappoint."
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Theater Pizzazz
June 7th, 2016

"A compact, affecting drama…Playwright Rapp also directs, and does so with glowing simplicity. There are no histrionics, no hearts worn on sleeves. Emotions speak for themselves, needing no embroidery. All the actors are right on point, never overplaying…Except for the tussle between Ellis and Monique, not much happens in 'Purple Lights.' A father and daughter reunite but there are no violins. The drama’s straightforwardness–both in the writing and the playing–causes it to really hit home."
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June 11th, 2016

"The four actors are adept at playing the kind of troubled souls that are Rapp's stock-in-trade...In the early scenes, the playwright fakes off his audience...It's a coy dramatic mannerism that serves to delay the audience's emotional engagement. Much about 'Purple Lights' conforms to what one expects in a play by Rapp. There are misfits, ruffians, and malcontents...There's also something here that's sweet and noble and, finally, redemptive. And that's a welcome surprise.
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Front Row Center
June 13th, 2016

“With no especially deep meaning to this work, to spell out the plot reversal that takes place is to leave little left to enjoy...Mr. Apps turns in a quietly powerful performance, transitioning Ellis from ominous loner to damaged soul, changing the nature of how we worry about him. Ms. Reis, too, finds warmth and sympathy in a role that starts off cold and silent. But Ms. Heyward fails to find any depth, or much-needed humor, in Monique, making her an irritant on stage.”
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