Already closed | 1h 30m | Chelsea

The Purple Lights of Joppa Illinois

From 37 member  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. More…

Ellis Shook lives alone in a small duplex apartment in Kentucky. He works nights buffing floors, keeps to himself—except for the occasional game of Monopoly or Yahtzee with his neighbor—and always remembers to take his medication. When two teenage girls arrive at his doorstep one afternoon, their visit forces him to confront a tragic past while also offering him a glimpse of hope.

1h 30m | Already closed | Atlantic Theater Stage Two (Chelsea)

Member Reviews (37)


Great acting, Slow, Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking
Avg Score

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

Intelligent, Riveting, Relevant, Great acting, Great writing

See it if you're interested in a gut-wrenching play about a man with severe mental illness.

Don't see it if you're looking for something light.

Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if you like theater that requires patience as the story unfolds. You're expected to wait and learn what the characters are all about.

Don't see it if you don't want to engage in the story of troubled people.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Moving

See it if you are a fan of Adam Rapp's work and enjoy intense, character-driven plays.

Don't see it if you prefer plot-driven plays or are uncomfortable with damaged characters in extreme emotional states.

Edgy, Excruciating, Powerful, Strong performances

See it if You are ready to test your own perceptions and values - it allows you to consider your own sense of risk, courage, fear, and honesty

Don't see it if You are in the mood for something traditional, comforting or light

Also Tense short play concerns a man who struggles to function while living... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Dark, Intense

See it if like slow building stories with intense emotional payoffs. beautiful performances from the cast

Don't see it if you're not patient or want a lot of action

Absorbing, Author directed a minus, Slow, Good acting, Resonant

See it if Heavy situations involving mental illness.

Don't see it if Have no patience with a slow pace. Authors directing their own work.

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Slow, Resonant

See it if You enjoy stories about people, family, relationships, told by a great cast.

Don't see it if You prefer more fast-paced stories.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting

See it if You like well drawn edgy characters

Don't see it if you only like mainstream entertainment

Original, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Intense, Disappointing

See it if You like quirky characters dealing with mental illness.

Don't see it if You don't appreciate stereotyped characters inserted into a play to create unnecessary drama that could have arisen in a more authentic way.

Great acting, Great staging, Slow, Relevant, Dark

See it if You're an Adam Rapp completist; you want a character study with uncommon characters in uncommon scenarios.

Don't see it if You don't want a play that almost feels like a documentary. It's less of an escape and more of a reminder of cold reality.

Absorbing, Edgy, Intense, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if you like small theaters

Don't see it if you are closed minded

Intense, Original, Great acting

See it if you enjoy great acting and the promise of redemption.

Don't see it if you don't like blood (sorry spoiler!) or language!

Absorbing, Exquisite, Funny, Great acting, Must see

See it if You love a show that plays with emotions and leaves you wanting for more

Don't see it if You hate live plays.

Clever, Intelligent, Quirky, Refreshing, Cliched

See it if You are looking for a fresh night of theatre. Heart wrenching and endearing story.

Don't see it if You want a light story. It's dark but not the usual Rapp experience.

Ambitious, Enchanting, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if You enjoy great acting

Don't see it if You don't like does with titles that don't really mean anything.

Thought-provoking, Original, Intense, Quirky, Mediocre

See it if You like quirky character dramas about mental illness.

Don't see it if You don't appreciate stereotyped characters inserted into a plot to create drama that could have come organically.

During previews
Intelligent, Slow, Quirky, Absorbing

See it if You like character driven shows. Really takes its time getting there but a fairly rich portrait is painted by the end. Worth the wait to me.

Don't see it if You're looking for Little Miss Sunshine. These characters are all broken and you have to work at times to even find something in common.

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 ...
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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 li...
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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 welcom...
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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 natura...
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