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

During previews
Oddly moving reconciliation of psychotic father with daughter he abandoned

See it if /for rich stew of issues: mental illness-violence-creativity linkage, race problems; fascinating Pinteresque powershifts, Mamet linguistics

Don't see it if /for sheer weirdness of play/some in audience left befuddled, slow reveal of secrets leaves audience in the dark/guessing

During previews
Engaging, Great writing, Sad, Intimate, Great acting

See it if you like plays where the characters have more information than you and you slowly get to find out what's actually going on.

Don't see it if you don't like plays with awkward characters.

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Original, Slow, Intense

See it if you enjoy thoughtful, very personal theatre that's quietly intense.

Don't see it if you don't like slow pacing and personal stories.

During previews
Absorbing, Intense, Compassionate, Great acting, Troubling

See it if want to gain insight into the life of a person whose problems are difficult to imagine.

Don't see it if you avoid plays about mental illness and are unwilling to examine our assumptions about appropriate punishment.

During previews
Disappointing, Slow, Intense, Overlong

See it if you can put up with a plot that takes forever to unravel, scenes of violent and irrational behavior, sad and unsettling relationships

Don't see it if any of the above turn you off.

During previews
Well acted, Harrowing at times, A glimpse into difficult lives, Very sad

See it if You're okay with not knowing where things are going at first.

Don't see it if You prefer your plays to be comedies.

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if You like very good acting in a drama with emotion and surprises.

Don't see it if You don't want to be emotionally moved.

During previews
Sad, disturbing, not for everyone

See it if you are intrigued by interesting characters and a slow reveal of secrets. Takes a long time to unravel. Excellent acting. Sticks with you.

Don't see it if you are annoyed by slowly unfolding stories or colorful language, or want face-paced action, happy subject matters or likeable characters,

During previews
Slow, Thought-provoking, Original, Quirky, Uncomfortable

See it if you like even uncomfortable social topics on stage; like plays about mental illness; like uncomfortable topics presented on stage

Don't see it if you don't like uncomfortable topics on stage; don't like to talk about mental illness; don't like blood.

During previews
Banal, Disappointing, Slow

See it if You are interested in the lasting and reaching effects of mental illness on families. Nice theater. Decent acting

Don't see it if You want a fast paced, well written play This would have benefitted from editing and should have been presented as a playlet or short

During previews
Disappointing, Excruciating, Slow

See it if You are offered free tickets and have nothing else to do; painfully slow w/no moral or thoughtful purpose; cast tried hard but poor script

Don't see it if You want faster than snail paced action in a thoughtful entertaining play that you can chat about with friends after show.

During previews
Slow, Original, Unbelievable

See it if you are interested in mental disorders and can stay awake during slow exposition to get to the real ,not realistic, action.

Don't see it if finally making a human connection does not make up for slow beginning and having to sit through an endless country song.

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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