Already closed | 1h 20m | Soho/Tribeca

Thomas Paine in Violence

From 27 member  reviews
Members say: Confusing, Ambitious, Excruciating, Slow, Dizzying

About the show

HERE Arts Center presents this electronic, psychedelic opera-sermon set in a cosmic radio station in the afterlife of the Thomas Paine, the Founding Father and international activist. More…

In 'Thomas Paine in Violence,' Paine struggles to broadcast a message of economic justice amidst a whirlwind of lightning-quick singing, autotuned shock-jockery, gadgets, voices, instruments, and sonic chaos.

Member Reviews (27)


Confusing, Ambitious, Excruciating, Slow, Dizzying
Avg Score

Entertaining, Dizzying, Confusing, Energetic, Edgy

See it if You enjoy performance art or shows that come at you loud and in your face. The performances are full of energy and interesting.

Don't see it if You expect to learn anything about Thomas Paine or experience any of his many profound quotes. This is more about interesting performance.

Also I will freely admit that I maybe just didn’t “get” this show. It would... Read more Read less

Banal, Confusing, Excruciating, Slow, Disappointing

See it if You have a relative in the show

Don't see it if If you want a plot, writing or direction.

Ambitious, Well sung by committed cast, Top notch sound design, Irreverent, quirky experiemental opera

See it if you appreciate experimental/new music (musical language I've not encountered before); you like the great Joan La Babara; you're adventurous

Don't see it if you're not prepared to leave conventional notions of melody and meaning at the door; you dislike avant-garde structure, or irreverent wit

Also This is an incredibly polished ensemble performing a very challenging ... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Confusing, Great singing, Indulgent

See it if you like non-traditional music theater.

Don't see it if you want a linear plot or traditionally structured songs.

Confusing, Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking, Unnecessary

See it if You really like abstract interpretations of early American philosopher’s work, being confused, and avant-garde theater.

Don't see it if You like shows with coherent threads of plot, shows that serve a purpose beyond fulfilling the randomest of ideas, or that are entertaining.

Also I loved Paul Pinto in The Great Comet, but this show was odd and a lit... Read more Read less

Great staging, Intense, Refreshing, Dizzying

See it if you are a fan of the avante garde and enjoy extremely non-traditional theatre

Don't see it if you are scared of anything non-traditional, don’t like being in total darkness or flashing lights, or prefer standard melodies

Also Thomas Paine in Violence is unlike anything I have ever seen. I am not... Read more Read less

Great acting, Great staging, Relevant, Excruciating, Slow

See it if You want to be mildly confused (in a good way) for 75 minutes, like absurdist theater, want a bizarre futuristic look at Thomas Paine

Don't see it if The term "synth-opera" sounds like torture to you (because it is indeed a synth-opera), if loud, disjointed sounds/lights bother you

Dizzying, Intense, Riveting, Thought-provoking

See it if You're looking for something that's going to take you outside of your theatrical comfort zone.

Don't see it if You're looking for a traditional opera/play, or if you need a linear narrative in order to enjoy a show.

Also I don't know Joan La Barbara, but after seeing this show I've decided ... Read more Read less

Excruciating, Intense, Quirky, Slow

See it if You don’t need any plot, enjoy random singing/movement, or don’t mind loud noises.

Don't see it if You want a show to make sense or loud noises/flashing lights startle you.

Also I appreciated the effort by the actors, I just didn’t understand the s... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Confusing, Quirky, Slow, Intense

See it if You enjoy avant garde theatre that you at times find difficult to fully understand.

Don't see it if You want a cohesive and understandable story line.

Also The staging was very interesting and I could see the value in it, but ... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Confusing, Intense, Relevant, Profound

See it if experimental theater or social commentary interest you. Both a political indictment of class warfare & entertaining vocal gymnastics!

Don't see it if you want a typical theater experience. Wild mix of spoken word & avant garde operatics. Much of production occurs in the dark with strobes.

Ambitious, Clever, Great singing, Indulgent, Slow

See it if you're a big fan of Joan La Barbara or experimental opera

Don't see it if you have a problem with lots of flashing lights

Also It's a little slow - I thought every thing that happened was well-done... Read more Read less

Disappointing, Dizzying, Great staging, Indulgent, Insipid

See it if The direction is brilliant and the design is magnificent. Effective set, spot on lighting and sound, male performers are charming.

Don't see it if "Music" is incomprehensible/inaccessible. Lead just read her lines at us the whole show as she glared with no acting. Rant sans plot.

Confusing, Dizzying, Great acting, Excruciating, Slow

See it if You are a lighting designer- the effects and lighting were great!

Don't see it if You aren’t interested in political banter for an hour and a half. The show is futuristic and extremely strange as well.

Confusing, Indulgent, Edgy

See it if You love Joan La Barbara, you're interested in non-narrative contemporary composition, you love Thomas Paine but can let him go tonight

Don't see it if You want an opera - this is not a story - or you want a coherent treatment of Paine's thought. There are allusions but it is frustrating.

Ambitious, Confusing, Banal, Overrated

See it if You like opera that sounds like a Pinter play meets Aaron Sorkin meets Kubrick. But without a plot or great ideas.

Don't see it if You expect music. There isn't any. Just screaming and noise and electro pop performance art. Hugely dissapointed.

Ambitious, Confusing, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if You enjoy keeping pace with dense lyrics and are excited about seeing diverse faces doing new work.

Don't see it if Abstract concepts, overlapping/repeating/oftentimes aggressive vocals, experimental work isn't your cup of tea.

Ambitious, Clever, Edgy

See it if You want a unique, great experience

Don't see it if You don’t have an open mind

Cliched, Excruciating, Indulgent, Slow

See it if This show doesn't live in any of the worlds it claims to be in. It's not an opera, it's not experimental theater, it's not abstract.

Don't see it if You expect this work to live up to its surrealist wild expectations.

Confusing, Excruciating, Indulgent

See it if You love abstract art with incomprehensible electronic noise.

Don't see it if You expect to have anything to hold on to, doesn't need to be a plot but it should at least be enjoyable. This was painful.

Insipid, Indulgent, Excruciating

See it if Nice design but horribly self indulgent.

Don't see it if Even if you like avant garde, surrealist or abstract work, this is too contsrained and preachy. It makes no discernible point. Atrocious.

Clever, Edgy, Great acting, Indulgent, Funny

See it if You have dry humor

Don't see it if You feel awkward easily

Ambitious, Confusing, Dizzying, Slow

See it if You like experimental theater and don’t mind not understanding what is going on.

Don't see it if You are expecting anything with dramatic action or even a plot.

Also I appreciated the work that went into this production and was truly im... Read more Read less

Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Slow

See it if You like avant garde, experimental preachy ranting that relies on nonsensical bravado. The staging is beautiful but show is unwatchable.

Don't see it if An opera without a single melody. Its spoken dialogue in metre with no story as an older woman reads lines from an iPad from the ceiling.

I have never seen a more uncomfortable audience in my life., Confusing, Dizzying, Excruciating, Banal

See it if You like performance art that tries way too hard. I was appaled at how many good artists could do such terrible source material.

Don't see it if Hate repetitive ranting that speaks down to you. It is a manifesto by someone who does not treat an audience with respect. Joyless.

November 13th, 2017
"The incomparable La Barbara has a presence that’s both enigmatic and regal...Occasionally, I felt lost in a flood of information and sensory stimuli. Fortunately there are enough moments of substance that can pull one back from these distractions...It's a thoughtful piece that entertains before ...
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November 14th, 2017
"It’s a haunting performance, one that causes us to lean in and demands attention be paid...Pinto and Burkhardt do right by never taking the material too seriously or talking down to their audience and there is an enormous amount of fun to be had...What starts out seeming like an amusing vocal ex...
read more

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