Members say: Entertaining, Great acting, Clever, Great staging, Absorbing

About the show

The Flea presents a pair of world-premiere one-acts by celebrated playwright A.R. Gurney. The two run separately but simultaneously in the upstairs and downstairs theaters.

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In 'Squash,' Gurney explores the fluidity of sexuality on a college campus in the '70s before gender was upended. In 'Ajax,' an actress-turned-teacher allows a rousing performance of an ancient text to reveal her true self. Audiences are strongly encouraged to see both shows on the same evening. To make this possible, 'Squash' plays once each night, and 'Ajax' runs twice to allow patrons to attend both.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"Imbued with a giddy openness to change that seems to be as much a part of Mr. Gurney’s DNA as his anthropological dedication to a vanishing class of patricians...'Ajax' is best perceived as a happy fantasy, one that bubbles with the belief that borders of all sorts were meant to be leapt over. 'Squash,' also directed by Mr. Arima (and warmly designed by Jason Sherwood), emanates a similarly optimistic glow, but it is a more fully integrated play." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Perhaps because of their brief running times, they are less substantial than usual; for once, this most inventive of playwrights touches on his favorite themes without having much new to say about them...'Ajax': His editorializing doesn't always mesh well with the Meg-Adam romance, which has a breezy, screwball quality. Still, under Stafford Arima's direction, it all goes down easy...'Squash': Arima directed again, and he keeps the tone light and bright, eliciting totally solid performances." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“I recommend these plays more because they’re your last chance to see a Flea offering at this 20-year-old venue (in a 99-year-old building) than for either's intrinsic quality...While each is entertaining, neither is up to the standards of Gurney’s best work...All the creative contributions help bolster the plays, but Gurney's’ characters and situations, for all their potential, are too artificial to generate belief.” Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"'Squash:' The cast are all seasoned actors who do well, the problem is the material comes off saying everybody is a repressed homosexual and I don’t think that’s the case...'Ajax:' Here the acting was done by the Bats, but it came off as amateurish. Again, the piece is offensive and not well written with holes in it wider than the rift between the Palestinians and the Israelis...Stafford Arima's direction was interesting and moved these plays in unique ways." Full Review


“Whether you see one or both of ‘Two Class Acts’, these are provocative plays of ideas on topics of the day. The playwright continues to demonstrate that he has a wise and discerning view of the human condition. Director Stafford Arima has done a beautiful job of obtaining all of the nuances and humor out of the two sharp and intelligent situations. The casting for both plays could not be improved as the actors make their roles their own. The Flea leaves White Street on a high note.” Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"Both plays starts promisingly, but end disappointingly. The acting runs from fair to good, with Amboyer standing out. The immersive sets by Jason Sherwood are excellent...Stafford Arrima’s fluid direction is admirable...Neither play is top-drawer Gurney, but, for me at least, even second-drawer Gurney is enjoyable." Full Review

Theater In The Now

"Directed by Stafford Arima, 'Ajax' and 'Squash' explore the Greeks through the collegiate lens...'Ajax:' Gurney has crafted an intense relationship play. These two individuals are driven to success yet get blinded from within the whirlwind...'Squash' is short and sweet with a lot of bite...Gurney’s 'Two Class Acts' had some issues but as a pair, they complemented one another well. 'Ajax' and 'Squash' provide a great night at the theater." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Sometimes, all the right elements come together to make a production that’s just delightful...The artistic elements that come together here: visceral acting, transporting, detail-oriented design, Stafford Arima’s masterful staging, and A.R. Gurney’s buoyant yet dynamic new plays...Aside from a few telegraphic moments in the dialogue to keep the plot going in these two micro-plays, Gurney’s writing is delightful." Full Review


"'Ajax:' While the boy-meets-girl conceit is hardly original, Gurney's treatment of it is, though it does require you to suspend your disbelief about the typical professor-student relationship...As directed by Arima, 'Ajax' nicely straddles the ancient Greek and modern American world....'Squash:' Gurney really scores by investigating human sexuality through the dual lens of hetero and homosexual relationships...The play can certainly expand your consciousness on sexuality, love, and sports." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"I found Gurney’s 'Ajax' offensive, not because it spread the same old lies about Jews but because it was artificial and jerky. I think it needs to be rethought and turned into a longer play with more depth and less superficial characters. I presume it’s a comedy, but the humor didn’t come through to me...'Squash:' I found very little feeling in this play as well. It was a clever idea but not quite clever enough. Laughter was sparse. The characters were too superficial to be funny." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"'Ajax' and 'Squash' are a one-two punch of bigotry and disappointment. Each play is an hour long, and both hours dragged on as I sat cringing in my seat...'Ajax:' It’s trite, it’s predictable, it’s full of cliché. This is a terrible show, and it’s difficult to say if the hackneyed script or the anti-Semitism was more offensive...Though the staging and costumes for 'Squash' were fabulously 1970s fleek, the script was again fraught with stereotypes, misguided ideas, and stale dialogue." Full Review

Connecticut News

"Both plays are about the tensions between teachers and students, and the sexual currents that can sometimes overshadow the academic work in a classroom...'Squash' is the longer and more substantial of the two plays. Director Stafford Arima gives it an expansive, environmental staging...Gurney brings a lot of humor to the serious issues he raises in both plays and he gives the actors many juicy and surprising scenes to play." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging

See it if Very original one acts acted well and written by one of the most prolific American playwrights alive today.

Don't see it if you don't want to move from one theater to another to watch the two shows on the same night.

Absorbing, Edgy, Quirky, Raunchy, Entertaining

See it if you love Gurney & intimate, clever staging (esp. Squash) for few, gung ho actors & are intrigued by edgy, unexpected interpersonal dynamics.

Don't see it if looking for elaborate staging, larger cast & middle-of-the-road, traditional two-part play & are queasy about risque dynamics in raw spaces.

Absorbing, Delightful, Relevant

See it if Stafford Arima directs this two one acts with bridging themes to great effect. Dan Amboyer was a stand out. Ajax was also very good.

Don't see it if you don't like one acts

Ambitious, Great acting, Quirky

See it if you like one-act plays and AR Gurney. Crossing borders in relationships. Set in the 60s-70s seems dated. Not his best work. Great acting.

Don't see it if you don't like one-act plays or Gurney.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You have ever been a college student or adjunct professor and thought about the balance of academia vs the "real" world.

Don't see it if You like plays with lots of action.

Funny, Quirky, Contemporary

See it if Enjoy fast-moving stories of contemporary issues

Don't see it if Fast moving plots and scene changes will confuse you.

Clever, Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if have liked Gurney's work in the past, if you like one-act plays and enjoy innovative staging.

Don't see it if you don't care for Gurney, don't like short plays or are offended by male nudity.

Also Even though it's not Gurney at his best, it's still worth seeing.

Clever, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you know/like classic theater and want to see contemporary riffs on literary classics.

Don't see it if You want gripping, moving drama. These plays are intimate, thoughtful character studies.

Clever, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if You are a Gurney fan and like one act plays. Ajax is the weaker of the two, but Squash holds your attention as a relevant story.

Don't see it if Brief nudity and sexuality in both plays would disturb you.

Also Ajax is set up in a classroom with a teacher student scenario. The act... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Indulgent, Great staging

See it if You like college settings, related one acts, classical references, contrast of 70's &current classroom with inappropriate student : teacher

Don't see it if you don't like one sided pro Palestinian character unchallenged in Ajax, contrasted with characters with fluid points of view in squash

Funny, Ambitious, Cliched, Dated, Great staging

See it if you enjoy the actors and/or this playwright. The performances range from capable to quite good, working with flawed but enjoyable plays.

Don't see it if you want something irreverent or tremendously original. The staging is unique, but the works themselves don't break new ground.

Clever, Edgy, Great staging

See it if Squash only (didn't see Ajax) - excellent light-hearted, well acted and energetic (somewhat) comedy that keeps you glued to your seat

Don't see it if you're looking for something deep in a very heavy-handed way - there aren't many negatives; I guess if the mere mention of gays scares you.

Also The stage design was fantastic. The audience sits alongside a long nar... Read more Read less

Funny, Clever, Great acting

See it if Strong acting in clever plays.

Don't see it if Not Gurney's finest writing (the women, for example, seem a bit underwritten), though entertaining.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You enjoy cleverly staged, small cast, intense, immersive theater pieces. And be sure to see both plays.

Don't see it if You have a problem with brief nudity.

Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Great acting

See it if You enjoy charming characters and gentle humor

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with a slightly homoerotic theme

Clever, Great acting, Intense, Must see, Great staging

See it if See both shows, but in particular Ajax if you love great acting!

Don't see it if You have issues with nudity on stage.

During previews
Clever, Great acting

See it if You enjoy intelligent shows with talented up-and-coming actors, or if you enjoy intimate off-off Broadway productions.

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with same-sex relationships (in Squash), or PTSD and Israeli-Palestinian relations (mentioned in Ajax).

During previews
Funny, Clever, Entertaining

See it if you like the work of A.R. Gurney. Short one act plays with a few actors.

Don't see it if don't like A.R. Gurney and one act plays.

During previews
Great acting, Relevant, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if you like-short one act plays-dramas on sexuality-seating on same level as stage-Greek literature

Don't see it if you don't like-brief nudity-immersive theatre staging. you want-live music-lighthearted piece.

During previews
Squash-slow, cliched: ajax-interesting, flawed.

See it if You are a Gurney fan, tho these are not typical of most of his work. Ajax, the more interesting and better acted of the two.

Don't see it if you want a fast paced evening. Squash somewhat wordy and cliched.

Also My rating is an average of the 2 plays. Individually, Squash-69; Ajax-... Read more Read less

During previews
Funny, Quirky, Banal, Slow, Entertaining

See it if you're in the mood for 2 short plays, some decent acting (Squash better, Ajax uneven), you like shows about bad teacher/student dynamics

Don't see it if you want good or interesting writing, deep themes, or a long show.

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

See it if You want to see 2 interconnected plays by a major playwright. You enjoy small, character sketches. You're familiar w/Greek drama.

Don't see it if You don't like character studies. You want more fully realized plays & characters. You prefer more traditional staging.

During previews
Intelligent, Great staging, Gurney-esque, Classical allusions galore, Great to see up & coming actors

See it if you like Gurney, semi-immersive staging, male nudity, return to classroom, contrasting theatre experiences, capable casts & direction

Don't see it if you don't like Gurney, or shows about academia, Palestinian/Israeli relations, bi-sexuals, smoking, male nudity, or discussions of eros

During previews
Relevant, Indulgent, Entertaining

See it if SQUASH: You are interested in a period (1970s) look at masculinity and sexuality and academia. You are ok w/brief male nudity

Don't see it if AJAX: you aren't interested in hearing a self-indulgent millennial express himself by shouting

Also This was 2 one acts and I wish I could score them separately. You can ... Read more Read less

During previews
Funny, Indulgent, Cliched, Entertaining, Uneven

See it if You enjoy light fare, with decent performances and have nostalgia for the world of academia.

Don't see it if you want characters or plot with depth.

Also Squash is the stronger of the two. If seeing both, see Ajax first.

Cast & Creatives (10)