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New York | 1h 30m | Already closed

Usual Girls

From 9 critic and 67 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Intense

About the show

The first production of Roundabout Underground's new season is a new work that asks: How do girls grow up?  More…

On an elementary school playground, a boy threatens to tell on the girls for swearing—unless one of them kisses him. But just before lips can touch, Kyeoung tackles the boy to the ground. The victory is short-lived. Over the coming years, Kyeoung’s stories get stranger, funnier, more harrowing—and more familiar. 

Warning: This show contains explicit content and nudity. 

Stage Left

"I cannot recall a sharper articulation of an idea—here, rape culture—through story and character than what Ms. Peiffer achieves with her play...A raw and honest look at life through the perspective of a young girl—this time with the added dimension of race...Rafaeli elicits a bevy of commanding performances from the nine member ensemble cast—at times humorous, but more often heartbreaking and even horrific...This is a bold and important new play." Full Review


“Peiffer's no-holds-barred coming-of-age play, directed with just as much daring by Rafaeli...Peiffer's play is unapologetically for and about ‘all the others’, and while the story skews painfully dark, it's all painfully true...Few plays so astutely capture the fragility and mutability of the female identity...You'd be hard-pressed to find any warm-and-fuzzy moments mixed into Peiffer's coming-of-age story...As nice as that would be, it doesn't happen for ‘Usual Girls’.” Full Review

Time Out New York

"Peiffer's uncompromising exploration of a Korean-American girl's sexual evolution delivers multiple punches to the gut—and a few that land a bit lower. Caught at the intersection of misogyny and racism, Kyeoung battles prejudice and preconceptions in a series of unnerving vignettes..Director Rafaeli elicits raw performances from her fearless, mostly female cast...'Usual Girls' is a primal scream of a play that wants to make you squirm, and it succeeds." Full Review

Broadway & Me

“What keeps this play from being a downer is Peiffer’s ear for dialogue, much of it laugh-out-loud funny and the performances lead by Francis’ portrayal of Kyeoung...The rest of the cast is terrific too...With the exception of the racist remarks, Kyeoung’s story could be that of any middle-class girl growing up in Middle America...And that’s the whole point. Korean-Americans aren’t exotic or obsessed with being other; they’re just people and it’s gratifying to see them portrayed that way onst... Full Review

The New York Times

"Impeccably directed...The script’s weakness is in Ms. Peiffer’s tendency to finish scenes with lines that feel like flourishes. She undermines the play’s ending with a similar lack of subtlety...Without a lead as bold, moving and full-on funny as Francis, in a production less accomplished than Rafaeli’s, those quibbles would matter more. But in its world premiere, 'Usual Girls' is exciting to watch. With hilarity and grimness, it connects the dots between pleasure, pain and shame." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"It’s a gutsy, vulnerable piece of writing and part of what feels like an immensely heartening wave of intelligent, compassionate, unafraid-to-get-ugly plays that give us vital new portraits of the artists — as young women...The play is both spiky and joyous, and Kyeoung’s story is no tragedy, no maudlin serving of misery porn. The presence of the Woman results in a portrait that puts the ugly and the wondrous together in the frame." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"The constant looming of men as dark forces in 'Usual Girls,' without a single mitigating factor mentioned on behalf of the gender is the play’s biggest flaw, possibly betraying its young author’s zeal to drive her points about the patriarchy home as starkly as possible. But Peiffer and director Tyne Rafaeli also show sophistication and boldness in acknowledging other factors that can encourage women against their own self-interest and each other’s." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"The play doesn't fully succeed in its shifts from exaggerated comedy to scorching drama...Too much of the time, especially in the scenes concerning the girls in the early years, the play has the feel of an X-rated 'Saturday Night Live' sketch, more parodistic than illuminating. But the evening also features many powerfully resonant moments. That it touches a chord with audience members, especially women, was made evident by the emotional reactions frequently audible." Full Review

Daily Beast

“Vibrantly colorful and raw exploration of female identity, friendship, and isolation—performed by an excellent, almost all-female company...A very personal history of #MeToo. It isn't a smooth play, it is proudly scuffed at its edges. It feels workshop-py, rather than neat and sleek. Director Tyne Rafaeli summons up bitty expositions of elementary school, middle school, high school, college, and the present day in a production full of scattered energy and inquiry.” Full Review

Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Resonant, Great writing

See it if You want to be moved, and possibly changed, by a brilliant piece of theatre. See cause we need to hear voices that don’t often get to speak.

Don't see it if If dark material is too heavy for you.

Funny, Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant, Great staging

See it if You are interested in the dynamic coming-of-age tale of a Korean woman in America, and all the humor, heart, and trials that come with it.

Don't see it if You are not keen on loud music, sexual content, or sexual violence.

Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Raunchy, Hilarious

See it if You like up close sexual productions, Laughs & thought provoking dialog.

Don't see it if You are offended by nudity.

Intelligent, Must see, Riveting, Upsetting, Searing

See it if You want to see a stupendous, hyper-stylized, deeply honest play about girlhood, female sexuality, and growing up Asian in America

Don't see it if You want to leave happy. You will laugh, but this is an emotional harrowing play. Contains full frontal nudity and sexual violence.

Also An incredibly affecting performance from a vibrant cast (especially Fr... Read more Read less

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Great writing, Raw

See it if incredible ensemble work, wonderful to see Midori Francis (The Wolves) again. Her performance was shattering.

Don't see it if you don't like to see nudity or sexual violence on stage. Play was sometimes very loud, the screaming echos in the small theater.

Also Wonderful to see such a female centric play. Not so wonderful to be re... Read more Read less

Funny, Great acting, Must see, Refreshing

See it if You want to see one of the boldest new works of the year. Truly spectacular writing and tremendously moving.

Don't see it if You get uncomfortable with onstage nudity or don't like theatre in a small space.

Thought-provoking, Must see, Riveting

See it if you like rivetu=ing acting and a difficult story line. Absorbing and can make you uncomfortable

Don't see it if topics dealing with sexuality makes you uncomfortable with a tough storyline

Great acting, Intense, Must see, Great writing, Provocative

See it if you appreciate smart, sharp, and funny portrayals of girlhood and growing up without shying away from the hard stuff

Don't see it if the exploration of sexually and racially charged experiences would be triggering instead of validating/healing/thought-provoking for you

Great acting, Riveting, Great writing, Great staging, Incisive

See it if you want to see an incisive exploration of coming of age as a woman in our culture in a deeply satisfying (and disturbing) production.

Don't see it if you're looking for an escape. This hits home. Hard.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Masterful, Relevant, Great writing

See it if Very well written and acted. Great story and storytelling. Very thought-provoking and compelling.

Don't see it if You don't care about women's and growing up themes.

Also Underground never disappoints and this was no exception. What a riveti... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Relevant, Great writing

See it if You're interested in intense/riveting theatre. The writing & performances are masterful! Real, raw & relevant.

Don't see it if You are in the mood for something light or fluffy.

Absorbing, Intense, Relevant, Resonant, Riveting

See it if You want to see an intense play about different stages in a girl's/ woman's life and the awakening of her sexuality

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with sexual situations and frontal nudity. You want something light and fluffy. This is pretty brutal at times

Also This show was great. So intense and disturbing at times. So much of it... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense

See it if Like watching a tampon (usually unseen)ripped out to unapologetically display its raw, gory, natural, painful,& sexualized female experience

Don't see it if Sexual trauma / rape, alcoholic parent, female nudity, Asian racist comments, school girl drama, cocaine are triggering. Loud music scares u

Also Ticket from TodayTix for $30.

Funny, Edgy, Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if You are interested in thinking deeply about how women and sex and society interact.

Don't see it if If you would be uncomfortable with swearing, mimed sex, or nudity. I would also not recommend this for children because of those things.

Funny, Absorbing, Edgy

See it if Another great black box show. Well written and acted and very relevant. Even pretty funny at times.

Don't see it if You don’t like small productions that are critical of society.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You want to see a serious, funny, well acted play about growing up female in our so called “civilization”.

Don't see it if You want to believe that girls are sugar and spice and everything nice.

Clever, Must see, Relevant, Riveting, Great writing

See it if You like to keep a finger on the pulse of new playwrights launching their careers. Peiffer's work is incredible.

Don't see it if CW: Sexual assault, rape, growing up female, men being trash. An incredibly important story, but I wept the whole way through.

Also Everyone who once was a teenage girl, currently is a teenage girl, kno... Read more Read less

Funny, Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if you're a woman, you're a feminist, you're interested in how we're socialized early to treat women as sexualized objects.

Don't see it if you don't like loud music raw language, nudity onstage, general discomfort, and a narrative/portrayal of young women that strays f/ the norm

Exquisite, Profound, Resonant, Excruciating, Feminist

See it if You want to see the female experience told horrifically and beautifully stage, relatable stories about girls and women, explosive theatre

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with nudity, sexual trauma, loud music, but all of this overall is very tastefully done so it’s worth it

Funny, Clever, Edgy, Great acting, Intense

See it if Coming to age play funny and harsh.

Don't see it if Uncomfortable with nudity. See adults play kids.

Also Some parts I rather not seen.

Funny, Thought-provoking, Riveting

See it if you want to see something that feels like the real way sexuality effects women today

Don't see it if idk ur a square

Great acting, Intelligent, Must see, Resonant, Great writing

See it if You like to reflect on what it means to be a woman in america

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with sexual situations and nudity

Edgy, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Great writing

See it if The societal high price,the burdens,and the hurdles of women (of colour) endure when achieving selfhood. Lead is excellent as is the writing

Don't see it if Raw portrayal which includes alcohol, drugs, abuse, rape, slurs, and nudity. Drug scene cliched. Could use a polish--leans to superficiality

Clever, Great acting, Quirky, Relevant

See it if you like to support under-represented voices in the theater (women of color) and enjoy women-driven narratives

Don't see it if sexual abuse, sexual situations, or full frontal nudity upset, trigger, or bother you.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Relevant

See it if you enjoy shows that discuss how women are treated and how we police our boys, you like quirky shows that then twist the knife in

Don't see it if you are triggered by sexual assault/harassment or nudity, you don't like off color interpretafions of serious matters

Also This play is very hard to watch but so worth it for the mesmerizing pe... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (15)