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Public Theater

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Public Theater
Photograph: Aislinn WeidelePublic Theater

Time Out Says

The civic-minded Oskar Eustis is artistic director of this local institution dedicated to the work of new American playwrights but also known for its Shakespeare productions (Shakespeare in the Park). The building, an Astor Place landmark, has five stages, plays host to the annual Under the Radar festival, nurtures productions in its Lab series and is also home to the Joe’s Pub music venue.


425 Lafayette St
New York
Cross street:
between Astor Pl and E 4th St
Subway: N, R to 8th St–NYU; 6 to Astor Pl
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What's On

The Visitor

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Musicals

Theater review by Adam Feldman The Visitor has arrived at its opening night at the Public Theater with red flags flapping wildly in the air. Trouble has been circling the production for some time. First, the Public pushed back the show’s preview period by a week, and then it abruptly canceled the first two performances. Co-star Ari’el Stachel, who had been attached to the project for years, departed the show days later; so, it seems, has lyricist and co–book writer Brian Yorkey, whose bio is not in the Playbill (and who is pointedly not thanked in a program note by the Public’s artistic director). A week before the press was invited to see it, the show was 2 hours and 15 minutes long; by the time it opened for review, it had been slashed to 90 minutes without a break. These are not good signs.  With that kind of build-up, it’s hard not to expect the worst, which is more or less what you get at The Visitor. Adapted from Tom McCarthy’s touching indie film, the musical starts at a disadvantage: It’s the story of an uptight middle-aged white college professor whose serendipitous encounter with a pair of undocumented immigrants opens his eyes to oppression and opens his heart to groovy new rhythms. (He learns to play the djembe!) “It is possible to imagine a version of this story…that would be obvious and sentimental, an exercise in cultural condescension and liberal masochism. Indeed, it’s nearly impossible to imagine it any other way,” wrote A.O. Scott in his 2007 New York Times

cullud wattah

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Drama

Theater review by Raven Snook In a program note for cullud wattah, Erika Dickerson-Despenza's devastating new drama about the impact of the Flint water crisis on an intergenerational household of Black women, the playwright welcomes audiences to "participate both physically and audibly." At this neo-Greek tragedy about an American travesty, gasps and tears complete the experience. General Motors employee, breadwinner and widowed single mom Marion (Crystal A. Dickinson, heartbreaking) is desperately trying to keep her family's heads above dirty water. Her queer teenage daughter Reesee (a winning Lauren F. Walker) prays to a Yoruba deity to help her little sister, Plum (Alicia Pilgrim), who has leukemia, and their pregnant aunt, Ainee (Andrea Patterson), a recovering addict who's had six previous miscarriages. Meanwhile, matriarch Big Ma (a commanding Lizan Mitchell) continually invokes the will of God even as politicians and corporations spread poison to a trapped population. Though billed as an Afro-surrealist piece, cullud wattah is dramatically straightforward and, despite moments of joy, predictably sad. Yet it transcends its issue-play roots. Dickerson-Despenza and director Candis C. Jones personalize Flint’s public-health crisis with poetry and feeling; familiar ethical debates and secret confessions—like Big Ma's story of forbidden love—seem fresh thanks to lived-in performances, exhilarating language and stunning aesthetics. The characters haunt scenic designer Adam Ri

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