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Review Roundup: ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE at Park Avenue Armory

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The play weaves a tale of morality, suspense, and controversy, with multiple characters represented by a single actor - Emmy award winning actor Ann Dowd.

Review Roundup: ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE at Park Avenue Armory

Park Avenue Armory has debuted its fourth commissioned work in its Social Distance Hall series: the world premiere of Enemy of the People, written by Henrik Ibsen and adapted by the groundbreaking director and playwright Robert Icke (1984, The Doctor, Mary Stuart, Hamlet, Oresteia and Oedipus).

As conceived by Robert Icke, the play weaves a tale of morality, suspense, and controversy, with multiple characters represented by a single actor - Emmy award winning actor Ann Dowd (The Handmaid's Tale).

See what the critics are saying!


Jesse Green, The New York Times: Though it has stripped away most of the detail that Ibsen uses to dramatize the way civic crises arise from (and filter back down to) domestic ones, it offers a compensatory challenge. Icke asks us to dramatize these issues for ourselves, at our own tables. Communally, we are forced to consider: Is democracy the same as consensus? Is the ballot the best guarantor of good policy?

Helen Shaw, Vulture: As in-person theater combat-crawls its way out of its restrictions, the theaterati have been wondering, What will COVID-era drama be about? Will artists deal with the disease? Or will they try to cheer us up? Enemy does try to do both. It's a flawed script, but Icke and his team have still done impressive work in emotional management.

Peter Marks, The Washington Post: Dowd's embodiment of the scientist, a brave, outspoken woman who has nevertheless lost all her compassion for those who lack her education and experience, is another of her striking portrayals of deeply paradoxical characters. The audience is in essence given the opportunity to punish Joan, or validate her abrasive vehemence. (A diatribe she delivers at a town meeting, deriding the ignorance of her fellow citizens, is instantly classic.) On jumbo screens at each end of the hall, we watch our votes being tabulated - arrived at collectively, one per table. This rewardingly democratic night, in this time of endless crazy, feels like a palliative.

Frank Scheck, New York Stage Review: Dowd, who's inserted herself into the cultural zeitgeist with her superb turns in HBO's The Leftovers and as the villainous Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid's Tale, performs valiantly but has an impossible task. She must constantly traverse numerous elevated walkways throughout the giant space, covering nearly as much ground as Mick Jagger during a Rolling Stones concert. She not only plays several different characters but also serves as narrator, making it hard for us to keep track of who she is at any given moment.

David Cote, The Observer: The enemy of the people is misanthropic technocrats! No! It's selfish, amoral politicians! No! The enemy of the people is...people? Which brings us back to the simple, human joys of theater: being in the presence of living, breathing organisms creating whole worlds in air. You get a spoonful of that primal pleasure at this socially distanced remix of a classic, but so watered down as to leave you parched.

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