Review Roundup: Joshua Harmon's ADMISSIONS at Lincoln Center Theater

Review Roundup: Joshua Harmon's ADMISSIONS at Lincoln Center Theater

ADMISSIONS just opened last night, March 12 at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater (150 West 65 Street). Ben Edelman, Andrew Garman, Jessica Hecht, Ann McDonough, and Sally Murphy star in this new play by Joshua Harmon, directed by Daniel Aukin.

ADMISSIONS explores the ideals and contradictions of liberal white America. In Admissions, Sherri Rosen-Mason (to be played by Jessica Hecht) is head of the Admissions department at The Hillcrest School, fighting to diversify the student body. And alongside her husband (Andrew Garman), the school's Headmaster, they've largely succeeded in bringing a stodgy institution into the twenty-first century. But when their only son (Ben Edelman) sets his sights on an Ivy League university, personal ambition collides with progressive values, with convulsive results.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Jesse Green, New York Times: The evening I saw it, this line of thought had the audience roaring and clapping and then seeming to want to retract both responses as Charlie veered into ever more uncomfortable ideas. That's good satire at work, causing us to think critically about people we don't at first recognize as images of ourselves. And the discomfort only deepens when Charlie, stung by his parents' reaction to his tirade - his father calls him a spoiled brat - reconsiders his position and makes a startling decision.

Tim Teeman, Daily Beast: At first Sherri seems to be scotched in her efforts by the bumbling ineffectualness of assistant Roberta (Ann McDonough), tasked with taking the photographs for the school's admissions catalogue. This Lincoln Center Theater play, directed crisply by Daniel Aukin on a simple set designed by Riccardo Hernandez, is punctuated by Roberta's efforts to photographically please Sherri. First, there are not enough students of color, then there are too many students of color, and then Sherri is breaking down the totals by ethnic group.

Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News: The struggle for diversity is the stuff that dramas are made of - and has been long before "inclusion rider" was on everyone's lips. So Joshua Harmon ("Significant Other," "Bad Jews") deserves credit for hitting the red-hot issue head-on in his new Off-Broadway play "Admissions." Too bad this would-be button-pusher about white privilege, white power and white anxiety is too tightly - conveniently, actually - constructed for its own good. The Lincoln Center production directed by Daniel Aukin strangles itself before your eyes.

Barbara Schuler, Newsday: Colleagues know not to mess with Sherri Rosen-Mason. Or Jessica Hecht, for that matter, who plays her in Joshua Harmon's provocative new work "Admissions" at Lincoln Center. As director of admissions at an elite New England boarding school, Rosen-Mason (a tough-as-nails portrayal by Hecht) leaves nothing to chance as she advocates for improving the school's diversity. Her tinkering with the production of the annual recruiting brochure is micromanagement at its worst.

Sara Holdren, Vulture: When the alien historians look back at plays made by Homo sapiens americanus circa 2018, they'll find a lot like Admissions. It's not that they're all bad plays - Harmon's isn't, and it would be easier to dismiss if it were - but plenty of them are fixing their sights squarely on some ultraheated contemporary issue and then misfiring wildly. It's enough to make you cringe, and not because your worldview is being artfully disrupted.

David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter: Good intentions seldom pay off in this intentionally uncomfortable play, in which progressive parents, who have raised their teenage son to express himself freely and form his own opinions, feel the burn when his thoughts and actions don't jibe with their own somewhat smug convictions. At a time when vicious conservative web trolls continue to rail against Social Justice Warriors, it's a ballsy move to write a seriocomedy that skewers liberal hypocrisy from the left. So even if Admissions is a little speechy and could use some trimming - Harmon perhaps over-indulges in the epic screeds - it represents a satisfying expansion of the playwright's range after his well-received previous efforts, Bad Jews and Significant Other.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel

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