Review Roundup: THE ALLY Opens at the Public Theater

The reviews are now in for this new play, which continues through March 17.

By: Feb. 28, 2024
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Review Roundup: THE ALLY Opens at the Public Theater
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The Ally, starring Josh Radnor, officially opened last night Tuesday, February 27, at the Public Theater. 

The Ally follows college professor Asaf (Josh Radnor), who is asked by a student to sign a social justice manifesto. This leads to him getting swept up in a increasingly complex web of conflicting agendas that challenge his allegiances as a progressive, a husband, an artist, an academic, an American, an atheist, and a Jew. 

In addition to Radnor, the play features Cherise Boothe (Nakia), Elijah Jones (Baron), Michael Khalid Karadsheh (Farid), Joy Osmanski (Gwen), Josh Radnor (Asaf), Ben Rosenfield(Reuven), and Madeline Weinstein (Rachel).

The production includes scenic design by Lael Jellinek, costume design by Sarita Fellows, lighting design by Reza Behjat, sound design by Bray Poor, and prop management by Claire M. Kavanah. Roxana Khan serves as the production stage manager. Jenn Elyse Jacobs serves as the stage manager.

Check out photos from the production at /article/Photos-First-Look-at-Josh-Radnor-and-More-in-THE-ALLY-at-the-Public-Theater-20240226.

The reviews are now in for this new play, which continues through March 17. Read the reviews for The Ally below!

Review Roundup: THE ALLY Opens at the Public Theater Jesse Green, The New York Times: Which is not to say that “The Ally” is artless. Quite the opposite, it is almost too artful, arraying its eloquent arguments in clever pairs of impossible contradiction. If only frustration and hopelessness were feelings worth intensifying, it would win a prize for its form-follows-function design. But I felt the need for more wisdom than craft.

Review Roundup: THE ALLY Opens at the Public Theater David Cote, The Observer: I can see how The Ally could have gone in an Ibsen-ish direction with more eventful plotting and a big, tragic finish. Or it might have veered into Molière country, with Asaf’s eagerness to both be right and righteous leading to farcical complications and hypocrisy. Given the weight of his topic, and the current bloodshed in Gaza, Moses keeps it earnest. He couldn’t afford to be morally irresponsible and viciously irreverent. Which is a shame, because, in my opinion, that makes good theater.

Review Roundup: THE ALLY Opens at the Public Theater Jesse Hassenger, The Guardian: It’s possible that the incompleteness is the point. It’s possible, too, that The Ally would still come across as unwieldy even if it had premiered one year ago, or five. As the more fraught second act continues, the everyone-gets-a-turn speechifying starts to crowd out the cathartic laughs that punctuate the serious business back in the first act. (When a few of those sharp, petty lines return toward the end, the relief of actual laughter, however quasi-inappropriate, is palpable.) The pre-existing relationship between Asaf and Nakia sometimes feels like a writer’s conceit more than something lived-in, with perfectly illustrative anecdotes related at key moments. Maybe that’s an inevitable byproduct of a play that dedicates so much time and energy to the act of debate. Even if the pin-drop intensity of The Ally dissipates quickly afterward, there’s something admirable about a play in which so many of its characters appear ready to make a didactic case against its very existence.

Review Roundup: THE ALLY Opens at the Public Theater Juan A. Ramirez, Theatrely: Cuttingly, Farid calls him and his ilk “the sympathetic ear.” Moses similarly beckons an audience which, despite the city and the Public’s ostensible reputation for open-mindedness, is still fairly monolithic in its receptive attitudes. What he, and this production, have managed to do in the current political climate is almost heroic in its thematic resoluteness. It doesn’t reach conclusions, but suggests that the boldest enemy an ally-to-all has lives within.

Review Roundup: THE ALLY Opens at the Public Theater Amelia Merrill, New York Theatre Guide: The characters ponder the political interconnectedness of these heavy topics – police brutality, Israel and Palestine, gentrification in college towns, Jewish identity – but never does Moses take a step back to consider the dramatic interconnectedness or lack of it. These concepts are connected, as Baron learns over the course of one scene, but they are packed into the script with no breathing room, preventing the characters from authentic self-reflection (and the actors from a moment’s rest). Everyone is passionate, but no one is sincere.

Review Roundup: THE ALLY Opens at the Public Theater Jonathan Mandell, New York Theater: “The Ally” is much-needed, timely theater, but it isn’t completely up-to-date: Written before the October 7 2023 massacre of Israelis by Hamas and subsequent Israeli invasion of Gaza, it’s set in September, 2023. So much has intensified in the last few months that “The Ally” could almost feel like a period piece, a time when people who sharply disagreed could still talk to one another.

Review Roundup: THE ALLY Opens at the Public Theater Brian Scott Lipton, Cititour: Yet, for all the issues and viewpoints Moses brings up, the salient takeaway of “The Ally” is that no one really has the so-called “winning argument” and that we owe it to both ourselves and others to listen to -- with open ears if not open arms -- political points of views that differ from own. Then and only then can we do what we believe is truly right.

Average Rating: 65.7%

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