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Review Roundup: THE MICHAELS At The Public Theater - Critics Weigh In

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Review Roundup: THE MICHAELS At The Public Theater - Critics Weigh In

The Public Theater presents THE MICHAELS, written and directed by Tony Award winner Richard Nelson. THE MICHAELS is currently running in The Public's LuEsther Hall and has been extended one week to run through Sunday, November 24. It officially opens on Sunday, October 27.

Tony Award-winning playwright/director Richard Nelson returns to The Public with the world premiere of THE MICHAELS. Part of Nelson's critically acclaimed RHINEBECK PANORAMA, which includes The Apple Family and The Gabriels, this new drama places the audience directly into the kitchen of Rose Michael, a celebrated choreographer. Dinner is cooked, modern dances are rehearsed, and the meal is eaten - all amidst conversations about art, death, family, dance, politics, the state of America, and how the world sees our country... and a host of everyday questions that make up the richness of ordinary life. With grace and depth, Nelson once again creates an intricate, moving snapshot of modern-day America. Laced with humor and heartbreak, THE MICHAELS is a beautiful new play, illustrating the rich humanity within the incidental moments of one day.

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

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: Though it takes place in real time, "The Michaels" is punctuated by brief blackouts, during which we hear what sounds like someone hungrily inhaling. Or is it exhaling? It is the breath of life, in any case, on the edge of extinction, and of renewal, too. "The Michaels" is as hopeful as it is heartbreaking.

Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: Prepare for more food prep as Richard Nelson returns to The Public Theater to play not happy families, or unhappy families, but just families; and The Michaels (to November 24), like Seared, is a beautifully written, finely directed piece of theater.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: That's essentially what Nelson and his superlative ensemble do with this spare, deceptively simple but ultimately heart-wrenching play and its unadorned, fly-on-the-wall naturalism. They guide us to push aside the chaos and noise of the world outside - the howling indignation of our national political travesty and the encroaching despair of a planet being steadily destroyed - urging us to consider instead the resilience and hope of our ordinary lives.

Steven Suskin, New York Stage Review: As with the seven plays that preceded it, Conversations is impeccably played by actors who precisely capture the intentions of their playwright/director. Wehle, as the ailing choreographer, is commanding, while Wolf and Morris straddle the fine line of being Rose's favored dancers despite the often malevolent condescension she can't be bothered to hide. Bydwell and Sakamoto play their roles as the younger dancers admirably, and stun us with their dance displays.

David Walters, New York Theatre Guide: In the four to five hours of time which make up the play, nothing is decided, nothing is resolved, nothing actually happens, except dinner is cooked onstage and partially eaten (they're having French lentil soup, quiche, string beans with tomatoes, and salad, with crepes for dessert), and that's okay. Okay because the confluence of the everyday questions about being alive and what to do next are never really answered in the totality of our lives much less in one evening at the kitchen table. Life is mostly gradual and mostly quiet, mostly grey throwing off occasional insight on our dreaded, but inevitable complications.

Robert Hofler, The Wrap: As usual, Nelson directs his own play. His approach is minimal and naturalistic. The actors' voices never rise above the conversational. They don't seem to perform. Rather, they simply are, and Sanders, Plunkett, and Morris carry off this illusion magnificently.

Diane Snyder, Time Out New York: Part of the power of these plays lies in the naturalism and lack of sentimentality with which Nelson, who also directs, allows them to unfold. And he's fortunate to be reunited here with Sanders and Plunkett, who bring affecting honesty to seemingly ordinary interactions; veterans of all his previous Rhinebeck plays, they are starting to feel like members of our own family. It's not a spoiler to say that little gets resolved by the end of The Michaels. For Nelson it's always been about the ongoing journey-for his audience as well as his characters.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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