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Review Roundup: THE WELKIN Opens at Atlantic Theater Company

The production will run for a limited engagement through Sunday, June 30th.

By: Jun. 12, 2024
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Review Roundup: THE WELKIN Opens at Atlantic Theater Company  Image Helen Shaw, The New Yorker: Lizzie and Sally may be the core duo, but Kirkwood offers her secondary characters the best material. Susannah Perkins is wonderful as Mary, one of several comic-relief characters, notable for her dim-witted sweetness (she “does not know which glove belongs on which hand,” Lizzie says); Ann Harada shines as a lusty, menopausal mischief-maker, who takes great joy in humiliating the humorless bailiff. Sarah (Hannah Cabell) is a mute jury member who forces herself to speak after years of silence; her hoarse confession that she has seen a cloven-hoofed woman, spitting on blackberries to make them sour, is the dense, dark heart of “The Welkin.” Sarah has, until her outburst, seemed affable and sane, and when she tells the others not only that she met a devil-woman but that the demon delivered Sarah’s baby, the women all accept her testimony as though it makes perfect sense. It’s like the moment in a village-gone-bad thriller, say, “Midsommar” or “The Wicker Man,” when you realize that everybody’s in on it. A sweet face is no guarantee that the mind behind it isn’t wriggling like a bag of snakes.

Review Roundup: THE WELKIN Opens at Atlantic Theater Company  Image Robert Hofler, The Wrap: Sandra Oh makes for a very effective Henry Fonda, as he appeared in “Twelve Angry Men.” She also manages to convey Nancy Kelly at her most distraught and maternal in “The Bad Seed.” And swirling around this actor are another 15 equally gifted performers who bring to mind “The Crucible” in its most powerful moments and “Dead Ringers” at its most lurid. Lucy Kirkwood’s sometimes bewildering and always fascinating new play “The Welkin” opened Wednesday at the Atlantic Theater Company after its world premiere at London’s National Theatre in 2020.

Review Roundup: THE WELKIN Opens at Atlantic Theater Company  Image David Cote, Observer: Kirkwood takes big, violent, not fully satisfying swings, but one must bow before her women. Even though this ensemble can’t “save” the play, I was grateful to witness both. Will it take another 75 years for such a cluster of talent to burn across the heavens? Keep looking up.

Review Roundup: THE WELKIN Opens at Atlantic Theater Company  Image Elysa Gardner, The New York Sun: Few things are more frustrating than watching a potentially marvelous play (or film, for that matter) either run too long or veer off course. “The Welkin,” the latest effort from acclaimed playwright Lucy Kirkwood to arrive in New York, is guilty on both counts — which is not, by any means, to say you should miss it.

Review Roundup: THE WELKIN Opens at Atlantic Theater Company  Image Sara Holdren, Vulture: Kirkwood’s play has no comfort to give, but it has the toughest kind of hope. Like Lizzy, it comes full of rage—a bone-deep consciousness of the world’s brutal helix of wrongs—and it demands, despite everything: “But shall we not try?”

Review Roundup: THE WELKIN Opens at Atlantic Theater Company  Image Michael Sommers, New York Stage Review: Several artists rose above last week’s bumpy performance. Sandra Oh is urgent in spirit, dry in manner as Elizabeth, the midwife whose acrid presence sparks conflict. Haley Wong creates a feral Sally who resolutely defies pity. Mary McCann coolly depicts a gentlewoman revealed to be not so genteel. Nadine Malouf smolders as the mean girl among a crowd that includes Ann Harada as a sufferer of hot flashes, Hannah Cabell as a soul twenty years mute who miraculously speaks, and ever-earthy Dale Soules as an octogenarian of staunch disposition.

Review Roundup: THE WELKIN Opens at Atlantic Theater Company  Image Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Theatre Guide: Issues women face about their gender, bodies, power, and, literally, life and death continually arise – predictably so, just like Halley’s. Kirkwood’s script can ring with heavy-handedness, like when Lizzy moans: “Nobody blames God when there is a woman can be blamed instead.” On the plus side, sly, plot-thickening twists pop up, and director Sarah Benson’s diverse and dynamic ensemble near-uniformly delivers.

Review Roundup: THE WELKIN Opens at Atlantic Theater Company  Image Deb Miller, DC Theater Arts: What The Welkin lacks in subtlety it over-compensates for in length. Everyone has a different sense of humor and taste in comedy, but for me, this was overloaded, unfocused, and in need of some serious editing. And if you’re looking for a laugh-out-loud happy ending, you should go see a musical.

Review Roundup: THE WELKIN Opens at Atlantic Theater Company  Image Howard Miller, Talkin' Broadway: A riff on Twelve Angry Men moves tentatively in the direction of The Crucible or possibly even Saint Joan, but it introduces ideas and even new characters that it never fully commits to. The entire enterprise pretty much loses its way altogether once the group breaks out in song before reaching their final decision. Even then, The Welkin takes yet another dramatic turn in the final minutes, this time away from the prosaic to the poetic, so that what started out as a fascinating consideration of the place of women in the criminal justice system has become a muddled and confusing experience.


Average Rating: 65.6%


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