Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of MTC's THE NEW ENGLANDERS?
Manhattan Theatre Club presents the world premiere of The New Englanders, the new play by Jeff Augustin and directed by Saheem Ali (Sugar in Our Wounds). The New Englanders officially opened on Wednesday, October 2 at The Studio at Stage II - Harold and Mimi Steinberg New Play Series at New York City Center.
The cast of The New Englanders features Teagle F. Bougere (Socrates, A Raisin In the Sun), Patrick Breen (The Normal Heart, Next Fall), Crystal Finn (Kingdom Come), Adam Langdon (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time tour),Javier Muñoz (Hamilton, In the Heights), and Kara Young (Hair Wolf).
Let's see what the critics are saying...
Jesse Green, The New York Times: And yet "Our Town" is the template for whatever is best about "The New Englanders" - including the opportunity for some rich performances by young actors. (Ms. Young, so moving last year in "The Revolving Cycles Truly and Steadily Roll'd," and Mr. Langdon, a late addition to the "New Englanders" cast, are especially fine.) What they help rescue from the confusion here is an insight Wilder would surely have appreciated: that our lives seem special only from within, and only for a time. It doesn't get more basic than that, in the good sense.
Donna Herman, New York Theatre Guide: The New Englanders does just what Mr. Augustin set out to do. It captures the life of a group of people with all of its nuances. It is absorbing, funny, insightful, heartbreaking, and relatable. It does not preach or proselytize. Adam Langdon as Atlas and Kara Young as Eisa give outstanding performances. Mr. Langdon has impeccable comic timing and is absolutely charming. I can see him turning into a leading man someday. Ms. Young is a force to be reckoned with as Eisa. Contemplative, fiery, manipulative, and ultimately genuinely remorseful, she rang true at every moment.
Thom Geier, The Wrap: Aaron and Eisa do get the opportunity to show real agency during the course of the 100-minute, intermissionless play - and even to rebel against the strictures they feel have been imposed on them. But these outbursts, including one that has major life-altering repercussions, don't always feel organic. Nor do they fit the overall tone of the play, which at its best can be witty and jaunty in individual scenes that often sparkle under Saheem Ali's direction.
Raven Snook, Time Out: While it is only 100 minutes long, however, The New Englanders feels unfocused and overstretched. Despite solid performances from veteran actors (under the workmanlike direction of Saheem Ali), the grown-ups-especially Samuel and Raul (a wasted Javier Muñoz), Aaron's long-lost first love-seem more like plot points than people. Eisa's escalating conflict with Ms. Charpie also strains credulity. But the scenes between Eisa and Atlas (a hilarious Adam Langdon), her smitten classmate who deals pot out of Chuck E. Cheese, crackle with vitality and insight. These cocky adolescents' views of the future, even an uncertain one, are more compelling than the hazy nostalgia trips around them.