Reviews: Critics Visit Mary Kathryn Nagle's MANAHATTA At The Public Theater

The production has now been extended through Saturday, December 23.

By: Dec. 05, 2023
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Mary Kathryn Nagle’s MANAHATTA is currently having its New York Premiere at The Public Theater. Directed by Laurie Woolery. The production has now been extended through Saturday, December 23.

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A gripping journey from the fur trade of the 1600s to the stock trade of today, Mary Kathryn Nagle's MANAHATTA tells the story of Jane Snake, a brilliant young Native woman with a Stanford MBA. Jane reconnects with her ancestral Lenape homeland, known as Manahatta, when she moves from Oklahoma to New York for a banking job just before the 2008 financial meltdown. Jane’s struggle to reconcile her new life with the expectations and traditions of her family and Nation are powerfully interwoven with the heartbreaking history of the Delaware Nation's expulsion from their land. Both old and new Manahatta converge in a lesson about the dangers of living in a society where there’s no such thing as enough. A stunning play about self-discovery, MANAHATTA was written as part of The Public’s prestigious Emerging Writers Group. Obie Award winner and The Public’s Director of Public Works, Laurie Woolery, directs.

The complete cast of HELL’S KITCHEN includes Rainbow Dickerson (Toosh-ki-pa-kwis-i / Debra), Elizabeth Frances (Le-le-wa'-you / Jane), David Kelly (Jonas Michaelius / Michael), Jeffrey King (Peter Minuit / Dick), Enrico Nassi (Se-ket-tu-may-qua / Luke), Jessica Ranville (Understudy), Joe Tapper (Jakob / Joe), Sheila Tousey (Mother / Bobbie), and Rex Young (Understudy).

The production features scenic design by Marcelo Martínez García, costume design by Lux Haac, lighting design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, sound design and composition by Paul James Prendergast, prop management by Rachel M.F. Kenner, fight and intimacy direction by Kelsey Rainwater, and movement direction by Ty Defoe. Executive Director and Co-founder of The Lenape Center Joe Baker will serve as the cultural consultant. Amanda Nita Luke-Sayed will be the production stage manager and Janelle Caso will be the stage manager

Reviews: Critics Visit Mary Kathryn Nagle's MANAHATTA At The Public Theater Jonathan Mandell, New York Theater: “Manahatta” dramatizes two pivotal, and shameful, moments in New York City history, occurring four centuries apart — the Dutch West India Company’s “purchase” of the island of Manhattan from the Lenape Indians (who had no concept of land ownership), and the world-wide financial crisis of 2008, In Mary Kathryn Nagle’s sharply written play, which is wonderfully acted under Laurie Woolery’s seamless direction, the two events tell much the same story.

Reviews: Critics Visit Mary Kathryn Nagle's MANAHATTA At The Public Theater David Finkle, New York Stage Review: What Manahatta can take pride in is the cast brought together by careful director Laurie Woolery and the Public’s casting folks, Heidi Griffiths, Jordan Thaler, and Joy Dickson. In his bio, Nassi mentions he’s an enrolled member of The Otoe-Missouria Tribe/Cherokee Nation. Great to know. How times have changed with the advent of this play and others of like origins across the populations. How finally current they are.

Reviews: Critics Visit Mary Kathryn Nagle's MANAHATTA At The Public Theater Frank Scheck, New York Stage Review: It’s hard to avoid the sound of gears grinding while you’re watching Manahatta, now playing at the Public Theater. Mary Kathryn Nagle’s drama takes place both in modern times, culminating in the 2008 financial crisis, and in the 1600s, when both Native Americans and Dutch settlers were populating the island that gives the play its name. As the action shifts back and forth in time, it painstakingly accentuates the similarities in the manner in which the country’s original inhabitants were screwed over by the European colonists and modern-day Americans by exploitative financial markets. By the time the evening’s over, you’ll be impressed by the playwright’s logistical ingenuity. But you won’t have been particularly moved. Manahatta ultimately feels like a thesis in search of a play.

Reviews: Critics Visit Mary Kathryn Nagle's MANAHATTA At The Public Theater David Cote, Observer: If our culture were fearless and thriving, we’d have more plays like Manahatta—which is to say, ones better written than it. We’d also have more big-budget movies like Killers of the Flower Moon (but made by Native filmmakers) and more series like Reservation Dogs. Not to mention more Native theater critics. The play disappoints because it could have dug deeper, told us something research materials don’t or can’t. May it inspire other, beginning writers. Anyone can scribble a moral; mapping a journey to the revelation is hard.

Reviews: Critics Visit Mary Kathryn Nagle's MANAHATTA At The Public Theater
Average Rating: 60.0%


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