Chloë Sevigny and David Levi in Downtown Race Riot. Photo by Monique Carboni
The reviews are in for the world premiere of Seth Zvi Rosenfeld’s 1970s-set drama, starring Chloë Sevigny and directed by Scott Elliott.
The Pershing Square Signature Center
The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre, 480 West 42nd Street
Presented by The New Group
By Seth Zvi Rosenfeld
Directed by Scott Elliott
Cast: Cristian DeMeo, David Levi, Moise Morancy, Josh Pais, Sadie Scott, Chloë Sevigny, Daniel Sovich
Playing through December 23, 2017
Ben Brantley – New York Times
Do not be alarmed by the title, with its promise of dangerous confrontation and energy run amok. Seth Zvi Rosenfeld’s “Downtown Race Riot,” which opened on Sunday night at the Pershing Square Signature Center, is about as likely to raise your blood pressure as a homeopathic sleeping pill.
Frank Scheck – The Hollywood Reporter
It takes a lot to make a play with the words “race” and “riot” in the title dull. Yet with Downtown Race Riot, playwright Seth Zvi Rosenfeld has somehow accomplished that difficult feat. Yes, this gritty, 1970s-set drama, starring Chloe Sevigny and receiving its world premiere with off-Broadway’s New Group, features teenage sex complete with nudity, characters shooting up and snorting drugs, and a wild brawl that includes a stabbing and a gun going off. But the play never conjures up the sense of danger you associate with the period. Watching it is like walking through a seedy neighborhood in the middle of the night, only without the suspense.
Alexis Soloski – The Guardian
There’s a smart and moving play lurking somewhere inside Downtown Race Riot but this version feels like an early draft, with its tone and focus still unclarified. The actors seem to be enjoying themselves, though Sevigny, leggy in her louche costumes, underplays her role, which is probably the best thing to do when handed the part of a heroin-hooked slattern, and the puppyish Levi perhaps overplays his.
Robert Hofler – The Wrap
Joyce will do fine in Europe, just as Jimmy, who’s always in the kitchen broiling burgers, has all the makings of an excellent short-order cook. It’s doubtful from all his riot angst that Rosenfeld would agree, but these kids show every sign of surviving a terrible, though fascinating mother. “Downtown Race Riot” leads one to wonder if more parents shouldn’t do heroin.
Howard Miller – Talkin’ Broadway
If you are going to push the envelope in theater, you really ought to make sure there is enough inside that envelope that makes it worth pushing. Unfortunately, The New Group’s production of Seth Zvi Rosenfeld’s Downtown Race Riot at the Pershing Square Signature Center fails to make its case, and even the presence of indie film star Chloë Sevigny (Oscar nominee for “Boys Don’t Cry”) does little to help.