The Studio at Stage II at New York City Center, 131 West 55th Street
By Anna Ziegler
Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz
Joshua Boone, Alexandra Socha
Scenic Design: Adam Rigg
Costume Design: Paloma Young
Lighting Design: Yi Zhao
Sound Design: Jane Shaw
First Performance October 31, 2017
Opening November 14, 2017
Final Performance December 3, 2017
Submit a review for Actually
At a raucous party during their freshman year at Princeton, Tom (Joshua Boone) and Amber (Alexandra Socha) connect in ways that seem innocent enough at first. But as things progress, they find themselves in murky territory, with ramifications that could affect the rest of their lives. What actually happened between them?
Tackling the highly charged topic of sexual consent, this hit production direct from Williamstown Theatre Festival explores the intersection of gender and race on campus today, offering “a portrait of a generation” (The Boston Globe).
This deeply felt, funny and thought-provoking play comes from fast-rising playwright Anna Ziegler (Photograph 51) and is directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz (Pipeline).
The co-world premiere of Actually was produced by Geffen Playhouse and Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2017.
Jesse Green – New York Times
Ms. Ziegler not only pulls up that rug but also beats it mercilessly to see what dust might arise. That effort makes “Actually” a rich and disturbing case study, if one that is also manipulative. Balancing Amber’s and Thomas’s points of view, as if with an eyedropper, the playwright finally seems less interested in the merits of the case than in solving the puzzle of her own narrative needs.
Frank Scheck – The Hollywood Reporter
It’s a technique often used by the playwright — also on display in the concurrent off-Broadway production of The Last Match. But here it feels lazy, as if it was too much trouble to dramatize the situations. Such plot elements as Tom’s shocked reaction to being sexually propositioned by his male best friend or getting the news that his beloved mother is suffering from cancer don’t achieve the necessary dramatic force because they’re being related rather than depicted. It’s in the infrequent instances when the characters do interact that Actually actually clicks.
Brian Scott Lipton – Theater Pizzazz
The play’s dramatic flaws are almost obscured by the deeply felt and thoroughly lived-in performances of Boone and Socha (who appeared in the show together earlier this year at the Williamstown Theatre Festival) and the smooth direction of Lileana Blain-Cruz, which makes the show’s 90 minutes fly by quickly.
Stanford Friedman – New York Theatre Guide
Tolerance for Ms. Socha’s performance will vary depending on how much of Amber’s neurotic chattering one can withstand. For me, she was able to find enough moments of insecurity and self-realization to make her character sympathetic. Mr. Boone, meanwhile, expertly walks the line between cocky and sensitive. The production is perfectly paced, thus director Lileana Blain-Cruz, having dealt with high school students in the recent Pipeline, graduates to the college level with honors. (In an interesting coincidence, both Tom and Pipeline’s central character, Omari, reflect on how discussing Richard Wright’s work, in a high school classroom of privileged white students, took a toll on their self-esteem.) Adam Rigg’s set design is minimalist, just a couple of chairs and a grassy rug, so Yi Zhao’s lighting design and Jane Shaw’s sound are critical in establishing transitions. If the cues are not exactly subtle, it is the rare instance of light being the most defined element on stage.
Michael Giltz – Huff Post
So Actually by Anna Ziegler can’t help but be timely. It could however be better. Impressively, Ziegler has a second drama onstage right now at the Roundabout called The Last Match. (Though I’m an ardent tennis fan — the setting of the play — somehow I missed it.) She’s got a raft of film, tv and theater projects in the works and her play Boy was one of my favorites of last year. So it’s a shame to judge this as a let down. And judging is exactly what we’re teased/led/misdirected into doing.
Regina Robbins – TimeOut NY
Director Lileana Blain-Cruz and her two sharp actors infuse this talky piece with energy and urgency, and Ziegler’s meticulously detailed script is more than occasionally funny, despite its serious themes. As Amber and Tom unravel the knotty threads of their fateful interaction on an unadorned stage, our sympathies—whatever our political leanings may be—are repeatedly tested. Actually’s subject is politically charged, but its focus is squarely on the human beings behind the headlines, caught in a situation where nothing is black and white.