Impressionism Reviews

Reviews of Jeremy Irons in Impressionism The Theater Review by Scott Brown and Stephanie Zacharek

“As Thomas, Irons has the luxury of being relaxed and charming, even though his character, too, harbors painful secrets. Irons’s performance is comfortably rumpled and lived-in, an effect that requires meticulousness and discipline. His gift is that he makes hard work look like a shrug.”

***  Visually stunning, April 09, 2009

Reviewer: annedwl

Impressionism was visually pleasing due to the seamless incorporation of the artwork into the play. In fact, the artwork carries more weigh than the somewhat predictable plot. At times the characters literally step into the paintings or photos and the art takes on more vitality than the actual lives these characters are living. Was I swept away? No. On the edge of my seat? No. Yet, this play is satisfying in it’s simplicity, entertaining and well acted.

**** My Thoughts, April 07, 2009


I never read reviews before I see a play, and here is the perfect example of why I dont!! I simply could not agree with the review. Did we see the same play?? I thought it was very well acted, loved the choice of paintings used on curtain. I have recommended it to several of my friends.


Reviewer: gothprof

I loved this play- I loved the production- I loved what it said about the current hidden under our lives… After reading the Times, and a few of the negative reviews here, I was concerned… but from the moment it started it swept me away- Poetic, lyrical, heartwarming, and graceful, I (45 yr old male) was transfixed. It’s a beautiful production (and an excellent answer to all the yelling and screaming at God Of Carnage which is next door). See this play- it’s like a cool glass of white wine on a hot summer day.

**** Intelligent and heartwarming, April 01, 2009

Reviewer: cmadsen13

After reading the Times review, I almost dreaded going to see this play except that I knew I wanted to see Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen in person. The show was a pleasant surprise. It gave me lots to think about and was not at all predictable. It’s not perfect, but that has never been the idea with impressionism!

**** Worth Seeing, March 28, 2009

Reviewer: greytowers

I saw Impressionism a few days before it opened, and completely enjoyed it, as did the rest of the audience that afternoon, at least those within earshot of me. So, I wish I could say that the Times review came as a surprise, but it didn’t. These days, I sometimes think, the only way a play can get a good review is to be full of violence and vulgarity. Impressionism isn’t. Though it has its share of darkness and pain, they aren’t reveled in, but are treated with compassion and wit. The play is adult, funny, hopeful, life-affirming, and beautifully performed by a cast of talented actors. It is well worth seeing.

**** Artful, March 27, 2009

Reviewer: esteiner4

Fine actors,(both stars and supporting cast), an engaging script, some of the smartest-looking clothes I’ve seen in a long time plus handsome scenery combine for intellectual and visual excitement. This seems to me more than adequate reason to recommend Impressionism. I saw this play two nights before its opening and came away delighted. Perhaps Mr. Brantley should slip in again.

**** disregard brantley, March 27, 2009

Reviewer: temashana

I rarely read reviews before I see a play, and only occasionally read them afterwards. I find that the theatre is just as subjective as any other form of art and not everyone can always agree. I think this play will affect each person differently, according to their own life experiences. I personally enjoyed it, as did my friend, and think it’s worth seeing. The cast was very good, and Andre de Shields was brilliant.

**** Sweet. B. Smiles., March 27, 2009

Reviewer: marbaehr

The visuals and music are an A. Agree that Jeremy Irons is difficult to hear. And his accent as the painter is bad. Joan Allen is a better actress than her stylized, somewhat old-fashioned, performance indicates. The banter is often bland, the situations largely predictable, and the insights fairly obvious. So why is it good? The whole is better than the sum of the parts. It is just smart enough to make me feel smart without straining. It is just funny enough to make me laugh without trying. It is light, easy, fun. A nice relief from the messy world. All’s well that ends well.

**** Brantley’s Review Should Close Soon, March 27, 2009

Reviewer: markpsf

But not this show! There is no accounting for taste. Ben Brantley didn’t like it. My wife and I read the review, considered selling our tickets, and then went, fearing the worst. We enjoyed every minute. This is not a theatrical masterpiece. For that go to August: Osage County or Exit the King, both of which we saw and loved during our latest visit to NY. It is more like a wonderful B movie that you want to see again when it comes out on DVD. It is funny and touching. It is also very creative in it’s use of the painting and photographs (forget Brantley’s niggling criticisms again in this case!). And each one of the actors is perfect in his or her role. Jeremy Irons character is far more than bland (as described by Brantley) and his delivery and comic timing are perfect. It’s also perfect in its brevity. The hour and twenty minutes flew by and we left with smiles on our faces. Bravo!

**** Charming, March 26, 2009

Reviewer: leonia11

After reading Mr. Bantley’s review, I was surprised to find such a charming, delightful, and well-acted play. The individual works of art effectively expound the theme and the projections are simply magical, making this production a joy to behold.

**** Don’t read the reviews!!, March 26, 2009

Reviewer: chaasenorth7

I went to see the show tonight, two days after it opened,because I wanted to see these wonderful actors, Allen, Irons, De Shields, and Mason on stage in a new play. I did so without reading any reviews because I often disagree with the reviews.I like to enjoy myself at the theater and keep an open mind. This is a lovely, life affirming play that brings you joy and makes you feel hopeful. The usage of the impressionistic paintings is magical and touching. It is not ironic, nasty, jaded, or violent. It is gentle, sweet, entertaining and in short a lovely evening in the theater. I don’t think anything is wrong with that, do you? It’s fun to be in the same space with these actors and this play.

*** it’s work but worth it, March 26, 2009

Reviewer: bfrei72103

Watching Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons together on stage in this lovely but esoteric play while not as exciting as it seems in the beginning fulfills epectations by the end. It’s not what I’d call an easy play and parts of it are a little wordy, but when you leave the theater your heart is full of hope for the human race. It’s sentimental but lovely and well worth seeing. Forget the critics and give it a try.. It is a beautiful piece in many different ways.

**** My Impressions, March 26, 2009

Reviewer: rene_dickens

Saw it last night – thought it was terrific. My world-view has been a bit jaded of late, and it was refreshing to see something that lifted my spirits. There’s healing in theatre, folks. My impressions – Script = Meaningful, accessible and inspired. I left the theatre feeling like I’d been gently reminded of a few things about life and living. And I learned some things about coffee, too. Acting = Perfectly cast. Top-notch talent and engaging performances. Sets/Projections = Creative – yet unassuming. Reminded me of being in the Jeu de Paume (back before the d’Orsay). All in all, a memorable evening.

**** Most Impressive, March 26, 2009

Reviewer: warmdogs

Much to my surprise, I found the show very moving. So many shows today are full of rage and/or edge, it was a pleasant change to see such a positive, hopeful play about the possibilities of love. It’s a rare treat to see such stars at Joan Allen onstage and in their prime, playing such a romantic cat and mouse game. The whole cast is superb, though it is mainly about the two stars. The show is visually tops, with stunning projections used to set up scenes and cover scene changes. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

**** Love Can Come Unexpectedly, March 26, 2009

Reviewer: edhaft

Impressionism is beautiful. The cast is outstanding, not only Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen but Marsha Mason and Andre de Shields as well. The play digs into the backgrounds of the psychologically wounded main characters with insight and humor. The surprising ending is exhilerating and brings hope to us all.

***** Enjoyable, sweet love story, March 26, 2009

Reviewer: trudirose

I enjoyed this very much, and on the night I saw it (3/12), the rest of the audience seemed to like it as well – lots of laughter and applause. I thought a lot of the dialogue was very witty and funny, and the scene with Andre De Shields as the baker was simply marvelous. Aside from him being hilarious, I thought the scene really brought out the idea that when we view art, we bring to it our own life experiences, and view it through that lens, so that everyone will interpret a piece of art in an individual way. At the end, when Katharine and Thomas finally let down their defenses and admit their feelings for each other, I found it very touching and it made me smile. I would definitely recommend this play.

***** See it for yourself, March 25, 2009

Reviewer: jamessimon

Let’s make this clear. This show is not Gods Of Carnage because it’s not supposed to be (Brantley, get this through your head!) Impressionism is a delightful, thoughtful, and funny romance. Joan and Jeremy give dynamite performances, and I dare even the most cynical audience member not to crack a smile when Andre de Shields as the baker describes what he see in a painting. The direction is terrific. Loved this show!

**** Enjoyable, March 25, 2009

Reviewer: rayknowles1

Impressionism is a better play than Mr. Brantley’s review suggests. First of all, there are some very funny one-liners to cheer the audience along. Second, it is true there are a few, and I mean few, lines that just don’t work and some actions, put in by the director, that don’t seem to match the dialog. Nevertheless, the audience, judging from the applause, felt that it had spent an enjoyable evening in the theater.

**** Life Nicely Imitates Art, March 25, 2009

Reviewer: mescalita1

It was a pleasure to watch these actors onstage, and although Ms. Allen seemed a bit rigid in her role at times, she relaxed into it throughout the course of the night and the ending was touching and deeply human. Mr. Irons was a joy to watch, giving a wonderfully detailed and textured performance. The writing of the play was at times sophomoric and at times inspired. It was certainly good enough to sustain worthwhile performances by the leads, which is the reason to see the play. Andre’s performance at the end is worth the price of admission.

***** Had a Great Time, March 25, 2009

Reviewer: signontheline

I’m not a regular theater-goer, but am a big fan of Jeremy Irons (saw his last movie, Appaloosa) and had to take advantage of being a New Yorker to see the play (in previews–3/13). Well, the story is that he was great and so was the rest of the cast. I had a wonderful time and may see the play again. I wasn’t familiar with Joan Allen except from the Jason Bourne movies and came away with a great appreciation of her wonderful acting skills and will now see more of her movies on DVDs. If you haven’t seen the play don’t let the reviews scare you away–you’ll be missing a real treat.

**** good material and performances, March 24, 2009

Reviewer: danpink

I see one hundred plays a year. It’s hard to surprise me. And yet there were some surprises in the script. For one thing, it didn’t tip its hand that it was a romantic dramedy for quite some time. There was also some good writing, especially in the second half, and on the whole, it was a very good, if not great play. Can’t fault the performances (except for Marsha Mason, who I have never cared for). Irons, Allen, and DeShields were terrific, subtle, and added to the evening. I would recommend this to anyone, particularly if you like the genre and/or the actors.

***** Loved it, March 24, 2009


I saw this show twice during previews. This show was great. I think some other reviewers have trouble with a theme and story line that is devoid of scandal and wild aggressive themes. The story is about relationships and real life. Yes it is has some cliches, but almost every script has one or two on some level. The performances are solid, it is great to see Irons and Allen gracing the stage again. They certainly make the show well worth it.

**** Almost There, March 24, 2009

Reviewer: celbabs

I saw the 3/20 performance and I felt that it was almost there. The performances are strong by all involved but it was Ms. Allen who forced me to continue to pay attention through the 1st half. I wasn’t sure if it was headed anywhere. Indeed, it is. Although I wasn’t moved by the ending, I believe that it is there in the script and, once the performers have more time to hit their stride, audiences will be weeping at the end of the play. It’s really quite lovely.

***** Emotionally engaging play with pace, March 22, 2009

Reviewer: mcardletl

The Sat 21-Mar performanced was quick-paced and my girlfriend and I found the story to be engaging, without being overbearing. The mix of lighter comedy offset the ‘heavier’ scenes that provided the background for the character motivation. I was aware of the earlier negative reviews, but expect that the original format may have been to blame – we both considered the play to be excellent in format, the acting to be solid, esp. Jeremy Irons, and – like a prior reviewer – we were pleasantly impressed with Andre De Shields’ performance. Excellent and definitely worth seeing.

***** This is a winner, March 21, 2009

Reviewer: notable

Like the more recent reviewers below, I agree that this play has really come together. Saw it 3/20/2009 and the acting was wonderful, stunning visuals of impressionist paintings and photos in between scenes, and the intermission-less format helped hold the experience together until the end. A great experience worth making sure you enjoy before this duo moves on.

**** Improvements!, March 17, 2009

Reviewer: karenwenis

I’m so glad that the team postponed the opening to give them time to make the show the best it can be. After hearing buzz from the first few previews I was expecting a dreadful evening, but I was pleasantly surprised! The show is now performed without an intermission, and it seems like they’ve done a lot of trimming. It’s no August: Osage County, but I very much enjoyed it, and Andre DeShields was a highlight…

**** Dream come true!, March 16, 2009

Reviewer: danub9

It was dream come true to see Jeremy Irons on stage. He is a wonderful actor! The play is so creatively done. Like most people I agree that it is a common story, but the way it is delivered is simply excellent! I was absorbed by the acting of Irons and Allen and loved the creative way of telling a story and portraying feelings for the audience to connect through images of Modigliani, Klimt, Cassat, and other famous impressionists or photos on screen (Very Creative!). I also had a closer connection with the Act taking place in Tanzania. I thought it was well done (screen images were Excellent!) and Mr. De Shields is great, but his accent is more Caribbean than Tanzanian.

**** Aw, it’s sweet, March 06, 2009

Reviewer: kleav

Who knew Jeremy Irons could be so funny? I had a wonderful time, and the rest of the audience seemed to agree. It may not be high art, but it’s a terrific evening. (Stay for the curtain call.)

**** Impressive!, March 06, 2009

Reviewer: smileyface81

What a great time in the theatre! I had never seen Jeremy Irons or Joan Allen onstage – wow – such pros. Really extraordinary performances and a once in a lifetime thing to see these two up there doing what they were born to do. The ensemble is really great too. The pacing did seem a bit off the afternoon I saw it, but I’m sure it will pick up after they have some time to run it.

**** Be Impressed, March 06, 2009

Reviewer: queenrhoda185

Saw it the other night. Very smart and grown up. It’s great to see Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen back on stage in a funny and sophisticated love story. The design is also gorgeous.

**** Happy memories, March 01, 2009

Reviewer: jeanniemack

I thoroughly enjoyed my evening. The cast was skilled, believable and honest, identifying with the characters and the theme was natural. But I’m probably a bit of a ringer because on obligatory summer visiting to relatives in Chicago, my mother would drag me to the Art Institute and we always headed for the Impressionists Mary Cassatt prints were hanging in my bedroom and illustrated my early books. To see her beautiful worked exhibited in such a spectacular manner right from the beginning of the play made my old heart sing. The staging is original and well done….jumping from images of Chagall, Monet, Renoir and Klimt in a connected way draws the audience right into the story. And the discussion on how each of us view art and what it means individually was real. Hope this play has a long run.

~ “Irons offers a wily, understated comic turn that should have the matinee ladies quivering.”

Allen, Irons make more than a good impression

by Bill Canacci at

You can look at a painting or a photograph you love 1,000 times and still feel touched and inspired. And if you’re lucky, or maybe just open-minded, one of those times you will notice something new.

With “Impressionism,” Michael Jacobs has created a mature, intelligent and witty play about love and art. But it is also about seeing what’s in front of us, about what makes us love something or someone, and about the power of memory.

Set in Manhattan, “Impressionism” is the story of Thomas Buckle (Jeremy Irons), a world-traveling photojournalist, and Katharine Keenan (Joan Allen), a New York gallery owner. As the play begins, we do not exactly know what is going on between them. We do know this: The two are able to have the most entertaining conversations — the dialogue throughout the play is truly first-rate — about coffee cake and cranberry muffins.

But the play then takes us on a journey into the past — to explain why Katharine loves a painting in her gallery. The transition back in time is one of the joys of the play, and projection designer Elaine J. McCarthy is to be commended. Her work, combined with scenic designer Scott Pask and lighting designer Natasha Katz, make this play a visual delight. I’m hesitant to give away details because describing it would spoil the effect. But I will say this: It is unexpected and wonderful to smile and be moved during scene changes.

Allen, who won a 1988 best actress Tony Award for “Burn This,” has not been on Broadway in 20 years. Irons took home the 1984 best actor Tony Award for “The Real Thing” — so it’s taken 25 years for him to return to the Great White Way. And yet here they are — making magic together, as if they’ve been on stage together dozens of times.

Irons plays a few roles in the play, but he’s best as Thomas, a man who knows seemingly everything — and loves to tell stories about what he knows. But he is not arrogant or snobbish. Well, maybe a little snobbish, but the audience loves him because they know his heart is good.

Allen is equally impressive. Katharine is an educated woman who prides herself on her ability to read people. It’s fascinating to watch as her character develops — through memories as well experiences in the present at the gallery.

Deserving mention are Marsha Mason, who plays a woman who loves the same work of art as Katharine, and Andre De Shields as Chiambuane, who befriends Thomas while he is working in Tanzania. (My theater companion was a bit uncomfortable during this scene; he thought it bordered on racist. I would not go that far, but I can see how it may make some people a bit uncomfortable.)

Director Jack O’Brien, who won a Tony for his work on the mammoth production “The Coast of Utopia,” captures the pieces, or dots if you will, of the play: the dialogue, the love story, the art, the memories. There is a real flow from start to finish. He makes it seems effortless, when in reality it is a major undertaking.

In some ways, this play will remind people of “Sunday in the Park With George,” Stephen Sondheim’s brilliant musical. But it stands on its own.

And yet one song from that show, “Putting It Together,” seems particularly appropriate: “Piece by piece, only way to make a work of art/Every moment makes a contribution/Every little detail plays a part/Having just a vision’s no solution,/Everything depends on execution.”

Hartford Courant, by Malcolm Johnson

“Irons brings his usual British coolness to her assistant, photographer Thomas Buckle. ”