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  The Gift at Geffen Playhouse

The Gift

Geffen Playhouse
10886 Le Conte Avenue Los Angeles

When two couples meet while vacationing at a ritzy resort, they instantly transition from strangers to the best of friends. Despite their almost comical differences - Ed (Chris Mulkey) and Sadie (Kathy Baker) are middle-aged, rich and traditional, while Martin (James Van Der Beek) and Chloe (Jamie Ray Newman) are young artists glowing with their potential to change the world - they find themselves spending the rest of their week together. When one seemingly inconsequential event throws both their lives into a tailspin, the couples find themselves wrestling with a moral dilemma: while it's human nature to want what you don't have, is it unnatural to abandon something that you do? This provocative new work draws audiences in with a beguiling hilarity that gives way to an unsettling twist, posing searing questions rather than providing comfortable answers.

Thru - Mar 10, 2013

Tuesdays: 8:00pm
Wednesdays: 8:00pm
Thursdays: 8:00pm
Fridays: 8:00pm
Saturdays: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sundays: 2:00pm & 7:00pm

Price: $37-$57

Show Type: Comedy/Drama

Box Office: 310-208-5454

Geffen Playhouse Seating Charts

Nearby Restaurants

  The Gift Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Los Angeles Times - Not Recommended

"...An appealing and capable cast keeps the flicker of hope alive that Joanna Murray-Smith’s play “The Gift” will be worth our time despite the mounting evidence to the contrary. But by the end of this 90-minute comedy even the actors seem done in by the e"
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Charles McNulty

Variety - Recommended

"...As good as the other actors are under Maria Aitken’s expert direction, “The Gift” might very well fall apart without Van Der Beek’s carefully calibrated performance. It’s subtle, but he withholds so much right from the get-go that he immediately becomes the play’s dark center, and the promise of something ready to be revealed, if not explode, drives the play."
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Robert Hofler

LA Weekly - Recommended

"...Murray-Smith finds rich comedy and abundant sharp one-liners in the earlier scenes, but the later revelations are less persuasive. Director Maria Aitken elicits strong performances from her cast, but the chic minimalist set by Derek McLane emphasizes a pervasive unreality."
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Neal Weaver

Backstage - Somewhat Recommended

"...Murray-Smith is a skillful playwright who is turning over questions of art and responsibility, but her play falls off the tracks right when it should be getting interesting. A work crafted to rip our guts out offers a spot of psychological indigestion instead."
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Evan Henerson

Edge - Not Recommended

"...In the end, the new work, directed by Maria Aitken, primarily comes across as a talky dramedy that saves its big surprise until far into its 90-minute running time. Though the cast is engaging and the production is handsome, the play ultimately feels like much ado about too little."
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Les Spindle

Stage and Cinema - Not Recommended

"...Ultimately, one leaves the theater with a disappointing sense of somehow being cheated – this is a play of intellectual debate with only the most flatfooted discourse, and it’s a play about morality and love with no real believable emotion. Even the presence of a stellar Hollywood cast can’t make this gift worth receiving."
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Paul Birchall

The Hollywood Reporter - Somewhat Recommended

"...Even so, the show benefits from savvy direction that navigates past truly bumpy tonal uncertainties, and as a dividend conjures up, of all unexpected flourishes, a dandy storm at sea. Baker remains a reliably attractive and magnetic central stage presence who commands sufficient sympathy to encourage us to stay along for the somewhat checkered journey. Yet the play, especially considered in retrospect, cannot escape a certain tiresome and unrewarding manipulative impact."
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Myron Meisel

LA Splash - Recommended

"...Directed by Maria Aitken, “The Gift” at the Geffen Playhouse is an evening worth “gifting” to yourself."
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Marilyn Anderson

Stage Scene LA - Not Recommended

"...Fine performances, impressive design elements, and an absolutely stunning action sequences prove insufficient reasons for this reviewer to recommend a trip to the Geffen Playhouse for the American Premiere of Joanna Murray-Smith’s highly problematic dark comedy The Gift."
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Steven Stanley - Not Recommended

"...There seems to be a tendency among some modern writers to put some event changing experience in their plays to see what will happen. Unfortunately most of the time the event or even the characters experiencing the event are left under developed and the result leave the viewer with an unpleasant taste in their mouths as if they have been conned and cheated. After all when you go to a play or movie you are at the mercy of what is presented in that darken space."
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Robert Machray

Examiner - Not Recommended

"...Kudos to the overall production values. Unfortunately, while Murray-Smith has some interesting ideas about life, art, artists, personal responsibility, the production was uneven and over-worked. Would I want to spend another night with these four people? No."
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Audrey Linden

CurtainUp - Not Recommended

"...Ultimately, too much assembly is required."
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Jon Magaril

LA Stage Times - Somewhat Recommended

"...My own take on The Gift? It discusses its theme with considerable wit and style, but the plausibility of its central conceit might be bolstered if the two couples learned a little more about each other in between the two visits that frame the current action."
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Don Shirley

Neon Tommy - Not Recommended

"...“The Gift” is not an actively bad play, so much as a confounding show that doesn’t quite work."
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Katie Buenneke

Frontiers - Recommended

"...The Gift is not perfect. But a play can provoke without perfection, and this intermissionless evening left me pondering questions of selfishness, responsibility and the role of the artist in society. That’s pretty good."
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Christopher Cappiello - Recommended

"...Even before art is mentioned, one may feel its power in Derek McLane's beautiful set, a large room that serves as the hotel bar, a guestroom, and Ed and Sadie's L.A. home. In addition to framing Howard Werner's film and projections, the room's white corner pillars and crossbars remind us of the edges of Martin's cube - and for some may see the frame within Dali's "Sacrament of the Last Supper." The costumes by Laura Bauer help define the characters, and Peter Kaczorowski's lighting combines with John Gromada's sound to make the mid-play storm a supreme testament to the art of theater's technical realm."
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Cristofer Gross

TheatreMania - Somewhat Recommended

"...Had the young couple’s wish been revealed as an Act One closer, and an additional second act had taken the time to really iron out all the arguments, The Gift may have been more rewarding. As it is, Murray-Smith allows her characters and audience only moments of contemplation, presenting food for thought that is never digested."
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Jonas Schwartz

Total Theater - Somewhat Recommended

"...Smith’s sardonic take on responsibility and morality has its moments, but they simply don’t add up in a significant way. The actors in The Gift are much better than the play."
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Willard Manus

NoHoArtsDistrict - Recommended

"...Maria Aitken’s direction captures the play’s changing rhythms; the action is never too fast or too slow. At one key point, scenic designer Derek McLane and lighting designer Peter Kaczorowski create the effect of a boat sailing on choppy seas that’s a work of art unto itself."
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Thomas Waldman

Culture Spot LA - Somewhat Recommended

"...Maria Aitken directs her ensemble at a quick pace in this intermission-less 90-minute show, but with abruptly awkward scene endings and the usually reliable Baker needlessly screaming her lines. Will you, the audience, be as appalled as Ed was at what Martin and Chloe chose for their gift? Or will you go along with the far-fetched premise that Sadie reasons is perfectly logical?"
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Gil Kaan

Grigware Blogspot - Recommended

"...The Gift is a difficult piece which will be met with a lot of negative reactions especially from conservatives. As intelligent, well acted and directed theatre, it deserves to be seen and heard. You may not agree with Martin and Chloe’s decision but it doesn’t hurt to open up your mind to an alternate perspective and weigh the possible positive consequences for all concerned."
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Don Grigware

Huffington Post - Recommended

"...Do I recommend that you see this show? Of course, for we all feel the need for more theatre of all kinds in this city…, and the Geffen has been in the forefront of providing the best shows we get. I promise that you will be exiting the theatre arguing the ending as we did… and that is The Gift from these good people."
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Jay Weston

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