Published On: Thu, Jun 4th, 2015

The Critics Love Jesse Eisenberg But Not His New Play ‘The Spoils’

Maybe Eisenberg should stick to movies.


jesse eisenberg the spoils

Its good news bad news for Jessie Eisenberg and his new play “The Spoils.” The critics love him and his performance, but not the play, which he wrote.

From the official description: Nobody likes Ben (Jesse Eisenberg). Ben doesn’t even like Ben. He’s been kicked out of grad school, lives off his parents’ money, and bullies everyone in his life, including his roommate Kalyan (Kunal Nayyar), an earnest Nepalese immigrant. When Ben discovers that his grade school crush is marrying a straight-laced banker, he sets out to destroy their relationship and win her back.

The New Group, in association with Lisa Matlin, presents The Spoils, a deeply personal and probing comedy written by Jesse Eisenberg, in a world premiere production directed by Scott Elliott and featuring Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Kunal Nayyar (The Big Bang Theory), Erin Darke (Still Alice), Annapurna Sriram (The Happiest Song Plays Last), and Michael Zegen (Boardwalk Empire), as the third show in the company’s 2014-2015 Season.

The Guardian wrote, “Eisenberg is an able writer and an effective, if somewhat delimited, performer. He offers jokes and speeches that actors like to play and audiences like to wince at. He is a skilled practitioner of the comedy of mortification, and it’s a wonder he can speak at all for all the feet in his mouth.”

“So that’s the good part, and it’s very good. The bad part is that Eisenberg is not particularly practiced at structure. He piles on insult and humiliation and calamity and eventually strands himself at the top of that pile. He handled the resolution better in The Revisionist, helped by Vanessa Redgrave’s centering presence, but The Spoils just doesn’t know what to do with itself at the end.”

And The Hollywood Reporter wrote that, “As with his previous stage efforts, Eisenberg demonstrates a real talent for crafting sharp, acerbic dialogue, and for a while this play gets by thanks to zingers expertly delivered by him and the rest of the ensemble. But The Spoils eventually winds up spinning its wheels throughout the course of its overlong running time, with the perpetually pot-smoking, condescending Ben proving so relentlessly off-putting that we wonder why the others would endure spending any time with him at all.”

“He does indeed get a satisfying comeuppance by the play’s conclusion, although the final moments, in which Sarah reminds him of a good deed he performed as a child, add an intriguing complexity to the proceedings.”

The play is on a limited run at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at 480 West 42nd Street in Manhattan thru June 28th. The production will be transferring to Trafalgar Studios in London in June, with Jesse Eisenberg continuing in the title role.

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