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2016-2017 SeasonThe River

What did you think of The River?

By October 5, 2016August 16th, 202320 Comments
What did you think?

We hope you enjoyed your Quantum experience, and we’d love to hear your thoughts on The River. Leave a comment below and tell us what you liked, disliked, or anything in particular that may have resonated with you. Thank you for your feedback!

Join the discussion 20 Comments

  • Steven Larchuk says:

    I was very pleased to attend the opening for River. This was my first Quantum production.

    The cast was excellent. The set was an effective and living fourth member of the cast (as great sets always are) and the direction, sound and lighting were likewise excellent. Hard to believe you move this around as you do. I will look forward to attending future performances. Thank you for bringing this to the Pittsburgh area – another reason to live here!

    • Cindy Tilson says:

      I too thoroughly enjoyed The River, and can recommend it highly. I attended with a friend from DC, himself a playwright, visiting Pittsburgh for the weekend. At first, it seemed to be an odd theme- fly fishing used as a metaphor for unattainable, unsustainable relationships, with a hint of a ghost story under-pinning it all. I don’t think it was obvious to Neil or to me at first, just how much value there was in viewing the play, but as we began to analyze our impressions, the discussion it triggered lasted into the wee hours last night. That, to me, is worth the price of admission – and how!

  • Frederic B Sargent says:

    We loved every aspect of it. Seeing “The River” was a reminder of how much the uniquely adventurous way in which Quantum Theater brings performances to us heightens the experience of being in the audience. Staging this play within a stone’s throw of the Allegheny River was undeniably a product of theatrical genius.

  • John Hayes says:

    Good selection of material, set and performance — I was very pleased. But I’d like to comment on this show’s contribution to the overall Quantum experience. The novelty of the nontraditional sites makes attending Quantum shows an adventure. I’m always impressed at the forethought that goes into the production of these shows. Great job on the Aspinwall site. Easy access from Rte. 28 and the Highland Park Bridge, a sign and attendant with a flashlight on Freeport Road, well-planned parking with friendly attendants and brilliant use of an existing building to create a great set. I hope you’ll send Butterworth photos of how his outstanding play was produced in Pittsburgh.

  • Jack Kerr says:

    The play was very exciting. It brought considerable discussion following the play. Comments all favorable.

  • Anne Turner says:

    Loved the show. Theater setting was really fun and totally appropriate. Set was wonderful and integrated into the play beautifully, and the acting was great. So glad we went.

  • Meg Bernard says:

    Loved, loved the play, it was just the right kind of creepy for Halloween season; the set was amazing and creative and it was so well acted. Ladies night was so easy, casual…..the vibe was really pleasant and relaxing…vs. a big deal kind of cocktail party if that makes sense. Thank you and I wll be back! Karla you are da bomb and so amazing, I wish I had your energy and visionary spirit! Pittsburgh is so fortunate to have you at the center of its performance arts offerings.

    Come see Chatham any time. Also we have Eastside, which has some empty office spaces I think (not sure how appealing that is ) and an enormous parking lot and a bunch of interconnected garage bays. chatham Campus outside Mellon Hall is cool as you mentioned; the pond area; the quad you mentioned; much more.


  • Kate Kolbrener says:

    Sitting in the front row during Ladies Night placed me right inside the cabin on the set of The River. The furniture, the props and the windows looking right out into the Allegheny river all pulled me into the center of the action. Integrating the water as such a prominent feature in the set gave it a weighty presence like another character in the play – a force to be reckoned with. Surprising twists, great acting and eloquent dialogue made for a rich experience and a wonderful night!!! Bravo!

  • Mary Russell says:

    I loved it! The actors were great. The set perfect. Music, lighting, everything — wonderful.

  • Karen Coulter Perkins says:

    Great production, but REALLY loved the set. The river that was there and then denied-but-still-there and then THERE was perfect.

  • John Olmsted says:

    I’m sorry to go against the flow on this, but I found The River to be a total waste of time. Not trusting my own judgement, I looked at reviews of the NY and London productions and found that Rex Reed summed it up perfectly: “The River Sinks Like a Stone. Instead of a step in a brave new direction, The River is a wash down the drain of nincompoopery. This is one of those lunk-headed self-indulgences that pretend to have portent and promise on paper but turn out to be a complete waste of time and talent signifying nothing. By the end of this hoax, I was looking for a sign of my own—the sign over the door marked ‘Exit.’ You leave the theater overwhelmed by the essence of twaddle.” I’m with Rex on this one. It’s a shame that Quantum’s considerable talents – delightful, unexpected locations, superb actors, eye-catching sets – were wasted on a non-play about which another reviewer observed, “this new work is a sliver of a mood piece that never tightens its grip.” I wish Karla had taken heed of the reviews before picking this dead fish. In

  • Karla Boos says:

    Hi! I want to thank everyone for the comments so far, may there be many more. Special thanks to John, we’re always looking for peoples’ truthful reactions, and it’s probably harder to say so when you don’t like something. If we pleased everybody all the time… Well, just not possible as well as not desirable.

    To your point about other productions- I try hard not to care about other reviews out there in the world. I try to have my own, authentic response to something, when I do I bring in the sensibilities of other artists, their rich responses. We all had them to this play… And I do in a larger way to Jez Butterworth’s writing, the whole body of his work, with its interesting ideas about our relationship to nature, and I believe I see this play, so much smaller and more personal than his opus Jerusalem, in that context.

    That’s my quick response- I’d love to talk more with you about it John, and so appreciate your long support of Quantum!

    Hope folks will keep coming to see for themselves, and write in this space! We want to hear. Thank you-

  • phyllis aluise says:

    I love going to Quantum Theatre because they take me to places in the city that I’ve never been to before. I really enjoyed The River. It was a warm fall night Tuesday Oct 18. I enjoyed being by the river. The setting in the cabin was great! The acting and story held my interest. The gutting of the fish….well that was interesting ( since I was in the first row!) I highly recommend seeing this play.

  • shs says:

    Great set and “choreography.” Fine acting. Loved being in the front row “with” the actors. But: empty play; obvious psychological twists and variable possibilities = tedious. Froze my butt off despite blankets. Despite my complaint that the play is thin, I value and support Quantum, one of Pittsburgh’s great treasures.

  • I loved it! It was intriguing, well-acted, well-presented, and the integration with the water on the set was just really neat. I loved picking up pieces of the metaphors in the storyline as well, and the symbolic nature of so many of the elements. This was one of the best Quantum shows I’ve seen, and the quality is always very high!

  • Madeline Schindel says:

    Short but sweet: it was fabulous!

  • Drew Barnes says:

    Having seen tons of Quantum shows, loving most, confused by several, I’ve always been entertained. The River was spare but very enjoyable and I thought a nice counter to the Winters Tale show, which for me was just too……..?
    That Quantum has the balls to do what they do, and do it so well, is an absolute treasure for us in Pittsburgh. Keep bringing it, Karla, and we’ll eagerly anticipate our next night out with Quantum!

  • Mike Natelson says:

    Quantum productions continue to surprise and entertain me. I don’t read reviews before going. The River unexpectidly brought back early memories associated with fishing.

  • rz says:

    It gives me no great pleasure to be a harbinger of a bad review, and I’ll also preface this by saying that I’m a pretty tough critic of theatre. That said: for me, The River was underwhelming.

    The production values were generally good; the set was interesting and well-made, featuring the literal/figurative river running through it. The location was really well chosen and if it hadn’t gotten dark so early in the show, would’ve helped continuously set the scene in an irreproducibly realistic way. I kept hoping to see a character show up outside the upstage windows, but no such luck.

    Ms. Christensen’s performance was a standout. Just as she did in Driftless, she took material that wasn’t always so wonderful and brought a careful depth to it and really effectively inhabited her character. Ms. Griffith and Mr. Smith’s performances were more hobbled by a script that I think is the ultimate culprit here. How many times must we hear a character recall an entire previous scene (‘this morning you said something to me. And then I said something back. And after that, you said something else to me. And then I responded…), and how many times can we possibly hear the male character’s romantic passionate retelling of yet another fish story by before it wears thin as a device? I get it, fishing is a metaphor, she’s by the long pond, I’ve been fishing since I was seven and I caught a heart rock, the sea trout struggle and get stronger for doing so, ok, ok.

    Mr. Smith is given a strange character to play. Instead of inhabiting an emotional center, he seems to run about the periphery: sometimes playing as a confused child, sometimes as a darkly manipulative grown man, bounding around the stage (miraculously aware of the gash running up and downstage and actually very impressively always crossing it without a glance or pause).

    The device of blazing back and forth through time as one woman walks off and her future/past counterpart enters in her stead is stunning and interesting at first, then commonplace, and finally disappointing. Why not explore this further? The moment that was most thrilling to me in the whole performance was when Mr. Smith and Ms. Griffith froze and the apparition of Ms. Christensen carefully, deliberately stalked through the space, lighting three candles and walking through the unexplored river in the guise of a ghost. It was beautiful, haunting, and exciting.

    The last scene was pretty injured by the unfortunate shanghaiing of either a non-actor or a young and inexperienced actor for the part of the new woman; sorry, but even if you have only one line to deliver in the crucial last scene, it’s either gotta be good or it’s big trouble.

    Here’s what I think: this is what it looks like when a theatre company takes risks. It’s fun to do Our Town for the five thousandth time, but a lot richer to branch out and try a new piece of writing by a contemporary author. And so I sincerely applaud the effort. “Master Builder” was strange, beautiful, troubling, and though it took lots of interesting liberties ultimately they paid off. The trouble with riverine risks, of course, is that sometimes you’ll catch a dud.

    (Ok, I did enjoy writing that last stupid line. Apologies.)

  • Herb Wolfson says:

    Actors were outstanding and set and setting very creative. Not sure of the takeaway from the play but overall an enjoyable evening.

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