I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Sara Krulwich



Opening Night:
January 7, 2015
March 1, 2015

Theater: Atlantic Theater / 336 West 20th Street, New York, NY, 10011


Ella is a precocious and fiercely competitive actress whose sole aim in life is making her famous playwright father David proud. Over the course of a boozy, drug-fueled evening, Ella and David deliberate over whether to read the reviews of her off-Broadway debut… and things unravel from there. This daring and irreverent new plays pulls the audience into the middle of a deeply complicated relationship and sheds new light on the eternal struggles of parents and children to find common ground.

  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard

    An Uneasy Rapport

    Charles Isherwood

    January 20, 2015: Like father, like daughter. That sentimental notion, usually cooed to emphasize an endearing trait shared across the generation gap, takes on a bone-chilling dimension in I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard, a potently acted but punishing drama by Halley Feiffer about the destructive relationship between a famous playwright and his daughter, an aspiring actress. Reed Birney, among New York’s hardest-working stage actors, is often cast as a retiring type (as he was last fall in You Got Older, or, memorably, in Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation). Here he whips a 180 without leaving any visible skid marks to portray David, a ferociously nasty Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, in whose cozy Upper West Side kitchen much of the play, which opened on Tuesday night, takes place. David is in full vitriolic flight as the play begins, in the middle of a scabrous attack on the bane of all theater artists (duh, critics) that’s liberally doused with foul language and laced with homophobia. The next victim of his verbal assaults is the director who has failed to cast his daughter, Ella, played by Betty Gilpin, as Nina in an avant-garde production of The Seagull. “Bertrand’s an old bag,” he fumes about the director. “A has-been — a joke. A formerly-famous-now-completely-washed-up hack!” This did not prevent David from sending the man his latest work in progress, and the hack’s polite note claiming he’s too busy to stage it might have something to do with David’s dudgeon. Then again, it might not. As written by Ms. Feiffer, David seems to need no particular impetus for his biliousness. (Let’s not draw any conclusions from the slightly discomfiting fact that Ms. Feiffer is an actress and the daughter of Jules Feiffer, the celebrated cartoonist who has also written plays.)

  • NEW YORK DAILY NEWS REVIEW OF I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard

    Off-Broadway play by Halley Feiffer stars Reed Birney and Betty Gilpin in unsettling family story

    Joe Dziemianowicz

    January 20, 2015: The opening moments of I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard make the play seem like it’s going to be an evening of (yawn) critic-bashing. But this blistering, blackly funny and creepy two-character work by Halley Feiffer chases after and snares something a lot more interesting and unsettling. After all, you don’t need a professional critic to tear you down when your father will do it for nothing. Ella, an up-and-coming New York actress, knows that, but nonetheless goes to the sprawling Upper West Side apartment of her playwright father, David, as she anxiously awaits the reviews of her performance in an Off-Broadway revival of The Seagull. She’s playing Masha, not, as he would have preferred, Nina. But Daddy Dearest isn’t really interested in Chekhov or Ella’s achievement. He upstages her, turning her moment into a chance to relive (again) his own dramatic and troubled life. Ella listens intently, like a well-behaved poodle. Or a robot programmed to be dutiful — and to swill wine, smoke dope and snort cocaine when Pop pulls it out.

  • NEW YORK POST REVIEW OF I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard

    Mind games, substance abuse mark Halley Feiffer’s ‘I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard’

    Elisabeth Vincentelli

    January 20, 2015: Twisted head games, drinking and drugging, ugly crying: Halley Feiffer goes for melodrama at full throttle in her new play, I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard. One minute you’re laughing, the next you’re cringing. Sometimes you’re doing both at once. Flawed as it is, the play sticks in your head like a crazy nightmare. Two thirds of the action take place late at night in the kitchen where the childlike, eager Ella (a fine Betty Gilpin) and her father, David (Reed Birney at his most unhinged), are awaiting reviews for the play Ella’s in. Over copious amounts of wine, pot and coke, David regales Ella with stories of his past — the Brooklyn home he left, the “faggot” playwright he idolized, his own award-winning career. Ella’s heard all these stories before, but she’s too cowed, too admiring to do anything but gush anew. Meanwhile, David, a pot-bellied, narcissistic monster, alternately praises and belittles his only daughter, who’s playing a relatively minor role in a revival of The Seagull.



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