The Niceties – Play – Intiman Theatre

Elevator Thoughts (aka Tweet): The Niceties #play by Eleanor Burgess at Intiman Theatre w/ Varinique “V” Davis & Amy Thone highlighting today’s generational/racial divide. It’s rare to find a 2-person play w/ intellectual dialogue as thrilling & delicious as this. Loved the twist at the end of the 1st act. Well-written and well-executed!

Synopsis from the Theatre: A pair of progressive women — a white baby boomer and a Black millennial — are pitted against each other at an elite university as a tenured history professor argues with her student about the effects of slavery on the American Revolution. What begins as a polite clash in perspectives explodes into a dramatic fight that will alter both their lives forever. The play forces us to choose a side as it asks: how much are you willing to sacrifice for the sake of progress?

Reviewed Performance: 4/20/23 Opening Night

Type: Play

World Premiere: No

Several or Few Scenes: Just 2 scenes

Several or Few Settings: Just 1 room

Prior Exposure/Knowledge Required: You need to know a little about the history, politics, and higher education of the United States to appreciate this play. A USA college degree and high school diploma will definitely go far in understanding the nuances.

Defined Plot/Storyline: No, there’s only so much you can do with 2 scenes in 1 room!

Recommendation: See it if you like either

  • 2-person Plays
  • Intellectual Debates
  • Leftist/Liberal Idealism
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Or Academia

Was This the First Time I Attended a Production of this Show: Yes

Would I See It Again 3 Years from Now: Probably not but it was really good

Rating Compared to Other Shows with the Same Production Value:
5 stars (Out of 5 Stars) – This is surprising since I usually don’t like shows with few actors!

Equity Actors: 2

Total Number of Actors: 2

Length (Including Any Intermission): 2 hour

Intermission: Yes

Other Rave(s) Not Mentioned in Elevator Thoughts

  • Intellectually Interesting: Honestly, I initially thought the premise was inherently boring. I was pleasantly proved wrong and I actually found the play well written/executed. It was both mentally stimulating and entertaining. Stuffy academics would love listening to Professor Janine (played by Amy Throne) drone on about university. Entertainment seekers (like myself) will want to bust out the popcorn when the uncomfortable conflicts unfold. The playwright (Eleanor Burgess) wrote a great debate with interesting, valid arguments from both sides sprinkled with funny smart quips and several “mini climactic” moments.
  • Ending of Play (No Spoilers): The play ended abruptly on an emotionally charged note with a significant sentence and the lights suddenly off. I can’t think of many plays that do this and I feel like it’s more exciting this way. The final word of the script caught me off guard too. I had to look up the definition after the show and ponder what the playwright was trying to convey with that word. I’m still wondering! Maybe prompting the audience to ponder days after the performance is a sign of a good play though.
  • Ending of Each Act (No Spoilers): Both acts presented a different energy but they both also ended with their own unexpected similar juicy twist and sudden conclusion. I wish there was a word to describe this novel writing technique like the “bookends” technique. It’s like the bookends are at the end of each act instead of at the beginning/end of the play. Leave a comment in my social media if you have any ideas what this is called.


  • “Line”: One of the actors asked for a line at the beginning of the second act. I’ve only ever seen this happen once or twice. Oh, the magical unpredictability of live theatre! In her defense, 1) it was opening night 2) she recovered well 3) and I’m always amazed at how much material on-stage actors memorize like the 1-2 gripping long-winded nervous breakdown-like tirades she delivered.

Other Musing(s) and Observation(s)

  • Moral of the Story: While both opposing sides made great points, the script didn’t offer much viable concluding solutions to the racial issues presented. There was no “moral of the story.” But I suppose these issues don’t have an easy solution that you can just tie up neatly with a pretty bow.
  • Liberal Wet Dream: With such a progressive script, Seattle was the perfect city to produce this show, what with our microaggression police, safe spaces, trigger warnings, land acknowledgements, PC-culture, pronoun-ing, and social justice warriors. Can you tell I’m not from here? 😛 Like I mentioned in my review of Between Two Knees, woke Seattleites with white guilt will be sure to eat this up. BLM protesters would love it too.

Theatre Company: Intiman Theatre

Venue: Erickson Theatre at Seattle Central College

Venue Physical Address: 1524 Harvard Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

Price: Medium

Ticket Affordability Options: The ticketing website offers honor code discount options for students, military, industry, … or anybody. There are also 20 free rush tickets 1 hour before each performance.

Dates: April 18-29, 2023

Seating: General Admission

Parking: It’s Capitol Hill … so good luck. Try to take the bus. The cheapest parking I could find was $14 on the street. Geeez!

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Other Video +/- Pictures: See pictures in video and under video below by Joe Moore

Cast and Production Team: See after pictures and video below

@showsiveseen "The Niceties" #play by Eleanor Burgess at #Intiman Theatre w/ Varinique "V" Davis + Amy Thone highlighting today's generational/racial divide. It's rare to find a 2-person play w/ intellectual dialogue as thrilling & delicious as this. Loved the twist at the end of the 1st act. Well-written and well-executed! Photos by Joe Moore. Review: #theatre ♬ leave me – Anees
Zoe ReedVarinique ‘V’ Davis*
Janine BoskoAmy Thone*
PlaywrightEleanor Burgess
DirectorSheila Daniels
Associate Director + Fight ChoreographerJasmine Lomax
Scenic Designer and Intiman Artistic DirectorJennifer Zeyl†
Costume DesignerIsabella Price
Lighting DesignerVada Briceño
Sound DesignerMatt Starritt†
Stage ManagerHazel Rose Gibson*
Assistant Lighting DesignerChih-Hung Shao
Intiman Managing DirectorWesley Frugé
*Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States
†Member of United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829, IATSE

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