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Stunning - Full Length Play, Drama


David Adjmi

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Full Length Play, Drama

2m, 4f

ISBN: 9780573697814

An eye-opening, intimate look into the world of sixteen-year-old Lily, who lives in a Syrian-Jewish community in Brooklyn with her much older husband - and what occurs when an unlikely relationship with her African-American maid begins to form.

More Information Below:

Description | Characters | Rental Materials | Author | Reviews
: Acting Edition
: Large Print
: Stage Manager

Minimum Fee: $75 per performance


Full Length Play


120 minutes (2 hours)

Time Period - Contemporary

Settings Of Play - The play takes place largely within the confines of the midwood section of Brooklyn – a very affl uent, largely Jewish area; one which exerts a centripetal force on the people who live there. Despite the proximity to Manhattan, there’s a provincialism to it, an insularity, but also an extremely tight-knit sense of community.


Unit Set/Multiple Settings

Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes


Gun Shots, Intense Adult Themes




College Theatre / Student, Professional Theatre, Large Stage

David Adjmi is the 2010 recipient of the Whiting Award for Drama
Sixteen-year-old Lily knows nothing beyond the Syrian-Jewish community in Brooklyn where she lives a cloistered life with her much older husband. Soon an unlikely relationship with her enigmatic African-American maid opens Lily's world to new possibilities – but at a huge price. David Adjmi's daring new work shifts from caustic satire to violent drama as it exposes the ways we invent and defend our identities in the melting-pot of America.


"Nobody is what they appear to be in Stunning, THE RAZOR-SHARP SATIRICAL TRAGEDY by David Adjmi. [The producers at LTC3] have succeeded: Stunning frequently lives up to its name, offering a brutal yet witty view of groupthink and slippery identity politics among Syrian Jews in Brooklyn...the hippest ticket in town"  
- NY1

"Unless you happen to live in an insular Syrian-Jewish community, the culture shock of Stunning could be quite...well, stunning. David Adjmi's eye-opening drama about a despotic rag merchant, his tyrannized child bride and the black maid who challenges the medieval customs of their domestic life has a chilling impact. Riveting performances and super-stylish staging polish the play's satirical weapons of high dudgeon, while adding to the luster of LCT3, the developmental wing of Lincoln Center currently making a splash in its inaugural season at the Duke."  

"David Adjmi's off-Broadway debut is a striking, and yes, stunning black satire of the insular Syrian-Jewish community in Midwood, Brooklyn."  
- Flavorpill

"The advantage of writing about something you know pays off handsomely for multi-award-winning playwright David Adjmi...Careening courageously, but never recklessly, between satire and melodrama —and ultimately tragedy— Stunning is an eye-opening, intimately focused look into the marriage of a couple within a sect that guards its insularity and its ingrained religious/cultural identity...astonishingly provocative"
Curtain Up

"A deft touch for both comedy and drama...Richly defined characters tackle sensitive topics insightfully and often to incendiary effect. David Adjmi is quickly building a reputation for unvarnished presentations of offbeat and disturbing themes." - Variety


Top 10 Plays With Meaty Roles for Contemporary Young Actresses
by Courtney Kochuba
October 31, 2014

Stunning was originally produced in March 2008 by Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington DC.



2m, 4f


Features Teens, Multicultural casting


N/A (Not a musical)

LILY SCHWECKY - (sixteen) Truly “cute”, slight, naifish, something of an oddball. The “baby” – she’s sixteen going on about 11; she’s a bit regressed. Her mind works quickly but her thoughts are incredibly scattered. A follower, but it’s more out of a need for connectedness than an innate passivity.
BLANCHE NESBITT – (forties) Lily’s new housekeeper, African American, an extremely intelligent, voluble, and terribly sensitive autodidact. Damaged, but maintains a great sense of irony and dry humor. She adapts to survive - she’s performative, and the performance wears her down eventually. An outsider.
IKEY SCHWECKY – (forty-five) Lily’s new husband: controlling, brute, bumptious, but there’s something fragile in him, broken – he’s more transparent than he thinks.
SHELLY – (early-twenties) Lily’s big sister; a leader; she’s got a stentorian quality, but naturalizes this by cultivating “girly” preoccupations. The laziness of her "r’s and a’s" feels calculated and somehow hostile.
JOJO – (thirties, early forties) Shelly’s uxorious husband; basically a good guy but limited; rather put upon, has trouble sticking to his guns.
CLAUDINE - (nineteen) a bit hysterical; unselfconscious – even brute – in her bids for approval. She has a desperate conformity.
Rental Materials


N/A (Not a musical)


N/A (Not a musical)

David Adjmi

David Adjmi

David Adjmi was called "virtuosic" by the New York Times and he was listed as one of the Top Ten in Culture for 2011 by The New Yorker magazine. His play Marie Antoinette received a critically acclaimed world premiere co-production with A.R.T. and Yale Rep. The play won 3 Connecticut Critics Circle Awards including Best Play.  3C received its world premiere at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in ... view full profile

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Katie Craddock 4/30/2013 2:15 AM
I was excited the moment I read the cast list and set notes of Stunning because the circumstances were taboo. I knew I was supposed to think it was wrong, but I wanted to see the inside of a marriage between a sixteen-year-old and a forty-five-year-old. Adjmi doesn't disappoint.  In the first few pages of tumbling, interruption-filled dialogue, he makes the world of these insular Brooklyn Syrian Jews familiar. His characterization of them balances hilariously blistering satire and deep compassion. His portrayal of their racism and sexism is unblinking, and yet we still find ourselves charmed by and rooting for Lily.  

Lily, endearingly naïve, frustrating and frustrated, is our sixteen-year-old bride; the only true romance of the piece is between the aforementioned sixteen-year-old and her forty-something African American maid, Blanche. Blanche and Lily are ceaselessly riveting as they navigate moments of resisted traditionalism, terrifying danger, almost maternal love, desire, and betrayal. The evolution of their bond is so specific and warm in its weirdness that we can’t help but root for them as a couple. To Adjmi’s credit, even Ike, Lily’s husband, the blustering, violent, and hypocritical would-be villain, has relatable moments of low self-esteem. Without once preaching or providing answers, Adjmi shows us an unbearable situation in which self-obliteration seems the only solution. He leaves it to us to ask—what should be done?

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