Cover art compliments of The Public Theater

The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family

Richard Nelson


This bundle consisting of three books is sold at 20% off the regular price for its individual titles.


Book — Hungry

Part One, HUNGRY: To the rhythm of peeling, chopping and mixing, HUNGRY places us in the center of the Gabriels' kitchen. The family discusses their lives and disappointments, and the world at large and nearby, as they struggle against the fear of being left behind and the challenge to find resilience in the face of loss.

Book — What Did You Expect?

Part Two, WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?: Financial problems are escalating for the Gabriels, causing a cascade of problems, as the election looms before them.

Book — Women of a Certain Age

Part Three, WOMEN OF A CERTAIN AGE: It is election night as the Gabriels economic woes worsen. They have worked hard and played by the rules, and yet they are slipping from the middle class. Is there hope to be had?


THE GABRIELS trilogy chronicles a year in the life of a neighboring family who reunite in real time at three different points across 2016 to celebrate, remember, and wait for the world to change. History and politics, art and culture, love and hate are all on the table as the Gabriels gather in the kitchen of the house they grew up in — ultimately revealing the deep, human impact of one of the most extraordinary years in American history.

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Press Quotes


“Wonderful … HUNGRY, a work in which nothing much happens beyond some contemplative pre-dinner chatter, may well be the most resonantly topical and emotionally engaging play of this election year.” —Ben Brantley, New York Times

“[HUNGRY’s] thousand acts of extreme daily realism, from chopping vegetables to the constant dance of interpersonal negotiation, amount to a kind of human politics, dramatizing, as many more ‘dramatic’ plays cannot, the historic conflict and consolations of living in our country right now.” —Jesse Green, New York Magazine

“[Nelson] may just be quietly building a masterwork.” —Linda Winer, Newsday

“if you want to understand the forces driving the current presidential election, pay close attention to this play.” —The Daily Beast

“Richard Nelson’s quietly incandescent play HUNGRY, a play that feels as fresh as if it was written this morning …” —Jeremy Gerard, Deadline/Hollywood

“… delivers the sort of intimacy rarely encountered on the stage.” —Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

“… with a wordsmith’s scalpel, [Nelson] performs delicate surgery on the American psyche to probe what ails it. In exquisite character portrayals by Nelson’s six actors, we learn that the political season coincides with the ageless experience of loss — the death of Thomas, Hannah’s subtle casualisation from caterer to maid, Karin’s envy of a decent, dogged family, and the perennial mysteries of old age into which Patricia is disappearing. The crafted naturalism of each family member arriving to clutter the kitchen with books and ingredients, stir the (actually) cooking pot and set the table eases the audience into a realm of domestic intimacy. Against all theatrical rules, there’s almost no dramatic action, but as the gentle conversations unfold around the table, you feel the urge to lean in and listen intently. And you are rewarded.” —Victoria Laurie, The Australian

“Unique chance to be a fly on the Gabriels’ kitchen wall is not to be missed … What is perhaps surprising about these plays at first sight is how little the family discuss politics as such. For the Gabriels, it’s the little rituals of family life that matter, exemplified by how they set the kitchen at the start of each play. It is the issues that matter to ordinary people that Nelson wants to explore. How do we pay for health care? With rich ‘out-of-towners’ buying up our properties, why can’t we afford to live in our own communities any more? When did the banks stop paying interest to savers? The communal activity of cooking a meal is the enabler, a special ‘family’ time at which such matters can naturally come to the fore at an unforced pace. It’s all real — you can smell the onions frying — and put across with a particularly magical naturalism inhabiting every line, gesture and chopped pimento … Much of the writing is heart-warmingly gentle and brilliantly observed. There’s plenty of humour … The Gabriels will stay with you long after you leave the theatre.” —Clive Paget, Limelight Magazine (Australia)


“A mirror of our frightened, fallible selves at this very fraught moment in American history … WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? is the second work in the second cycle of plays by Mr Nelson that have quietly emerged as a sui generis triumph of civic theater … [They] inhabit the here and now with an unobtrusive thoroughness I’ve never encountered elsewhere in the theater.” —Ben Brantley, The New York Times

“By exploring the underwater part of the iceberg whose visible tip is politics, [Nelson] is challenging the idea of what political theater can be.” —Jesse Green, New York Magazine

“As close to a perfect illusion as theatre can get …” —Max McGuinness, Financial Times

“The quiet brilliance of Nelson’s extraordinary project …” —Linda Winer, Newsday

“The effect is akin to eavesdropping on a private family conversation.” —Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter


“[The Gabriels] … may collectively represent the most profound achievement in topical theater in this country since the Depression-era triumphs of Clifford Odets’ WAITING FOR LEFTY and Marc Blitzstein’s THE CRADLE WILL ROCK. Not that Mr. Nelson’s cycle of works is anything like those ardently partisan predecessors … What Mr. Nelson … does is quieter and, ultimately sadder and more resonant. He asks us to sit down in real time, in the kitchen of a close family for a casual meal. And as we listen to its members talk, even on trivial subjects like the decoration of cookies, we feel the far-reaching tremors of a scared country that has come down with a rattling case of identity crisis …” —Ben Brantley, The New York Times

“Nelson’s work seems more vital than ever.” —Max McGuinness, The Financial Times

“One of the exquisite rewards of WOMEN OF A CERTAIN AGE, and there are countless, is that while the play takes place on Election Night 2016 when it premiered … it provides a reprieve from the muck of politics. It’s a kind of healing balm, if you will, from the toxicity of a U.S. presidential race that was nastier and more divisive than any in memory.” —David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“It’s Nelson’s greatest strength as playwright and director here that he relegates politics mostly to the background; it’s oddly secondary (it wouldn’t be for anyone else) that this is at once the most and least momentous installment in the series — and perhaps Nelson’s canon — with nothing and everything happening simultaneously, and at a dizzying pace.” —Matthew Murray, Talkin’ Broadway

About the Author


  • Richard Nelson

    Richard Nelson's plays include the four-play series, THE APPLE FAMILY (THAT HOPEY CHANGEY THING, SWEET AND SAD, SORRY, REGULAR SINGING (Nominated for Outstanding Play in Drama Desk Awards 2014; Public Theater, 2010 – 2013), NIKOLAI AND THE OTHERS (Lincoln Center Theater, 2013), FAREWELL TO THE THEATRE (Hampstead Theatre, 2012), HOW SHAKESPEARE WON THE WEST, (Huntington Theater, 2008), CONVERSATIONS AT TUSCULUM (Public Theater, 2008), FRANK'S HOME (Goodman Chicago, Playwrights Horizons, 2007), RODNEY'S WIFE (Playwrights Horizons, 2004), WHERE I COME FROM (National Theatre Connections), MADAME MELVILLE (which ran in the West End starring Macaulay Culkin and Irene Jacob and opened in May 2001 Off-Broadway); GOODNIGHT CHILDREN EVERYWHERE (winner of Olivier Award for Best New Play, 2000), KENNETH'S FIRST PLAY (with Colin Chambers, RSC), THE GENERAL FROM AMERICA (at the RSC and the Lucille Lortel Theatre, New York), NEW ENGLAND (RSC and Manhattan Theater Club), MISHA'S PARTY (with Alexander Gelman, RSC and Williamstown Theater Festival), TWO SHAKESPEAREAN ACTORS (Tony nomination for Best Play, RSC and Broadway), COLUMBUS AND THE DISCOVERY OF JAPAN (RSC Barbican), SOME AMERICANS ABROAD (Olivier nomination, Best Comedy; RSC, Lincoln Center and Broadway), LEFT, BETWEEN EAST AND WEST (Hampstead), PRINCIPIA SCRIPTORAE (winner of Time Out Award, RSC and Manhattan Theater Club), THE RETURN OF PINOCCHIO, AN AMERICAN COMEDY, BAL, CONJURING AN EVENT, RIP VAN WINKLE, JUNGLE COUP, THE KILLING OF YABLONSKI, THE VIENNA NOTES (Obie Award). His musicals include JAMES JOYCE'S THE DEAD (starring Christopher Walken and Blair Brown; Playwrights Horizons, Belasco Theatre, Broadway, Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, Kennedy Center, Washington; for which he received a Tony Award in 2000 for Best Musical Book), CHESS (the book for the Broadway musical), PARADISE FOUND (dir: Harold Prince and Susan Strohman), MY LIFE WITH ALBERTINE (with Ricky Ian Gordon; Playwrights Horizons), UNFINISHED PIECE FOR A PLAYER PIANO (with Peter Golub). His translations and adaptations include TYNAN starring Corin Redgrave (with Colin Chambers, RSC and West End), LOLITA with Brian Cox (National), Molnar's THE GUARDSMAN (Kennedy Center), Carriere's THE CONTROVERSY (Public Theater), Fo's ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST (Broadway), Strindberg's THE FATHER with Frank Langella (Broadway) and MISS JULIE (Yale Rep), Beaumarchais' THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO (the Guthrie and Broadway); Molière's DON JUAN, Ibsen's WILD DUCK and ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE, Pirandello's ENRICO IV, Goldoni's IL CAMPIELLO, Erdmann's THE SUICIDE. With the esteemed translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, he was co-translated Chekhov's THE CHERRY ORCHARD, Gogol's THE INSPECTOR, Turgenev's A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY and Bulgakov's DON QUIXOTE. Films: Hyde Park on Hudson, staring Bill Murray and Laura Linney (Dir: Roger Michell), Ethan Frome, starring Liam Neeson (Dir: John Madden); Sensibility and Sense, staring Elaine Stritch and Jean Simmons (Dir: David Jones). Television: The End of a Sentence with Edward Herrmann (Dir: David Jones). Radio Plays include: HYDE PARK ON HUDSON, LANGUAGES SPOKEN HERE (Giles Cooper Award), EATING WORDS (Giles Cooper Award), ADVICE TO EASTERN EUROPE, AN AMERICAN WIFE (all BBC).