REVIEW ROUNDUP: "Nat Turner in Jerusalem" Opened with a ShowScore of 72

Show-Score | Sep 27, 2016
“Nat Turner in Jerusalem,” written by Nathan Alan Davis and directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian, opened on September 26, 2016 in New York City. “Nat Turner in Jerusalem,” written by Nathan Alan Davis and directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian, opened on September 26, 2016 in New York City.


13 critics reviewed the show, resulting in a weighted average of 61.

Ben Brantley
The New York Times
ShowScore: 60
"What suspense there is lies in waiting to see if Turner will respond to Gray’s plea and, more important, if the prisoner will in any way change the thinking of the other men. The answer to both turns out to be a qualified yes, and the ways in which Mr. Davis comes to these conclusions have a certain dialectic ingenuity. Mostly, though 'Nat Turner in Jerusalem' is a static work, as iconography tends to be. Ms. Sandberg-Zakian’s direction brings little kinetic energy or surprise to the proceedings."
David Cote
Time Out New York
ShowScore: 60
"Davis’s way into the material is neither historical pageant nor postmodern abstraction; he and director Megan Sandberg-Zakian opt (almost quaintly) for poetic naturalism with theatrical flourishes...Such a stolid, talky approach puts the burden, unfortunately, on the acting. Brannon’s Turner has an unexpected sweetness that grows on you and makes his flashes of righteous rage all the more rattling. But Vickers, as Gray, is too callow to add nuance or depth to his scenes."
Hayley Levitt
ShowScore: 75
"The most interesting part of the creative exercise is not the activity inside Turner's cell, but the breadth of its implications about our relationship with history as a whole—whether 200 years past or flooding your Twitter feeds as we speak...The dialogue employed is filled with lovely prose and discerning metaphors. Though with little in the way of plot to prop up the dense language, and characters who seem immovable, the story can occasionally amble through the long night."

"Nat Turner in Jerusalem" was also reviewed by Michael Bracken of Theater Pizzazz, Tommy Partl of NY Theatre Guide, Chris J Kelly of Star-Ledger (, Simon Saltzman of CurtainUp, Jesse Green of New York Magazine / Vulture, Steven Ross of Front Mezz Junkies, Jonathan Mandell of DC Theatre Scene, Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter, Matthew Murray of Talkin' Broadway, and Alexis Soloski of The Guardian (UK).


The show was also reviewed by 57 Show-Score members, whose collective ShowScore is a weighted average of 75.

Top five adjectives describing the show:
Great acting, Slow, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Absorbing

Bruce 6, ShowScore: 91
See it if…"For script/direction that brilliantly shows contest of ideas between Turner as avenging angel versus lawyer representing status quo."
Don't see it if…"Since asymmetry in contest/position of Turner is powerfully portrayed; theatrical rationale for third character, the jailer, is unclear." 
Also…"This play does six things very well:
1. Reimagines a historical event
2. Presents debate about whether the ends justify the means—whether political ends justify slaughter of innocents
3. Has lessons for the present: Black Lives Matter and ISIS (religious justification for terrorism)
4. Communicates through writing that is poetic and evocative
5. Presents acting (role of Nat Turner) that is commanding
6. Brings to life major themes through inventive staging (evocative use of chains; bleacher seating surrounding stage placing audience in role of jurors in jury box)."
Lloyd 6047, ShowScore: 83
See it if…"Turner's divinely inspired rebellion as the roots of Black Lives Matter. Poetic script beautifully directed and acted. Phillip Brannon soars." 
Don't see it if…"The wooden seats have backs and cushions and are not uncomfortable. It must have cost a lot to reconfigure NYTW. The experience is worth it."
JANET Z 6156, ShowScore: 71
See it if…"Acting and staging matter most. You're a history buff. You can glean meaning and enjoy engaging discussion following the show." 
Don't see it if…"You have high expectations for this production. You want straightforward theater and you don't like ambiguity."

See the Show Page with all critic and member reviews.

Note: The ShowScore displayed above is current as of right now, and may be different from the ShowScore when the article was published.