REVIEW ROUNDUP: “Venus” Opened with a ShowScore of 73

Show-Score | May 16, 2017
“Venus,” written by Suzan-Lori Parks and directed by Lear deBessonet, opened on May 15, 2017 in New York City. “Venus,” written by Suzan-Lori Parks and directed by Lear deBessonet, opened on May 15, 2017 in New York City.


8 critics reviewed the show, resulting in a weighted average of 75.

Ben Brantley
The New York Times
ShowScore: 65
"A patchy revival...This latest reincarnation has a new clarity that illuminates both the script’s prescience and its flaws. Directed by Lear deBessonet, the play reveals itself to be an unexpectedly traditional piece by the standards of Ms. Parks...Yet Ms. deBessonet’s production as a whole never achieves a compelling unity of vision...That’s partly to do with the script...And for the most part, the talented cast doesn’t yet match the stylish precision of its surroundings."
Elisabeth Vincentelli
ShowScore: 80
"A vivid, visually striking revival by the young director Lear deBessonet. As tragic as the tale is, resilience, humor and love run through the show...Using extreme stylization, Parks creates a distance from the story’s fundamental sadness, and the show never devolves into a treaty on racism and colonialism...Besides Jah, who imbues her character with a sensitive balance of pathos and dignity, the production benefits from an excellent ensemble."
Hayley Levitt
ShowScore: 75
"Emotional and intellectual ambiguities make 'Venus' incredibly difficult to sit through, and yet, they are also what make it such an intriguing work...Baartman could easily be portrayed as a helpless victim, but Parks' imagined narrative—as well as Jah's complex performance—obscure anything cut-and-dried about the mythology that has come to surround her...Jah is superb at maneuvering the intricacies of such a complicated character."

“Venus” was also reviewed by Howard Miller of Talkin' Broadway, Brian Scott Lipton of CitiTour, Elyse Sommer of CurtainUp, Joe Dziemianowicz of New York Daily News, and Steven Suskin of The Huffington Post.


The show was also reviewed by 49 Show-Score members, whose collective ShowScore is a weighted average of 73.

Top five adjectives describing the show:
Thought-provoking, Great acting, Ambitious, Relevant, Great staging

Jen6044, ShowScore: 65
See it if…"You want to see everything by Suzan-Lori Parks. The actress playing Venus was excellent. Creative costuming."
Don't see it if…"You want to see a traditional play with a traditional story line."
J, ShowScore: 71
See it if…"Sometimes looking for a better life isn't all it's cracked up to be. Ensemble is excellent. Zainab Jah is heartbreaking, as is the story." 
Don't see it if…"You are not interested in the topical themes of social, racial and sexual exploitation, along with the pain and suffering this can cause. The play's story and statements are clear. Unfortunately, there is too much repetition throughout, making the play feel draggy."
Renata 7077, ShowScore: 70
See it if…"Exploitation of race, sex, body and trust themes, based on a historical event and still relevant today, interest you." 
Don't see it if…"A more straightforward presentation of this event, instead of a fantastical allegoric way, is what you prefer."

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Already closed
130 reviews
Overall Score

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