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Boesman and Lena

From 90 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Intense, Slow, Great writing

About the show

In Athol Fugard's "Boesman and Lena," the human need for kindness, hope and compassion is on display in the struggles of abusive Boesman and his long-suffering wife Lena, who encounter a stranger while wandering the South African wastelands. More…

Legacy playwright Athol Fugard has made a home at Signature since being the inaugural Residency 1 playwright at the Center, and his South African-set stories, with themes of complex identities, racial tension, and social protest, remain as relevant as ever. 

Member Reviews (90)


Great acting, Absorbing, Intense, Slow, Great writing
Avg Score

Intense, Brooding, Resonant, Slow, Great acting

See it if Two discarded apartheid slum dwellers trudge through life, angry at the world and each other. Haunting poetic language.

Don't see it if You don't want to stew in desperate abandonment. I was mesmerized & saw the human condition in them.

Also Something that's been used too long. The old pot that leaks, the blank... Read more Read less

Great acting, Resonant, Intense, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if Fugard's poetic prose & dynamic lead performances make this bleak existential drama bearable Apartheid is just metaphor for its universality

Don't see it if Overwritten (about 20 minutes worth) w/political themes becoming a little forced Lena feels a bit more complex (character-wise) than Boesman

Beautifully played, Uneven, Spare, Powerful

See it if you’d like to see 3 powerful performances in a beautiful production of an important play from 1 of our playwriting giants.

Don't see it if 2 uninterrupted hours of intensity would put too great of a strain on you.

Also On the night I saw the current Signature revival of “Boesman and Lena”... Read more Read less

Intense, Overrated, Thought-provoking, Disappointing

See it if Credit due for the acting. Minimal set meets the story-line. The smaller signature site works. Partner gave it a much higher rating.

Don't see it if Depressing. My rule of thumb. 90 minutes NO intermission, 105 minutes a MUST intermission. (91-104 Director/Writer discretion see ALSO

Also 2 hours without one is not the best for the Signature audience During ... Read more Read less

Disturbing, Great acting, Searing, Powerful,

See it if You enjoy Fugard, like plays about apartheid in South Africa or intense character studies about those impacted by apartheid

Don't see it if Do not like Fugard or plays about apartheid, unfamiliar with South Africa’s class system, dislike loud arguments, violence against women

Slow, Great writing, Great acting, Intense, Absorbing

See it if So. African dysfunctional couple forced into indigence fight the label of "the white man's rubbish." Lena carries the brunt of his abuse.

Don't see it if Afrikaaner spoken here without subtitles. Threatening violence. Two hours without a break. Slow. Someone not allowed to take a bow.

Also "He walks in front.I walk behind.We used to be side by side.""I am fro... Read more Read less

Trio performs powerful tone poem that both shows how apartheid grinds down black south africans but how human spirit is unquenchable

See it if moving; audience stunned by tragedy of characters uprooted, dehumanized by apartheid; Zainab Jah amazing Lena trying to retain her humanity

Don't see it if play starts slowly on moonscape mudflats where Boesman/Lena 1st appear but soon stage filled w rage/conflict offset by small acts of grace

Also (1) Violence: Boesman beats Lena and is generally abusive towards her.... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Slow, Great acting

See it if you’re looking for a break from light, fluffy theatre. This is a slow, thoughtful show with terrific performances.

Don't see it if you prefer escapist theatre and are just looking for a fun night out.

Intelligent, Too long, no intermission (play was 2 hours), Incredible acting

See it if you want to see tour de force performances. Very impressive. I don't even know how the actors can sustain such performance levels nightly.

Don't see it if You want to be entertained, this felt like work. Felt like the audience was being assaulted too. That said, important message and play.

Also I am a fan of Athol Fugard's work and first saw his plays at the Yale ... Read more Read less

Profound, Slow, Edgy, Superb acting, Absorbing

See it if you love great acting; enjoy plays of substance w/words being more important than action; set sparsity reflects human condition of the time.

Don't see it if you want an uplifting, fast paced, colorful story, a happy ending/ something fun. The acting is terrific, and the story painful.

Mesmerizing, Slow, Great writing, Absorbing

See it if you want to see a new interpretation of a classic play. Also, a stunning performance by Zainab Jah.

Don't see it if you can't sit for two hours. Also, if you are not interested in how apartheid treats displaced people.

Also Kudos to the Signature Theatre for resurrecting this classic play and ... Read more Read less

Dizzying, Slow, Intense, Excruciating, Disappointing

See it if You feel compelled to be able to brag that you've seen all of Mr. Fugard's plays. This is an endurance test.

Don't see it if You appreciate Mr. Fugard's notable work. As soon as I get home I plan to shower to remove the actual dirt from the play set off.

Slow, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great acting

See it if you want to see the great performances and an intelligent play.

Don't see it if you don't want to see a sad and painful show dealing with apartheid and the displacement of people. If you're looking for a light show.

Confusing, Great acting, Overrated, Intense, Dated

See it if are very familiar with the history of South African apartheid. This play was a master stroke of its time.

Don't see it if ...a play that has, at its center, a physically abusive relationship between a man and a woman disturbs you. I found this hard to watch.

Great acting, Great writing, Absorbing, Relevant, Long

See it if a show written about apartheid but relevant to a variety of issues today including abuse & refuges, homelessness; very emotional dialogue

Don't see it if verbose monologues during a 2 hour intermission-less play, physical abuse against a woman; want something uplifting

Also Not my favorite Fugard play. (Doesn't come close to Painted Rocks.. or... Read more Read less

Cliched, Dated, Disappointing, Overrated, Slow

See it if you like Fugard plays. Staging and props are interesting.

Don't see it if you want a plot. Man and woman meander around desert-like land looking for somewhere to sleep. Lots of yelling. Nothing much happens.

Also Seems like a copy of Waiting For Godot, but nearly as good.

Intense, Edgy, Dark

See it if you enjoy the playwright's works. You enjoy an intellectual play. You HAVE to pay attention the entire 2hrs.

Don't see it if you want to feel involved in the story. Great acting, but the consistent tone made me lose focus often. Lack of intermission - ouch!

Intense, Slow, Great acting

See it if How to feel seen when stuck in a sh*t loop of a life as a couple carries more and more burdens. Suffering happens without hope.

Don't see it if Domestic violence (man hitting woman) or apartheid are triggering. Another depressing, older "slave play" by a White man.

Also Ticket from box office for $40.... Read more Read less

Indulgent, Intense, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if a story about the inhabitants of the South African mudflats sounds like an interesting evening in the theater.

Don't see it if this is your first professional actor production of the show after only knowing it from the college production your three friends starred in

Also I had many expectations I carried along with me into the theater to se... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great writing, Great acting, Resonant, Intense

See it if You are a Fugard fan. Appreciate an intense production of this "everyman" tale.

Don't see it if You can't abide dialogue laden dramas between two characters.

Riveting, Relevant, Masterful, Great staging, Great acting

See it if Brilliant theater ... so much to unpack. Flawless performances and exquisite production. Must see ... “Freedom is a long walk”

Don't see it if Run don’t walk.

Profound, Resonant, Great writing, Great staging, Great acting

See it if Surreal Godot-like exploration of apartheid’s effects on poor black couple untethered to time, place or even common language;links to today

Don't see it if Intense but at times slow moving two hours without intermission. Although poetic language is beautiful it can be hard to follow

Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if if you haven't seen this rarely produced Fugard play; superb acting about valuing or not valuing human beings in any era. Deeply emotional.

Don't see it if you can't tolerate 2 hours of profoundly demanding drama including some in untranslated language with no intermission.

Intense, Absorbing, Great acting, Riveting, Tragic

See it if very good acting is important to you; Fugard's view of South Africa is meaningful to you even if painful

Don't see it if you prefer fun or funny plays; you like musicals or comedies; you have no interest in a slow-moving play

Thought-provoking, Repetitive, Slow, Intense, Great acting

See it if you love Fugard and want to see everything he wrote and you can appreciate great acting even in a play that is "lesser Fugard".

Don't see it if you don't want to be depressed. This play is absolutely a relentless "downer"!

February 25th, 2019
"Farber’s staging seems to complete this metamorphosis, clearly placing itself within the tradition of existential rather than political drama...In Farber’s unrelentingly bleak staging — time disappears...we could be in any era, ancient or modern. So too with the characters, whose specific plight...
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February 25th, 2019
"Farber...emphasizes its timelessness...While the production is powerful from an intellectual perspective, it can be emotionally numbing...Only when Boesman and Lena's routine is disrupted do they start to tear at your soul...'Boesman and Lena' may leave you impressed at the resilience of the spi...
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February 25th, 2019
"It's a tough play to watch, and at times, Farber takes things a bit too far. But with its three virtuosic performances and brilliant staging, this two-hour journey is unquestionably worth taking...Farber's production captures the appalling injustices and cycles of abuse perpetuated by apartheid....
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February 27th, 2019
“As written fifty years ago by the now-celebrated 86-year-old, the refugee couple, played with stark sensitivity by Ngaujah and Jah in director Farber's exquisitely somber production, are carrying everything they own as they seek a spot in the mud flats of the river Swartkops to settle for the ni...
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