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By the Way, Meet Vera Stark

From 152 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Funny, Clever, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

About the show

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage’s fast-paced, sly satire takes you on a seventy-year journey through black actress Vera Stark’s life and the cultural climate that originally shaped her and continues today. More…

It’s the Golden Age of Hollywood, and aspiring starlet Vera Stark works as a maid to Gloria Mitchell, an aging star grasping at her fading career. Worlds collide when Vera lands a trailblazing role in an antebellum epic starring…her boss. While Vera’s portrayal of a slave turns out to be groundbreaking, decades later scholars and film buffs still grapple with the actress’ legacy in Hollywood and the impact that race had on her controversial career.

Member Reviews (152)


Great acting, Funny, Clever, Thought-provoking, Entertaining
Avg Score

Funny, Thought-provoking, Irritating, Epic, Challenging

See it if Biting satire of slippery identities in 1930's black Hollywood. Hilarious, surprising act 1. Brilliant start of act 2. Layers of meaning.

Don't see it if 2 1/2 hours. Angry, rambling & often annoying act 2. Vera's life & work is interpreted through the self-interest of others.

Uneven, Good acting, Disappointing, Clever, Ambitious

See it if u want to see Signature's take on another early Nottage play & to see glimpses of the stirring playwright she has since become.

Don't see it if u expect the bite and heft of Nottage's most successful plays; u don't want to bounce around from style-to-style, tone-to-tone for 2 1/2 hrs

Great writing, Great staging, Great acting, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if You enjoy clever playwrighting, genuine laughter and believable characters with a undercurrent of social justice issues

Don't see it if you don't like to think and listen to what playwrights have to say, don't like comedies with a message

Whatever happened to hattie mcdaniel and her ilk? thru comedy & satire focusing on career of fictional vera stark, nottage addresses early history of black performers in hollywood

See it if Act 1 hilarious 1933 screwball comedy, drives home pt that Hollywood is land of posers including those passing white; strong cast

Don't see it if Act 2 set in 2003 is a let down: blunt satire of new class of academics bloviating on role of black actors in Hollywood

Also Two aspects of show are noteworthy: (a) Act 1, Scene 1 that is part of... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Intelligent, Great writing, Great staging, Great acting

See it if Very well done, unique and surprising play. Lots to think about. Fantastic acting, I was impressed.

Don't see it if you want something short. You definitely need to stay for both acts and it is fairly long.

Funny, Great staging, Cliched, Disappointing, Slow

See it if you enjoy satiric comedy played to the hilt by good actors who play dated, stereotyped roles, with quite a lot of relish.

Don't see it if Interesting but slow, needs 1/2 hour cut - 2nd act becomes tiresome. The"panel" sharing their views of Vera are one dimensional at best.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Confusing, Thought-provoking, Quirky

See it if you want to see another scene-stealing performance by Heather Alicia Simms. She is proving to be indispensable in a variety of plays.

Don't see it if you want to see two enitirely different plays masquerading as one. The second act is way too long, and is in need of cutting.

Also Why didn't the Signature stage revivals of "Intimate Apparel" or "Ruin... Read more Read less

Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Original, Absorbing

See it if A good story about a black actress who became famous playing maids on old-time Hollywood. Pleasant diversion. Funny.

Don't see it if If you’re expecting something more serious from Ms. Nottage, you might be disappointed.

Clever, Funny, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if look at racial stereotypes & limited early acting roles of black women thru a satire of 1930s Hollywood; 1st act a screwball comedy*

Don't see it if don't want laughter with a serious subject; don't want a play that covers 70 years or a play that has multiple genres within it*

Also * The screwball comedy scenes (of their actual life) followed in 2nd a... Read more Read less

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting

See it if Telling story of Hollywood from an African-American experience.

Don't see it if You think there is no discrimination Hollywood.

Clever, Entertaining, Ambitious, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to see a clever play (or two plays) with some great performances and much humor. There is an underlying poignancy to the piece.

Don't see it if you have no interest in the role of the black woman in film.

Also Marvelous production values: vintage movie scenes, talk show setting, ... Read more Read less

Relevant, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if well-acted revival. a slice of americana that is not often told.

Don't see it if seemed a bit long (act two) and stereotypes of academics. could be trimmed a bit.

Thought-provoking, Eye opening, Funny, Painful, Debunking modern media

See it if You are white and unaware of overt and covert discrimination. You are a person of color, aware of these things or unable to put into words.

Don't see it if You do not like to see our society called out for bigotry and abuse, you do not want to learn to see our movies, etc through new eyes.

Absorbing, Clever, Ambitious

See it if Fan of Lynn Nottage. Act I is a hit.

Don't see it if Act II is a miss; could have been so much more.

Clever, Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Resonant

See it if You want to see a well written, funny play that tackles significant social issues, delivered by a great cast.

Don't see it if You don’t like comedies that make you think.

Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Intelligent, Refreshing

See it if you love Lynn Nottage's work; it's okay with you if a very funny play turns serious

Don't see it if a 2 hour 25 minute non-musical is too long for you; you don't want to see a play involving the struggles of black women in theater

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Absorbing, Intelligent

See it if you enjoy acting and staging with a serious understory.The issue of being straight-jacketed by race/gender is still relevant and important

Don't see it if you want action and "entertainment" to carry the story. This is about the words and the relationships even though the staging is well done

Clever, Ambitious

See it if you like plays that deal with attitudes toward race throughout the years.

Don't see it if you prefer your shows a little more nuanced. The humor in this is played very broadly.

Also I liked the first act much better than the second, but some of the hum... Read more Read less

Great set, Great acting, Ambitious, Entertaining

See it if You want to see a great production of one of Nottage's earlier works - with great acting and a great set.

Don't see it if You're not willing to pay attention! While the first act seems light and fluffy, the dialogue holds some key facts you can't miss!!!

Also This is a wonderful revival of a fun and thought-provoking show. While... Read more Read less

Great acting, Funny, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you like Lynn Nottage, if you're interested in American black pop culture, if you like great acting

Don't see it if you don't like satire

Entertaining, Relevant, Refreshing, Hilarious

See it if one of the funniest plays i've seen. i was dead from one scene in particular. but also wonderfully written and acted and overall great

Don't see it if ...

Also the first black woman to win an oscar for best supporting actress was ... Read more Read less

Important subject, Relevant, Funny, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you care about the corruptions bred by American race politics in the entertainment industry,

Don't see it if you will be bothered by some gimmicky satire of academia that is unnecessary

Delightful, Funny, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you like plays that look at things from a different perspective and allow you to form your own opinion.

Don't see it if you only want a rose colored world.

Clever, Funny, Refreshing, Relevant, Resonant

See it if An entertaining look at Hollywood history and its treatment of Black women along with a pointed look at those who try and explain it.

Don't see it if A look back doesn't interest you. A slower second act is not a plus.

Screwball, Great staging, Edgy

See it if Biting screwball satire on black representation in cinema (& the arts more generally) with quite some kick.

Don't see it if The 2nd half, taking some real risks, sometimes falls flat in its sudden shifts. These are compounded by (directorial) problems in pacing.

February 19th, 2019
"Though the director, Kamilah Forbes, doesn’t always nail the fouetté-on-a-dime rhythms and not all of the actors are on the same page it’s still a delight...For a play about a former maid, 'Vera Stark' is not especially orderly. But it is such a good show — so clever, so playful, so keen to shap...
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February 19th, 2019
“Although production often misses its step, it’s a welcome reminder that Nottage has a tricky pinball brain, capable of whanging through the decades and lighting us up with humor and rage...Forbes’s staging slow things down instead...Forbes’s experience is mainly in dramas, and so the tonal balan...
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February 19th, 2019
"Directed with zingy energy by Kamilah Forbes, can at times feel like a revue by an aging vaudeville star—a bit broad, a bit padded—but it’s anchored by a crackling central performance by Jessica Frances Dukes. And it’s a compelling reminder of Nottage’s playful inventiveness...Dukes keeps the ce...
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February 19th, 2019
“Nottage switches styles from screwball comedy to backstage realism, and director Kamilah Forbes effortlessly keeps in step. The comedy is still plenty tasty, but the style is much more cutting...The second act...retains its jarring shift in style...This switch to satire bears out Nottage’s cutti...
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