Closed 1h 45m
Her Portmanteau
East Village
80

Her Portmanteau NYC Reviews and Tickets

80%
(73 Reviews)
Positive
95%
Mixed
4%
Negative
1%
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Great writing

About the Show

'Sojourners' and 'Her Portmanteau' comprise a two-part theatrical event running in rep at New York Theatre Workshop. They're part of 'The Ufot Cycle,' a nine-play saga chronicling the matriarch of a Nigerian family.

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Member Reviews (73)

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80
Slow, Great acting, Great writing, Rich, Intelligent

See it if A bit slow and long, but performances are stellar for this emotional drama. A character piece done well.

Don't see it if You need an intermission. I could have used one.

85
Absorbing, Intelligent, Intense, Relevant, Heartbreaking

See it if Nigerian family comes to terms with choices the mother made when she was a college student in Texas. Sacrifices and regrets, but also hope

Don't see it if You are looking for lighter fare. It takes a while to understand what is going on, but it all comes together. Read more

Critic Reviews (21)

May 16th, 2017

"The plays, a pair of stunningly acted productions, offer a moving and powerful corrective to the notion that what immigrants leave behind is always awful, and that what they find is always worth the trip...'Portmanteau' is a far more conventional work...Even so, 'Portmanteau' is the more moving of the two plays...If we have seen mothers and daughters attempt rapprochement before, we have never seen this mother and daughter do so, and never as played by Jules and the astonishing Oduye."
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May 16th, 2017

“The best thing about the pair of clumsy family dramas is the extraordinarily graceful performer they both revolve around...Ogbuagu manages, again and again, to make these two muddled plays occasionally cohere…There is promise here. The playwright has a delicate ear for dialogue…But such poignant moments battle with unwieldy monologues and theatrical clichés...Director Ed Iskandar undercuts what's best about Udofia's writing and reveals its structural flaws."
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May 16th, 2017

“A playwright with a lot on her mind and a seriously compelling storytelling gift…There are the usual hoary dramatic devices to remove one figure from the scene and allow the other two to have at it, but that takes nothing away from the emotional jolt of the confrontations that ensue…Udofia isn’t yet fully in command of the dramatic tools available to her, and there’s little poetry in her characters. But they’re fully fleshed out people it’s easy to connect with.”
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May 16th, 2017

“Udofia offers no easy answers, but her firm grasp of family dynamics will give audiences much to consider…Ogbuagu delivers a performance to remember…She is practically unrecognizable in 'Her Portmanteau,' adopting a distinct physicality and speech pattern…The three women sustain a thick air of tension through a play that is mostly one long scene...Udofia unpacks those issues with uncommon sensitivity and brimming imagination.”
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May 26th, 2017

“I wonder if 'Her Portmanteau' really stands alone…Curiously drab, a standard-issue parent-and-child reckoning, if one with slightly more unusual trappings...The play, which is informed by sitcom-style jokes in its early passages, devolves into a series of speeches that seem a little prefabricated...Each character gets her aria, and it all feels just a tiny bit hollow...A rather dreary exercise in finger-pointing...Still, it's worth seeing, partly for Ogbuagu, who is unrecognizable as Adiagha."
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May 31st, 2017

“In this basically one set play in one long scene (aside from the opening which takes place in the airport), the playwright cuts very deep. Not only does she show that there is more than one side to every story, but that family members can have long held misconceptions. As the women's emotions spill over in various ways, the play becomes more and more involving and all encompassing. As these family members, the three actresses are completely their own persons and create indelible characters.”
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May 24th, 2017

“Mfoniso Udofia’s intriguing look at Nigerian immigration…Adepero Oduye’s performance, as the aloof traveler, is focused and strong…Direction by Ed Sylvanus Iskandar is crisp. He has a great appreciation of language and culture. Costumes by Loren Shaw add authenticity…‘Her Portmanteau’ feels epic...In the world of' Her Portmanteau,' images remind us that memories of homeland can be felt in the smallest of rooms, and reflected in the greatest of skies."
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May 17th, 2017

"Despite all the information sandwiched in, 'Her Portmanteau' has too many frustrating loose ends...Despite my quibbles, 'Her Pormanteau' is emotionally dynamic enough to make me look forward to meeting Adiagha's siblings and Iniabasi's young son when Ms. Udofia finishes her Ufot saga."
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May 23rd, 2017

“The most compelling element of this double header is the concept...The facts of this story are often illogical as well as not written clearly. This work has been in development for some time, and the only explanation I can come up with is that Iskandar and Udofia are too close to the material...The cast does what it can, but they are not able to keep this production afloat…The intent of this story is spectacular and clear as a bell. As it stands now, the execution does not live up to it.”
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June 5th, 2017

"A master class in acting...At a time when immigration is one of the most prevalent topics, these plays hit particularly hard and, even in their slower moments, one cannot help but be completely captivated by the expertly executed performances delivered by every member of the cast...Udofia’s script is authentic and sometimes raw, and Iskandar honors these elements, letting certain moments linger for a bit too long...The uniformly excellent performances maintain the momentum."
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May 16th, 2017

“Directed with skill and focus by Ed Sylvanus Iskandar…The images are ripe with emotion…Adiagha is amazingly portrayed by the almost unrecognizable Chinasa Ogbuagu. It’s a knock-down brilliant transformation that still astounds me… All are excellent and completely engaged in this one-act play. A true marvel that is only made better after watching the origin play, ‘Sojourners.’”
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May 18th, 2017

"I loved the opening of 'Her Portmanteau'...I think it set up expectations for something less realistic and more imagistic than the plays in fact are...It all takes place on a single evening, which I think is perhaps to its detriment. It’s tackling more than thirty years of occluded, suppressed, and evaded relationships and memories, yet it reaches a hasty (and to me unsatisfying) resolution."
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T
May 26th, 2017

"Exquisitely crafted and skillfully performed...The resplendent cast grapples with the complex dynamics of confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation with authenticity and deeply palpable believability...The final scene is a compelling testament to the power of unconditional and non-judgmental love, to the importance of ‘belonging’ to a family and to a nation, and to the strength of a value system that transcends time and space...Particularly relevant in the current geopolitical climate."
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May 16th, 2017

“More streamlined and structurally coherent than ‘Sojourners,' while sharing some of that earlier play’s strengths. Again, there are knowing glimpses of the culture clash that is inherent in immigrant life…That this production chooses to leave its English-speaking audience so long in the dark will prove a challenge for many...But the challenge at least can be justified...It reproduces in the English-speaking audience something of the feeling of disorientation that new immigrants feel.”
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May 30th, 2017

“This is a cast who knows how to act with their finely crafted performances…Ogbuagu, who plays Abasiama in ‘Sojourners,’ is unrecognizable in ‘Her Portmanteau,’ she is so different. This is one talented actress. Ms. Jules brings a new level to Abasiama...This time some of the choices Ms. Udofia makes are not so clear…‘Her Portmanteau’ leaves too many issues unexplored. Ed Sylvanus Iskandar brings out the best in his actors."
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B
May 17th, 2017

“The acting is superb and goes a long way to mitigate the play’s slow pacing, narrative infelicities and repetitiveness…Loren Shaw’s costumes befit the characters well. Director Ed Sylvander Iskandar keeps the actors going at full throttle too much of the time…Both plays have flaws, but the strong performances make them worth a visit.”
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T
June 4th, 2017

"Strong and intimate...'Her Portmanteau' features terrific performances by Jules, Ogbuagu, and Oduye, who wonderfully capture the realistic twists and turns as the characters feel one another out and search for their place in this new arrangement. Udofia and director Ed Sylvanus Iskandar are in no rush to reach any conclusions, letting things develop naturally on Sherwood’s homey set."
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W
May 20th, 2017

"It's somehow flimsy on details, and it resolves too quickly and neatly. There's big emotion here, but it doesn't feel earned. One of Udofia's great strengths is her finely drawn characters; we understand right away who these three women are...But we never get a strong enough sense of what is driving them and their inner lives remain a mystery...A standard American play about the relationship between a mother and her daughters, though there's not enough at stake to completely draw us in."
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May 16th, 2017

"This play is much more intense, direct, and shorter than the first and even as short as it was there are two scenes that are needlessly long and drawn out. This one could be approximately 85-90 minutes max and could really pack a punch. I think the creatives love their words and drama a bit too much and need to trim things down for a focused, powerful, and punch-to-the-gut two part series."
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May 23rd, 2017

“Though the result is often excruciatingly dry, the plays demand a witnessing of their American immigrants’ stories…The plays’ micro-drama needs a lively staging to offset its sedateness, but Iskandar has gone in the opposite direction...'Her Portmanteau' suffers less from this inertia...The scripts could equally benefit from a trim...It is thrilling to watch a dynamic American voice bring the new wine of marginalized voices to the stage.”
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May 16th, 2017

“My misgivings stem not from the good story, but from the prolonged telling. The nearly two hours is stuffed full of seemingly endless business: long phone calls that a majority of the audience can't understand…Usually, Ed Sylvanus Iskandar is an inventive director who uses time and space to his advantage, but in this work, it seemed that time stood still and the story did not warrant the time it took to be told.”
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