Soho Rep brings us this darkly comic world premiere, a modern myth about twin sisters who sojourn from the Dirty South to the California desert to exact righteous revenge. More…
In this play, which dauntlessly cracks jokes as it eviscerates, twin sisters Anaia and Racine undertake a murderous journey, seeking payback for a horrendous act. 'Is God Is' treats both morality and genre as notions to be exploded, drawing on the ancient, the modern, the tragic, the Spaghetti Western, hip-hop, and Afropunk in its subversion of theatrical constructs.
"A snarly new master of high-octane carnage has risen into view...'Is God Is' may be pitched in a key of absurd exaggeration...But this production also implicitly asks us to consider the roots, futility, and inevitability of cyclical violence...No allusive echo is merely random in this play, written in a vernacular epic style...Its masterstroke is newly contextualizing ages-old themes and motifs into a thoroughly contemporary, divided African-American landscape." Full Review
"Aleshea Harris' ‘Is God Is,’ the second winner of The Relentless Award, now having its world premiere at the newly renovated Soho Rep is an absolutely ferocious play. Channeling the Greek plays, ‘Electra and Medea’, the Jacobeans, the early plays of Sam Shepard and the Spaghetti westerns, this is the revenge play to top them all. Directed by Taibi Magar who also staged the equally relentless ‘Underground Railroad Game’ at Ars Nova, ‘Is God Is’ makes for riveting theater.” Full Review
"The story that rolls out is not filled with hearts and flowers. It is not happily ever after. It is ruthless and oddly comic at the same time...Purely feminine. There is no man on whom the sisters rely or with whom they confer...Depend only on themselves...This is writing that goes deep, not wide...There is nothing and no one who is extraneous...Ditto for the direction by Magar which is spare and spot-on...An allegory about the human condition." Full Review
"Characters crack jokes, but the play is far more tragedy than comedy...Although the action in Taibi Magar’s excellent Soho Rep production happens in two planes it feels appropriately epic...The performances are strong, particularly by the two pairs of twins. Harris writes so blisteringly that the actors could just let the language’s flames carry them along. But the masterful Hughes proves to be the perfect kindling for it, and Fuller is heartbreaking." Full Review
"This play, in a well-acted world premiere production, is an intriguing if sometimes disconcerting mix of genres and allusions and tones that marks a noteworthy Off-Broadway debut of a playwright we’ll be hearing from...Magar has assembled a first rate cast...It required a little digging, a little after-performance contemplation, but, for all its crazed violence, 'Is God Is' is more nuanced than it first appears." Full Review
"While Harris's story sometimes reduces itself to a supermarket-tabloid bluntness, her way of telling it - postmodern, formalized, distanced - keeps it from ever seeming a piece of facile sensationalism...Magar's skillful direction creates an outré kind of dynamic tension...Whether one can feel purged, transfigured, or even informed by a play like 'Is God Is' remains an open question...Something more than sensationalism is going on. And down that path lies hope." Full Review
"Harris, Magar, and the cast and designers delicately situate themselves at the intersection of high and lowbrow. The play's narrative would be at home in a pulp film, yet its approach is a rigorous one, interrogating questions of ethics, morality, genre, and representation. The real feat, though, is that it does this while telling a darkly funny and, at times, genuinely disturbing story. There are moments where the content of the play is hard to watch. Fortunately, this production never is." Full Review
"Harris’s storyline is straightforward, but her influences and cultural shout-outs are full of curves, swerving from Greek tragedy to spaghetti Westerns to hip hop, and back again...Meanwhile, secret meanings and allusions ricochet across broken homes, amid suburban malaise, matriarchal power plays, and desperate authority figures...A pull-apart set that is as strange and violent as the characters themselves." Full Review
"It feels both exciting and… well…not quite as epic as it could...I kept longing for the work within it to feel more expansive, more explosive. The potential is there. Harris’s play is a rich, funny, unnerving, exhilarating goldmine — its current production is only unearthing some of its treasure...It’s ultimately Magar who could push the production further...The current staging often leaves the twins feeling static...The attacks become more theatrically interesting than shocking." Full Review
"More an act of provocation than a fully realized play. Harris also owes a debt of gratitude to her director, Taibi Magar, whose knack for bravura staging marks her as someone to watch. 'Is God Is' runs the gamut from gripping to grating, but, in any case, it makes an impression...Either the bleakest of tragedies or a blatant piece of manipulation...Might leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, but I'm betting it will leave you curious to see what it's author does next." Full Review
"We begin to suspect that Harris is overloading her thematic elements. So many balls in the air — one might fall to the ground. Or it might not...She needn’t push quite so far...As Taibi Magar’s direction grows more and more intrepid, the cast of 'Is God Is' is uniformly good...All the actors toss themselves unabashedly into the fight scenes, and are kept safe by fight director J. David Brimmer...Let’s just say there is more here than ain’t." Full Review
"Considering its subject matter, 'Is God Is' shouldn't be a funny play, but it often is — albeit with diminishing returns...Harris's superficial treatment of the ancient theme of revenge feels like an excuse for her true passion: giddy gore topped off with a snappy throwaway line...Harris and Magar seems less interested in elucidating this zero-sum violence than shoving it into an awkward box and allowing us to gawk at its grotesque extremity...The theater can do so much more." Full Review
See it if You want a nuanced revenge story that gives you a literal fucking mountain on stage. Come on, you know you wanna see how that works.
Don't see it if You hate good theatre and would much rather go see something on broadway which won't make you do anything other than laugh.
See it if you like theatre that grabs you by the throat and throttles you for 90 minutes of sheer vitality and bloody life
Don't see it if you dislike theatre that engages all aspects of your being, like to relax and unwind in the theatre; you dislike visually aggressive shows
See it if you are looking for thought-provoking theater that keeps you on the edge of your seat and slightly uncomfortable in the best way for 90 mins
Don't see it if you are looking for a fun, easy night out. You don't care for novel stories.
See it if Ultimate dysfunctional family is fated by a revenge curse. Cycle of violence in the extreme. Gripping language. Jolting staging & sound.
Don't see it if You aren’t prepared for a grotesque, brutally violent play. The few moments of humor just set up more intensity.
See it if you like theater that goes for your guts; will see a play about volcanic, justified rage (not the more commonly known blind, stupid rage)
Don't see it if you prefer the intensity of people’s emotions to be tempered, suggested, and never fully revealed; favor revivals of tried & true material
See it if you like Greek tragedy set in contemporary times, dark, thought-provoking theatre that will challenge you
Don't see it if prefer comedy, musicals or light entertainment. This production has rough language and themes.
See it if When I went to see this, i had no idea what to expect, but I greatly enjoyed the surrealistic version of God in this all African-American sh
Don't see it if You are offended by unorthodox religious themes with excessive violence or prefer light entertainment although there is plenty of wit here
See it if You like spaghetti westerns and Tarantino, or even if you don’t - a really unique and thought-provoking play
Don't see it if You don’t like seeing blood or violence
See it if A Greek tragedy of American life calling on biblical text in street patois. You are hooked into this story of violence begetting violence
Don't see it if by the lyrical writing & in-your-face acting. Riveting action even as you fear the worst. A smart, spare set. Not for faint-hearted.
See it if you want to see a satisfying story of revenge that raises some thought-provoking questions about race, but doesn't take itself too seriously
Don't see it if you're afraid to get some blood on you, the first row is a splash zone
See it if You want to see a stunning creative team at work on a lyrical, gorgeous play that's in playful conversation with other works.
Don't see it if You're not into violence.
See it if you want to encounter a major, provocative, adventurous and uncompromising emerging theatrical voice in a seriously strong production
Don't see it if intense, bloody revenge tragedies aren't your thing
See it if You like theatre that subtly pushes the boundaries and can take genre theatre seriously
Don't see it if You only like plays that involve people having conversations about conversations
See it if you like intense new plays by emerging playwrights w/ strong voices. You can ignore the hype & go in w/ normal off-off-Bway expectations.
Don't see it if you want a uniformly good play start-to-finish (start=amazing; by the end=meh). Violence (even highly stylized) bothers you as there's a lot
See it if you want to see a darkly humorous, exciting new take on the classic revenge tale. A very strong cast and riveting language.
Don't see it if you don't like violence (this is a revenge tale, after all)
See it if You want to see a fascinating, fresh script in an uneven production. I was so engaged by the writing but so distracted by the staging.
Don't see it if You’re unable to separate the staging from the show. Awkward set design and clumsy directorial choices really do pull attention away.
See it if you'd like a highly stylized revenge tragedy, replete with gore and baroque urban patois; you appreciate strong performances & direction
Don't see it if you don't like stage violence or knowing in advance how this cycle of retribution will end; you want more of a play than a parable
See it if you want to see something different and ambitious. It doesn't work on every level but it works on many.
Don't see it if you don't like violence and you need a perfectly tidy plot. This plot wanders in an over-the-top, in-your-face way. Interesting with excess
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