Already closed | 1h 30m | Midtown W

Native Son (The Acting Company)

From 74 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intense, Relevant

About the show

The Acting Company presents this adaptation of Richard Wright's classic novel about the struggles of a black man in 1930s Chicago. Performed in rotating repertory with "Measure for Measure." More…

From the show:

In the South Side Chicago of the 1930s, Bigger Thomas struggles to create a place for himself in a world whose prejudice has left him with few opportunities. After taking a job in a wealthy white man's house, he unwittingly unleashes a series of events that violently and irrevocably seal his fate. Manifesting Bigger's double consciousness through the character of the Black Rat, Kelley reclaims Richard Wright's groundbreaking story for a twenty-first century audience.

1h 30m | Already closed | The Duke on 42nd Street (Midtown W)

Member Reviews (74)


Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intense, Relevant
Avg Score

Relevant, Great acting

See it if Really great performances and story. The first half of the show is really strong.

Don't see it if The second half felt a little repetitive

Thought-provoking, Great staging, Great acting, Intense, Profound

See it if Deep, dark bi-level psycho-drama. Desperate murderer/fugitive in racist Chicago is possessed by devil-ghost of his father. Artistic terror.

Don't see it if You won't like an artsy interpretation of a novel where a lot of action occurs in the protagonist's mind. 2nd half drags compared to 1st.

Also (spoiler alert) ..... Near the end of the play, Bigger exclaims, "I'm ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Intense, Great staging, Great acting

See it if Society blamed when a white heiress dies and a black chauffeur embarks on web of deceit. Inner/Outer Bigger always inhabits the stage.

Don't see it if Slurs. Because "NS" is in rep. with "M4M," there's an ominous staircase that might be beneficial to the other production.

Also "When you look in the mirror, you only see what they say you is."

See towering wide-ranging performance by gr kane as bigger thomas

See it if clever script which fluidly moves back/forth in time; see major talent in Kane in NY debut

Don't see it if tale of racial oppression/violence does not pack wallop of novel; does not sharply explore moral ambiguity of Bigger/victim & victimizer

Packs a dramatic punch, Intense, Thought-provoking, Masterful, Great acting

See it if you want to see a very powerful play about race relations in the 30's. Some scenes are very disturbing as is much of the dialogue.

Don't see it if you do not like subjects such as racism, police brutality or rape.

Also Some of the dialogue is dated but still packs quite a punch. Don't go ... Read more Read less

Slow, Overrated, Racist, Pedantic, Disappointing

See it if you like shows about racial issues.Unfortunately, this heavy handed production does not have nuances or anything really thought provoking

Don't see it if you were looking for a nuanced look at race relations.Acting is mostly weak.Lead is excellent.Rest of the cast is college student level.

Relevant, Profound, Great staging, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if beautifully realized version of this iconic novel. The staging and acting are flawless.

Don't see it if plays about discrimination offend you. There is no let up to the anguish that the blacks endure so don't look for fluff here.

Great acting, Riveting, Masterful, Intelligent, Absorbing

See it if Powerful and time proven book that New Yorkers get to see.

Don't see it if Disappointing set.

Dated, Excruciating, Disappointing, Confusing

See it if performed in conjunction with Measure to Measure, same cast. This was a play about racism that was overtly racist​. Was it showing us

Don't see it if the evils of racism by being racist? I don't know if​ the play was this subtle or intelligent. It just failed. Uneven acting.

Also Also, why did every character have an actor playing a role but the sis... Read more Read less

Resonant, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Great acting

See it if you want a play that makes you think performed by brilliant actors. A fine adaptation of Richard Wright's book!

Don't see it if You prefer happy go lucky musicals.

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

See it if you are looking for a fine production of an important work. The acting is first rate as is the staging

Don't see it if you do not want to see (simulated) sex on stage

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intense, Clever

See it if stories of black history in this country are of interest to you.

Don't see it if you don't like violence or sexual situations depicted on stage

Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great staging, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if you want to see a classic novel by Richard Wright done in a fresh new 90 minute version. The acting and staging are superb.

Don't see it if you need to see your plays mimic their source material and take no liberties. The play is not done in chronological order and may confuse.

Thought-provoking, Intense, Relevant, Great staging, Great acting

See it if you’d like to see a powerful play and great performance by the actors.

Don't see it if you don’t enjoy stories of discrimination.

Resonant, Thought-provoking, Intense, Edgy, Absorbing

See it if you know the story or don't, it's still relevant and tough. Absorbing and grim and poetic writing.

Don't see it if The drama isn't that emotionally involving. Better at depicting what's going on in the protagonist's head and his inevitable life's path.

Provocative, Gutsy, Gripping, Great staging, Great writing

See it if you like to see actors mine psychically rich material. As two halves of the title character, Jason Bowen and Galen Ryan Kane dig deep!

Don't see it if you're precious about the source material as playwright Nambi E. Kelley respectfully takes this Richard Wright classic and makes it her own

Also Memorable Line: "I ain't that rat I killed."

Resonant, Relevant, Great acting

See it if Fine acting and excellent direction but the adaptation of the novel was not good. Bigger's motivation not clear so didn't flow well.

Don't see it if If strong and murderous plots are not your thing.

Thought-provoking, Great writing, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if Welldone play on the effect of racism in 1930s.Bigger,as a black kid,faces poverty,anger&fear,reacting wth violence&hatr in adaltho.Gt prod

Don't see it if you don't wish to question,"Who is to blame anyway, society or the individual molded by it ???" Reading Richard Wright's novel would help.

Great acting, Relevant, Profound, Thought-provoking

See it if Non linear explosive production where the direction overpowers the profound & disturbing issue of racism in the thirties and relevant today.

Don't see it if You do not like disturbing issues

Great acting, Great writing, Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy plays about race relations and the impact that has on one’s sense of self-worth, enjoy creative use of quick execution of dialog

Don't see it if Racial issues trigger you, you are not interested in the impact of racial perceptions and how they shape a social norms, need slow dialog

Quirky, Ambitious, Great acting

See it if You enjoy a well acted but not written play.

Don't see it if You need a straight plot story. This play was written in a weird manner and gave voice to minor characters.

Absorbing, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great acting

See it if if you want to see a moving adaptation of an American classic, set in the 1930s, that deals with the impact of racism.

Don't see it if if you aren't interested in theater that examines the ways that racism can destroy lives.

Also Galen Ryan Kane is outstanding in the role of Bigger Thomas. The minim... Read more Read less

Edgy, Confusing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound

See it if You are interested in a historical one act play with simple staging and strong acting focused on the African American struggle in America

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with themes focused on racism

Fluffy, Indulgent, Intense, Slow

See it if you like soap opera, melodramatic, type of writing and acting. If you're interested in learning about racial issues in Chicago of the 30's

Don't see it if you're looking for a comedy. If you don'e like a plot that goes back and forth.

Also I thought the play had a good start, mixing the events and going back ... Read more Read less

Riveting production, fine acting, clever adaptation

See it if you liked the book, are concerned about race in America, want to see compelling drama.

Don't see it if you think any of the above is not critical in this country at this moment.

Also Wonderful acting, must take a toll on the actors because they put thei... Read more Read less

August 5th, 2019
"A Big Story Made Smaller: This fluid and nonlinear adaptation of Richard Wright’s novel is brisk, but its theatrics upstage its implications."
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July 28th, 2019
"Fighting the Power in 'Native Son' and 'Measure for Measure.' The Acting Company pairs Richard Wright and William Shakespeare to wake us up to injustice."
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August 9th, 2019
"Told in a fragmentary form often with flashbacks within flashbacks, it is only possible to put the chronology together if one knows the novel. Kelley has also eliminated the powerful speech to the jury by Bigger's lawyer which is one the most famous of all statements on social racism."
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August 4th, 2019
"You don't need the signposts to find harrowing contemporary relevance in the story of a black New Yorker, Bigger Thomas…Bigger is given seething, sorrowful life by Galen Ryan Kane…by mixing and matching the novel's timelines and interspersing scenes, Kelley draws out some provoking parallels."
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Cast & Creatives (3)