Closed 2h 30m
Sojourners
East Village
77

Sojourners NYC Reviews and Tickets

77%
(91 Reviews)
Positive
84%
Mixed
16%
Negative
0%
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Ambitious, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

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 (91)

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85
Absorbing, Intense, Intelligent, Relevant, Heartbreaking

See it if Nigerian students at college in Texas cope with freedom, responsibility, and abandonment. Realistic characters and life choices.

Don't see it if You are looking for a light uplifting story with a happy ending. This play and its companion highlight the characters' sacrifices. Read more

85
Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing

See it if We have seen parts 1 & 2 Both are very good but part 2 gets a 2nd nod. 6 very versatile actors.

Don't see it if I question the age factor for the Mom in 1 and then the Mom 36 years later in 2. . NOTE some glossary re: Nigerian language might work.

Critic Reviews (33)

May 16th, 2017

"The two plays, which opened in 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...Ogbuagu is excruciatingly good...'Her Portmanteau' is a far more conventional work than 'Sojourners'...If 'Sojourners,' which feels more modern, never quite reaches that lovely peak of melodrama, it is both funnier and more excitingly staged."
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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…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 in Ed Sylvanus Iskandar’s precisely calibrated staging. I’ll remember this writer’s name and the people she’s introduced me to.”
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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: Her portrayal of Abasiama is as noble as ever as she struggles to carry the weight of the world on her own…Iskandar has led this six-person cast to finely crafted performances: The sojourners of the first cast have settled into their roles more comfortably, with choices pruned back to better resemble real life.”
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May 26th, 2017

“Once again, the play beguiles...Under the direction of Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, all four of these mixed-up characters retain their claim on our interest and affection…Chinasa Ogbuagu's makes the most of her character's sly humor...The glory of 'Sojourners' is that its characters are so fresh, their dilemmas so unique to them...'Sojourners' is a constantly surprising work, with carefully shaded characters.”
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May 31st, 2017

“While the characters and situations are utterly believable, the play is poorly structured: scenes repeat again and again almost exactly as before. The characters are the same at the end as they were when we meet them, with little or no catharsis. To a great extent, at two hours and thirty minutes, the play is vastly overwritten. It doesn't help that much of the dialogue is in the Nigerian language of Ibibio and untranslated for the audience, most of whom are unlikely to know it.”
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May 25th, 2017

"On its own, 'Sojourners' might not shine as brightly as it does as part of a multi-part saga. 'Her Portmanteau' adds dimension and insight that would not be there otherwise. Coupled with Jiyoun Chang’s excellent lighting and projection effects, as well as Jeremy S. Bloom’s terrific sound design, a fascinating atmosphere is created that allows us to crawl inside the story and feel what it might be like to be a new component of the American Experience."
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May 17th, 2017

"If your time and theatrical budget can accommodate just one, see 'Sojourners'...Though the performances overall are excellent, it's Chinasa Ogbuagu who's 'Sojourners' most riveting presence. Her metamorphosis into the next play's character is reason enough sign on for the whole package...'Sojourners' is too talky and long-winded but director Ed Sylvanus Iskandar has offset these flaws with his dramatic staging."
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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...Abasiama is played with grace and maternal glory by the magnificent Chinasa Ogbuagu…A moving play…The last seconds unsettled my heart. I was not prepared for what happened, nor what it would mean for the rest of these characters' lives, but that is the beauty of Udofia’s writing. The surprise that lives in the authentic-ness; a power that packs quite the punch.”
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May 18th, 2017

"I think it is more effective to see the end before the beginning, given the cycle’s themes of tracing the present back to the past. But I wonder if seeing the plays in chronological order would have cast Abasiama’s actions as revealed in 'Portmanteau' in a more nuanced light...In 'Sojourners', we see her story unfold in context and judge it through our own lenses...The video projections of water in 'Sojourners' really didn’t add meaning for me, but instead seemed very obvious."
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T
May 26th, 2017

"Exquisitely crafted and skillfully performed...Under Iskandar’s judicious and redemptive direction, the resplendent cast grapples with the complex dynamics of confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation with authenticity and deeply palpable believability...Not only poignant tales of the deep relationship between a mother and her estranged daughter but also compelling examinations of the complex and intricate reasons individuals leave their homelands for other lands."
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May 16th, 2017

“If these two plays are uneven, they offer the promise of an eventually enlightening and binge-worthy family saga that updates the story of Immigrant America...‘Sojourners’ is strongest when it offers a glimpse, sometimes humorously, into the immigrant characters’ two cultures…If ‘Sojourners’ has the same overlong and unwieldy construction, there is noticeable improvement. It’s not any shorter, but its staging is smoother."
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May 30th, 2017

“So well acted...Ms. Udofia layers her characters with such depth. By the end of the play we know these people, we understand their wants, their desires, flawed as they are. What Ms. Udofia has failed to do is write a complete ending and she leaves the audience hanging. Calleri Casting really out did themselves with this ensemble cast who could not have been better.”
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B
May 17th, 2017

“The play has some narrative bumps, but is carried along by the excellent acting. I did feel that the ending was so underwritten that its import might be missed…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

"'Sojourners' lacks the charm and immediacy of 'Her Portmanteau.' It’s too long at more than two and a half hours, and the characters and their situations feel more standard and predictable. The narrative is also far too choppy, bouncing around from scene to scene without a smooth flow. Even the soundtrack is less interesting...However, despite the disappointing 'Sojourners,' we’re very much looking forward to the next chapter in this family drama."
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May 16th, 2017

"Performances are top-notch...Ms. Ogbuagu was magnificent in her portrayal of Abasiama - strong, touching, and human...My only complaint is that there was not enough exposition as to whom these characters were. We went almost 75 minutes without ever being told who the man at his desk was (Disciple) and how he fit into the story...Thankfully things cleared up by the end but a few frustrated audience members left at the intermission."
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May 23rd, 2017

“Though the result, as shaped by director Ed Sylvanus Iskandar and dramaturg Janice Paran, 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…The scripts could equally benefit from a trim…The dramatic stagnation echoes the languor of their precarious situation, but makes for torpid drama.”
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January 29th, 2016
For a previous production

"Ms. Udofia has writerly gifts, but at this point, they are not particularly theatrical...It persists in making the same points and accomplishing the same tasks...The director, Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, tries to remedy some of these deficits by encouraging his cast to play nearly every moment with paramount intensity. This has the perverse result of making most of the scenes play the same…The vital and necessary work of drama crouched inside all of these scenes and speeches hasn’t yet emerged."
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January 29th, 2016
For a previous production

"Stiff-moving and overwritten...'Sojourners' is the first in a projected nine-play cycle. That’s a big project, and she’s bound to learn crucial lessons about pacing, exposition and subtext, all off which unfold awkwardly or go missing in the present draft, despite a spirited ensemble under boldfaced direction. At two and a half hours, the play is too novelistic and interior to succeed as a dynamic drama. The characters are on compelling journeys; they just need a clearer road map."
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January 28th, 2016
For a previous production

"Sometimes, the circumstances of a play don't need to be completely obvious in order to tell a captivating story. Such is the case with 'Sojourners,' a world premiere that cleverly draws the viewer into its mystery. By the end, you'll be hooked...Through sensitive prose delivered in memorable performances, these sojourners seem real, their specific anxieties achingly familiar...While the characters are crystal clear, the circumstances bringing them together are murkier."
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February 1st, 2016
For a previous production

"It's always a pleasure to come across a playwright with a fresh set of characters and a compelling tale to tell...Part of the pleasure of watching 'Sojourners' lies in trying to figure out where the narrative is going; the good news is Udofia confidently guides them all to a denouement that is as surprising as it is satisfying...The rest of the production, with one exception, is equally thoughtful and accomplished."
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January 28th, 2016
For a previous production

"If 'Sojourners' has a significant problem, it's that Udofia is less adept at crafting action and events that match the beauty of her words. Very little, in fact, happens during the play, and the few things that do occur are not enough to completely support a two-hour-and-15-minute running time; the dialogue is good enough to prevent the show from dragging, but it has few other tangible sources of motion...The cast, however, is unfailingly wonderful."
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February 3rd, 2016
For a previous production

"Though jagged in structure, 'Sojourners' is a quite moving romantic drama due to its wonderful performances and fine writing...The plotting is weakened by repetitive scenes that drag...Despite these flaws, the play by its conclusion is a compelling experience...Director Ed Sylvanus Iskandar realizes the author’s worthy but rambling vision."
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February 1st, 2016
For a previous production

"Could not have asked for a better world premiere production of her exploration of immigration, assimilation, and cultural identity...From the moment the lights come up, 'Sojourners' is a transporting experience...I would put this ensemble up against any in New York— you won’t find a quartet of performers more perfectly suited to their roles."
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January 29th, 2016
For a previous production

"Director Ed Sylvanus Iskandar seems hamstrung by the drama’s largely realistic demands; his actors chew the scenery with such unrelenting passion you imagine the backstage area to be stocked with throat lozenges and honeyed lemon tea. A simpler staging might have made the performance less ponderous, but ‘Sojourners’ itself is too dependent on internal monologues that tell instead of show, and artificially colorful characters to make a two and a half-hour sojourn with it especially inviting."
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January 29th, 2016
For a previous production

"Udofia’s play cleverly touches on the variations of the American dream for everyone who feels like an outcast...If at times the play allows the characters to be slightly caricaturesque, the journey it takes us on is absolutely necessary."
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January 29th, 2016
For a previous production

"This production would have been more effective with a clearer and more streamlined unfolding of the essential story, particularly its intriguing climax...Ed Sylvanus Iskandar has assembled a four-member cast that does justice to the material...There is a rotating set in 'Sojourners'...Like the play itself, it has something of an unwieldy construction, at times annoying, but it drives home the feel of a world in which everything is both dislocating and connected."
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January 30th, 2016
For a previous production

"Disappointed in both Playwrights Realm and director Ed Iskandar. I was dumbfounded that this particular play was chosen for production...Iskander’s direction appeared to be including the design of the set which was cumbersome and confining...Over written, slow-paced, and lacks clear plot points. These characters make the same points over and over again...The conclusion of the play is so unbelievable that it made me think I had fallen asleep and missed a significant plot point."
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W
January 29th, 2016
For a previous production

"Director Ed Sylvanus Iskandar has staged this deeply beautiful, complex new play with both compassion and humor...'Sojourners' is the first in a proposed nine-work play cycle. By itself, it's a rich piece, looking at how America changes the people who come here, for better and for worse."
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January 29th, 2016
For a previous production

"Unfortunately, much of Udofia's detail-rich script plays as if it were a series of overlapping monologues, many of which repeat the same information. Further undermining the potential of the play is Ed Sylvanus Iskandar's direction which requires the performers to generally look toward the audience as they speak...It's a pity because the tales that Udofia's sharing are pungent, and Iskandar has a superlative four person ensemble at his disposal."
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F
February 29th, 2016
For a previous production

"Mfoniso Udofia’s mesmerizing tale charts the lives of Nigerian immigrants in the 70′s, showcasing a piece of the black experience our industry rarely sees...The sheer quality of the writing, however, cements Udofia as a voice worth heeding."
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