The Death of the Last Black Man in the Entire World
Closed 1h 15m
The Death of the Last Black Man in the Entire World
67

The Death of the Last Black Man in the Entire World NYC Reviews and Tickets

67%
(86 Reviews)
Positive
50%
Mixed
40%
Negative
10%
Members say
Confusing, Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Disappointing

About the Show

Signature Theatre presents Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks' satirical exploration of how race and stereotype figure throughout history and literature.

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Member Reviews (86)

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716 Reviews | 157 Followers
71
Ambitious, Clever, Confusing, Dizzying, Thought-provoking

See it if you're a Parks fan & want to see an early work that uses cliched images from black history to make profound, unsettling points

Don't see it if You're bothered by chanting and repeated lines, digressive and non-linear storytelling, no real character development, political messages

688 Reviews | 116 Followers
77
Ambitious, Great staging, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Confusing

See it if Parks' jazz/hip-hop tone poem about the death of an average black man who symbolically morphs into the entire black race. Brilliant staging

Don't see it if Vibrant cast keeps us energized despite chaotic, non-linear structure. Has more of a poetry slam quality rather than narrative. Tough going

635 Reviews | 237 Followers
71
Great staging, Intelligent, Relevant, Confusing, Disappointing

See it if You enjoy new, non-traditional, unconventional theatre that focuses on a timely issue or subject.

Don't see it if You dislike theatre that leverages poetic language and imagery as opposed to plot, or that is considered a "meditation" on a subject.

543 Reviews | 133 Followers
72
Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Confounding, Symbolic

See it if you like great ensemble acting and interesting staging; satire; dark humor; symbolic representations of the history of racism.

Don't see it if you want a linear, concrete story that always makes sense; getting the gist of the play is not enough for you.

479 Reviews | 262 Followers
90
Absorbing, Ambitious, Hypnotic, Great staging, Intelligent

See it if you are interested in one of Suzan-Lori Parks' early plays, brought up to date with some striking imagery. Stunning staging!

Don't see it if you need a solid beginning, middle, and end. Imagery is what is important here.

406 Reviews | 188 Followers
80
Great acting, Confusing, Masterful, Quirky, Resonant

See it if You like plays that make you think, and afterwards you discuss them with friends to figure them out;about the rise of Afro-American heritage

Don't see it if You are easily confused and do not like dialogue that seems nonsensical;expect a conventional storyline Read more

434 Reviews | 95 Followers
65
Ambitious, Clever, Confusing, Dizzying, Edgy

See it if You enjoy experimental/eclectic theater. An interesting story told through cliches. A very visual story.

Don't see it if You are easily confused or need a linear story. This is not a linear story but a story told through visuals and repetition.

414 Reviews | 74 Followers
70
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Confusing, Edgy

See it if you like non-traditional plays with very talented actors; Daniel Watts & Roslyn Ruff especially good

Don't see it if you would be frustrated trying to understand it or frustrated by repetitive, poetic, abstract dialogue Read more

Critic Reviews (29)

The New York Times
November 13th, 2016

"Hypnotic staging by Lileana Blain-Cruz...Those familiar with only Parks' more recent work may be rattled by the lack of any narrative foothold here...A combination of willful opacity and obvious symbolism, 'Death' can feel tedious if you strain to make sense of it. (It sometimes feels like a senior semiotics project.) But if you give yourself over to the sensory flow of Ms. Blain-Cruz’s production, the play acquires the eerie inevitability of a fever dream from which there is truly no waking."
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Time Out New York
November 13th, 2016

"A jazzy, poetic fever dream about the wounds left by erasure on the book of history, this 1990 piece seems especially shocking when you consider the grotesque chapter our country’s chroniclers are about to inscribe...This is not an easy play to dissect or digest...It’s a jagged, angry, weird text, yet director Lileana Blain-Cruz stages it in high style, with a skin-prickling soundscape (including dance-break music that’s aggressively fun) and a raft of brave in-your-face performances."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
November 15th, 2016

"It’s most useful to approach it as jazz…Phrases repeat and transmogrify, creating the odd feeling of development without clarity; you never even settle into a location or time…You see how Parks invented her voice years ago by applying enough pressure to words to crack them…Parks wants to see what’s on the other side of language, and of history. On the evidence of this production, superbly directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, it may not be pretty, or even coherent, but it’s beautiful."
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New Yorker
November 28th, 2016

"This exceptional production is directed by a great new talent, Lileana Blain-Cruz...The overlong full title tells us what it’s about, but not what it’s really about, which is language—the rich sound and implications of black English...Various characters take the stage individually but also move en masse: they are ideas about blackness clustering together, then separating, like beautiful molecules."
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The Hollywood Reporter
November 13th, 2016

"Despite an excellent production, this frustratingly oblique and elliptical play never comes into focus...Although the piece works on a certain visceral level, its failure to communicate its intellectual themes in remotely coherent fashion diminishes its intended power. It's certainly no fault of the performers...While one can certainly admire the literary and theatrical ambitions of this deliberately challenging play, it's a lot harder to actually enjoy it."
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Variety
November 13th, 2016

"Handsomely staged, evocative revival...Your response to the work might parallel how you feel about a free-form jazz session, one filled with meditative riffs and theatrical flourishes...The charismatic presence of the acting company and the hypnotic precision of Blain-Cruz’ direction help in the beguilement, but it can still be a challenge for the talented company to create an emotional bond longer than lasts longer than an impulse."
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New York Daily News
November 17th, 2016

"There are lots of obvious ways to die—like lynching, suffocation, electrocution. But there’s also erasure—and that’s even more insidious. That seems to be what Suzan-Lori Parks is saying in this 1990 meditation on mortality, history and race...It's bold and striking, but frustrating. One is left to grapple and wonder, What's going on? Then again, maybe that’s her point."
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Theatermania
November 14th, 2016

"It holds your feet right to the fire, forcing a reflection on the recorded history (or lack thereof) of African-American heritage with a nonlinear story that is difficult to parse...If you're up for a mental and emotional challenge, Parks' poetic one-act is worth meditating on at this unsettled social and political juncture...We're left to wander aimlessly around the play without a map or key. Even within this obscure narrative, Roslyn Ruff's stunning performance registers loud and clear."
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