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The Death of the Last Black Man in the Entire World

From 86 member  reviews
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. More…

A woman tries to feed her husband a fried drumstick. Dragons roam a flat earth. The last Black man in the whole entire world dies again. And again. Careening through memory and language, Parks explores and explodes archetypes of Black America with piercing insight and raucous comedy. A riotous theatrical event, 'The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA the Negro Book of the Dead' hums with the heartbeat of improvisational jazz.

Member Reviews (86)


Confusing, Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Disappointing
Avg Score

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

Also This is a masterful play with a large cast of amazing actors who portr... Read more Read less

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.

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

Also I agree with those who say that its better (less frustrating) not to t... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever

See it if A new vehicle for a dramatic play. This is a beautifully written play with an historical perspective of the African- American .

Don't see it if Do not attend if you are interested only in light musicals

Confusing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Ambitious

See it if You are a fan of Suzan-Lori Parks' works. This was a unique and absorbing experience,with excellent staging and great performances.

Don't see it if You prefer more mainstream,straight-forward plays.I did find it to be confusing at times. It seemed longer than the 70 minute running time.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Painful

See it if You admire the works of SUZAN-LORI PARKS. You like historical drama with and emotional edge. You appreciate great acting and imagery.

Don't see it if You are looking for a fluffy night out. You are uninterested in racial relations in our country. You are unprepared to sit with confusion.

Ambitious, Confusing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Symbolic

See it if You are a Parks fan. Are captivated by language and symbolism. Are a student of African-American history.

Don't see it if Struggle with non-linearity, symbolism, or allusion. Challenging and difficult imagery of torture and death are problematic for you.

Clever, Great acting, Great staging, Relevant, Resonant

See it if You want to see an early Suzan-Lori Parks play that is abstract,dreamlike and non-linear exploring black oppression over time

Don't see it if You hate non-linear plays that don't follow a narrative arc and feels like a dream. Very repetitive speech patterns that is hard to follow

Dreadful, incoherent, meaningless

See it if Suzan-Lori Parks is always worth seeing but not this time. But if you want to give her a chance, and you have 75 minutes of patience, go.

Don't see it if You want coherent, meaningful, eloquent, writing. I can't even tell if the cast was good or not since the writing was gobbledegook. Sad.

Ambitious, Great staging, Intelligent, Relevant, Lyrical

See it if You enjoy reflections on race & society and you are comfortable with loosely structured narrative - this is more poetry in motion then plot

Don't see it if You are expecting Father Comes Home From the War type narrative - this is an earlier work and much more abstract

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

See it if You want to be entranced by a strong ensemble of actors creating an unending syncopation through word & movement. Beautiful poetry.

Don't see it if You are not listening to each word, being drawn into each step / each gesture. The beauty is in the language of the play. Intense & solid.

Confusing, Ambitious, Edgy, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if you like unusual, offbeat theatre with a very strong message.

Don't see it if you want something light or fun or linear.

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

See it if You like non-linear performances; you are interested in a non-traditional poetic performance with intriguing choreography

Don't see it if Don't see it if you're not interested in hearing an African-American writer stretch language and theatricality.

Ambitious, Cliched, Well performed, Great staging, Too profound

See it if you'd like to discuss ideas about race and Black stereotypes.

Don't see it if you'd like a plot-driven drama. This has ideas but little plot.

Banal, Confusing, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if It's a pageant for and about the death of the last black man. Themes of death and racism emanate but I just didn't get it.

Don't see it if you don't like non-narrative plays

Ambitious, Confusing, Edgy, Indulgent, Thought-provoking

See it if you're open to experimental and challenging material, poetic and non-linear language, absurdist structure, and opaque meaning.

Don't see it if you like shows with three-dimensional characters, narrative plot, linear structure, and clearcut messages.

Absorbing, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Masterful

See it if you are open to a non-linear difficult-to-comprehend immersive experience that is, dare I say, transformative.

Don't see it if you're looking to merely be entertained or want to understand concretely what just happened to you immediately without giving yourself time.

Also It's like a living poem (and I'm not crazy about poetry) but go with n... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Dizzying, Thought-provoking, Confusing, Intense

See it if you enjoy non-linear stream of consciousness storytelling

Don't see it if you require a narrative structure and don't like experimental work.

Also I've attempted to read this script on numerous occasions and always fo... Read more Read less

Confusing, Great acting, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Excellent rhythmic movement and language

See it if you'd like to see something that feels more like slam poetry interpretive dance than a play. Theater equivalent to avant-guard jazz

Don't see it if you want to be able to understand a reason for everything that is happening in front of you. This is very abstract & purposefully confusing

Great acting, Relevant, Ambitious, Edgy, Intense

See it if You like long epic poems, stark commentary on race in America, good acting, intense and rhythmic dialogue with frequent repitition.

Don't see it if If you like strong plots, linear action, and dialogue.

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 sen...
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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 tex...
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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 wha...
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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 ...
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