In the heat of summer in 1813, Louisiana passed from France to the United States, setting the stage for this story inspired by Federico García Lorca's 'The House of Bernarda Alba.' More…
On the eve of the transfer, in a house in mourning, freedom hangs in the balance for a steely widow and her three eligible daughters, all free women of color.
"Its presentation at NYTW could not be timelier or more significant...Lynda Gravátt’s gripping performance as Beartrice is the centerpiece of 'The House That Will Not Stand'...Under Lileana Blain-Cruz’s deft direction, the seven-member all-female cast grabs the stage right at the beginning of the first act and never relaxes its tight grip on the plot...'The House That Will Not Stand' raises the essential and enduring questions needed to continue the discussion of systemic racism in America." Full Review
"A stunning piece of theater...Gardley’s writing pulsates with affection for these women, but what’s more astounding is the deep understanding he shows of their predicament...Gardley whips up a galvanizing storm of sexism and racism with a similar skeleton of story, revving it up with grand melodrama. Yet under the fierce and knowing direction of Lileana Blain-Cruz, it all seems entirely organic...The cast of seven women delivers a gallery of indelible portraits." Full Review
"A lush and evocative script filled with humor, bite, and innuendo...Gardley effectively weaves the soft Louisiana accent, French phrases, and a modern poetic sensibility into a crisp vehicle...Each character is well developed and resonates with both a keen sense of personal veracity and a meaningful reflection of historic truths...If the playwright intended a bitter/sweet elegy to the foundations of Creole culture, he most certainly has achieved that end in a fabulous evening of theater." Full Review
"Historically fascinating, lyrical and surprisingly funny play...An inspired adaptation...Director Lileana Blane-Cruz oversees a beautiful production...All seven actresses of the cast give glorious performances, able to bring out the humor in the script without losing sight of the inherent tragedy of their situation...Linda Gravátt gives the role of Beartrice the gravitas it requires, with her character deepened by the suggestion of a willfully suppressed vulnerability." Full Review
"'The House That Will Not Stand' is a challenging play both for its dense poetic language and its use of unfamiliar and startling American history. Under Lileana Blain-Cruz's direction, her cast of seven seems to be living their roles rather than acting them. Although long at two hours and 15 minutes, the play's dramatic payoff is one you will not want to miss. 'The House that Will Not Stand 'is ultimately an important historical American drama which takes us on a roller coaster of emotions." Full Review
"The transplanting and the back-dating of the Lorca play are fascinating, not to mention utterly seamless in Gardley’s hands. It’s also very funny, especially in the often uproarious first act...Big drama requires big performances, and it’s a major theatrical feat that the talented ensemble of seven actresses under Blain-Cruz’s mercurial direction achieves awesome effects without anyone cross-dressing. " Full Review
"A series of highly stylized confrontations and melodramatic events that serve to distinguish a very clever play about freedom...A terrific cast, all women of color, under the supple direction of Bain-Cruz, portray characters that are striking in their aligned sisterhood...Witty and close to operatic in tone and temperament...'The House That Will Not Stand' is filled to the brim with a distinctive poetic lyricism." Full Review
"'House' impresses on a number of levels: as a funny, sorrowful parable of nineteenth-century Creole New Orleans; an interrogation of complex racial histories; a tour de force of creative and verbose insults, delivered at breakneck speed. Lileana Blain-Cruz, with characteristic elegance and precision, directs an excellent cast...Gardley’s approach to historical background makes the white male power system concrete, and the onstage struggles urgently particular." Full Review
"Finally receiving a first-rate New York production that's richly produced and wonderfully acted...Gardley injects a huge dose of humor into his play in the caustic put-downs between the women with Gravatt getting the lion's share of the most hilarious retorts...Astutely directed...Yes, you can quibble about the two-dimensionality of several characters and Gardley's occasional contemporary anachronism, but you can't argue that 'The House...' isn't wildly entertaining." Full Review
"Though it’s luscious and structurally artful, the play seems somewhat divided against itself. In the first half, Gardley changes Lorca’s mood from Spanish lyric tragedy to ribald French comedy, and Lileana Blain-Cruz steers the deft cast through tart and sharply funny exchanges, backhanded insults and dirty jokes...Gardley tries to change the plot’s hardwired doom and gloom to notes of uplift and liberation...Having started on firm foundations, this excellent play seems to shudder at the last." Full Review
"The elegance of Gardley’s prose and Rigg’s set is greatly enhanced by the actors as they circulate in Blanco’s predominantly black costumes and as they glide under Lileana Blain-Cruz’s style-establishing direction. The always-formidable Gravátt heads a cast of equals, each of whom instills believable late 18th-century presence...Gardley sees to it that every one of them has at least one taking-focus moment. It’s another tactic in his suave fight on behalf of woman’s equality." Full Review
"Hardly a conventional work, the piece is a heady mixture of many writing styles and themes - a hearty dose of Federico Garcia Lorca's commentary on women and class (aptly so, as the play is loosely based on his 'The House of Bernarda Alba'), a dash of Tennessee Williams' Southern melodrama, a pinch of August Wilson's magical realism - all blended with a mostly firm yet occasionally unsteady hand by Gardley." Full Review
"Blain-Cruz sets a pace that’s deliberate but not laggard...As in the script, a somber mood predominates but it’s broken up regularly with flashes of light and color...Blanco’s costumes are eye-catching...While hardly a walk in the park, ‘The House That Will Not Stand’ is not as grim as ‘The House of Bernarda Alba'. By loosening, just a little, the stays in Bernarda’s corset, Gardley has created a dynamic, layered variation on a classic." Full Review
“The play, the performances and the production design are all terrifying, witty, humorous, resigned, hopeful and haunting...Gardley’s language is funny, often anachronistic, always potent. Blain-Cruz etches distinct characters...Kelly’s stage movement is fluid and syncopated where necessary, combining contemporary gestures and period steps...A spunky, engaging, sardonic story of women making their way in a society framed by — who else? — men.” Full Review
"Racism and white privilege in the new America is a layer added in this complex telling, with the history of its time period playing a key and dramatic role...It’s all a bit clumsy in its visualization and formulation, but the overall outcome rings decidedly true...It’s not the most satisfying Lorca adaptation, especially when compared to the outstanding 'Yerma' just recently, but it is a majestic attempt to tease out the tragedy of these women and the history that storms against them." Full Review
"It’s a lot to juggle and the playwright occasionally missteps. The dialogue is sometimes comic, sometimes poetic. The quality of the acting is frustratingly uneven. Ms. Foy gives an electric performance as Makeda. The usually reliable Ms. Gravatt repeatedly stumbled over her lines...Lileana Blain-Cruz’s direction shows a comfortable grip on the material. While I found it sporadically involving, I left somewhat baffled and disappointed." Full Review
"Between its supernatural tone and outsize feminine sexuality, the play often verges on camp. While Gardley's storytelling occasionally digresses, he still proves himself one of the great theatrical practitioners of historical fiction by depicting a little-discussed era of American history...Like a practitioner of theatrical voodoo, director Lileana Blain-Cruz succeeds at conjuring an ideal atmosphere for magic and mayhem." Full Review
“This play is operatic. The writing itself is unexceptional, and the plot lines that crisscross the stage are predictable. But the towering set...serves to lift the tale up and let it float in thin air. There are majestic themes at play here...Not a remarkable play, but one that benefits from the sum of its parts, and one that shines the light on a past swept out of sight for way too long. Bravo for that." Full Review
"Gardley undeniably whips up luscious language and vivid images, but some of this tasty dialogue is muffled through overly-hasty pacing and poor diction. Lileana Blain-Cruz, the director, stages a visually impressive, generally well-acted show, but the rapid delivery of Cajun dialects interferes at times with audience comprehension...While this New York premiere does not fully achieve the play’s potential, 'The House That Will Not Stand' remains a thoughtful, multi-layered work." Full Review
“Over the course of two acts, the house of ‘The House That Will Not Stand’ is wracked by storms, scandals, catfights, and bizarre supernatural doings. None of this is boring, but neither is it totally believable...The script is marked by stylistic inconsistencies...In the end, Gardley's house stands, even if it wobbles a bit from time to time. Its foundation is sound, and if you don't mind some of the more garish appointments, you may have a gripping experience there." Full Review
"Drums are what herald two extraordinary monologues in this densely packed, erratic comic drama, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Their percussive insistence shapes two separate instances when both a character and the play that has hitherto confined her soar into a stratosphere of freedom...You may find it difficult to sort out all the rivalries and counterplots festering among these women...Gardley’s fondness for metaphor can sometimes strangle what should be simple exposition." Full Review
"'The House That Will Not Stand' is preoccupied with issues of freedom...While it's interesting to learn the historical foundations on which Gardley builds these themes, they come at the expense of Lorca's tensely wound plot, and require too many distractions, with focus and tension fading amid various subplots…Gardley's language is highly flavored, sometimes almost self-consciously so...many lines sounding more like they come from early 21st-century mouths than early 19th-century ones." Full Review
"It’s an elegant narrative formation, and one that lends itself to heightened theatricality...Blain-Cruz’s production only intermittently taps into the play’s brassiness, its conscious defiance of naturalism, and this flickering in and out of focus isn’t simply a matter of directorial oversight...I longed for an overarching theatricality that more fully tied these moments together: a production where the the powerful realness of Gardley’s characters made fewer concessions to realism." Full Review
"This poetical drama infused with supernatural elements boasts rich language and colorful imagination. But its narrative clunkiness is very much on display...The drama possesses many arresting lyrical elements, but Gardley never makes them cohere...The evening's tone shifts uneasily from floridly melodramatic to a near sitcom-style level of broad humor...The end result proves frustrating; the work's thoughtful and provocative aspects are undercut by its stiltedly artificial ones." Full Review
See it if One of the best dramas that I have seen in 2017-2018 season. Brava to the 7 amazing women in this powerful play. Loved it! Loved it!
Don't see it if There is no good reason not to see this captivating play.
See it if You are interested in shows based in history, learning about the experiences of black women post-slavery, excellent ensemble dynamics
Don't see it if Not interested in a historical experience of black women in the South and color politics, don’t care for hints at the supernatural,
See it if you appreciate an all women of color cast who paint a vivid story full of strong characters, history, and vibrant dialogue. Breathtaking!
Don't see it if you can't relate to history and how it affects us today. Or you prefer action to dialogue.
See it if you appreciate themes of race, gender, and independence. They’re woven throughout beautifully, neither one detracting from the other.
Don't see it if you don’t like female-centric stories. That said, the themes are universal, though are told through the lens of the black female experience.
See it if One of my favorite things I've seen at NYTW based on the sheer talent and quality of the production. The story resonates heavily today.
Don't see it if your attention span only lasts 90 minutes. This story is compelling and requires your undivided attention.
See it if you appreciate an all women of color cast. Learning some history that is relevant today.
Don't see it if you are not paying attention to the multiple threads. If you don't like delving into feminist, racial or class themes.
See it if you value women's stories and smart riffs on literary classics. Really funny and moving story of free women of color during US slavery
Don't see it if you need short plays or musicals or dont like thinking about America's troubled racial and gender-discriminating history.
See it if you want to see a talented ensemble cast of strong women. Every cast member impresses.
Don't see it if you don't like unconventional shows that make you think. This is an emotional and deeply felt piece - but one that also requires attention.
See it if Creole family in 1813 New Orleans copes with changes in the system of “placage”. Perspectives on freedom and independence by age & race.
Don't see it if You don’t enjoy historical fiction. You don’t want to see a matriarchal family drama.
See it if you enjoy dramas based on historical facts. Story takes place in New Orleans on the cusp of America's purchase from France.
Don't see it if you don't appreciate an all-female cast. are squeamish as a "corpse" is on stage, in the background, the entire time.
See it if 18th cent. Louisiana - how women of color in common law 'placage' relationships with white men were affected after the Louisiana Purchase
Don't see it if not interested in historical dramas about racism; matriarchal households; play that has much going on so some characters undeveloped
See it if you are interested in learning about aspects of American history that are rarely covered, plays that explore race, independence and gender.
Don't see it if you hate plays set in historical periods (early 1800 New Orleans), all female casts (no matter how fierce they all are!) or southern accents
See it if Some amazing performances. Gorgeous set and costumes. A very moving adaptation of Lorca moved to New Orleans after the Purchase.
Don't see it if The Southern accented English for characters that should be speaking French was an anachronism that bothered me a little bit.
See it if Thoughtful and often humorous study of slavery, male domination, and family politics circa 1803 aka the present. Well done.
Don't see it if It's not a musical. There are no male actors. At bottom it's very serious business, and we are all culpable.
See it if You'd like a complex story of women's lives in New Orleans where skin color is a caste system. A beautiful rendition of a time about to go.
Don't see it if You don't want to follow the intertwined lives of the characters -- and spirits as well. Don't like period dramas, even if relevant today.
See it if you are interested in diving into a lesser-known aspect of history through the framework of a dysfunctional family drama.
Don't see it if you tune out when there are elements that are more mystical in nature, such as ghosts, possession, séances, etc. Integral to the story.
See it if Great performances, wonderful set, moments of genius, good script. You've seen the Garcia Lorca play it's riffing on (I sadly have not)
Don't see it if A bit long, seems unfocused or undecided on what kind of play it wants to be. Veers between family drama, magic, social commentary quickly.
See it if a well done dissection of a unique time in the South exploring multiple takes on what is/isnt freedom in a changing Creole world is of...
Don't see it if You cannot commit to the slowly evolving pace. Are troubled by portrayals of slavery. Do not like complicated protagonists.
See it if You love a great monologue. One monologue blew the audience away causing applause mid act. Worth seeing to just experience that monologue.
Don't see it if You don’t care for florid language and melodramatic characters. That’s me but I did enjoy this play. Give it a chance to work it’s magic.
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