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The Red Letter Plays: Fucking A

From 122 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Intense, Great writing, Ambitious

About the show

Signature Theatre  presents Pulitzer winner Suzan-Lori Parks' modern-day remix of 'The Scarlet Letter' about an abortionist. Featuring Tony nominees Brandon Victor Dixon and Marc Kudisch, and Emmy winner Christine Lahti. More…

Produced together for the first time and running in rep, Parks' 'The Red Letter Plays: Fucking A & In the Blood' explode our ideas of love, society, sex, and power with wit and fearlessness. In 'Fucking A,' Hester Smith, the revered and reviled local abortionist, hatches a plan to buy her jailed son’s freedom—and nothing will deter her from her quest. In this wild-eyed blend of story and song, Hester’s branded letter A becomes a provocative emblem of vengeance, violence, and sacrifice. Directed by Obie winner Jo Bonney.


Member Reviews (122)

MEMBERS SAY:

Great acting, Absorbing, Intense, Great writing, Ambitious
80
Avg Score

49
Disappointing, Excruciating, Nonsense, Why?!?!, Wasted talent!

See it if You want to see Hester Prinn in a dystopian future where they speak a language that only women understand so translations are projected over

Don't see it if the stage so you can read them for THREE HOURS...oh and did I mention...it’s a musical...sort of...I’m sorry...ugh! Such fine talent...WHY??

90
Funny, Intense, Masterful, Epic, Quirky

See it if Remarkable blend of serious drama, comic relief, and musicality. As with "In the Blood", the protagonist is an outcast, trampled by class.

Don't see it if You can't shift between the serious, comic and musical elements. It's a brilliant but odd mix.

Also Loved the creativity. This was a satirical black comedy, compared to t... Read more Read less

84
Ambitious, Resonant, Intense, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if Dark, fatalistic early SLP work with a Brechtian spin. Bonney's top-notch direction leavens unrelenting bleakness with moments of hope

Don't see it if Brechtian didactics & uncompromising script (with brutal subject matter/misogynistic themes) may be fatiguing. Outstanding ensemble, though

58
Overrated, Raunchy, Confounding, Excruciating

See it if you understand Parks' aesthetic & want to see her attempt to repurpose The Scarlet Letter in a Brechtian style; you're a Christine Lahti fan

Don't see it if like me, you are baffled by Suzan-Lori Parks fandom and her heavy-handed and absurd (and not in a good way) storytelling.

88
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if you're a Parks fan, admire the excellent Christine Lahti, want to see Elizabeth Stanley push herself, enjoy cast breaking into bitter songs

Don't see it if having an abortionist as a main character would bother you, not a fan of Oedipal like coincidence or of Brecht-Weill style presentation

90
F***ing "a"mazing storytelling with hester prynne reimagined as an "a"bortionist

See it if story of vengeance, power, use of sex to various ends brilliantly captured in medieval world; multitalented cast plays and sings new music

Don't see it if this is brutal, but like Game of Thrones you can't avert your eyes from the carnage; starts slowly but gains momentum 2 bloody ending

Also There is a brilliant scene in which the Butcher character provides a l... Read more Read less

84
Absorbing, Masterful, Intense, Ambitious, Edgy

See it if You enjoy new forms of drama that experiment with different styles, or if you like work similar to that of Brecht.

Don't see it if You dislike tense, bloody plays or dystopian dramas.

66
Edgy, Intense, Overrated, Disappointing, Dark

See it if You are a major fan of playwright. You are curious about the theme of "The Scarlett Letter" and how it can be used in a different way.

Don't see it if You aren't in the mood for a depressing, horrific theatrical experience. You are tired of plays that exploit women.

Also There is 1 reason to see this play in my opinion. That is to hear a mo... Read more Read less

79
Absorbing, Great acting, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if you want to watch a terrific cast in difficult roles - this is a dark, dangerous, brutal, class structured society.

Don't see it if Park's has a way with words, not with music-didn't work for me. Some audience left at intermission. Don't leave, 2nd act much better.

82
Entertaining, Intelligent, Intense, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if you're interested in a genre-bending work that veers more towards dark comedy. More entertaining of the two plays, but still serious topics

Don't see it if you're not interested in dark & somber social themes or play/musical hybrids (there are many songs), or don't like mix of sad & funny scenes

82
Dark, dystopian musical of abused women

See it if Original Parks drama of totalitarian society. Small band over the stage plays songs by Parks, sung by the cast.

Don't see it if Bloody and eerie. Grim with humor in how miserable these characters are. But illuminating and theatrical

82
Great acting, Relevant, Intense, Brechtian, Heavy

See it if you like Brecht plays with their focus on the ugly ramifications of social inequality. This is a modern update based on the Scarlet Lett

Don't see it if you prefer something light and entertaining. This is a dark play.

81
Absorbing, Great acting, Profound, Riveting, Intense

See it if Well written and produced drama. Incredible acting by the ensemble.

Don't see it if If you do not enjoy an intense drama.

72
Intelligent, Overrated, Clever

See it if You want a fresh take on Hawthorne's Hester. Lots of scenes and sub plots. Christine Lahti excellent.

Don't see it if sexual scenes and talk of women's private parts turn you off. Plot gets kinda silly; the ending is telegraphed and thus anti-climatic.

Also Kind of copying the modern bloody Irish plays but not as well written.

82
Allegorical, Artistically-diverse, Didactic, Surprising, Controversial

See it if you don't mind didactic allegories that blend music into the drama in ways that make the satire feel sometimes too obvious; are openminded.

Don't see it if easily offended by crime, violence, rape, abortion, misogyny, and immorality; prefer classic dramas; don't want to confront awful truths.

Also Having seen both of Suzan-Lori Parks' The Red Letter Plays, I can atte... Read more Read less

69
Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Edgy, Intense, Relevant

See it if you like having a story you think you know turned upside down on its head.

Don't see it if you can’t stomach the future results of the Trump presidency plan for woman’s health care services.

Also Through the lens of playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, we get a glimpse into... Read more Read less

90
Great acting, Intense, Darkly comic and darkly tragic, Clever, Great writing

See it if You want to see a well-written, well-acted modern day riff on The Scarlet Letter.

Don't see it if You are looking for something light and fluffy. This is an intense show.

Also Christine Lahti and Brandon Victor Dixon lead a phenomenal cast in thi... Read more Read less

79
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great writing, Intense

See it if You are a fan of Parks, Lahti, or Kudisch -- all who shine in this production. You like intense, proactive theatre and bold staging.

Don't see it if You are offended by harsh language, sexuality, violence, or difficult life situations.

Also A very bold production. It pulls no punches.

68
Vulgar, violent, vapid writing

See it if you are a fan of Parks and can tolerate self-indulgent, derivative work. I felt sorry for the talented cast - especially Lahti. Good music.

Don't see it if you expect insight into the subject matter, a well written work,

Also The cult around this author is not well-deserved. She needs a dramatur... Read more Read less

76
Ambitious, Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Indulgent

See it if you enjoy audacious, compelling, original works full of ideas

Don't see it if you need a piece to fully hang together or have a solid message it clearly gets across

94
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Must see, Thought-provoking

See it if You like moving dramas with great acting about injustice, and women's role with have and have nots.

Don't see it if You don't want to be moved.

60
Confusing, Great acting, Overrated, Slow, Indulgent

See it if you want to see an incredibly talented cast do their best to give coherent purpose to a confusing script about an over-the-top dystopia.

Don't see it if you have been considering suicide lately because this will definitely push you over the edge!

Also Special kudos to Raphael Nash Thompson for the one bright spot in the ... Read more Read less

88
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Resonant, Intelligent

See it if you want to watch an amazing writer at work, and great acting, surprisingly harmonious music, a few [bitter] laughs. Staging is excellent.

Don't see it if you want a lighthearted evening, or cant bear to contemplate cruelty & violence. It's dark yet, remarkably, it is not depressing.

92
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intense, Resonant

See it if you want to see an intelligent, thought-provoking, beautifully acted drama.

Don't see it if you don't like the work of Suzan-Lori Parks.

88
Resonant, Intense, Masterful

See it if you like brilliant acting in intense scenes that push you emotionally and morally. Singing nicely complements dialogue.

Don't see it if your views on abortion are fixed or physical/ sexual violence upsets you. Not for squeamish. Lahti is wow. Voices impressive.


September 11th, 2017
"A dark, didactic entertainment deliberately in the mode of Bertolt Brecht...This latest incarnation is light on its feet–quick, sharp and perfectly paradoxical. Barring a few clunking instances of cartoonish satire, Ms. Bonney’s production is as harrowing as it is witty...The cast brings humaniz...
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September 11th, 2017
"An expressionistic and politically charged exploration of class, family and violence, studded with jarring bursts of humor and song...Involved are bounty hunters, Hester’s prostitute BFF, a lovestruck butcher, an escaped convict and an invented language...That may sound like a lot—and it is. But...
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September 12th, 2017
"Bonney and her actors handle the blunt, clipped rhythms of the text with confidence...A fiery, raw-throated shout in the face of hypocrisy, privilege, and injustice...It reaches across genres and performance styles—musical, Jacobean revenge play, Brechtian epic theater—drawing on the gifts of a ...
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September 11th, 2017
"'A' never manages to transcend its derivative, ersatz feel. Instead the work comes across like the thesis playwriting project of a zealous grad student as it dutifully recycles theatrical tropes...While the play traffics in important, urgent themes, its affectations prove its undoing...The scrip...
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