The Red Letter Plays: In the Blood
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The Red Letter Plays: In the Blood

The Red Letter Plays: In the Blood NYC Reviews and Tickets

(103 Reviews)
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Great staging, Relevant, Great writing

About the Show

Signature Theatre presents Pulitzer winner Suzan-Lori Parks' modern-day riff on 'The Scarlet Letter,' in which a penniless mother of five is condemned by the men who love her. Featuring Tony nominee Saycon Sengbloh.

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Member Reviews (103)

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716 Reviews | 219 Followers
Intense, Relevant, Profound, Thought-provoking, Masterful

See it if Class structure of modern society as experienced by a rebellious welfare mother. Hypocrisy abounds. Deep writing, great set.

Don't see it if You don't want to explore the ugliness of human nature. Includes seamy explicit sexual dialog. Read more

650 Reviews | 284 Followers
Answers: what if hester prynne had been born today black/had multiple children out of wedlock?

See it if convincingly shows hypocrisy in Scarlet Letter applies 2 "helping" classes/doctor, welfare worker, preacher that exploit poor black mothers

Don't see it if Brechtian production lacks subtlety: mother heroic, helping class evil; F***ing A much more nuanced & imaginative

688 Reviews | 116 Followers
Ambitious, Great acting, Edgy, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if Parks' Brechtian fable of welfare mother/outcast in society as trenchant as ever Strong ensemble w/Benson's fierce staging illuminates tale

Don't see it if Unrelenting misery/injustice hard to take but that's the point Adult actors as children/infants bit rocky Monologues somewhat heavyhanded

506 Reviews | 1000 Followers
Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Overrated

See it if you are ready for disturbing,dark, ugly, and sad views re: our society. Saycon Sengbloh is superb as Hester.Set is fascinating.

Don't see it if if you are expecting a feel good story. We have a pref. for Parks' Fucking A. I have a problem with the older adults playing the young kids

635 Reviews | 237 Followers
Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if You're interested in topical plays that, though written years ago, are still very relevant today.

Don't see it if Topics like homelessness & promiscuity are too rough for you to handle, no matter the larger message.

505 Reviews | 729 Followers
Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Masterful, Absorbing

See it if you like serious dramas performed by high-caliber actors. Saycon Sengbloh is phenomenal and the beautifully written play is Pulitzer worthy.

Don't see it if you prefer "safe" works or are turned off by stories of people in low places, struggling for survival.

535 Reviews | 488 Followers
Engaging, Great acting, Bleak, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if you want to see a well-acted and well-directed incisive (if bleak) take on the value our society places on women and motherhood.

Don't see it if you're looking for a light fluffy night of theater.

479 Reviews | 262 Followers
Ambitious but unsuccessful, Slow, Disappointing, Indulgent, Excruciating

See it if you are a Parks enthusiast and you must see the two Red Letter Plays.

Don't see it if you like your dramas fast moving and interesting.

Critic Reviews (23)

The New York Times
September 17th, 2017

"A first-rate revival...Plays with theatrical traditions and the expectations that come with them...'The Red Letter Plays' allow us a chance to consider the extraordinary and elusive talent of Parks, a dramatist who seems to reinvent the form with every new offering...Benson reins in the hectoring and melodrama. Each performance is both subtly stylized and naturalistic enough for us to identify the characters as people we know."
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Time Out New York
September 17th, 2017

"Seizes you from the get-go...The play premiered in 1999, but now, with homelessness at record levels in NYC and a national backslide in women’s reproductive rights, it seems perhaps even more relevant. Its urgency is heightened by director Benson’s relentless pace and the ensemble cast’s unfettered performances...Parks’ scathing indictment of how society treats impoverished women gets your pulse pumping even as it breaks your heart."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
September 17th, 2017

"Parks rages incisively, articulately, and sometimes even humorously against the capitalist machine...It’s not subtle, but Parks isn’t going for subtlety so much as confrontation...As Hester, Sengbloh gives a performance both innocent and frightening—and finally, devastating...Something special is happening right now at Signature Theatre...The plays are not easy to watch, but they’re vital, scrappy, angry, witty, articulate."
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September 18th, 2017

"Almost 20 years after Parks wrote these two plays, the festering wound of the abortionist in 'F—ing A' and the hateful name that drove an earth mother to violence in 'In the Blood'—and more than 150 years after Hawthorne wrote 'The Scarlet Letter: A Romance'—the same words, the same symbols, the same damning letter can still make women weep with shame and rage...Saycon Sengbloh gives a remarkable performance."
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AM New York
September 21st, 2017

"'In the Blood' is the more serious and sensitive of the two plays...In spite of some slow patches (including confessional monologues), Sarah Benson’s two-hour, intermission-free production has a scorching brutality...Each production is an outstanding staging of a bold, difficult and provocative work. When viewed together, 'The Red Letter Plays' proves to be one of the most interesting and rewarding theater events of the fall."
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September 17th, 2017

"A searing revival...Parks probes the limits of our tolerance as a society...Parks' Brechtian proclivities mean that her astute social points are often underlined with a Sharpie. This is especially true during the confessional monologues delivered by each character. Some of the actors struggle to hold our attention in these moments as a drama becomes a lecture. The performances are otherwise excellent under Sarah Benson's steady direction."
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September 26th, 2017

"A solid remounting...Takes on the style of Greek tragedy, though, especially in director Sarah Benson's production, reality is raised to near-absurdist proportions. The heart-tugging Saycon Sengbloh stars...With America's current leaders looking to severely limit the government assistance made available to people like Hester, 'In the Blood' has sadly lost none of its relevance."
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Lighting & Sound America
October 2nd, 2017

"Even if 'In the Blood' conjures a potent dramatic situation that speaks acutely and fearlessly to the present moment, it falls short of being a fully realized play, preferring to reiterate the same points in confrontation after confrontation. Still, Saycon Sengbloh is a heartbreaking figure of endurance as Hester...Whatever one's feelings about these plays, they certainly provide confirmation -- if any was needed -- that Parks has plenty to say about female power and sexuality."
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