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 Ratings)
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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Show-Score Member Reviews (103)

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142 Reviews | 37 Followers
Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You are ready to leave with your insides shaking.

Don't see it if You want light entertainment.

583 Reviews | 738 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.

106 Reviews | 17 Followers
Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Must see, Great writing

See it if Phenomenally created, both in design, writing, and acting. One of the best shows I've seen at the Signature. Riveting, thoughtful, masterful

Don't see it if You want a more fluffy, fun, show where you don't have to think. This is a serious work of art.

244 Reviews | 71 Followers
Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you're interested in plays about social issues and like innovative stagings that manage to avoid gimmickry

Don't see it if you don't want to be presented with tough issues without being given a tidy resolution

192 Reviews | 24 Followers
Intelligent, Profound, Intense, Relevant, Absorbing

See it if you like works that address real-life problems of the underprivileged and want to see an excellent treatment of the subject.

Don't see it if you're not in the mood for a serious play.

145 Reviews | 34 Followers
Absorbing, Funny, Great writing, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if you enjoy seeing a smartly written play where the societal issues of the day are very effectively presented.

Don't see it if Small productions with a humorously told depressing story is not your thing.

784 Reviews | 249 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

99 Reviews | 17 Followers
Resonant, Great acting, Great directing, Absorbing

See it if you want to see a brilliant ensemble brilliantly directed in a smart, thought-provoking and ultimately heartbreaking story.

Don't see it if you're not interested in stories about how a good person mistreated by the system and loved ones can turn sour.

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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