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The Red Letter Plays: In the Blood

From 103 member  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. 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. Hester turns to former lovers, friends, and the institutions meant to support her, only to be spurned by them all with devastating consequences. Directed by Obie winner Sarah Benson.

Member Reviews (103)


Great acting, Absorbing, Great staging, Relevant, Great writing
Avg Score

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.

Also This is a brilliant play with a lot to say. In addition to the powerfu... Read more Read less

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Great acting, Great staging, Relevant, Intense, Intelligent

See it if you're looking for a socially relevant dramatic play. More serious tone than Fucking A, great acting/direction and interesting staging.

Don't see it if you're not in the mood for something bleak. It is a depressing look at a welfare mom. Adult actors playing kids can be off-putting at first

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Masterful

See it if you like complex theater that does not assign quick blame to those who do foolish things. This is an intelligent look at poverty.

Don't see it if you expect an upbeat, easy show.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Relevant, Intense

See it if very moving & disturbing story of an unmarried mother of 5 living in poverty & exploited even by those whose job is to help

Don't see it if you don't want actors playing dual roles - adults & children; very disturbing end

Also Saycon Sengbloh as the mother was excellent.... Read more Read less

Raw, Slightly-uneven in execution, Sexual & edgy, An earnest attempt at a parable for our times, Brutality-laden

See it if curious how Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter (1850) sparks a contemporary story for today; interested in welfare, women, and wounds.

Don't see it if fine acting and an unusual set design, dovetailed with flawed writing that soars as much as it sinks, proves too incongruous or frustrating.

Also I've had my eye on The Red Letter Plays for some time: perhaps it was ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Profound, Riveting

See it if A complex drama about issues of those who fall through the cracks of society. Excellent writing and acting. Left me breathless.

Don't see it if If you prefer musicals and light dramas.

Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Great writing, Intense

See it if you want to see a masterful depiction of life in the lower depths of modern society. Some vivid connections to The Scarlet Letter.

Don't see it if you have a problem with viewing negative plotlines and characters.

Also Wow! Can Suzan-Lori Parks write!.. Some of the language is so poetic -... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Cliched, Confusing, Slow, Frustrating.................................

See it if avante guarde theater is your thing.

Don't see it if you are expecting to see a play by the second coming of playwright Lorraine Hansberry.

Also Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, references the Nathaniel Hawthorne 1850 n... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Resonant

See it if Companion to FuckingA and a riff on The Scarlet Letter exploring power in class,sex,gender and race ; poetic and dark with great ensemble

Don't see it if You don’t like epic tragedy exploration of dark themes and hopelessness as embodied in the staging, set and script

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

Clever, Indulgent, Overrated, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if you find it easy to accept the idea that a deprived, illiterate mother of five children out of wedlock is in no way responsible for her life

Don't see it if you don't mind being blamed for the suffering of someone you don't know, without being presented with any coherent ways to prevent this.

Ambitious, Slow, Indulgent

See it if you like somber political statements about women in poverty.

Don't see it if you want subtlety.

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.

Banal, Great staging, Slow, Resonant

See it if you enjoy Parks' canon of social justice and political theater

Don't see it if you prefer not to be confronted with real life issue on stage

Ambitious, Great writing, Masterful, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if outstanding performances from a seasoned cast. interesting staging- interesting concept to riff on the scarlet A- not usual wordsmith Parks

Don't see it if if you cannot sit for 2 hours without an intermission. if Suzan Lori Parks is not your taste

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Masterful, Profound

See it if you care about the world you live in and the people around you. This play will shatter your thinking of the less fortunate.

Don't see it if you object to strong language or live in an ideal world because this one is anything but. Be warned, it runs almost 2 hours without a break.

Relevant, Cliched

See it if You are a Parks fan and want to see a take on Scarlett Letter featuring an illiterate mother of 5.

Don't see it if you expect a fast moving show. this requires some patience.

Also while I admire this playwright, after seeing her two red letter plays,... Read more Read less

Great acting, Great writing, Strong ensemble, Riveting

See it if You are looking for dramas that explore the place of the poor and homeless in our world.

Don't see it if You are looking for light or fluffy.

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 hectorin...
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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 unfette...
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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 i...
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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...
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