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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)

MEMBERS SAY:

Great acting, Absorbing, Great staging, Relevant, Great writing

60
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.

68
Ambitious, Slow, Indulgent

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

Don't see it if you want subtlety.

63
Great acting, Ambitious, Edgy

See it if u like characters indicting themselves in monologues in a play depicting the horrible conditions in black life; fantastic SayconSengvloh

Don't see it if you can't bear seeing another moment of life without hope or redemption

68
Confusing, Dizzying, Edgy, Great acting, Loud

See it if You like challenging concepts and hard-to-like characters.

Don't see it if You don't like challenging concepts and hard-to-like characters.

63
Ambitious, Confusing, Edgy, Great staging, Great acting

See it if Clever staging & great acting for a play that pushes at the boundaries. Thought provoking mediation on women's place in society & family.

Don't see it if It's a very difficult & unpleasant play

During previews
68
Intense, Cliched, Absorbing, Depressing, Overemphatic

See it if you want to see an urban tragedy very loosely based on The Scarlet Letter.

Don't see it if you don't like to see adult actors playing children or you don't like onstage violence.

Also I found the play heavy-handed and schematic.

During previews
69
Absorbing, Great staging, Relevant, Intense, Depressing

See it if you can stand the depressing tale of a welfare mom with 5 (count 'em - 5!) illegitimate kids, living under a bridge; and an horrific ending.

Don't see it if any of the above leaves you feeling hopeless; you dislike brutality on stage; you want an uplifting evening. This one leaves you in despair.

During previews
50
Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Insipid

See it if You want to see a lazy director squandering some pretty amazing writing. There were many profound themes going on onstage, that were wasted.

Don't see it if You want to see good theater. There was potential here, and you'll walk away disappointed at wasted opportunities to say something profound.

During previews
65
Ambitious, Disappointing, Edgy, Indulgent, Slow

See it if You don't want to miss any play by this playwright.

Don't see it if You cannot abide adult actors playing young children.

During previews
60
Disappointing, Brutal and self-indulgent writing

See it if you are a fan of the author; appreciate fine acting of mediocre writing

Don't see it if a pageant about an abused woman where there is no real insight or revelation that makes a difference appeals. Subject is important but . .

During previews
69
Ambitious, Clever, Disappointing, Quirky, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to have a real think about the plight that homeless mothers (and black mothers in general) face, also if you love a great set.

Don't see it if you're hoping for an out-of-the-park production or a top-both Parks play in general.

During previews
64
Great writing, Slow

See it if you're determined to see the entirety of Suzan's work at Signature.

Don't see it if you want to see a good production of her work.

Also Once again, it's a case of hiring a director who simply doesn't unders... Read more Read less

During previews
55
Indulgent, Disappointing, Cliched, Ambitious

See it if you were confused by last year's "Death of the Last Black Man," fear not. This is quite clear and that's the bad news. Superficial immature.

Don't see it if you expect new insights into the variety of issues Ms. Parks raises: homeless, welfare, poverty, motherhood, treatment of women. Shallow.

During previews
60
Banal, Great acting, Disappointing, Tiresome

See it if You are a fan of the playwright or solid acting is enough for.

Don't see it if You don't have much patience for endlessly willing victims.

During previews
64
Cliched, Dated, Disappointing, Indulgent

See it if you are really, really a fan of Suzan-Lori Parks work and want to self-manufacture the emotions that the dire plot situations deserve.

Don't see it if you are not in the mood for a show that uses clichéd theater techniques and tells a fragmented, brutal story.

During previews
62
Great acting, Slow

See it if You empathize with "Mother Courage" -like women who seem to bring their woes on themselves. Appreciate versatile acting by a terrific cast.

Don't see it if You want upbeat endings and characters who evolve rather than repeating disastrous behavior. Expect better from Susan-Lori Parks.

During previews
68
Confusing, Edgy, Intense, Raunchy, Slow

See it if you are interested in a linear story told in a non-linear way; you enjoy SLP's work

Don't see it if you can't sit through 2 hours of a tragic story, you are squeamish

During previews
69
Great writing, Intense, Slow, Relevant, Cliched

See it if your a fan of Suzi Lori Parks work. Her writing is the star of this show, it's penetrating and urgent.

Don't see it if Your looking for a creative interpretation of this work. This is a by the numbers production and it doesn't delve beyond the surface.

During previews
69
Banal, Dated, Disappointing, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to see a lesser-known suzan-lori parks work or just like seeing affordable plays.

Don't see it if you're looking for something engaging, dynamic, or new.

During previews
55
Indulgent, Overrated, Resonant

See it if you like the writer (I do but not this time), want a social commentary show that doesn't go too far (one note)

Don't see it if like strong/decent acting/direction - want more than occasional moments of insightful writing - some good monologues

Also opening was great, but theme/depth doesn't go much past that throughou... Read more Read less

During previews
68
Indulgent, Slow, Ambitious

See it if Like somber political statements about women in poverty.

Don't see it if You want subtlety.


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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