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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

Great acting, Profound

See it if Well acted. Typical story of a woman without skills and the only way to support her brood is to ne a whore.

Don't see it if If it bothers you to see a man of the cloth taking advantage of the,situation. ppl

Great writing, Slow, Thought-provoking, Great acting

See it if you want to experience Suzan-Lori Parks' work with ingenious actors.

Don't see it if you don't like plays that move slowly.

Great writing, Relevant

See it if You like challenging material that confronts social injustice

Don't see it if you’re looking for some light-hearted escapism

Great staging, Intense, Relevant

See it if you like SLP's work. You will like this play.

Don't see it if you struggle with SLP's work. You will not like this play.

Clever, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging, Must see

See it if You want to see timely clever theater

Don't see it if There is no reason not to see this play. It was excellent.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great staging, Intense, Intelligent

See it if you're into plays that discuss social issues at their core, like a balance of fun and darkness

Don't see it if you're looking for something "classic" or you dislike plays with off-beat structure.

Great writing, Depressing, Real

See it if You want to see something that challenges what society views on women, the system, education, and poverty in America

Don't see it if you don't like sitting through a 2 hour play without intermission, don't like seeing children being played by adults

Edgy, Great acting, Funny, Intense, Quirky

See it if You enjoy The Scarlet Letter and modernizations of books

Don't see it if You do not like gore or intense subjects

Ambitious, Edgy, Indulgent, Overrated, Raunchy

See it if you are a big Suzan-Lori Parks fan and want to see everything she writes.

Don't see it if you are easily offended or if you don't like her style. I actually found it boring and tedious to watch, despite the subject matter.

Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Profound, Relevant

See it if you want to see plays that deal with realism, the reality of today's world and are familiar with Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlett Letter.

Don't see it if you don't like foul language

During previews
Absorbing, Clever, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if you are a Parks fan, plan to see F*cking A, enjoy dynamic staging and intriguing performances, can cope with frustration

Don't see it if you find Parks indiscernible, don't like stories of the black experience in America, don't like satires of "the system"

During previews
Great acting, Intelligent, Slow, Disappointing, Great staging

See it if you are a fan of the writing of Parks; you are interested in how "the system" treats those most in need and how callous humans can be.

Don't see it if you are looking for a finished play. I often felt like I was sitting through a college sociology class. Strong topic deserves more emotion

During previews
Absorbing, Great staging, Great acting, Intense, Resonant

See it if Real world drama about the never ending struggles of the underclass. Amazing cast plays multiple characters in a hopeless situation.

Don't see it if You like happy endings. Dislike raw emotions and explicit sexual scenes. Dream in technicolor.

Also This is Suzan-Lori Parks companion piece to Fucking A. These plays are... Read more Read less

During previews
Interesting. very downbeat.

See it if You appreciate Lori parks off kilter storytelling.

Don't see it if If you want straight story telling

During previews
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
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
Clever, Ambitious, Edgy

See it if You want a modern twist on Hester and The Scarlet Letter. Clever and very unique staging.

Don't see it if You are turned off by cursing and some sex. Adults play children which grows weary. Some characters are much more interesting than others.

During previews
Great acting, Slow, Relevant

See it if Want good acting and have seen the other Red Letter Plays

Don't see it if Want something a bit more. Too slow, too long, and essentially repetitive.

During previews
Intelligent, Masterful, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if You want to see an intense and intelligent look at heartbreaking race and class issues. It is both beautifully written and acted.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy plays that look at the hard truths in life.

Also The set design was an intricate part of the storytelling. Very clever ... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Clever, Great staging, Ambitious, Intense

See it if You want to see the Scarlet Letter in a whole new light , this is not the version from high school

Don't see it if You can't last 2 hours without any intermission or have no imagination

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging, Relevant

See it if Companion piece to "Fuckin A". Well written and staged play about relevant racial and societal issues.Terrific performances by talented cast

Don't see it if You prefer light,comedic, or musical entertainment. This is a raw and sad story that really moves you.

During previews
Thought-provoking, Profound, Absorbing, Intense, Pulls no punches

See it if You are a fan of Parks. Are committed to theatre thanks thought provoking and culturally irrelevant.

Don't see it if Don't want to be challenged with the stark realities of poverty, capitalism, and racism. You are offended by strong language and images.

During previews
Intense, Crushing, Authentic

See it if You can bear to watch optimism and duty struggle with man's inhumanity in a life less privileged than yours before finally being crushed.

Don't see it if You don't want to deal with ineffable sadness. Your desire to see authentic life brought to the stage is outweighed by desire for enjoyment.

During previews
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
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.

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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