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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
76
Avg Score

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
86
Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Raunchy

See it if I played a scene in college, so I'm biased. In repertory with "Fucking A"; better of the two. Edgy. Sad. LGBT insinuations. Unholy pastors.

Don't see it if Poverty. Slums. All around sadness; if that's not your thing- don't see. Great acting. Intense. Adults play children. Profanity. It's edgy!

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
90
Great acting, Great writing, Masterful, Must see, Relevant

See it if This is an important play, painful to watch, but so worthwhile. It cuts to the core on so many issues involving power and societal attitudes

Don't see it if You need to see plays with happy endings. I get that. Me too. The Red Letter Plays are worth it.

During previews
90
Absorbing, Great staging, Masterful, Profound, Thought-provoking

See it if you like an original, intense, though-provoking look at how society treats it's most economically oppressed members. Exceptional work.

Don't see it if you are only interested in an uplifting night of theater, don't want to think too hard, and want to leave feeling good about the world.

Also This is part of the two play series called The Red Letter Plays. They ... Read more Read less

During previews
91
Realistic, Great acting, Great staging, Powerful, Relevant

See it if you like a realistic drama about a poverty-stricken woman with five kids, or enjoy unconventional theatre as a dialogue with Fucking A.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy strong dramas about poverty, or object to adults playing children, or are a bit sensitive to sexual content

Also Suzan-Lori Park's Red Letter Plays, Fucking A and In The Blood both of... Read more Read less

During previews
91
Absorbing, Intelligent, Profound, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if You like intense thought provoking theater highlighting societal woes.

Don't see it if You want a light uplifting feel good time

During previews
80
Absorbing, Well acted, Great staging, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if you are looking for a good play. See it if you appreciate theatre that is a riff on other literature.

Don't see it if you'd rather see Bette Midler.

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
80
Relevant, Intelligent, Great writing, Great staging, Brechtian

See it if you've already seen "Fucking A" because this sister play is an absorbing riff on the same source material: "The Scarlet Letter."

Don't see it if two hours without an intermission is beyond you, adults playing children irritates you, you hate to think.

During previews
78
Slow, Resonant, Relevant, Profound, Intelligent

See it if You love the play writer work.

Don't see it if You don't.

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
80
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intense, Relevant

See it if You appreciate great American play writing, important (if painful) story telling, and an extraordinary cast

Don't see it if you are disturbed by the truth of poverty, race and sexism.

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
80
Clever, Absorbing, Great acting

See it if you enjoy a great play that questions the values that exist in our society. Our hero fights adversity, poverty and racism.

Don't see it if have don't like blind casting, but in this production the casting made the play a great success.

During previews
82
Absorbing, Great staging, Great writing, Relevant

See it if You like challenging, relevant theater. I loved how the back wall of the set was used as a source of joy and then a trap.

Don't see it if You only like fluffy plays.

During previews
78
Great staging, Slow, Imaginative

See it if You are interested in an exploration of the Reagan-era "Welfare Queen" attitude and one vulnerable woman's struggle in the system.

Don't see it if You want a light-hearted play. While the play doesn't go as deep as it could, it does brings up a lot of ways poor women are manipulated.

Also Very cool staging! I normally find adult actors playing children to be... Read more Read less

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
80
Thought-provoking, Resonant, Intense, Great acting, Profound

See it if you enjoy the writing of Suzan-Lori Parks. She does not disappoint. It really makes you look at a world you may hopefully never know.

Don't see it if you want a simple story with a happy ending.

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
72
Clever, Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if good exploration of trials and tribulations of "underclass"; very good acting; interesting staging and casting

Don't see it if depressing, but maybe realistic portrayal; some interactions are cliched & overdrawn; weak ending doesn't flow/makes sense from main lead

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


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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