X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation
Closed 2h 15m
X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation

X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation NYC Reviews and Tickets

(183 Reviews)
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

About the Show

The Acting Company brings back this play dramatizing Malcolm X’s life and death.

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Member Reviews (183)

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Powerful, Great acting, Great writing, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if Great writing & acting paired with exciting storytelling style. Fast-paced and riveting. Very moving.

Don't see it if You don't care about issues of race struggle. Read more

Engaging, Great direction, Great acting, Informative

See it if I was very impressed with the production, direction and performances. Enjoyed how the story was framed & told - really engages the audience.

Don't see it if Even if you don't have an interest in the story of Malcolm X there is no denying this is a solid production with commanding performance.

Critic Reviews (10)

Time Out New York
January 22nd, 2018

"'X' offers a compelling trip back in time, and we never forget how high the stakes are...Ian Belknap directs an excellent ensemble...But ultimately Gardley expends a lot of effort to convince us of something that most people who have been paying attention already assumed was the case. As an evocation of a not-so-distant past when even Martin Luther King Jr. was considered radical, the play is gripping and effective. But 'X' is not the shocking exposé it seems to want to be."
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January 21st, 2018

"If you missed it the first time around, don't let it slip away again. This is an opportunity to better understand a man who not only reflects America's pain, but its possibilities...Gardley packs a lot of information into two hours and 15 minutes with a script that is simultaneously hearty and efficient...Cole is commanding and magnetic...Everyone in the cast savors Gardley's richly poetic yet undeniably snappy language...'X' gives Malcolm the robust reconsideration he deserves."
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Lighting & Sound America
January 22nd, 2018

"Malcolm isn't enough of a presence, and the script never comes close to suggesting the dynamic, polarizing figure that he was...The play also suffers from a surfeit of theatrical devices...Still, the play does an effective job of conveying the intrigue that swirled around Malcolm, and the entire cast, under the generally incisive direction of Ian Belknap, makes the most of their opportunities...A gripping investigation into the life of a man whose legacy remains urgently important today."
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Theatre is Easy
January 27th, 2018

"Watching the dangerous games played by people in power leaves you with feelings of horror that you can’t shake off, even long after the show...For the most part, the cast shines brightly in vibrant performances...'X' is probably the darkest show I have seen lately, both visually and emotionally...Historically accurate yet heartfelt, 'X' tells the universal story of the opposition between a single man and the forces that created him."
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Show Showdown
January 27th, 2018

"Gardley is a powerful and poetic writer, and 'X' is well worth a visit. However, the play is also overwritten, with much repetition and a framing device and songs that are wonderful in themselves but also slow down the play. 'X' is full of strengths but ultimately uneven; I suspect that, with judicious cutting, it would be brilliant. Director Ian Belknap maximizes X's strengths through dynamic, imaginative, and beautifully paced direction. The cast is excellent."
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Plays to See
February 6th, 2018

"There aren't enough words to properly convey the magnitude of this show. The acting, the directing, and the writing each on their own are worthy of a five-star review. Part noir-murder-mystery, part courtroom drama, part Shakespearean tragedy, mixed with the haunting cries of a sort-of Greek chorus, 'X: or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation' is a masterful tribute to and reincarnation of the legacy of Malcolm X. There's nothing left to say except to go see it before it closes."
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Off Off Online
January 21st, 2018

"Gardley’s play shifts the focus from Malcolm X as a powerful civil rights leader to a vulnerable man trying to hold injustice up to the light. Glimpses of this are beautifully revealed in moments between Malcolm and Betty, who knows how to make him laugh, but also senses how tired and even a little afraid he may feel. In 1966, several men from the Nation of Islam were convicted of assassinating Malcolm X, but Gardley’s play suggests that everyone, in the end, had a hand in killing him."
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January 26th, 2018

"The flow among music, speech, documentary and drama is expertly handled by the 10-member cast and director Belknap. At its best, the play comes off like a sort of spoken-word oratorio. While the portrait of Malcolm himself is at times disappointingly wooden-it is understandably hard to humanize an icon...It is even tougher to fill a play with sermons, speeches and testimonies and still maintain nuance, suspense, surprise. Gardley is up to the task."
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The New York Times
March 21st, 2017
For a previous production

“Mr. Gardley and the director, Ian Belknap, bring the feuds that roiled the radical black-liberation movement of the 1960s to vivid life. Although he clearly did his research, Mr. Gardley is not interested in naturalistic docudrama…The best scenes pit the ramrod-straight Shabazz, convinced that the Nation of Islam fomented her husband’s 1965 assassination, against the silver-tongued Louis X, who defends the organization...This double bill rewards alert teens and jaded adults alike.”
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Broadway & Me
March 22nd, 2017
For a previous production

“A compelling requiem for a complex man…The play clearly means to indict the larger society for allowing the assassination to happen. Still, Gardley investigates all the options, leaving the final verdict up to each viewer. At heart, though, Gardley is a poet and the play is filled with gorgeous soliloquies…The acting, under Ian Belknap's robust direction, is across-the-board superb...This production, like Malcolm, deserves a longer life."
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