New York | 1h 30m | Ends Mar 10

Behind the Sheet

From 11 critic and 55 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intense, Great staging

About the show

EST's new drama confronts the history of a great medical breakthrough by telling the forgotten story of a community of enslaved black women who involuntarily enabled the discovery.  More…

In 1840s Alabama, Philomena assists a doctor - her owner - as he performs experimental surgeries on her fellow slave women, trying to find a treatment for the painful post-childbirth complications known as fistulas. Reframing the origin story of modern gynecology, "Behind the Sheet" tells how these women supported each other, and questions who, and what, history remembers.



90
Absorbing although a bit pedantic

See it if -

Don't see it if -

97
During previews
Masterful, Intelligent, Great acting, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if You want to know the real deal about how slaves were treated - subjects of surgical experimentation without any regard for safety or dignity

Don't see it if You are squeamish or want a whitewashed version of how medical advances were made.

95
During previews
Profound, Masterful, Absorbing

See it if you want to see slightly fictionalized history that doesn't pull its punches.

Don't see it if you are bothered by slavery, pain or reality

Also This play is very well written. It is performed in an intimate setting... Read more Read less

94
During previews
Intense, Intelligent, Great writing, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if You care anything for woman's Issues or slave issues. Small intimate production that is very emotional. I only saw a preview and it’s ready!

Don't see it if You aren’t willing to open your heart or don’t like fictionalized history.

92
During previews
Brilliantly written, Beautifully played, Effectively staged, Handsomely set

See it if you'd like to see a highly effective production of a brilliant young playwright engaging difficult historical material that speaks to today.

Don't see it if you cannot bear to see people in physical pain.

Also Charly Evon Simpson is an acutely powerful, distinctive young voice. I... Read more Read less

92
During previews
Great writing, Great staging, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if The Ensemble Studio Theater never disappoints....Great acting, great staging and a great script...It's riveting...

Don't see it if You are bothered by talk of surgery or OB-GYN medical issues...

90
During previews
Intelligent, Resonant, Intense, Great acting, Funny

See it if you're interested in the voices of Black women erased by history, you're interested in medical ethics

Don't see it if you're looking for something light. Be prepared that the characters being portrayed are experiencing a great deal of pain.

90
During previews
Thought-provoking, Profound, Intense, Edgy, Ambitious

See it if If you like women's' history, untold stories. Great direction as well

Don't see it if If you do not like serious subjects

90
During previews
Thought-provoking, Disturbing, Historical, Informative, Absorbing

See it if Medical history brought to life. Ethical dissonance between dedicated innovation & racist coercion. Nuanced relationships among the women.

Don't see it if You don't want to see people in pain. You are not interested in the slave women's perspective. Some awkward staging w/ blocked sight lines.

90
During previews
Intense, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you are interested in a play based on facts which describe how slave women were used as guinea pigs in Ob-Gyn experiments.

Don't see it if you have no interest in this subject; slavery issues distress you; women's issues are not your thing either.

Also What distressed me most about this play was that the motive of the doc... Read more Read less

85
During previews
Thought-provoking, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you would enjoy a well written, terrifically acted drama about interesting (fictionalized historical) events.

Don't see it if You should see this, but try to see it on a night when you can face wrenching depictions of cruelty toward enslaved women.

85
During previews
Profound, Intelligent, Great writing, Absorbing

See it if A probing, well written theatrical look at the history of medicine, human experimentation and the US abuses of indenturtude and slavery

Don't see it if You don’t want to have your sense of outrage evoked in a small intimate staging. Go

85
During previews
Resonant, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if you are willing to view costs of dehumanization in the name of scientific advancement.

Don't see it if rape and misogyny will trigger you

Also The author apologizes for making Dr. Sims a rapist, for which there is... Read more Read less

84
During previews
Great staging, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you can face women in slavery subjected to dozens of excruciating, experimental, surgeries without anesthesia, others holding them down.

Don't see it if If you lack the ability to put yourself in other people's shoes.

Also This is a very difficult play, but a story that must be told.... Read more Read less

84
During previews
Relevant, Great writing, Great staging, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you like seeing well- done plays about characters who were powerless being given a voice.

Don't see it if Gynecological stuff bothers you.

84
During previews
Intelligent, Great staging, Great writing, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if A true and utterly heartwrenching play about a doctor in the old south who uses black women as guinea pigs in gynecological experiments !

Don't see it if Not for the faint of heart although I know you will learn a lot if you decide to see this.. !

84
During previews
Emotionally impactful, Great writing, Great acting, Informative, History based drama

See it if Pioneer Doctor of Gynecology developed surgical corrective procedure by performing trial operations on slaves using little or no anesthetic.

Don't see it if You do not want to be reminded that at one time human beings were considered property and treated like animals.

81
During previews
Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intense, Absorbing

See it if you like plays based on history, especially little remembered portions, with modern language and attitudes

Don't see it if you're looking for a lighthearted story or fancy staging

80
During previews
Well acted/staged, Slow, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Intense

See it if you'd like eye-opening histl fiction about "the father of gynecology." Strong acting, impressive staging. Fascinating, horrific, impt story.

Don't see it if you want a fast pace. BTS needs cuts (it drags); some dialogue seems too modern. I liked the end speeches abt real dr, but I still googled.

80
During previews
Relevant, Thought-provoking, Slow, Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if Simpson's medical/historical drama engages both intellect & emotions Interaction of women undercuts any dryness of material Well staged

Don't see it if Can get bogged down in the medically arcane & pacing can be slow Acting is uneven but Lorrain's Philomena holds a powerful evening together

79
During previews
Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great acting

See it if You are interested in a drama loosely based on true events that deals with the issue of medical racism

Don't see it if You want to see a musical, comedy or a lavish production or if you have no interest in medical drama

79
During previews
Great writing, Eye opening, Intense, Great staging, Great design

See it if very dark and informative about some really tough times, really uncomfortable theatre in a GOOD way, very important messages in this one

Don't see it if this does take place during slavery so if that is triggering keep that in mind, not looking for something dark, sensitive to miscarriage

78
During previews
Lacks dramatic urgency, Illuminates largely unknown chapter of racial injustice, Well directed & designed

See it if you want a fictionalized account of unethical medical history, a horrible byproduct of slavery; to support promising new writer and director

Don't see it if mix of fact/fiction and some anachronisms disturb you; scenes of slavery and suggestions of crude medical procedures are triggering

Also Like MISS EVERS' BOYS, this play unearths an appalling episode of medi... Read more Read less

76
During previews
Intense, Edgy, Riveting, Ambitious

See it if If you want a play with shock value. Dehumanizing, edgy piece.

Don't see it if If you want a lighter play. If your not into emotional, painstaking plays.

75
During previews
Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Intense, Absorbing

See it if you're interested in gruesome medical history brought to life. I felt like I learned a lot about things I really didn't want to know

Don't see it if you like character development, plot and the typical ups and downs in most plays, this isn't for the faint of heart


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Cast & Creatives (12)