In Previews: Opens Jul 18 | 1h 10m | East Village

In the Penal Colony

From 27 member reviews
Members say: Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Relevant, Ambitious, Great acting

About the show

In this new adaptation of Franz Kafka's short story, three black men convene in an unnamed penal colony, asking what it means for them to exist in the media, when observed, when consumed, when punished.  More…

Adapted from Franz Kafka's short story of the same name, "In the Penal Colony," investigates the performance of power, patriarchy and punishment. 

Member Reviews (27)


Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Relevant, Ambitious, Great acting
Avg Score

During previews
Slow, Thought-provoking, Intense, Edgy, Ambitious

See it if Loosely based on Kafka's novella, Haymon's performance piece uses movement & soundscape to deal w/ black male incarceration Dense & dazzling

Don't see it if Highly conceptual & fragmented w/ little dialogue Piece relies on mobility - military drills, hip-hop,vogue, & slavery rituals for message

During previews
Well executed, Thoughtful, Hybrid, Athletic

See it if you’re interested in contemporary take-offs on Kafka, or in issues of incarceration & surveillance, especially as practiced on black men.

Don't see it if you're expecting a traditional play or a “faithful” adaptation of Kafka.

Also 3 plays I’ve seen recently examine how black people perform (or are ex... Read more Read less

During previews
Experimentally absurd, Practically textless, Hydrated, Numbing, Energetic

See it if 3 black men doing calisthenics, singing and drinking lots of water, obscurely mirroring Kafka are your cup of tea

Don't see it if experimental theatre of the absurd is not your metier, need to feel more connected to what's being presented

During previews
Didn’t know what it was about.

See it if You appreciate works in orogress.

Don't see it if You want coherent story.

During previews
Resonant, Thought-provoking, Absorbing

See it if you're interested in seeing a powerful, movement-heavy piece examining ideas of power, patriarchy and punishment in society.

Don't see it if you need a linear, fully developed plot in order to understand a play rather than something that tends to be more conceptual overall.

During previews
Could be tighter, Intelligent, Intense, Edgy, Ambitious

See it if You like Kafka. You like movement and drive. These are very talented actors in a small space made even smaller by the staging.

Don't see it if you want a serene afternoon. you want straight narrative. You dont want to have to think.

Also The concept of this production was very interesting. It was not always... Read more Read less

During previews
Stylized, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intelligent

See it if you appreciate efforts to create a new vocabulary with non-traditional story lines and dialogue: a visceral exploration of imprisonment.

Don't see it if you prefer linear plots that are entertaining, easy to follow and not confusing.

During previews
Engages the head but neither heart nor nerve, High-concept

See it if Physical tragedy instead of physical comedy. Actors and production team completely on point.

Don't see it if dislike when playwrights announce "why I wrote this play," undercutting what should be self-evident.

Also Story & dialogue not significantly rewritten except that Kafka’s tatto... Read more Read less

During previews
Thought-provoking, Intense, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if You enjoy strong devised/physical theatre and slightly enigmatic scene work. You want a piece investigating the black Male experience.

Don't see it if You need clear text or a linear narrative. You want something light and fluffy.

During previews
Challenging, Impressionistic, Nonlinear, Nightmarish

See it if You enjoy shows that make you think, that present disturbing aspects of life.

Don't see it if You prefer shows that clearly tell a story. This one is open to interpretation.

Also I really enjoyed the singing and stepping, but now I feel guilty about... Read more Read less

During previews
Thought-provoking, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if This was more performance art than play, but it was really well put together, and the performers were excellent

Don't see it if You're looking for a well developed plot or traditional linear structure

During previews
Relevant, Profound, Absorbing

See it if you're interested in a new interpretation of Kafka's story

Don't see it if you're looking for a traditional play

During previews
Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Banal

See it if You enjoy choreography and nonsensical dialogue.

Don't see it if You expect to understand the point of Kafka’s treatise, or this production, until the very end.

During previews
Great lighting, Poorly written script, Relevant, Great acting, Confusing

See it if The topic of penal system

Don't see it if Experimental theatre

During previews
Excruciating, Disappointing

See it if you're friendly with someone working on the production and what to support young artists.

Don't see it if if you're expecting a nuanced portrait of incarcerated black Americans. The piece, unfortunately, fails at challenging its audience.

During previews
Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great acting

See it if you want to see three energetic actors who are perfectly in sync with each other.

Don't see it if if you prefer plays that are rich in dialogue. This is a short play that does a better job of “showing” rather than “telling”.

During previews
Relevant, Thought-provoking, Edgy

See it if you are interested in very theater. With energetic Actors. It’s a very physical performance.

Don't see it if you want to go to a traditional show. This is not one. It takes almost 15 minutes before the first word of dialogue is broken.

During previews
Annoying, Repetitive, Loud, Ambitious

See it if you enjoy Theater of the Absurd.

Don't see it if you want a playwright's messages presented in a more nuanced manner.

Also Theater of the Absurd has never been my cup of tea so taking a deep di... Read more Read less

During previews
Thought-provoking, Great staging, Relevant, Ambitious

See it if You appreciate seeing a loose interpretation of the Kafka story in a new, contemporary context.

Don't see it if You are a purist and want a full dramatization of the original text.

During previews
Thought-provoking, Confusing, Great acting, Great staging, Great singing

See it if into a strong, poetic if underdeveloped allegory about the black experience

Don't see it if allergic to WTF shows; this is, to a degree, performance art.

Also An allegory comparing the black experience to being in a penal colony,... Read more Read less

During previews
Challenging, Intense, Riveting, Intelligent, Absorbing

See it if I found it challenging to understand completely but visually is outstanding and captivating. The actors give totally and truthfully.

Don't see it if It feels experimental and challenging and this may be too much work for some audience members.

During previews
Mild, Slow, Confusing

See it if You enjoy physical shows, are curious about new shows

Don't see it if You don't enjoy physical acting or (in one instance) any kind of bodily fluids, or don't care for repetition (although used to make a point)

Also I, at least got a hint of the message, the writer's take on the ongoin... Read more Read less

During previews
Confusing, Ambitious

See it if if you like very obscure, contemporary, performance arty and symbolic plays.

Don't see it if if you want a straight forward, understandable play with a message.

During previews
Thought-provoking, Resonant, Relevant, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if You are excited by intense, physical work about charged political issues.

Don't see it if You are deterred by nonlinear theatre or want a more traditional plotline.

During previews
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Profound, Relevant, Great acting

See it if You like highly physical theatre with athletic and gripping movement sequences, excellent acting, and captivating/eerie design

Don't see it if You are looking for a traditional narrative structure/adaptation of Kafka’s story.

Also This show left me thinking about the various forms that the consumptio... Read more Read less

“In the Penal Colony” hasn't been reviewed by any Critics (yet!)

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Cast & Creatives (3)