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Matata and Jesse James: An American Tragedy

Members say: Relevant, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting

About the show

The Castillo Theatre presents a new drama which draws on folklore and the historical record to tell the bitter tale of America during the Reconstruction Era.

... Read more

'Matata and Jesse James' juxtaposes two Missouri families - that of Matata, a former African American slave, with that of of Jesse James, known as a friend to the poor who'd fought for the Confederacy. Can these poor Americans find common ground in the Civil War’s aftermath? The color line runs deep through our country's history and culture.



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80
New York Theatre Wire

"Friedman touches the raw nerve of race relations in American history which has not been fully resolved yet...The production is very handsome...Woods Jr. directed this production with obvious care for detail. He maintains pace and rhythm of the scenes and uses space quite ingeniously...Solid cast...Each maintains distinct a characterization and together they create a microcosm of the vast American social landscape during and post-Civil War that resonates still today." Full Review


100
Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant

See it if you love plays that have a historical message with a socio-political relevance to today.

Don't see it if you don't like plays that dealswith socio-political issues.

90
James untamed

See it if Great nugget of fictionalized era. Two fine leads. Smart production design.

Don't see it if Chairs bound together. Difficult to escape neighbors. Choose an aisle.

Also Choose the right entrance and get a better view of the sweeping backgr... Read more Read less

89
Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you are interested in historical dramas, especially the Reconstruction Era. You like plays that explore racial issues in this country.

Don't see it if you are looking for lighter fare or are deeply offended by a few n-words.

Also The play includes actors performing authentic period music, although i... Read more Read less

88
Absorbing, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Historical story with compelling resonances for right now.

See it if You'd like a compelling tale set after the Civil War ended but the racial divide never did. In modern dress, this could be a 2018 story.

Don't see it if You can't face the fact that many of the problems of race, class, and poverty after the Civil War are still with us today.

84
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You want some interesting background on Matata, Jessie James and Billy the Kid. You want to see that some things are hard to change.

Don't see it if You are not interested in historical pieces. You are not interested in what was happening in American during the Reconstruction Era.

Also Although this was not a musical I truly enjoyed what little singing th... Read more Read less

82
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you enjoy a fascinating drama about life after Reconstruction.era. Very powerful and original. Excellent acting and staging.

Don't see it if you not like dialogue about struggles between blacks and whites. Very frank words on both sides.

Also There are two sets of rows for seating and action takes place mainly o... Read more Read less

82
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You enjoy small intimate theatre productions and historical themed plays.

Don't see it if You want a romping musical and don't want to see a play about Jesse James and race relations in the Reconstruction era.

82
Enchanting, Great acting, Slow, Great staging

See it if You're interested in history. You want to feel what the Confederacy was really about.

Don't see it if Well it's a bit slow.

81
Absorbing, Ambitious, Intelligent, Relevant, Slow

See it if you like a historical drama about an important subject and can tolerate some (not all) sub-par acting and somewhat sluggish directing.

Don't see it if you want things polished and perfect.

80
Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You are interested in the experiences of different types of people in the Civil War era that molded them into who they are

Don't see it if Issues of race and class disturb you, no interest in history, need a large production

79
Ambitious, Clever

See it if Intriging themes and characters interest you.

Don't see it if You have no imagination.

79
Clever, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great staging

See it if you'd like to contemplate relationships of the Civil War era and juxtapose them to current times. Some standout acting.

Don't see it if you cannot appreciate the possible tug and pull of white-black relationships following the abolition of slavery and today's continuance.

76
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Relevant

See it if you have an interest in American history as it pertains to the Civil War and it's aftermath.

Don't see it if you are not interested in historical plays.

75
Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Slow, Historically interesting

See it if you have an interest in the civil war period of US history and if you are curious about Jesse James and his role as a Southern patriot.

Don't see it if you have no patience for slowly unfolding stories.

75
Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Interesting set

See it if you would like to know more about the infamous James brothers, train & bank robbers. There is aslo racism with Civil War overtures.

Don't see it if you expect a story that holds your attention and captivates your interest.

75
Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant, Great staging

See it if you like historical stories, excellent acting.

Don't see it if you don't like straight-ahead storytelling, unconventional staging/production.

Also Many good things about this show, but was missing a climactic moment, ... Read more Read less

75
Thought-provoking, Resonant, Historical, Great staging, Heart-felt

See it if you are interested in black-white relationships right after the Civil War and especially Jesse James' family conflicts.

Don't see it if you don't like history or dramatic plays.

75
Great acting, Relevant, Not bad, Not a must see

See it if You’re interested in the Civil War and or black history

Don't see it if You’re not interested in the Civil War and or black history

75
Clever, Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you are interested in a historical view of the past related to present time th

Don't see it if you are not interested in historical plays

74
Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if You want to see something historical that’s relevant today

Don't see it if You get annoyed when some actors don’t project and enunciate their words.

74
Clever, Intelligent, Intense, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you want to see relevant focus on race relations from the Civil War and which can apply to today.

Don't see it if you only are interested in mindless performances.

73
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if You would like to see imagine another side to Jesse James in reference to social issues of the time.

Don't see it if You want to see a more historical play.

71
Intelligent, Relevant, Surface

See it if You enjoy mid-1800s period pieces that take place in rural America; also if you are a fan of the Jesse James lore.

Don't see it if You want to be provoked by deeper questions that stimulates further; the show is solid but fails to build on analysis of its strong themes.

71
Ambitious, Entertaining

See it if The play was adequate.Matata was really quite good as well as Jesse James.The story itself was questionable at best.

Don't see it if if you don't like historical figures as well as black history info.

70
Absorbing, Slow, Historical, Informative

See it if You want an America’s historic drama with some songs.

Don't see it if If your looking for an upbeat musical


Cast & Creatives (3)