Closed 1h 20m
Southern Promises
Soho/Tribeca
77

Southern Promises NYC Reviews and Tickets

77%
(17 Reviews)
Positive
82%
Mixed
12%
Negative
6%
Members say
Thought-provoking, Intense, Edgy, Resonant, Profound

About the Show

Provocateur Thomas Bradshaw revisits his incendiary 2008 play "Southern Promises" in a new production helmed by The Flea’s Artistic Director, Niegel Smith. 

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Member Reviews (17)

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76
Resonant, Thought-provoking, Edgy, Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if Never one for subtly, early Bradshaw slavery drama is raw, transgressive, violent, powerful Well acted by the "Bats", w/Rivera standing out

Don't see it if Despite potent message, it's often heavyhanded & veers into melodrama "N word" & graphic sexual situations used w/abandon but in context

80
Bradshaw's in-your-face melodrama of sexual abuse of slaves

See it if Bradshaw is never subtle about portraying sex on stage but he's been more clever. Behavior of the masters is shocking tho the drama is inert

Don't see it if Simulated sex, whipping, murder, verbal abuse separated by Bob Dylan interludes. The plantation backdrop looms tensely aslant over the stage

Critic Reviews (12)

March 24th, 2019

“Bradshaw blurs the line between deliberate artlessness and accidental ineptness to such a degree that it’s hard to tell if the dialogue is meant to be as bland and clunky as it often is...He isn’t interested in complex psychologizing, and the people onstage often make no sense...The actors are ill-equipped to handle the play’s tricky tone...But Mr. Bradshaw’s flatness is also free of judgment, which does not give characters or the audience any easy way out."
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March 24th, 2019

“There are still elements of brutality in this revival, but they are mitigated by director Smith's inert production...The Bats are a company of young volunteer performers, and Smith has not been able to curtail the overacting that comes naturally with such a troupe...Smith's staging is surprisingly sluggish considering how Bradshaw writes in short, staccato scenes...The completely changed ending is also stronger in how it portrays the persistent allure of exploitation."
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April 1st, 2019

"Set in the antebellum on a slave plantation, the lines between masters and slaves should be clearly defined in Bradshaw's melodrama in which rape, infanticide, murder, torture and lynching all play a part in the highly charged events. In Smith's production, one has to keep reminding one's self who the white and black characters are meant to be which turns the play into a sort of PC charade. Visually we are not seeing what we are told we are witnessing."
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March 31st, 2019

“Bradshaw’s play is provocative and upsetting...The way that Bradshaw details slavery's horror makes it utterly hopeless...The production is relentless. Every actor in this ensemble is fearless and unapologetic as they tell a story that is obviously very personal to them...Smith brilliantly creates a Brechtian sensibility to remind us that what we are watching is just a play...Bradshaw’s script is so dark and hopeless...And yet...Deep down, I understand that it is necessary.”
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March 26th, 2019

"The show does not let up. There is no intermission and no mercy...The text of the show points out that many of us have heritages that are all mixed up – African and European ancestors decorate most of our trees simultaneously. Our pasts are not blameless. The cast of this show is only people of color to drive the point further to your marrow...Go see this show. It will open your heart to a conversation that should be had out loud."
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April 2nd, 2019

“The Bats and Niegel Smith the director have altered the script and for the most part the play is better, however the moments of over acting and the plodding staging makes this play dull. With rape, miscegenation, infanticide, lynching and complete human mistreatment this play should have grabbed our attention...What is smart is Jason Sherwood’s set...Oddly Smith and sound designer have set each scene to classic rock, in which the actors dance to.”
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T
April 10th, 2019

“It’s unsettling to watch the play...This revised version of ‘Southern Promises’ is like a mini-'Roots,' going beyond the systemic racism that has been America’s shame for four hundred years to reveal how the concept of race and its power corrupts even the seemingly most well meaning of people. The night I attended, an awkward, uneasy moment at the curtain call uncovered society’s continuing pain...This country still has a lot of work to do.”
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T
March 24th, 2019

“I’m not convinced that ‘Southern Promises’ is a revival that accomplishes anything more than theatrical shocks...This play speaks frankly and roughly throughout...There are moments that are memorable. There are definitely scenes that are shocking, as intended. Without a consistent tone, the subject matter gets diluted and grinds to an anticlimactic finish. This revival does not make a case for the play as important as the troubled history it wants us to aggressively confront.”
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M
March 24th, 2019

“This is not a show to be enjoyed. It's a play that confronts us and ignites our consciousness causing us shame, indignation and immense pain for the plague of our nation's slavery history but for the perseverance of injustice and oppression regarding race and sexual abuse...It elicits strong emotions and reflections. Nor is this a redemptive play but an ensnaring and overtly political work imbued with rage and the hope of breaking the cycle of racial hatred and persecution.”
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April 2nd, 2019

"Not for the faint of heart...The writing and direction of this raw play are most arresting in the moments of violence, and in the moments when the unctuous misapplication of Scripture screams hypocrisy...This play reminds us that we must not be allowed to cover over the ugly wounds that still fester from the abuses of slavery and its lingering aftermath...For those who have the courage to confront the ugly realities of the past, this production is worthy of your consideration.”
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April 10th, 2019

“It’s still got it...After all these years ‘Southern Promises’ confirmed what fans and critics of Bradshaw’s work have accused of doing…and I think that’s exactly the point. On the surface, ‘Southern Promises’ is a simple emancipation story...The story twists with contradiction...The actors sparkle, shock, delight...Smith and Bradshaw teamed up to rewrite the ending and it left me wanting more...His tales tend to be brief, brutal, silly, sad, and overflowing with contradictions…like life.”
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F
April 9th, 2019

"Non-traditional casting does not detract from the incendiary nature and forcefulness of the script...This production...did have some challenges in the southern, antebellum accents...And some of the simulated, sexually explicit scenes didn’t really move the story forward and seemed gratuitous in nature...Though ‘Southern Promises’ is an incendiary drama with racially sensitive language and scenes, Bradshaw should be congratulated for telling it like it was.”
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