Already closed | 1h 20m | Soho/Tribeca

Southern Promises

From 17 member  reviews
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.  More…

On his deathbed, a plantation owner vows to set his slaves free, but when his wife rejects the request chaos erupts on the plantation. Based on slave narratives and featuring an all PoC company of actors, "Southern Promises" is an examination of the deeply disturbing and utterly corrupting power of American slavery and its lasting grip on our country’s hearts and institutions.

Member Reviews (17)


Thought-provoking, Intense, Edgy, Resonant, Profound
Avg Score

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

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

Indulgent, Intense, Excruciating, Disappointing, Banal

See it if you enjoy the audacity of shows at The Flea. Even when I don't like a show, I feel that my horizons have been broadened.

Don't see it if you object to excessive violence on stage and expect well developed characters.

Relevant, Profound, Edgy

See it if enjoy a well-written play highlighting past issues that still exist today though in a different format. Casted non-traditionally.

Don't see it if need well-rounded characters - many are just characters.

Uneven, Disturbing, Bold

See it if you like Bradshaw's work, his ability to make an audience uncomfortable by creating awkward scenes, and deadpan 'flat' melodramatic dialog.

Don't see it if violence, sex & nudity on stage offends you (sometimes art is all about getting offended, go with the experience!), or expect deeper dialog

Thought-provoking, Intense, Edgy, Great staging, Ambitious

See it if you like theatre that makes you think, upsets your view of the world.

Don't see it if you're easily made uncomfortable.

Dynamic nuanced direction, We become slaves and slave owners, Absorbing, Raw truth of slavery, Great acting

See it if you want to face the truth of living as a white slave owning family and slave family - if we that courage, maybe we can move on together

Don't see it if you can't handle a dramatization of the raw truths of our country's brutality, rape, forced sex by the powerful, injustice, and murder...

Overrated, Disappointing, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if You like simple slave narratives.

Don't see it if You like developed stories and characters.

Also The idea is great to have people of color playing all the roles. But t... Read more Read less

Great writing, Thought-provoking, Must see, Absorbing, Http://

See it if

Don't see it if There is no reason not to see Southern Promises

Resonant, Thought-provoking, Intense, Great acting, Edgy

See it if you want to see POC reclaim stories of slavery and the trauma that comes with it

Don't see it if you are easily made uncomfortable by scenes of graphic trauma, such as rape, domestic violence, and murder

Riveting, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Intense

See it if you want to confront our country's disturbing history through the lens of an all PoC cast

Don't see it if you are easily provoked by graphic content

Intense, Resonant, Relevant, Profound, Intelligent

See it if You want a bit of a punch in the gut about the state of race in our recent history. It 's a tough show but well worth the pain

Don't see it if You don't want to see how horrid some humans can be when it comes to racial issues

Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Profound

See it if Will leave you pondering your own identity and relationship to America’s original sin. The novel staging with an all POC cast is a must see

Don't see it if Don’t see if you don’t like thought provoking theater. This is not nice theater- it’s meant to make you feel uncomfortable.

Clever, Intense, Thought-provoking, Profound, Great staging

See it if You want to see history come to life.

Don't see it if You are easily disturbed by abuse.

Also The show was masterfully put together on all fronts. The directing of ... Read more Read less

Disappointing, Underwhelming, Unresolved, Lazy, Irresponsible

See it if If you enjoy lazy storytelling, irresponsible casting, and watching "volunteer" actors do work that seems exploitative.

Don't see it if If you're tired of the same old slavery narrative. If you're tired of theaters using shock to sell tickets.

Also The show is about slavery, big shock. I didn't leave the theater with ... Read more Read less

During previews
Important, Uneven, Outrageous, Farcical, Diffuse

See it if you'd like to see the revival of an important play about the relations between slave & master in the pre-emancipation US South.

Don't see it if you prefer characters to cartoons.

Also “Southern Promises” (2008) appeared before a spate of new plays dealin... Read more Read less

During previews
Thought-provoking, Ambitious, Edgy

See it if you want to see a production as formally provocative as Thomas Bradshaw's writing.

Don't see it if you dislike uncomfortable and disturbing theatrical experiences

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 i...
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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 surprising...
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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 w...
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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 creat...
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