Southern Promises
Closed 1h 20m
Southern Promises

Southern Promises NYC Reviews and Tickets

(17 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. 

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Member Reviews (17)

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688 Reviews | 116 Followers
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

468 Reviews | 121 Followers
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

469 Reviews | 54 Followers
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.

441 Reviews | 72 Followers
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.

334 Reviews | 67 Followers
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

96 Reviews | 10 Followers
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.

32 Reviews | 8 Followers
Overrated, Disappointing, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if You like simple slave narratives.

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

24 Reviews | 10 Followers
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...

Critic Reviews (12)

The New York Times
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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Theatre is Easy
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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Front Row Center
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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Times Square Chronicles
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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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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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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