National Black Theatre and Hi-ARTS present a remounting of Liza Jessie Peterson's solo piece about the prison industrial complex and the racial disparities that feed the draconian system. More…
With more than 2.5 million people behind bars, America is the world’s leading prison superpower. 'The Peculiar Patriot' follows Betsy LaQuanda Ross as she makes regular visits to penitentiaries to boost the morale of her incarcerated friends and family, navigating love between barbed wire. As she shares neighborhood updates, gossip, and reminisces about family, Betsy delivers a shrewd indictment of the criminal justice system, with a heavy dose of humor to boot. 'The Peculiar Patriot' examines the human impact and inhuman machinery of mass incarceration.
"The best way to truly care about a nation is to heal it, and Peterson’s solo play about black love, female friendship, and the perversions of state power is a gorgeous part of that work. It also happens to be a visual marvel and a masterful example of character creation...In this rich, sweet, hilarious production, Peterson illuminates what life in the U.S. is like now that mass incarceration has so handily disenfranchised some and enriched others...The takeaway is her astonishing warmth." Full Review
“Peterson is so absorbing in her portrayal...All of the people mentioned come to life in our imagination, or by character changes as Peterson, helped by sound effects and projections also portrays Pablo and Curtis...Intense and deeply moving, Peterson keeps the tale from becoming depressing by including a lot of humor. The story rings true, not only because of the exceptional writing, acting, and directing, but because Peterson brings real-life experience to the tale.” Full Review
"The monologue seems most like a personal share...All together, it is some of the best multi-media combined with performance seen this year...She shifts effortlessly, playing Betsy, Pablo, and Curtis. Though there are moments of humor, the actress often finds a desperation beyond comprehension...Director Talvin Wilks guides the audience carefully through each moment...It’s too warm to be chilling, too poetic to be bleak, and too honest to be forgotten." Full Review
“Peterson goes full-on Anna Deavere Smith in adopted body language, facial expressions, vocal intonations, emotional range, and expert timing. Not easy to do and sustain but, she's brilliantly on point at every turn...Peterson holds your attention...Alone, the living, breathing, ebulliently colorful person at the center of this machine. That's as it should be...Many unfortunate, outrageous things ’The Peculiar Patriot’ informs us about as it entertains us." Full Review
"Sitting in the audience and listening to Peterson, it suddenly felt like a light went on somewhere. A bright light revealing all the capitalism and dirty deeds that go on behind making sure that prisons are filled with Black inmates...This play teaches you to never judge someone...Peterson’s portrayal of the various characters is mesmerizing...This play has superb, spot-on direction by Talvin Wilks...Peterson isn’t just talking the talk—this lady has walked the walk!" Full Review
“A play about the human toll of mass incarceration on the communities that it inordinately affects...From the vantage point of a one woman show, Peterson captures the difficulty in staying connected to those who are encouraged to be forgotten...’The Peculiar Patriot’ is a searing indictment of the state of over-incarceration. It adds to the necessary discussion about how this needs to change.” Full Review
“The Peculiar Patriot doesn't have much in the way of dramatic action, and it turns a little preachy in its later passages. Then again, Peterson makes many penetrating points about a legal system in which prisons are for-profit enterprises often set up in struggling white communities...Even at its most dismaying, there's something joyful about Peterson's intensively detailed, deeply nuanced performance...She is a lively writer and an extraordinary performer with a vital story to tell." Full Review
"'The Peculiar Patriot' excels at visceral moments...even as it builds a strong case against the mass incarceration of African Americans...This is a comedy about a tragedy, and a patriotic call for reform...As both a writer and a performer, Ms. Peterson knows how to wield tenderness to leaven despair...The show is less successful when it is pointedly conveying political arguments or facts about incarceration." Full Review
“A timely, moving solo show…Despite the dark subject matter, LaQuanda is an appealing character to spend two hours with, and Peterson has a commanding presence…The show tackles a lot of big issues…All are certainly extremely important topics, but it felt like too much to tackle in less than two hours, especially with only one main character. Still, I admire Peterson’s voice and think ‘The Peculiar Patriot’ is an important piece, particularly now.” Full Review
"Peterson is a wonderful storyteller...Her delivery smooths over some of the rougher edges of her play, which vacillates between personal or second-hand stories and didactic monologues about the injustices of the system in which she lives...Theatrically speaking, 'The Peculiar Patriot' is aching for a stronger through line to drive home the emotional impact of the statistics and faceless stories Peterson puts forward as proof of a racially biased incarceration system." Full Review
See it if IF YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW WHAT GOES ON IN OUR PENAL SYSTEM.LIZA WAS TERRIFIC.TRUE TO HER AUDIENCE AND THE TRUTH.WONDERFUL SHOW.ATTEND THIS.
Don't see it if IF YOU REALLY BELIEVE IN THE AMERICAN JUDICIAL SYSTEM.THIS WILL BLOW YOUR IDEAS OUT OF THE WATER.HER CHARACTERS TELL IT LIKE IT IS.
See it if You want to see a tour de force from Liza Jessie Peterson. The writing is brilliant, her acting is amazing, and the topic is relevant.
Don't see it if don't want to confront the reality of mass incarceration and human effects of the prison-industrial complex.
See it if you want to see an honest play about the prison industrial complex and how it has affected people of color!
Don't see it if your head and mind is closed off to the hardships of people of color.
See it if If you want to know the real story of the African American experience in the US prison system. Excellent solo performance.
Don't see it if If you have no interest in African American culture and/or the prison system
See it if you want to gain unique insights about the criminal justice universe, you enjoy black culture vernacular ,you've never been to Harlem.
Don't see it if you're a social conservative, like traditional theatre interiors, can't accept criticisms of the criminal justice systems.
See it if This one woman show fills the entire theater. My attention never drifted from her flow of jokes. news, affection, gut wrenching information
Don't see it if You bury your head in the sand about human suffering in our country, and the government regulations that permit or encourage it to happen.
See it if You want to see an amazing one woman performance. You want to be thoroughly entertained. You want to be enlightened and hear some truths.
Don't see it if You want to be left in the dark about a lot of things. You want to miss out on an amazing performance. You don't want to hear some truths.
See it if you skipped 13TH because you're not into docs but you're willing to get informed while being thoroughly entertained by Liza Jessie Peterson
Don't see it if you insist on pretending that racism isn't institutionalized in our country via its prisons. (In which case, I hope a friend brings you.)
See it if You want to experience the stories of a somewhat forgotten sector of our society
Don't see it if You don't like one woman shows or are uncomfortable with stories about prison and crime
See it if you want to become enlightened about the deeply unfair, dehumanizing, damaging treatment of individuals who are trapped in our penal system.
Don't see it if are in denial about social injustice, or don't want to be part of a dialog — because to its credit NBT encourages audience discourse.
See it if interested in contemporary issues that have a negative impact on American society or the African American experience in prison system.
Don't see it if You don't like non-linear plays - you don't like one actor plays - not interested in African American experience in U.S. - vulgarity offends
See it if you want to see something that will simultaneously make you think and make you laugh. You have an interest in socio-political topics.
Don't see it if going to Harlem is not realistic for you, logistically. You do not like one-woman shows. Or you want a light, escapist night of theatre.
See it if After some breathless reviews, I was expecting to be blown away by this. It was fine: some strong moments, though didactic & often too slow
Don't see it if I appreciated the talkback afterwards, which was thoughtful, though wish the crowd had been given a choice on whether to stick around for it
See it if you like a well written show about the trials and tribulations of the criminal justice system with compelling acting and awesome set design.
Don't see it if you don't like to laugh or cry and you have no compassion for humanity.
See it if You like pieces that make you think.
Don't see it if You're looking for something to take your mind off of life. This show digs you deeper into the world, yourself and society.
See it if You are interested in intelligent, relevant theater exploring pressing social/political issues.
Don't see it if You don't like modern or relevant theater dealing with current themes.
See it if Although the preview we saw had technical difficulties and ended early, this is a tour de force show that we will go back and see again.
Don't see it if Don't like to hear that the USA is not entirely a 'shining city on a hill'
See it if One-woman show, several appealing characters, good writing/acting. Political (happily, not about Trump), important, insightful, even funny.
Don't see it if Heavy issues are not your "thing," even if made entertaining.
See it if you want to see an excellent actress bring prison visitation procedures to life while adding humor to her indictment of the "justice"system.
Don't see it if you don't have any interest in the criminal "justice" system or don't like one-person shows that last almost 2 hours without intermission.
See it if you are are interested in the US booming economy in the penal system and the slavery racket it has become for the disenfranchised.
Don't see it if you are off to jail soon or don't like one person shows, or if you dont like bad dramaturgy that is confusing.
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