We are in for a bracing year of serious-minded theater in New York City if the first two offerings of the 2017-2018 season at the Signature and Atlantic theater companies are any indication.
The searing Fucking A, by Suzan-Lori Parks at the Signature, one of two “riffs” by Parks on The Scarlet Letter, dates to 2001. [The second of these “Red Letter Plays,” In the Blood, is also at the Signature; will see that later this month.] The “scarlet letter” of the play is an “A” for abortionist; the setting is anywhere/anytime and universal.
Simon Stephens’s tie-your-stomach-in-knots On the Shore of the Wide World at the Atlantic was first produced in London in 2005. The play traces three generations of a grief-stricken family in what would seem to be genetically-induced emotional turmoil.
Both plays resonate with the graceful language of classics.
The casts are excellent, as is the direction (Jo Bonney, Fucking A; Neil Pepe, On the Shore). On the Shore could use trimming and refining in the second act, and several of the American actors would do well to tone down the British accents, but that shouldn’t stop you. In both cases, be prepared. In your gut.
© 2017; Ira Mayer.