Fucking A

Theater, Drama
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Fucking A
Photograph: Courtesy Joan Marcus

Theater review by Raven Snook

First produced in 2000 and now being revived at the Signature, Fucking A—one of two plays that Suzan-Lori Parks penned as riffs on The Scarlet Letter—owes more to Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera than to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel. It’s an expressionistic and politically charged exploration of class, family and violence, studded with jarring bursts of humor and song.

In a dystopian society, abortionist Hester Smith (Christine Lahti, heartbreaking) labors to save up enough money to buy freedom for her son, who has spent decades in prison for stealing food as a child. Stymied by Kafkaesque obstacles, she grows obsessed with revenge against those she holds responsible: the mayor (Marc Kudisch, so evil you want to boo him) and his wife (Elizabeth Stanley). Also involved are bounty hunters, Hester’s prostitute BFF, a lovestruck butcher, an escaped convict (the riveting Brandon Victor Dixon) and an invented language. Also, the actors play their own instruments!

That may sound like a lot—and it is. But although director Jo Bonney struggles to establish a cohesive tone, Fucking A’s alternations between pain and entertainment are never boring. Like Hester’s bloodily branded A, the play leaves an indelible mark.

Pershing Square Signature Center (Off Broadway). By Suzan-Lori Parks. Directed by Jo Bonney. With Christine Lahti. Running time: 2hrs 15mins. One intermission. Through Oct 1.

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By: Raven Snook

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Event phone: 212-244-7529
Event website: https://www.signaturetheatre.org
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