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In the Blood

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In this modern day riff on The Scarlet Letter, Hester La Negrita, a homeless mother of five, lives with her kids on the tough streets of the inner city. Her eldest child is teaching her how to read and write, but the letter "A" is, so far, the only letter she knows. Her five kids are named Jabber, Bully, Trouble, Beauty and Baby, and the characters are played by adult acto In this modern day riff on The Scarlet Letter, Hester La Negrita, a homeless mother of five, lives with her kids on the tough streets of the inner city. Her eldest child is teaching her how to read and write, but the letter "A" is, so far, the only letter she knows. Her five kids are named Jabber, Bully, Trouble, Beauty and Baby, and the characters are played by adult actors who double as five other people in Hester's life: her ex-boyfriend, her social worker, her doctor, her best friend and her minister. While Hester's kids fill her life with joy —lovingly comical moments amid the harsh world of poverty — the adults with whom she comes into contact only hold her back. Nothing can stop the play's tragic end.


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In this modern day riff on The Scarlet Letter, Hester La Negrita, a homeless mother of five, lives with her kids on the tough streets of the inner city. Her eldest child is teaching her how to read and write, but the letter "A" is, so far, the only letter she knows. Her five kids are named Jabber, Bully, Trouble, Beauty and Baby, and the characters are played by adult acto In this modern day riff on The Scarlet Letter, Hester La Negrita, a homeless mother of five, lives with her kids on the tough streets of the inner city. Her eldest child is teaching her how to read and write, but the letter "A" is, so far, the only letter she knows. Her five kids are named Jabber, Bully, Trouble, Beauty and Baby, and the characters are played by adult actors who double as five other people in Hester's life: her ex-boyfriend, her social worker, her doctor, her best friend and her minister. While Hester's kids fill her life with joy —lovingly comical moments amid the harsh world of poverty — the adults with whom she comes into contact only hold her back. Nothing can stop the play's tragic end.

30 review for In the Blood

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    This is the first Suzan-Lori Parks play that I've read, and I enjoyed it well enough to want to read more. Besides the obvious relation to The Scarlet Letter (the protagonists sharing a first name, and the letter "A" appearing repeatedly, though in a different context) there were also ties to other classic works [*Spoiler alert* skip to the next paragraph if you're up on your greek drama--I had Medea flashbacks in the second to last scene as well as the use of a greek style chorus for the prolog This is the first Suzan-Lori Parks play that I've read, and I enjoyed it well enough to want to read more. Besides the obvious relation to The Scarlet Letter (the protagonists sharing a first name, and the letter "A" appearing repeatedly, though in a different context) there were also ties to other classic works [*Spoiler alert* skip to the next paragraph if you're up on your greek drama--I had Medea flashbacks in the second to last scene as well as the use of a greek style chorus for the prologue and epilogue] A good read, and I'm sure great in production. Not for the faint of heart, between the language and some graphic scenes. The tragedy really unfolds as you discover the pattern, that all of these people, even those who should know better or be above such behavior, continuously just abuse this poor woman. She can't catch a break, and the saddest part of all is that that is a reality for a lot of people in our country.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    This was a thought- provoking and well- written play, but I felt that the ending was abrupt and seemed very out- of character in terms of Hester's actions (don't want to give anything away!). I think that Parks creates a compelling vision of the enduring themes of "The Scarlet Letter" in today's society. She raises several issues about family, women's rights, poverty and the influences that lead someone to commit a crime, to which our society still has few satisfying answers. This was a thought- provoking and well- written play, but I felt that the ending was abrupt and seemed very out- of character in terms of Hester's actions (don't want to give anything away!). I think that Parks creates a compelling vision of the enduring themes of "The Scarlet Letter" in today's society. She raises several issues about family, women's rights, poverty and the influences that lead someone to commit a crime, to which our society still has few satisfying answers.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Dorothea

    4 out of 5 stars! ⭐️ Such an interesting play! I could not really get into the plot though and the characters were a little too special, meaning too made-up for my taste... 😊🤭📖

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Billed as a modern remake of The Scarlet Letter, In the Blood instead reminded me more of a modern-day satire on the minstrel shows of old. I watched White Christmas a few days after reading In the Blood, and Hester, the main character of the play, reminded me a good deal of Mamie, White Christmas’ version of the stereotypical maid of early Hollywood. After finishing In the Blood, I read some commentary about the play, because I wanted to understand what I was missing, and my takeaway was that, Billed as a modern remake of The Scarlet Letter, In the Blood instead reminded me more of a modern-day satire on the minstrel shows of old. I watched White Christmas a few days after reading In the Blood, and Hester, the main character of the play, reminded me a good deal of Mamie, White Christmas’ version of the stereotypical maid of early Hollywood. After finishing In the Blood, I read some commentary about the play, because I wanted to understand what I was missing, and my takeaway was that, like other modern plays, I am not sufficiently part of the ‘intelligentsia’ to understand the play. Yes, I respect Ms. Parks’s use of classical structure and style, but the play exists so much in structure and commentary that there’s a weak emotional core. As a theatregoer, I don’t require these post-modern bells and whistles: focus on the characters, on the story, on the emotion, to make a point rather than cardboard character tropes and overly-pointed social commentary. Not recommended.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Grace Leneghan

    A very tragic play inspired by The Scarlet Letter and Medea, two of my favorite stories; however, I found In The Blood more frustrating than moving. I was so enraged by every character, there was not one person who was remotely redeemable, including Hester herself. She was used and abused by those in her life who she should be able to trust and confide in, yet I found myself angry that she ultimately takes it out on her children and not her abusers. The ending feels like everyone else got away w A very tragic play inspired by The Scarlet Letter and Medea, two of my favorite stories; however, I found In The Blood more frustrating than moving. I was so enraged by every character, there was not one person who was remotely redeemable, including Hester herself. She was used and abused by those in her life who she should be able to trust and confide in, yet I found myself angry that she ultimately takes it out on her children and not her abusers. The ending feels like everyone else got away with their actions except for her. I think the biggest victims here are her children, and one of their fates is so heartbreaking that it quite frankly makes me want to hate this play. Yet, I do see how cleverly Parks is able to weave the characters around Hester to the point that they completely disavow her humanity. It is simply a modern day tragedy.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    My second time reading this play and boy is it as harrowingly powerful as I remembered it. In some ways, among Park’s most straightforward plays in terms of genre experimentation, but its ingenious use of double casting and painful “confessions” only further drive home how painfully fucked Hester, La Negrita, our protagonist is by a world that constantly seeks to use her and disavow her humanity.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Vee

    Amazing! Suzan-Lori Parks isn't afraid of touching upon the subjects that other playwrights may not like to get too close to exposing. Parks has been inspired by The Scarlet Letter & it is a very strong vision of such inspiration. Although I was not a big fan of The Scarlet Letter in high school, this is definitely ten times better. Recommend! Amazing! Suzan-Lori Parks isn't afraid of touching upon the subjects that other playwrights may not like to get too close to exposing. Parks has been inspired by The Scarlet Letter & it is a very strong vision of such inspiration. Although I was not a big fan of The Scarlet Letter in high school, this is definitely ten times better. Recommend!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lukas

    Honestly, I did not expect the ending for some reason. I do love this play, and I am glad we are doing it at my university next year! A contemporary retelling of "The Scarlet Letter." Very chilling. I am not usually a fan of monologues, however, Parks seems to craft them well to invoke emotion well through my cold, dead heart. Honestly, I did not expect the ending for some reason. I do love this play, and I am glad we are doing it at my university next year! A contemporary retelling of "The Scarlet Letter." Very chilling. I am not usually a fan of monologues, however, Parks seems to craft them well to invoke emotion well through my cold, dead heart.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Not sure what to rate it so i'll just give it 4 stars. It was written really creatively. The scenes were far from what I imagined and the ending escalated rather quickly. An interesting read to say the least. Not sure what to rate it so i'll just give it 4 stars. It was written really creatively. The scenes were far from what I imagined and the ending escalated rather quickly. An interesting read to say the least.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    This is what the Scarlet Letter should have been.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Jackson

    This play was interesting, but not overly compelling. An interesting take on "The Scarlet Letter." This play was interesting, but not overly compelling. An interesting take on "The Scarlet Letter."

  12. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    What a play! A brilliant adaptation of The Scarlet Letter, set in impoverished modern America. Class, race, and gender roles all get thoughtfully examined.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kristian

    One of the plays I teach. Some almost great plays have sucky endings. This is one of them.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Adams

    With In the Blood Suzan-Lori Parks offers a shocking and bloody modern version of The Scarlet Letter. Her work is utterly memorable.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Thiel

    The last book I'll ever have to read in high school! The last book I'll ever have to read in high school!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Read for African-American lit!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Katelyn

    strange play. Some of it makes sense but my have to reread it at somepoint.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nell Fitts

    What an AmAzing story! Extremely interesting and tough story matter but incredible. I would love to see this on the stage.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lorma Doone

    Woof. Just Woof. I don't exactly remember how The Scarlet Letter ends, but I can guarantee this ending is worse. Woof. Just Woof. I don't exactly remember how The Scarlet Letter ends, but I can guarantee this ending is worse.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    Obviously inspired by "The Scarlet Letter", this play concerns Hester La Negrita, the homeless mother of five. I'd love to see this play staged, as the adult actors who portray the five children also enact the roles of adults who cross Hester's path. These adults, such as a pastor and a welfare worker, should be helping Hester, but instead use her for their own purposes, sending her life even more out of control. As in her other plays, Parks employs humor and violence equally well, and is never Obviously inspired by "The Scarlet Letter", this play concerns Hester La Negrita, the homeless mother of five. I'd love to see this play staged, as the adult actors who portray the five children also enact the roles of adults who cross Hester's path. These adults, such as a pastor and a welfare worker, should be helping Hester, but instead use her for their own purposes, sending her life even more out of control. As in her other plays, Parks employs humor and violence equally well, and is never less than thought-provoking.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Liralen

    Zwischen zwei und drei Sterne. Gut geschrieben, aber ich fand die Geschichte sehr schwer (nicht total ein schlechtes Ding!)—wäre es nicht interessanter/komplizierter, wenn nicht der ganze Konflikt (oder der Missbrauch) sexuell wäre? Ich möchte immer noch Fucking A auch lesen...nach ein Paar Komödien oder leichter Stücke. Zwischen zwei und drei Sterne. Gut geschrieben, aber ich fand die Geschichte sehr schwer (nicht total ein schlechtes Ding!)—wäre es nicht interessanter/komplizierter, wenn nicht der ganze Konflikt (oder der Missbrauch) sexuell wäre? Ich möchte immer noch Fucking A auch lesen...nach ein Paar Komödien oder leichter Stücke.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    I read this for my Theater class, and it was a very powerful story. I was going to give this a four, but the song inside was absolutely charming and really helped me get a better feel for the play (and how heartbreaking it is meant to be). I wish I could watch it somewhere, but for now I have my imagination.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sydney

    One of the most thought provoking and stunning plays I've ever read. It rips you to pieces and forces you to look at preconceived judgments and institutionalized racism inside of you. This is a play dealing with humanity and the lack of it in our society currently. Just absolutely brilliant. One of the most thought provoking and stunning plays I've ever read. It rips you to pieces and forces you to look at preconceived judgments and institutionalized racism inside of you. This is a play dealing with humanity and the lack of it in our society currently. Just absolutely brilliant.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Goldman

    Yet again, Suzan Lori-Parks molds a masterful and poignant play. Although an adaptation of The Scarlet Letter, it’s direction is very dissimilar(in an incredibly cool way)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Wef200

    3.5

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jaylynn

    It is very difficult to form a coherent review of this play

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alexis Shumate

    This was written really well and was very original. I thought Suzan-Lori Parks wrote sexual abuse accurately, but I just didn't like the plot or the quick ending. This was written really well and was very original. I thought Suzan-Lori Parks wrote sexual abuse accurately, but I just didn't like the plot or the quick ending.

  28. 4 out of 5

    R. L. Carlo

    Official Rating: 5/5 stars 🌟

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michael Kocher

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kalli

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