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  Native Son Reviews
Native Son
Native Son

Native Son
Mosaic Theater Company at Atlas Performing Arts Center
Thru - Apr 28, 2019

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Mosaic Theater Company at Atlas Performing Arts Center

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Washington Post- Recommended

"...In stylized, dreamlike sequences, the performers sometimes execute choreographed movements that express either the social forces pitted against Bigger or else his panicked subjectivity. Sometimes, these images are too blunt or artificial. For example, an early moment in which onstage figures converge on Bigger, shoving him from all sides, seems to refer too explicitly to oppressive social realities. These conspicuous conceits aside, the storytelling moves fluidly at an adrenaline-fueled pace."
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Celia Wren



MetroWeekly- Highly Recommended

"...In Psalmayene 24’s charged staging of Native Son, adapted by Nambi E. Kelley from Richard Wright’s classic 1940 novel, 20-year old Bigger Thomas (Clayton Pelham, Jr.) has accepted his march towards violent criminality as a foregone conclusion. Poor and black, from Chicago’s South Side, Bigger can abide the hope of his mother Hannah (Lolita Marie) that he’ll rise out of Depression-era poverty through hard work and education. But he doesn’t genuinely believe that he nor any black man can labor himself to the American dream. Not in a nation where he’ll be constantly judged, constrained, and condemned by the color of his skin. Bigger thinks the world doesn’t expect a poor, black kid from the South Side to sprout wings and fly, so he won’t allow himself to hope as his mother might."

Andre Hereford



BroadwayWorld- Highly Recommended

"...Native Son is a heavy drama with an important story to tell. But what makes this production really shine is Psalmayene 24's guiding emphasis on "radicalizing empathy." In Mosaic Theater Company's production, the audience isn't asked to excuse Bigger, but to try to understand him. That understanding, that empathy, it's suggested, can go a long way in ensuring that the circumstances surrounding Bigger's story can maybe be kept in the past."
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Rachael Goldberg



DC Metro Theater Arts- Highly Recommended

"...Playwright/actor Nambi E. Kelley does the gargantuan job of brilliantly condensing a 400-page novel into a 90-minute whirlwind of interlocking fast-forwards and rewinds about Bigger Thomas, a Black man guilty of committing two murders. One is a rich, white girl that he is also falsely accused of raping. Her murder was an accident but the situation that Bigger finds himself in is a combination of poor life choices and circumstances beyond his control."
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Ramona Harper



DCTheatreScene- Somewhat Recommended

"...Mosaic Theater and Psalmayene 24 have put together a slam-bang production, long on dramatic tension, and when Kelley permits the narrative to move forward chronologically — I’m thinking in particular of the scenes in which Bigger and The Black Rat are on a doomed flight from the Chicago police — the play succeeds beautifully. There are some terrific performances — in particular, Pelham and Midder, who while they present wildly different personas weirdly seem to parallel each other, and Flaim, whose Mrs. Dalton seems oblivious to her own toxicity. Schmidt nails the sort of bigoted cop who, sadly, is extant even today. There are some choral parts, which allow us to hear Lolita Marie’s wonderful voice. I did not fully buy Rose as Mary, but in fairness the script does not give her much to work with."
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Tim Treanor