American Son BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Peter Cunningham
  • NY TIMES

  • TIME OUT

  • VARIETY

  • CHIC TRIB

  • DAILY BEAST

Opening Night:
November 4, 2018
Closing:
January 27, 2019

Theater: Booth Theatre / 222 West 45th Street, New York, NY, 10036

Synopsis: 

A Florida police station in the middle of the night.
Two parents searching for answers.

Kerry Washington (“Scandal”, Race) returns to the Broadway stage alongside Steven Pasquale (“American Crime Story,” Junk), Eugene Lee (Gem of the Ocean), and Jeremy Jordan (“Supergirl,” Newsies), in the riveting new play, AMERICAN SON.

Marking the Broadway debut of playwright Christopher Demos-Brown and directed by Tony Award® winner Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun, Fences), AMERICAN SON is a gripping tale about who we are as a nation, and how we deal with family relationships, love, loss, and identity.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF American Son

    Review: ‘American Son’ Puts Kerry Washington in a Maternal Nightmare

    Jesse Green

    November 4, 2018: Some great performances come with elaborate costumes or prosthetic noses attached. Some involve crackerjack timing or floods of tears. But the great performance Kerry Washington is giving in “American Son,” which opened on Sunday at the Booth Theater on Broadway, features no such decoration. The only thing Ms. Washington has to do as Kendra Ellis-Connor is bulldoze her way through 85 minutes of mounting agony as a mother whose son may be in desperate trouble. Let’s add “black” to that sentence, because it changes everything: “as a black mother whose son may be in desperate trouble.” “American Son,” by Christopher Demos-Brown, is part of a wave of new plays that consider the vulnerability of young black men in their dealings with the police. But unlike “Pass Over,” “Until the Flood,” “Kill Move Paradise” and “Scraps,” the style here is neither surreal nor poetic; it’s ticktock realism, deployed in real time. And the focus is not on the young men or the police but on the parents caught in between.

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  • TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW OF American Son

    American Son: Theater Review

    Helen Shaw

    November 4, 2018: We don’t get many ancient Greek tragedies on Broadway. Tastes have changed, and what we think of as dramatic has shifted into different patterns. So Christopher Demos-Brown’s American Son seems like a play from another time. It basically consists of two-person arguments, interspersed with messenger speeches: Something has happened offstage, and we wait with the characters to find out what it is. The rhetoric is heavy-handed, the grief and fear are unremitting, the brushstrokes are asphalt-thick, and there’s no subtlety in either the characterizations or the narrative structure. In other words, Demos-Brown hasn’t written a particularly skillful modern drama. But when the fate of a nation was at stake, Euripides wrote plays like this too.

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  • VARIETY REVIEW OF American Son

    Broadway Review: ‘American Son’ Starring Kerry Washington

    Marilyn Stasio

    November 4, 2018: It’s four a.m. on a dark and rainy morning in playwright Christopher Demos-Brown’s gripping play, “American Son,” and Kendra Ellis-Connor (Kerry Washington) and Scott Connor (Scott Pasquale), estranged for the past four months, meet in a Miami police station under nervewracking conditions. Their son and some of his friends have had an unexplained run-in with the highway police — and this bad news is all the more worrying for being so vague. Kendra and Scott are no ordinary couple, and their kid is no ordinary kid. She teaches psychology and he’s an FBI agent who conspicuously wears his shield on his belt. They sent their 18-year-old son, Jamal, to the very best schools — his prep school graduation present was the very car that got him into trouble — and he’s about to enter West Point. But at the moment, Jamal is not answering the quickly mounting messages on his cell phone and his parents are frantic. Kendra is first on the scene and her anxiety is writ large on Washington’s delicate but expressive face as she paces in the public waiting room of the precinct house. Director Kenny Leon has assembled a solid creative workforce for this moody play, and the setting is a cold and heartless place in Derek McLane’s design.

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  • CHICAGO TRIBUNE REVIEW OF American Son

    Review: 'American Son' on Broadway: Kerry Washington is a terrified mother at the police station

    Chris Jones

    November 4, 2018: "American Son” is a tense, didactic Broadway play for our age of racially charged mistrust. In its best moments — all of which involve the star Kerry Washington — this work by lawyer-playwright Christopher Demos-Brown offers up a searing depiction of an endemic fear of African-American mothers of all social classes: that on any given night, a young black teenager with all the promise and skills in the world will not necessarily come back home alive. Especially if that evening involves a confrontation with the police. So powerful is the maternal anxiety here that you walk out of the theater wondering at what point we might really begin listening to these mothers. At the very least, everyone gets to walk a while in their shoes. And Washington, whose entire performance is all the way to the right of the dial, given the bad-to-worse circumstances in which her character finds herself, ensures you won’t quickly forget.

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  • THE DAILY BEAST REVIEW OF American Son

    Kerry Washington and The Wasted Potential of ‘American Son’ on Broadway

    Tim Teeman

    November 4, 2018: This play, directed with a stilted nerviness by Kenny Leon, is strangely locked in on itself. It is 90 minutes long, and rigidly stuck in the grooves it sets up right at the beginning. These grooves are vital and timely themes—racism, police brutality, and injustice—but American Son nullifies their impact through clunky storytelling and flat characterization. It is a frustrating cul-de-sac of a play, stitched together from too many tragedies, too many news broadcasts, too many opinion pieces, with its characters coming up with views from different sides.

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