An Octoroon OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Sara Krulwich
  • NY TIMES

  • Opening Night:
    February 14, 2015
    Closing:
    March 29, 2015

    Theater: Polonsky Shakespeare Center / 262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217

    Synopsis: 

    An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins — whose plays include Neighbors and Appropriate — had its world premiere at Soho Rep last season. Mr. Jacobs-Jenkins takes on the Irish author, Dion Boucicault’s The Octoroon. He “uses the plot of the Irish playwright’s 1859 antebellum melodrama….as the starting point for a bigger, wilder play” (The New Yorker). Meta-melodrama with Forbidden Love! Humor! Feelings! Live Music! Wigs! Sensation Scenes! Slave Auctions! Exploding Steamboats! Photography! And More!

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF An Octoroon

    ‘An Octoroon,’ a Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Comedy About Race

    Ben Brantley

    February 26, 2015: Walking on a stage covered with cotton balls is a tricky business. It’s all too easy to slip into a pratfall. And forget about running or dancing or hopping like a bunny, as the characters sometimes unwisely attempt in An Octoroon, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s coruscating comedy of unresolved history, which opened on Thursday night at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn. But it feels right that the people occupying this production, first seen last year at Soho Rep, should be required to move on what might be called terra infirma. For Mr. Jacobs-Jenkins has deliberately built his play on slippery foundations, the kind likely to trip up any dramatist, performer or theatergoer. An Octoroon, you see, is all about race in these United States, as it was and is and unfortunately probably shall be for a considerable time. That’s race as a subject that no one can get a comfortable hold on. Directed by Sarah Benson, in a style that perfectly matches its mutating content, An Octoroon is a shrewdly awkward riff on Dion Boucicault’s The Octoroon (notice the change in article), a 19th-century chestnut about illicit interracial love. Boucicault’s melodrama was a great hit in its day but is now almost never performed, except possibly as a camp diversion for private amusement.

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