Father Comes Home From the Wars OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Joan Marcus
  • NY TIMES

  • DAILY NEWS

  • NY POST

  • VULTURE

  • HR

Opening Night:
October 14, 2014
Closing:
November 16, 2014

Theater: The Public Theater / 425 Lafayette Street, New York, NY, 10003

Synopsis: 

Pulitzer Prize & Tony Award winner Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog, The Book of Grace) continues her longstanding relationship with The Public with the stunning first installment of a new American Odyssey, set over the course of the Civil War. Father Comes Home From the Wars consists of three plays performed as one. In Part 1, “A Measure of Man,” Hero, a slave who is accustomed to his master’s lies, must now decide whether to join him on the Confederate battlefield in exchange for a promise of freedom. Part 2, "The Battle in the Wilderness" follows Hero and the Colonel as they lead a captured Union solider toward the Confederate lines as the cannons approach. Finally, in Part 3, “The Union of My Confederate Parts," the loved ones Hero left behind question whether to escape or wait for his return - only to discover that for Hero, freedom may have come at a great spiritual cost.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Father Comes Home From the Wars

    Ulysses as an American Slave
    ‘Father Comes Home From the Wars,’ by Suzan-Lori Parks

    Charles Isherwood

    October 28, 2014: By turns philosophical and playful, lyrical and earthy, Suzan-Lori Parks’s new play, Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3), swoops, leaps, dives and soars across three endlessly stimulating hours, reimagining a turbulent turning point in American history through a cockeyed contemporary lens. An epic drama that follows the fortunes of a slave who troops off to fight in the Civil War — on the Confederate side — Ms. Parks’s play, which opened at the Public Theater on Tuesday night, seems to me the finest work yet from this gifted writer. (Ms. Parks won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for Topdog/Underdog.) The production also represents a high-water mark in the career of the director Jo Bonney. And while I’m throwing around superlatives, I might as well add that Father Comes Home From the Wars might just be the best new play I’ve seen all year. Ms. Parks’s mighty aims are signaled by the noble template she has chosen to tell her story: Homer’s The Odyssey, the epic poem about a Greek warrior’s long journey home from an epochal conflict. But her classical borrowings are loose, frisky and far from self-important. The central character in the plays is a slave named Hero (Sterling K. Brown), who leaves behind a devoted wife, Penny (Jenny Jules), and eventually claims the name Ulysses: the Roman name for Homer’s Odysseus, but also, of course, the name of the leader of the Union forces.

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  • NEW YORK DAILY NEWS REVIEW OF Father Comes Home From the Wars

    ‘Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2, 3),’ theater review

    Joe Dziemianowicz

    October 28, 2014: Suzan-Lori Parks’ worthwhile and well-acted play Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) is an epic work that asks big questions. Like, what does it mean, and cost, to be free? Who will you be when you’re truly free? This work, more than five years in the making and inspired by Parks’ father’s military service, follows Hero (Sterling K. Brown), a slave in the Civil War era. Eventually, there will be nine parts and the story will reach into present day. This part of the journey takes place from early 1862 to the fall of 1863, after the Emancipation Proclamation has been issued. But Parks, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her 2001 drama Topdog/Underdog, isn’t a writer who’s fettered or confined by dates or tidy constructions.

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  • NEW YORK POST REVIEW OF Father Comes Home From the Wars

    ‘Father Comes Home From the Wars’ an ambitious epic

    Elisabeth Vincentelli

    October 28, 2014: The lead character in the drama Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) is facing a tough choice: Should he join the Confederate Army or not? Some key factors could influence our man, helpfully named Hero. We’re in 1862 Texas, he’s a slave, and he’s been promised “my freedom for my service” by his “boss-master.” It’s tempting to take the chance, but can a slave owner be trusted? And so begins the new project by Pulitzer-winner Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog). Actually, this is just the beginning of the beginning, since the evening is made up of three linked, Civil War–themed plays, to eventually be integrated into a nine-chapter epic reaching the present day. The first, A Measure of a Man, focuses on Hero (Sterling K. Brown) and that decision — he’s so torn that the plantation’s “chorus of less desirable slaves” is taking bets on the outcome. Hero decides to join up, but for reasons that have to do with his relationship with his lover, Penny (Jenny Jules), and his maimed friend, Homer (Jeremie Harris).

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  • VULTURE REVIEW OF Father Comes Home From the Wars

    Theater Review: Father Comes Home From the Wars

    Jesse Green

    October 28, 2014: Suzan-Lori Parks has a lot of nerve. A few years back she wrote and organized something she called 365 Days/365 Plays, which really was what its name suggested. Before that, in Topdog/Underdog, she put onstage a pair of black brothers who made their livings impersonating Lincoln and Booth, assassination included. (She won the Pulitzer Prize for it.) Her take on The Scarlet Letter, or rather one of her takes, was titled Fucking A. She often writes the songs that accompany her shows. She did something to Porgy and Bess that Stephen Sondheim didn’t like. Well, all I can say is thank God for nerve. Without it, we’d have little but dining-room dramas: 90-minute arguments over salad. With it, we have Parks’s Father Comes Home From the Wars, a nine-part serial whose first three parts are now being produced as an evening-long work at the Public Theater. (Each part so far is about 50 minutes long.) Can one-third of something already be a masterpiece? Seems like it to me.

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  • HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW OF Father Comes Home From the Wars

    Bring on the full marathon

    David Rooney

    October 28, 2014: In her breakthrough play, Topdog/Underdog, Suzan-Lori Parks spun the Biblical Cain and Abel story into a reflection on the existential balancing act of the African-American male. In her brilliant, beautiful Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3), which is the playwright's most accessible work since that 2002 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, she fashions a bracing Homeric odyssey out of the journey from slavery to emancipation. If that sounds like a scholarly exercise, it's exactly the opposite. With this vibrant freestanding trilogy, part of an ongoing nine-part historical cycle that will jump forward from the American Civil War to the present, Parks has achieved something that engages with a bold theatricality both lyrical and raw, without sacrificing any of her thematic ambition or her structural and intellectual complexity. Each of the three parts thrums with its own vitality, but consumed together in director Jo Bonney's outstandingly acted production, they form a mutually invigorating whole.

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